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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…

Saudi Arabia executes own citizen for murder; 56th beheading this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi authorities executed a Saudi national on Monday for the murder of a compatriot, bringing the number of executions by capital punishment to 56 in the kingdom this year.

Ahmed al-Harbi was found guilty of stabbing and shooting Fahed al-Balawi during a quarrel, according to a statement by the interior ministry published by state news agency SPA.

Harbi was executed in the northern city of Tabuk. 

Most executions in Saudi Arabia are beheadings carried out by sword.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia ordered the execution of 153 people, the majority of which were death penalty sentences given for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP tally.

On a single day last month it put 47 people to death for "terrorism", including influential Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Amnesty International reports that the total number of executions in the kingdom in 2015 was the highest for 2 decades.

Saudia Arabia enforces a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 1, 2016

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