Views on the death penalty vary widely but from a strictly tactical standpoint Gov. Tim Pawlenty's recent suggestion that it be reinstated in Minnesota appears to be a non-starter.
More than half the lawmakers polled by the Star Tribune in both the House and the Senate said they'd oppose bringing back the death penalty.
Pawlenty, whose support for the death penalty was expressed long before the apparent abduction of Pequot Lakes' Dru Sjodin, has been consistent on this issue. The outrage he expressed recently regarding the young girl's abduction was, no doubt, sincere. He articulated a frustration that's prevalent in Minnesota. People are disgusted at how common it is for criminals to return to a life of crime after they've served their sentences.
Minnesota abolished capital punishment in 1911, five years after the botched hanging of a convicted man. Although the suggestion to reinstate the death penalty has been brought up many times since then, both politicians and the general public have been reluctant to sign on.
A smarter way to attack the problem, however, might be the second part of Pawlenty's recommendation, one that didn't get near the attention of his call for the death penalty's reinstatement. Pawlenty called for for an immediate review of all pending releases for sex offenders to see if any should be candidates for civil commitment. He also wants to look at the possibility of lengthening sentences in sex crimes and explore ways to increase supervision of violent sex offenders, possibly through ankle bracelets.
It's vital the opinions of law officers and community members who know these sex offenders be part of the decision-making process before they're freed. Many of the fears currently being expressed about sex offenders could be mollified by tightening up these procedures.
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