Terre Haute Tribune-Étoile. July 16, 2021.
Editorial: Timely moratorium on the federal death penalty
Terre Haute has become the scene of a diversion of the federal death penalty, a punishment long reserved as a last resort in the American justice system.
Instead, the executions turned into a political spectacle.
A repeat of this sad chapter of history is unlikely, at least for a few years. Current United States Attorney General Merrick Garland has imposed a moratorium on federal executions while the Department of Justice revises its policies and procedures, including drugs used for lethal injections. This step is prudent after the events of 2020 and early 2021.
A resumption of federal executions – after a 17-year hiatus that spanned the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama through the first three years of Donald Trump’s term – was announced on July 25, 2019 by the Attorney General of Trump, William Barr. It was the morning after Special Advocate Robert Mueller finished his testimony to Congress on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible Trump collusion. The ad appeared intended to distract the public’s attention, disguised as overdue justice for the families of the victims.
After legal challenges, a string of 13 executions over a six-month period began in July 2020, continued throughout President Trump’s re-election campaign against future winner Joe Biden, and then finally ended days before Trump’s term ends on January 20, 2021.
All of these executions took place at the Terre Haute federal correctional complex, which houses the country’s only federal death chamber. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, Barr resisted stopping the deadly injections. This has turned into a super-spread of coronavirus situation, with correctional officers, prison office enforcement team roving staff, media witnesses, and inmates contracting COVID.
It was a weird episode. The number of executions was the highest under any president since the 19th century.
No executions have taken place since President Biden took office. The moratorium Garland announced on Thursday included no timeline for the review, only an explanation of its purpose, The Associated Press reported.
“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system not only enjoys the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, but is also treated in a fair and humane manner,” he said. Garland said. “This obligation has particular force in cases of capital punishment. “
The review does not prevent federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, nor does it prevent future administrations from resuming federal executions. However, this gives reviewers time to assess the execution protocols put in place under Barr. Specifically, they will study the drug pentobarbital, which replaced the now difficult to obtain mixture of three drugs previously used for lethal injections. In addition, the reasons for the disproportionate number of black and minority inmates on death row will also be rightly examined.
American support for the death penalty has reached historic lows, although approval still hovers around 55%, according to the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center. This growing unease, the recent unseemly taint of politics within the execution process, methods and racial inequalities validate the timing of the moratorium.
Republic of Columbus. July 18, 2021.
Editorial: Schools should make masks optional
Tomorrow night, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. will hold a school board meeting to review its reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Among the recommendations that the BCSC will make to the board is that of not requiring students to wear masks inside schools.
Although the proposed policy is not popular with everyone, it is the right choice.
BCSC consulted with both the Indiana State Department of Health and the Bartholomew County Department of Health to come to its no-mask conclusion. There are many reasons to believe that special attention was paid to the recommendation, as both organizations helped BCSC return to in-person classes last year.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated students and staff over 12 do not need to wear masks inside schools and should be at least 3 feet apart. when they are seated.
This policy makes sense, as those 12 and under cannot yet be vaccinated, but local data also suggests that COVID-19 is not spreading in our community at a dangerous level; therefore no need for masks.
Additionally, parents can always tell their children to wear masks at school – the practice is still allowed.
If local COVID-19 numbers become unsafe and there is evidence that they are spreading throughout the school system, BCSC can reinstate its mask policies.
In the meantime, there is no need for a rule.
Editorial: Nice tax refund, but there are still many needs
Indiana has too much money in the bank, which means Hoosiers will get some of it back.
This is great for every taxpayer who will get cash back next year, but at the same time, the state has many unmet needs that remain unmet.
An Indiana law enacted by the government of the day. Mitch Daniels said in 2012 that if the state closes a fiscal year with more than 12.5% of its total spending in reserves, it triggers an automatic reimbursement process.
This week we learned that was the case at the end of this fiscal year, as Indiana ends with $ 3.9 billion pending.
Based on the law, half of the surplus goes to stabilizing pension funds – lawmakers say they will use around $ 545 million to reimburse teachers’ pensions – while the other half is sent back to taxpayers.
The exact individual reimbursement figures won’t be known until later this year, but it’s estimated to be around $ 170 per taxpayer.
First, how did we come to an overflowing chest emerging from a major pandemic?
The answer to this question seems pretty clear: big federal relief spending.
Pandemic relief money has poured into Indiana to help cover the costs of everything from supplies to tourism support to rental assistance. Congressional leaders under the Trump administration and the Biden administration turned on the taps to the states.
It doesn’t just include government support either. Incentive dollars that went directly to Hoosier wallets in three separate payments also helped.
State Representative Dave Abbott of the City of R-Rome noted that sales tax revenue has risen sharply in this fiscal year. Sales tax only goes up when people spend and people only spend when they have money to spend.
Yes, Indiana maintains good fiscal policy year after year, but the state is unlikely to overflow with cash without a federal tap pouring more dollars into the bucket.
As for the excess reserve itself, it’s a good sign that the Indiana government could do more to address its shortcomings.
This bumper year crop may be an outlier due to the pandemic, but local lawmakers believe it’s no accident and the high annual incomes are here to stay.
If so, it is time for our lawmakers to start responding more to the needs of the state. Automatic reimbursement is triggered as a percentage of government spending, which means spending is too low, revenue is abnormally high, or both.
Teacher pay is still poor in Indiana. Education spending is still lagging behind despite recent new investments. Road subsidies and other infrastructure programs could do more good with more funding. Rural communities could benefit from a major boost in development aid.
There is a long list of needs – no wants, no wishlist spending spree – areas where the state has been clearly shown to lag behind neighbors and peers.
Indiana’s rulers have done a good job putting the state on a solid financial footing. But building a foundation is only the first step towards building it up.
So while it’s nice to send dollars that are accumulating back into reserve, lawmakers should now prepare to come back in 2023 with a plan for the next biennial budget on how to start using their larger revenues to correct. known areas of tax activity. deficiency.
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