Has Any Governor Refused to Turn a Suspect Over to the Feds?
… ’cause that’s what Governor Chafee has done today.
[Gov’s full statement after the jump.] Is this a common occurance? I’m not a fan of the death penalty but does he even have the right to do this? The first impression is that this is a country to country refusal to turn over a suspect (i.e., France refusing to turn someone over to the US because we have the death penalty) but that is erroneous; this is a matter of federal vs state purviews within the United States.
Governor Chafee declined on Thursday the U.S. Government’s request for temporary federal custody of Jason W. Pleau, charged with murder in the case of a Woonsocket gas-station owner killed on the steps of a bank.
Here is the statement from the governor’s office:
Mr. Pleau is incarcerated in the Adult Correctional Institute (ACI) and currently stands untried for the September 20, 2010 robbery and murder of David D. Main. A transfer of Mr. Pleau to temporary federal custody would potentially expose him to the death penalty, a penalty consciously rejected by the State of Rhode Island, even for those guilty of the most heinous crimes. …
… ahem, I swear I saw William Jacobson’s commentary at Legal Insurrection on this matter, in which he characterizes Rhode Island as “France”, only after this post went up.
Professor Jacobson also points out that this is not the first federal law that Gov Chafee has declined to observe.
Ever since Independent and former Republican Linc Chafee was elected Governor of my home State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations last fall, Chafee has implemented an interesting twist on states rights by refusing to participate in federal immigration enforcement efforts.
Now Chafee has taken it one step further, refusing to turn over a murderer to the feds because of the mere possibility that the defendant could be subject to the death penalty:
Further to my exchange with Warrington, the ProJo reports that US Attorney Peter Neronha
said it was too early to determine whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty in the case.
So Governor Chafee is acting pre-emptively to shut out a course of action against a man charged with murder that may or may not even be on the table.
Yet, with his refusal to participate in the Secure Communities Program, the Governor is not willing to pre-empt the distinct possibility of crimes against innocent residents of the state by undocumented immigrants with outstanding federal warrants. (Tangent: in the Governor’s mind, it’s fine for citizens and legal immigrants taken into police custody to be screened for federal warrants, etc, but illegal aliens should inexplicably be held harmless from such a measure.)
Does anyone else see inconsistency here??? How about pre-emptiveness across the board or no pre-emptiveness at all? Phrased another way, can we average residents please have the same concerned foresight from the Governor as someone in custody for murder?
Mr. Pleau is incarcerated in the Adult Correctional Institute (ACI) and currently stands untried for the September 20, 2010 robbery and murder of David D. Main. A transfer of Mr. Pleau to temporary federal custody would potentially expose him to the death penalty, a penalty consciously rejected by the State of Rhode Island, even for those guilty of the most heinous crimes.
‘My disapproval of the federal government’s request should in no way minimize the tragic and senseless nature of Mr. Main’s murder,’ Governor Chafee said. ‘The person or persons responsible for this horrific act must, and will, be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law. I extend my deepest sympathy to Mr. Main’s family for their unspeakable loss.’
‘Despite the horrific nature of this crime, however, the State of Rhode Island would not impose the death penalty,’ Governor Chafee continued. ‘In light of this longstanding policy, I cannot in good conscience voluntarily expose a Rhode Island citizen to a potential death penalty prosecution. I am confident that Attorney General Kilmartin and Rhode Island’s criminal justice system are capable of ensuring that justice is served in this matter.’