Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps say they’ll be pushing for “speedier executions” down there.
As I’ve explained before, though Mississippi’s death chamber has been surprisingly inactive over the years, it isn’t for a lack of trying. The problem is that the state has been so eager to pick inmates off death row that the federal courts have repeatedly chastised Mississippi for transgressions like giving indigent defendants inadequate counsel, or clinging to jury instructions that were long ago ruled unconstitutional, consequently ordering dozens of new trials.
Still, given the recent exonerations of two men—one of whom came perilously close to execution—and the serious questions that have come up about Dr. Steven Hayne (who has testified in a healthy majority of the state’s Death Row cases), you’d think Mississippi’s public officials would be a bit more cautious about rushing forward with executions. I know of at least three men on Death Row in Parchman right now whose guilt is enough in doubt to merit a new trial (Devin Bennett, Jeffrey Havard, and Eddie Lee Howard).
Maybe Hood and Epps should spend more time correcting the problems with Mississippi’s criminal justice system that have come to light over the last nine months than releasing media statements about how eager they are to ratchet up the killing.