Opinion: A doomed inmate had Obama on his mind before his execution


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From today’s Clarion Ledger, based in Jackson, Miss.:

Before he died Wednesday evening, death row inmate Dale Leo Bishop apologized to his victim’s family, thanked America and urged people to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The Clarion Ledger story on the execution went on to note that Bishop’s last words included these:


‘For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice.’

Actually, Obama is not unalterably against capital punishment; he recently remarked: ‘I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes.’

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee made that comment when, in a move that chagrined some of his more liberal supporters, he differed with a recent Supreme Court ruling that found it unconstitutional to apply the death penalty to someone convicted of raping a child.

Bishop, 34, was a participant in the 1998 beating death, with a claw hammer, of an acquaintance. Another man, who delivered the fatal blows, was tried separately and sentenced to life in prison.

According to the Clarion Ledger story, Bishop became ‘only the eighth person put to death who did not directly kill his victim among the more than 1,100 executed since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 -- not including contract killings.’

Bishop had asked for the death penalty at his 2000 trial, but later changed his mind and sought a reprieve.


-- Don Frederick