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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…

Tennessee death row inmates die of natural causes

Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, TN
Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, Tennessee
NASHVILLE - Death Row inmate Gary Cone has passed away at the age of 67.

He was pronounced dead at 9:38 AM on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at a Nashville hospital of natural causes.

Cone was convicted of armed robbery, assault with intent to murder and two counts of first degree murder.

He was sentenced to death in Shelby County in 1982.

After nearly 20 years on death row, William Stevens died Monday at the age of 60.

He was pronounced dead at 1:57 a.m. on April 4, 2016, at a Nashville hospital of natural causes, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

He was an inmate at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison here in Nashville.

Stevens was convicted of especially aggravated robbery and two counts of first degree murder for the 1997 deaths of his wife, 45-year-old Sandra Jean Stevens, and her mother, 75-year-old Myrtle Wilson.

Stevens was found guilty of hiring 18-year-old Corey Milliken to murder the two women and stage a burglary at their home.

He was sentenced to death in 1999. Milliken is serving a life sentence.

In 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld Stevens' death sentence, although one justice offered a dissenting opinion.

Tennessee has not executed anyone since 2009. The state set execution dates for 10 men in early 2014, but in April 2015 all executions were put on hold.

Sources: TNDOC, Nashville Scene, April 20, 2016

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