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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 'moving toward' abolishing death penalty

Taiwan
The Ministry of Justice yesterday responded to EU calls to abolish capital punishment by saying that Taiwan's justice system is moving toward that goal in the long term, adding that a high percentage of Taiwanese still favor the death penalty for certain crimes.

Taiwan, China, Japan and the US were among the nations criticized in the Council of the EU's Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015, which was released on Monday.

The report said that 101 countries have abolished the death penalty, as the EU reaffirmed "its opposition to the death penalty and use of all diplomatic tools at its disposal to advance the cause of worldwide abolition."

"The EU deplored the continuing use of the death penalty in various parts of the world: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Belarus, Egypt, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the USA were a particular focus of attention," it added, as the EU urged these nations to abolish capital punishment. Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang yesterday said the ministry's ultimate goal is to abolish capital punishment in Taiwan, "but current public surveys indicate that 82 % of the people are against abolition of the death penalty."

Chen said the ministry has undertaken 4 measures toward this long-term objective: ending legal requirements for "mandatory capital punishment" for certain crimes; taking steps for the judiciary to deliberate on "discretionary capital punishment"; handing out the death penalty with extreme prudence; and carrying out the death penalty with extreme prudence.

"We are currently reviewing and assessing this issue," Chen said. "The ministry will take very careful approaches on handling this issue and carrying out the death penalty, before our nation has formally abolished it," Chen said.

Other judicial officials said that the ministry is still responsible for policies on the death penalty, and that the nation's laws still retain the death penalty.

Source: Taipei Times, June 22, 2016

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