Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed off on a new piece of Rhode Island legislation that would revive the state’s death penalty, allowing lethal injection not only for malicious physical crimes, but also for drug-related crimes.
After decades of not having a death penalty option in the state of Rhode Island after it’s abolishment in 1984, the option will once again be given to judge and juries throughout the state on high-level crimes.
According to lawmakers, it was the people of Providence, Rhode Island who started the petition to bring back the death penalty throughout the state.
“With the crime rate as it stands in Providence, people want to make the streets safer, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Jorge Elorza, Providence’s Mayor, during a press conference. “At one point, Rhode Island was a small state, with maybe one execution every few years, based on violent crimes like rape and murder. Now, with this new legislation, those crimes can also be expanded to include the dealing or use of marijuana, driving under the influence, and higher levels of assault charges. We want to keep Rhode Island safe, for all people and future generations.”
“By approving this option for the State of Rhode Island, I am not endorsing the death penalty,” said President Obama. “Please understand, it is the voters choice, and I am only the last line on a very long process of paperwork. The state and cities have spoken, and I am proud to be able to give them the ability to make themselves feel safer.”
Rhode Island lawmakers say that the process to have any changes made to current punishments is a slow-moving one, but that they anticipate the death penalty to be on the table for several crimes by the end of the year.