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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…

Bernie Sanders And Hillary Clinton Split On The Death Penalty

Bernie Sanders (left) and Hillary Clinton (right)
Bernie Sanders (left) and Hillary Clinton (right)
Clinton thinks it's appropriate for "particularly heinous crimes," while Sanders wants the government out of the killing business.

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders split on the issue of capital punishment during a debate Thursday, with Clinton supporting the death penalty in certain circumstances and Sanders saying the government shouldn't be "part of the killing."

Clinton said during the MSNBC debate that she still supports the death penalty, though said she had "much more confidence in the federal system" and had concerns with how the death penalty was implemented on the state level. She said she hoped the Supreme Court would make sure states had protections in place and were implementing the death penalty in a constitutional manner.

"For very limited, particularly heinous crimes, I believe it is an appropriate punishment, but I deeply disagree with the way that too many states still are implementing it," Clinton said.

Sanders, on the other hand, said he worried that too many innocent people, particularly minorities, had been executed when they weren't guilty.

"Of course there are barbaric acts out there, but in a world of so much violence and killing, I just don't believe that government itself should be part of the killing," Sanders said. He said when someone commits murder, they should be locked away for life. But, Sanders said, "I just don't want to see government be part of killing."

Source: The Huffington Post, Ryan J. Reilly, February 4, 2016

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