Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Call to Action - Lobby Time…

You can always tell when the Virginia General Assembly is in session by the political posturing of members to show what tough “hombres” they are on crime.

And just as sure as the earth rotates around the sun, birds fly south, and stars collide in space, each legislative session brings political machinations as Republicans try to whack Democrats with their “soft on crime” meme.

But really, as the second-highest state that executes its citizens, does Virginia really need to add any more crimes to the too-long list of death penalty felonies?

Apparently some Republicans think we do. HB 782 Elimination of the Triggerman Rule is a gem of a bill that “eliminates the ‘triggerman rule,’ which provides that only the actual perpetrator of a capital murder is eligible for the death penalty.”

Ever since Sen. George Allen galloped to Richmond on the back of his “truth in sentencing” law, there is a rush to see who can sponsor the most Draconian laws as soon as the last opening remarks are over.

Newly elected Del. C. Todd Gilbert of Woodstock, in a hurry to make a name for himself, and Mark D. Obenshain, political scion of the late Richard D. Obenshain who died in a plane crash in 1978 while campaigning for the Republican senate seat, eventually won by Sen. John Warner, sponsored the legislative handiwork.

Contrary to death penalty supporters' talking points , this bill would add a whole new class of death row inmates that hardly represents “the very worst of the worst.” The current law provides first-degree murder charges for accomplices.

The bill is being introduced to the House Courts of Justice Committee by the Criminal Sub-Committee tomorrow. For those who live in Virginia and care about this issue, please help. Contact your legislator; and if you have time, contact every other member as well.

House Courts of Justice Committee Members:
Name Phone Email
Albo, David B. (chair) 698-1042
Armstrong, Ward L. 698-1010
Athey, Clifford L., Jr. 698-1018
Barlow, William K. 698-1064
Bell, Robert B. 698-1058
Cline, Benjamin L. 698-1024
Fralin, William H., Jr. 698-1017
Gilbert, C. Todd 698-1015
Griffith, H. Morgan 698-1008
Hurt, Robert 698-1016
Iaquinto, Salvatore R. 698-1084
Janis, William R. 698-1056
Johnson, Joseph P., Jr. 698-1004
Kilgore, Terry G. (v-chair) 698-1001
Marsden, David W. 698-1041
McQuigg, Michelle 698-1051
Melvin, Kenneth R. 698-1080
Moran, Brian J. 698-1046
Toscano, David J. 698-1057
Waddell, Katherine B. 698-1068
Watts, Vivian E. 698-1039

Group Email:

Mail to:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

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