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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…

Taiwan not about to replace death penalty with life imprisonment: Ma

President Ma Ying-jeou
President Ma Ying-jeou
President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday that although some countries in the world have replaced the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole, Taiwan is not thinking of following suit.

The president was responding to a question on the death penalty issue, during a news conference on the release of the second national report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to Ma, replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without possibility of parole has given rise to many problems.

For example, the public might find it hard to accept the idea of the country providing lifelong support for people convicted of serious crimes, he said, adding that prison population management can be another problem.

Furthermore, putting criminals in prison for the rest of their lives is no less harmful to human rights than executing them, Ma said.

Based on these reasons, the Ministry of Justice is not considering replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole, he added.

He said the government's current policy is to keep the death penalty but use it judiciously.

Over the past 20 years, Taiwan has abolished all the laws that prescribed the death sentence as the sole penalty and has been reviewing those laws that maintain it as an optional penalty, Ma noted.

Judges and prosecutors have also been very cautious in handling cases in which the death penalty is applicable, he said.

As a result, Ma said, the number of people sentenced to death has dropped to 6 per year on average from a high of 18 per year in the past.

People in Taiwan cannot yet accept the idea of removing the death penalty from the law books, the president said, adding that abolition of capital punishment is not yet a global trend either.

Although the United Nations has adopted several resolutions calling on states that maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use, the countries that retain capital punishment still account for 60 % of the world's population, Ma said.

Source: focustaiwan.tw, April 25, 2016

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