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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…

Indonesia: Third round of executions to go ahead despite delays

Nusa Kambangan Island, where the last round of executions took place.
Nusakambangan Island, where the last round of executions took place.
The government has not yet finalized the date for the impending execution of death-row convicts despite the attorney general's plan to conduct a third round of executions at the beginning of 2016.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) would still follow through with the executions, but the exact time and location had not yet been confirmed, AGO spokesman Agung Amir Yanto said on Thursday.

"Until now, neither the place nor which convicts [will be executed] have been finalized," Amir said as quoted by Kompas.com.

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo said previously that a third round of executions would be conducted in January following the deaths of two groups of death-row convicts last year.

Amir said executing a person was a complicated matter.

"The death penalty is related to the loss of someone's life. It must be done carefully so as not to violate human rights," he said.

Preparations for executions must be thorough, he continued, adding that it was a complicated process especially when it involved foreign citizens.

The AGO must coordinate with the country of origin of foreign convicts, including on the legal rights of the convicts in regards to their defense.

"The issue of the death penalty involves other things, including clemency, judicial review, as well as health. And not only that, but also facilities," said Amir.

According to AGO data, there were 64 drug convicts sentenced to death as of 2015.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration executed two groups of death row convicts, comprising 14 people, on Jan. 18 and April 29 last year.

Two of the convicts were Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, whose executions in April caused tension between the two countries, leading to Australia recalling its ambassador from Indonesia.

The government continues to enforce the death sentence on big players in drug trafficking cases despite mounting criticism from other countries and human rights activists, arguing that the death penalty would not have a deterrent effect on drug traffickers and that consistency in law enforcement was the key to curbing the distribution of drugs.

Source: Jakarta Post, April 16, 2016

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