Last week, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a worldwide “moratorium on the use of the death penalty”—the sixth that the U.N. has approved in the past decade. Each one has gained the support of more of the organization’s members. The latest vote was a hundred and seventeen countries in favor to forty against. (Thirty-one abstained, and five did not vote.)
Read the article at The New Yorker
Year End Report
Another Record Decline in Death Penalty Use
Death sentences, executions and public support for the death penalty at historic lows.
Courts bar unconstitutional practices in four states.
Read the full report or watch a two minute summary: Death Penalty Information Center
A federal judge overseeing a death penalty trial in Vermont on Tuesday ruled that only the US Supreme Court can declare the death penalty to be unconstitutional – but nonetheless issued a strong critique of what he found to be an arbitrarily imposed punishment “in which chance and bias play leading roles.” Continue reading: Buzzfeed
An appellate court says a South Carolina man should be released from death row because a prosecutor’s “racially coded references” made a fair sentencing impossible. Continue reading
. . . Californians will vote next month on a referendum to abolish capital punishment in the state, and exonerees like [Juan] Melendez are the secret weapon of the anti-death penalty campaign. More than 20 people who have spent time on death row for a crime they didn’t commit have flocked to the state to argue against the death penalty in starkly personal terms. Read the article: Fusion
On the other hand – Death by Another Name
California Prop 62 would repeal the death penalty. A lifer says it doesn’t go far enough:
. . . Why not abolish the death penalty and life without the chance of parole? The assumption would be that it is possible for human beings to become better than their worst act. It does not mean that all prisoners would succeed. Some wouldn’t try hard enough, some wouldn’t be able to make the requisite changes to satisfy a skeptical parole board and an elected governor’s review, and some small percentage would continue to present an unreasonable risk to the public. No one, however, would be denied all hope. . . . The Marshall Project
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California will test the prospects of abolition.
Public support for the death penalty is at its lowest level since the Supreme Court suspended capital punishment in 1972. A Pew Research poll published late last month revealed that only 49 percent of Americans now favor executing murderers, a seven-point decline from March 2015. Those poll numbers may reflect growing public concern about botched executions, the high costs of operating death rows, and the suspicion that states may have executed innocent people. Continue reading: The Marshall Project
. . . Capital punishment is a dwindling sanction but it’s still authorized by law, entrenched in the South and supported by millions of Americans. Carol and Jordan Steiker, professors at Harvard and the University of Texas Law Schools respectively, are the leading contemporary scholars of the death penalty. In Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment they have brilliantly defined—in language accessible to the general reader— the massive dysfunction of the current system and the course that a future Supreme Court could take to do away with it.
Read the article at the Huffington Post
It would be the perfect metaphor for this election if it weren’t reality.
All of us are painfully aware, thanks to the extraterrestrial logical thinking of one Anthony Kennedy, that corporations are now people and money is now speech. Out in the country, there are states desperate to kill people. They have had trouble getting the poison they need to do so because pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to be seen as accessories before the fact of judicial murder. But now, as Buzzfeed News so ably informs us, one anonymous drugmaker and its hired mouthpieces have decided to supply the political buttonmen with their ammo, and they’ve come up with an innovative legal theory by which to do so.
Continue reading: Esquire
As a co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson is a disruptor of chronic injustices who fights for the lives of prisoners on Alabama’s death row.
“[In the U.S.], 156 people exonerated after being sentenced to death. That means for every 10 people that have been executed in the U.S., we’ve identified 1 innocent person on the row, which is a really shameful rate of error,” Stevenson tells The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti.