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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…

Alabama: Stay of Execution denied for death row cop killer

Vernon Madison
Vernon Madison
A Mobile County Circuit Judge denied a stay of execution for Vernon Madison. He's one of Alabama's longest serving death row inmates.

Madison was convicted of the 1985 killing of Mobile Police Officer Julius Schulte. He's set to be executed Thursday at Holman Prison, near Atmore.

Madison's attorneys argue several strokes have caused significant damage and mental decline to the extent he no longer understands why the state intends to execute him, which they say violates his 8th Amendment right.

It's been 31 years since Madison pulled the trigger, shooting officer Schulte in his patrol car from behind.

"It's getting down to the point, where now is justice finally going to be served," said Matt Green, attorney.

Green, a former Baldwin County Assistant District Attorney, has followed the case and says if the death penalty was ever justified -- this is the case.

"His nickname was 'The Peacemaker.' He was responding to a runaway call and over the well-being of a child and that's what this is all about. Madison gets there and thinks somebody called police on him and for no reason... No reason goes and shoots and kills him," said Green.

Convicted in 3 trials for capital murder and countless appeals later, Green says it's time justice be served.

However, the group "Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty" is speaking out. The group's chairman and board members are on death row. The group's executive director spoke to us by phone and says its members plan to hold candlelight vigils across the state Thursday in the hours leading up to the execution.

"I have to say I'm sorry for the State of Alabama... More blood, more blood on its hands," said Esther Brown, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. "I would say what the state does is in cold blood it's pre-meditated murder. Closure does not come from another injustice ... Because to kill anybody, whether it is an individual who does or the state, is an injustice."

Now in the 11th hour, Madison has almost exhausted all of his appeals.

"I think it is time justice be served. If the sentence of law that's been imposed by the court and the federal court system and the state judiciary... That it be followed. And I think that is what the family wants and maybe that will happen," said Green.

Madison is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m.

Source: WALA news, May 11, 2016

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