Mr. FAIRCLOTH addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. FAIRCLOTH. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of the antiterrorism conference report.
First, it is with great sadness that we approach the first anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City. It was truly a tragic event carried out by premeditated and dreadful murderers. I just hope that the people that carried out that act get the justice they so deserve.
Mr. President, one of the most important reforms made by this bill are those reforms to our death penalty procedures. For too long, murderers have been on death row, filing appeal after appeal, in the hopes of finding some small legal loophole--anything they can find that will nullify their sentence.
The people of this country are sick and tired of murderers being put on death row and then sitting there, as Senator Inhofe said, watching television, getting fat, and at an enormous cost to the American taxpayers.
Mr. President, since the death penalty was reestablished in 1977, over 400,000 people have been murdered. But only 200 have been executed. This is hardly a message that our justice system is swift or sure to those that break the law.
In my home State of North Carolina, we have over 100 people on death row, with an estimated cost of close to $50,000 a year to keep them there--per person. Yet, in the last 16 years, only 5 people have had the death sentence carried out in North Carolina, with 100 waiting. There have been delays, delays, and more delays, simply using one loophole behind another. Simply, the executions have not been carried out, at an enormous cost to the State of North Carolina for attorneys to fight these endless appeals.
In the United States, as a whole, there are over 2,700 people on death row. Over half have been there longer than 6 years. Further, of those on death row, over half were on probation or parole when they were arrested for murder. What does this say about the justice system?
Is it any wonder that crime has increased 41 percent in the last 20 years? Is it any wonder that violent crime has increased by 100 percent in the last 20 years? Our judicial system has been made a mockery by those who set out to break the law.
For those that carried out the Oklahoma City bombing, they probably never thought they would get caught. Fortunately, and luckily, with good police work, they were caught. But they probably believe that they can beat the system. I hope not, but I am sure they believe it. They probably think they can make a mockery of the justice system, as so many others have. Certainly, we will be hiring the most expensive lawyers out there to help them to beat the system.
In this country, we need to reestablish a respect for the law. Criminals need to know that if they commit murder, they will receive the death penalty. And, more importantly, they need to know that it will be carried out, and they will not be held on death row with endless delays.
With this bill, we finally have broken the logjam on the issue. We keep passing bill after bill that increases penalties and provides new capital offenses; yet, we do nothing to reform our justice system to see that the punishment is carried out.
Finally, we have done something to end the frivolous appeals filed by death row inmates.
Mr. President, I support this conference report. I thank Senator Hatch, and others, who have pushed death penalty reform to the forefront in this bill.
I yield the floor.