Bush Says Death Penalty "Saves Innocent Lives"

(WHITE HOUSE) -- A spokesman says President Bush believes the death penalty "helps save innocent lives."

The White House comments come after today's execution of the one-thousandth inmate to be put to death since capital punishment resumed in the U-S in 1977. Bush spokesman Scott McClellan says if capital punishment is meted out "fairly and swiftly and surely" it serves as a deterrent to crime.

He says Bush has backed an initiative to expand use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful convictions. In his six years as governor in Texas, Bush commuted one death sentence and allowed 152 executions. That state executed more inmates than any others.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics say there's no evidence the penalty deters crime.