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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Experts: Restoring death penalty in Turkey would be risky

Rights groups and legal experts said Wednesday that Turkey would be abandoning international rights conventions, and reverting to relics of military dictatorships if it reinstates the death penalty, which was abolished more than a decade ago.

Since the failed coup, hundreds of protesters have chanted in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and demanded the restoration of the death penalty.

Erdogan hasn't pushed back against those demands, saying reinstating it is a constitutional procedure that the parliament has to discuss. If the parliament approves it, he said, he would back it.

"You cannot put aside the people's demands," Erdogan told hundreds of supporters late Monday at a rally outside his Istanbul home.

But European leaders say talks on Turkey's bid to join the EU would end if Ankara restores the death penalty. Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004, as part of its bid to join the bloc.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty researcher in Turkey, said it's ironic that the country has been among the main campaigners in the United Nations for countries to abolish capital punishment. The last execution carried out in Turkey was in 1984, following the last military coup in 1980.

"The death penalty is a relic of military dictatorship in Turkey," Gardner said. "By bringing back the death penalty, Turkey would be disregarding its international commitments, massively complicating their international relations."

A Turkish criminal lawyer said that even if capital punishment was reintroduced in Turkey, it couldn't be legally applied to any of the alleged perpetrators of the coup because it would be violating international rights principles. The reinstating of the death penalty would require an amendment to the constitution or a public referendum.

A crime can't be punished retroactively with an amended law, said Vildan Yirmibesoglu, a criminal and human rights lawyer.

"The suspect is tried with the existing law (at the time of the crime.) It is not possible to apply a law that has been enacted retroactively to a crime that has been committed in the past."

Source: Associated Press, July 21, 2016


Erdogan: Europe should respect decision to introduce death penalty

Europe will have to respect the choice of Turkish people, if the death penalty is restored in the country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"We have been knocking on the EU door for the past 53 years. They have made us wait for 53 years. Many countries who came after us are already in. I believe that this decision is up to the people. If the people say this must be done, any country that believes in democracy must respect this decision," Sputnik cited him as saying.

Source: vestnikkavkaza.net, July 21, 2016


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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