Rep. Larry Julian (R-Lennon) introduced a resolution to the
state Legislature Wednesday that seeks to reverse Michigan’s
constitutional ban on the death penalty, which dates back to
1846.

In order to amend the constitution, a two-thirds majority in the
House and the Senate, as well as voter approval, is needed.

The current language of the constitution states: “no law
shall be enacted providing for the penalty of death.” Julian
said he wants to add the words “except for first degree
murder” to the end.

Julian, a 27-year veteran of the state police, said he has
always advocated capital punishment for the most
“heinous” criminals.

“We need to send a message loud and clear to these people.
You may well pay for this with your life,” Julian said.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposes the measure. She is particularly
concerned that capital punishment does not act as a deterrent and
has the possibility of killing innocent people, spokeswoman Mary
Detloff said.

“Other states are in the process of dismantling the death
penalty laws because of the error rate of people who end up on
death row wrongfully,” Detloff said. “Michigan does not
need to go against the tide on this. Michigan has been an
anti-death penalty state.”

Julian, who unsuccessfully tried to get a similar resolution
passed in 1999, said he would make sure that nobody is wrongfully
executed in the state through stringent burden-of -proof standards,
which would be adopted after the constitution was amended.

“The statute (would be) clear and convincing,” he
said.

The proposal comes just days after two Detroit police officers
were murdered while conducting a traffic stop.

Julian said he introduced the legislation now because he felt
like “the timing was right,” adding that the
composition of the state Legislature had changed — presumably
in favor of the death penalty — due to term limits since his
previous attempt in 1999.

Thirty-eight states currently have the death penalty, although
five of those states have not executed anyone since 1976. Several
Southern states, such as Florida, Texas and Louisiana use the death
penalty several times a year.

Texas has already executed six prisoners this year and killed 24
people last year according to the state department of criminal
justice.

In 2003, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted all 156 death
sentences, before leaving office.

He said he felt the death penalty deliberately targets
minorities and poor people, as well as the possibilities of
executing someone innocent.

Students on campus cited philosophical reasons for opposing the
return of the death penalty to Michigan.

LSA senior Andy Park, who is from Illinois said his views have
been shaped by his state’s practices.

“Capital punishment in general is wrong and the criminal
justice system isn’t very (effective).”

LSA senior Velma Hutchins said she is against the death penalty
because it is morally wrong. She said emotion too often distorts
judgments when murder is involved“I definitely feel
it’s not our place to punish people by death. … It
would make us similar to (the murderers).”

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