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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 sets up firing squads for new executions that could include Lindsay Sandiford

Lindsay Sandiford (center) in Bali's Kerobokan prison
Lindsay Sandiford (center) in Bali's Kerobokan prison
Indonesian police have set up "several" firing squads ready for deployment to a notorious prison island as the country finalises preparations for a fresh wave of executions of drug smugglers.

2 British death row inmates, including grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, could be among the next batch of prisoners tied to a stake and executed.

Commander Aloys Darmanto, the Central Java police spokesman, said on Tuesday that the provincial mobile brigade unit has established several firing squads to be sent when needed to Nusakambangan prison island.

A larger execution ground is also reported to have been prepared as Indonesia is expected to press ahead "within weeks" with putting drug traffickers to death, after a 1-year hiatus.

"Everyone is ready, including prison officials," he told the Jakarta Globe.

It was on Nusakambangan last April that 14 convicts were executed, including 2 Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were leaders of the Bali 9 drug trafficking ring.

"All firing squads from the mobile brigade unit are preparing themselves for the execution," Cdr Aloys said. "We are just waiting for further instructions from the Attorney General."

He refused to reveal how many firing squad members have been trained as that might indicate how many inmates will be executed.

"1 team will consist of 7 to 8 shooters," the officer said. "The number will be adjusted later."

Muhammad Prasetyo, the attorney general, said in April that the next round of executions would be carried out "soon" and that the inmates would include some foreigners currently on death row. Executions could be implemented any time from June, diplomats believe.

David Cameron and Joko Widodo in London
David Cameron and Joko Widodo in London
Sandiford, a grandmother from Cheltenham caught trying to smuggle cocaine into Bali in 2013, is the most high profile foreigner on death row.

A fellow Briton, Gareth Cashmore, 36, was sentenced to death in 2012, a year after he was initially given a punishment of life imprisonment when crystal meth was found in his luggage.

Joko Widodo, the president, ordered the re-implementation of the death penalty after he was elected in 2014, saying that the "war on drugs" was a national priority.

Mr Widodo recently toured Europe, including a two-day stop in London for meetings with David Cameron focused on lucrative trade deals. Mr Cameron raised Sandiford's fate when he visited Jakarta last year, but it was not clear whether he mentioned the cases of the Britons at their latest meeting.

The Indonesian leader seems certain not be influenced by public international condemnation after forging ahead with last year's executions despite outrage in Australia.

On the German leg of his European tour, he described drug trafficking as "national emergency" after Chancellor Angela Merkel talked of her country's opposition to capital punishment.

The Diplomat, a regional news website, reported that Luhut Pandjaitan, the country's security chief, wants to ensure the next round of executions are completed with less "commotion" than last year.

Source: telegraph.co.uk, May 3, 2016

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