South Dakota Back in Execution Business


Next month, South Dakota is slated to carry out its first execution in almost 60 years. The victim, Elijah Page, was convicted along with two other men of an especially ugly murder. Still, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, he has some pretty heavy mitigating circumstances in his background: “his mother often would allow drug dealers to molest Page in exchange for drugs and his step-father once used him as a human shield in a drug-related shoot out. Warren Johnson, the judge who presided over Page’s punishment trial, stated, ‘Most parents treated their pets better than your parents treated you.'”

But don’t get the idea that South Dakotans don’t respect human life. This is the state, don’t forget, that will soon vote on whether to uphold a ban on all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. If that ban is upheld, doctors performing abortions might be open to murder charges.

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  • Vince Beiser, a former Mother Jones senior editor, has reported from more than 30 countries—on troop training in Iraq, natural disasters in Haiti, and prison conditions in California.