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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

India: Delhi HC commutes death sentence of serial killer, awards life term

The Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday commuted to life capital punishment awarded to serial killer Chandrakant Jha in 2 identical cases of murder and upheld imprisonment of life till death awarded to him in a 3rd similar case by a trial court here.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and R K Gauba upheld Jha's conviction in all the 3 cases but modified the death sentence awarded to him in 2 of the cases to life imprisonment till death.

"We uphold the conviction in all the 3 cases. He is sentenced to life term without remission for rest of his life," the bench said.

While commuting death to life term in 2 cases, the court said, "there was no eye witnesses" to these incidents.

In 1 of the 3 cases of murder, the trial court on February 4, 2013 had awarded life term till death to Jha for decapitating his victim and dumping the body near the Tihar Jail daring the police to nab him.

Jha, a native of Madhepura in Bihar, was sentenced to life term till death in a case relating to killing of one Dilip, whose headless body was dumped near Tihar Jail in 2007.

On February 5, 2013, Jha was sentenced to death in the second case of identical crime by the same trial court, saying his offence fell under the "rarest of rare case" as the brutality committed by him showed he "cannot be reformed".

The court awarded death sentence to Jha for taking away the life of 19-year-old Upender and dumping his headless body also near Tihar jail in 2007.

On February 6, 2013, Jha was awarded death penalty in yet another crime of beheading and chopping the body parts of a victim by the trial court which said he committed the murder in an "extremely brutal, diabolical and revolting manner".

In this case, Jha had murdered one Anil Mandal in 2006 and dumped his body outside the jail after chopping off the head and limbs.

Jha was arrested by the Delhi Police in May 25, 2007 in Mianwali Nagar here. He was earlier arrested in 1998 in a murder case but was acquitted for want of evidence.

In December 2007, a Delhi court had acquitted him in a case after the police failed to file charge sheet against him in another murder case.

After committing the murders, Jha had even dared the police by writing several letters to them to nab him, saying he would send similar "gifts" after every 15 days.

Source: Deccan Chronicle, January 27, 2016

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