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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…

Missouri House Budget committee approves breaking out fund for executions

Missourians and future legislators would be able to see where in the state budget is the money that pays for executions, under a change approved by the House Budget Committee.

The Committee approved putting money for Missouri's executions in a separate budget line - it used to come out of an expenses and equipment fund. The change means now it can be seen how much the state sets aside to pay for executions.

It also means future lawmakers who oppose the death penalty could propose pulling funding for it, though as long as a Republican majority controls the legislature such an effort would be unlikely to pass.

It would cover cash payments to the maker of the drug used in Missouri's lethal injection process and to the anonymous members of the execution team, and potential IRS penalties the state could incur for not giving those team members tax forms to report that payment.

It was sponsored by Representative Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City). He opposes the death penalty, but says this is just about transparency.

"On something this important - taking a human life away from somebody - it is important enough for the taxpayers of this state to know this is the line in the budget that pays for it," said LaFaver.

The change received bipartisan support, including from several Republicans who support the death penalty.

Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) said he had no problem it.

"I'm always in favor of breaking things out so it is more transparent and we know how money's being spent. I don't see any harm being done by this," said Fitzpatrick. "And quite frankly if there are penalties from the IRS there's a line to pay for them now."

The committee put $40,000 into that fund - enough to pay for 1 execution.

Source: missourinet.com, March 1, 2016

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