Monday, September 19, 2011

Jay Carney Speaks For Obama RE: Troy Davis

I hope this is a transcript error. He's supposed to be executed Wednesday night midnight.

R. CARNEY: Thank you, guys.

Okay, let’s move on here. April, you have your hand up?

Q Jay, I want to ask you a couple of questions about the death penalty issue, especially as we’re seeing September 31st [sic] as the date for Troy Davis to possibly be executed. Where does this administration stand on issues of the death penalty, particularly when there is a question about a person’s guilt or innocence?

MR. CARNEY: Well, as you know, the President has written that he believes the death penalty does little to deter crime but that some crimes merit the ultimate punishment. Some of you may also recall that when the President was in the Illinois State Senate this was an issue where he worked across the aisle to find common ground.

With regard to the specific case, I haven’t talked to the President about that, and I would refer questions about it to the Department of Justice.

Q A follow-up on that, please. Congress has several bills that I understand the Justice Department is in support of review of the criminal punishment system, as well as death penalty. Why is there a review when some things, particularly in a death penalty case, on racial aspects, there are -- we know that certain groups of people are on death row and a lot of those cases those people are found to be innocent. So is there any thought of a moratorium on death penalty cases right now with all the questions that are --

MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of a review of that nature. There may be one, but, yes, I would direct you to the Department of Justice if, in fact, they're doing that kind of review. But I’m not aware of that kind of discussion going on.

Q Can you get Justice to talk about it at least?

MR. CARNEY: Well, honestly, Justice is an independent -- is an agency that decides when it deals with the press how it will answer those questions.

Q I’m sorry, Jay. Just to piggyback on what April said, because she and I are obviously on the same plane today. The President was supposed to speak at the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication. And two of the people that I got a chance to interview at that dedication said that if Dr. King were alive today, an issue that would be most on his mind would be the mass incarceration of African Americans. I just wanted to maybe follow up with -- just wanted to get the President’s stance on that. Do you know where he stands on this issue?

MR. CARNEY: Again, this is an issue, broadly speaking, both the death penalty and broader issues in terms of crime and punishment, that the President as a state senator or senator and a candidate, as well as President, has addressed with regards to -- in terms of his views on it. And he will, as you know, speak when the ceremony has been rescheduled, he'll speak at that event.