Governor Peabody showed considerable courage, as well as laudable regard for morality and statistical evidence, last January by coming out against capital punishment. His subsequent commutation of Kerrigan's sentence even though the Executive Council overruled it, indicated that he meant what he said.
Now Peabody has declared that each case should be judged on its individual merits and, ten months after the fact, he has claimed that he was quoted out of context in January. Of course, pressure has been exerted on the Governor and he does face an election next year. But either he opposes capital punishment or he does not.
The Governor must have realized in January that he was taking a potentially unpopular stand. He seemed willing, then, to risk unpopularity. If he really believes that capital punishment is wrong, he should be equally willing now; he should oppose the death penalty no matter who exerts pressure upon him and no matter when the next election comes. And he should oppose it even for cop-killers.