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Execution Watch: Mitt Romney's 'Foolproof' Death Penalty Act and the Politics of Capital Punishment


Russell G. Murphy


Suffolk University Law School

December 1, 2011

Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. 45, p. 1, 2011
Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 11-55

Abstract:     
This article presents a legal and political analysis of the 2003-2005 effort of Governor Mitt Romney to make the death penalty available as a sentencing option in Massachusetts. It begins with a description of the history of capital punishment in the state as context for Mr. Romney’s creation of the Governor’s Council on Capital Punishment. The Council’s mandate, recommendations, and Final Report are set forth, followed by a summary of proposed legislation based thereon. Public, media, and academic reactions to the Governor’s plan are the basis for an analysis of the political implications of this undertaking, framed by the question “Was Governor Romney primarily interested in making good public policy or in advancing his political ambitions to be President of the United States?” The article then takes an objective look at the merits of the Romney plan in terms of current understandings about the practice and policy of capital punishment in the United States. With the defeat of the Romney bill and the strength of the legislative rejection of the death penalty in Massachusetts as a backdrop, the article concludes with a focus on what this process teaches about Mr. Romney’s governing style and the strength of his political beliefs.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: Death Penalty, Mitt Romney, Capital Punishment, Politics and Criminal Sentencing, Legislation

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Date posted: December 3, 2011 ; Last revised: February 4, 2012

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Russell G., Execution Watch: Mitt Romney's 'Foolproof' Death Penalty Act and the Politics of Capital Punishment (December 1, 2011). Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. 45, p. 1, 2011; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 11-55. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1967201

Contact Information

Russell G. Murphy (Contact Author)
Suffolk University Law School ( email )
120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States
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