Since 2011, one man has been responsible for one-third of the death sentences in Louisiana — Dale Cox, according to The New York Times.
Cox is the acting district attorney in Caddo Parrish, the US county that has sentenced more people to death per capita than anywhere in the US between 2010 and 2014, according to The Times.
Earlier this year, Cox told a reporter for the Shreveport Times it’s not enough.
“I think we need to kill more people. … I think the death penalty should be used more often,” Cox said.
Since then, he’s willingly accepted interviews to clarify his statement, and he says he meant what he said.
Cox recently told The New York Times:
“Retribution is a valid societal interest. What kind of society would say that it’s O.K. to kill babies and eat them, and in fact we can have parties where we kill them and eat them, and you’re not going to forfeit your life for that? If you’ve gotten to that point, you’re no longer a society.”
In a more recent interview with KSLA News, Cox implied the Times article misrepresented him.
“Well, I don’t think I’m a spokesman for the death penalty,” which the Times characterised him as. “I’m just one prosecutor who’s an advocate for it,” Cox said.
As for those shocking statistics, Cox “didn’t know.”
“I don’t really keep up with statistics like that, so I’m just taking their numbers at face value,” he admitted.
Cox’s comments came as a response to an op-ed in the same newspaper from A.M. “Marty” Stroud, a former prosecutor who spoke out against the death penalty. From that editorial:
“The clear reality is that the death penalty is an anathema to any society that purports to call itself civilized. It is an abomination that continues to scar the fibres of this society and it will continue to do so until this barbaric penalty is outlawed. Until then, we will live in a land that condones state assisted revenge and that is not justice in any form or fashion.”
In 1984, Stroud helped secure a murder conviction and death sentence for Glenn Ford, a man exonerated 30 years later after new evidence emerged in his case.
In his op-ed, Stroud apologised and called himself “arrogant, judgmental, [and] narcissistic.”
As Robert J. Smith, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, told The New York Times, “When you start to look underneath the counties and ask, ‘Who is actually prosecuting these cases?’ you realise in most of the counties, it’s one or a limited number of prosecutors.”
“What you’ve ended up with is a personality-driven death penalty,” he added.
Cox started his career opposed to the death penalty. In fact, he left his position in a district attorney’s office after six years because he felt uncomfortable pursuing capital cases and that only God could decide to take a man’s life, according to The New Yorker.
By his return to office full-time in 2011, however, his mentality had drastically shifted.
“The nature of the work is so serious that there’d be something wrong if it didn’t change you,” he told The Times.
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