Jerry Kilgore is not as shy as anti-abortionists (see below) about calling legislation what it is. He wants to pass the Death Penalty Enhancement Act. It “would drop the requirement that the death penalty be applied only to the triggerman in a killing.” And he’s willing to use Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine’s religious beliefs to his political advantage.

…In a debate with Kaine this month, Kilgore promised to remind voters that his opponent “actually represented death row inmates, those who escaped from prison.”

Jeff Kraus, a spokesman for Kaine, said the lieutenant governor’s opposition to the death penalty is derived from his religious beliefs but would not interfere with Kaine’s determination to enforce the death penalty statutes if he is elected governor.

Kilgore wants his pound of flesh.

Kilgore also wants to eliminate the automatic life imprisonment measure if a jury cannot unanimously vote for death in the punishment phase of a capital murder trial. Instead, the judge “will be able to dismiss the hung jury and impanel a different one to consider whether a defendant should receive the death penalty,” Kilgore said.

“What he seems to be saying is that if the jury refuses to issue the death penalty, then he wants a new jury,” [Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union] said. “It’s a very aggressive law that looks as if its purpose is to send more people to the death chamber more frequently. It has nothing to do with justice.”

And Kilgore wants that pound at any cost.

“He is still trying once again to appear tough on crime, when what he’s really doing is being stupid on crime,” said Jack Payden-Travers, executive director of Virginians for Alternatives for the Death Penalty.

Payden-Travers believes Kilgore wants to use post-Sept. 11, 2001, security needs for political gain. Putting a criminal to death does not make Virginians any safer than putting him behind bars for life without parole, Payden-Travers said.

But it does cost the taxpayers more money, he said.

A second trial for Muhammad, who had already been sentenced to death, would have cost taxpayers another $2.5 million, Payden-Travers said.

“Any time you indict someone and they face the death penalty, you increase the cost of the trial by an exponential factor, and you don’t gain anything, because the execution of the individual costs more than it would to keep the individual behind bars for the rest of their natural life,” Payden-Travers said.

Anyone know of the “studies” referred to here?

[Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh] argued that the death penalty does make society safer and does not cost the state more money than a life sentence.

“Recent studies show executions in fact deter other would-be murderers,” Murtaugh said. “If that is true, then the cost to society of not executing capital murderers is high, as it allows more murders.