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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…

Pakistani, Saudi executed in Saudi Arabia

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi authorities executed two men on Tuesday, bringing to 98 the number of executions carried out in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom so far this year.

Pakistani Mohammed Mokhtar, who was convicted of heroin trafficking, was executed in the eastern city of Dammam, the ministry said.

Saudi citizen Ali Assiri, who was found guilty of stabbing a fellow tribesman to death, was executed in the southwestern region of Asir, the interior ministry said.

Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

There were no beheadings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in the kingdom on June 6.

However, executions resumed on Sunday when authorities put a Saudi murderer to death.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

Amnesty’s figures do not include secretive China.

The London-based watchdog says the Saudi rate of executions this year is “higher than at the same point last year”.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for “terrorism” offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions, leading Riyadh to sever relations.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 19, 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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