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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 -…

USA: In party platform, Democrats call for end to death penalty

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Washington (CNN) -- Democrats are calling for an end to capital punishment.

The latest draft of the party's platform, released Friday, says the death penalty "has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment" that "has no place in the United States of America."

The inclusion of the provision represents a victory of sorts for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- a longtime opponent of the punishment who has said he is remaining in the presidential race in order to fight for progressive causes.

Sanders offered mild praise for the platform Friday evening, tweeting, "The Democratic Platform includes some accomplishments that will begin to move this country in the right direction."

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has supported the death penalty in the past, albeit on a limited basis, suggesting that there could be cases for "very limited use" of the punishment in "horrific" terrorist crimes.

She was confronted over the issue during a CNN-TV One town hall event in May by an exonerated former death row inmate who spent 39 years in jail for a murder he did not commit.

"Where I end up is this, and maybe it's a distinction that is hard to support, but at this point, given the choices we face from terrorist activities primarily in our country that end up under federal jurisdiction, for very limited purposes, I think it can still be held in reserve for those," Clinton said.


For Sanders supporters, the inclusion of the death penalty provision could be viewed as the latest example of the ways in which the populist candidate has pushed the Democratic Party to the left.

Other provisions in the platform include support for workers earning at least $15 an hour -- though the platform doesn't call for a $15 federal minimum wage, one of Sanders' signature issues -- adopting a tougher tax policy against corporations, expanding Social Security and supporting states that choose to decriminalize marijuana.

Clinton adviser Maya Harris praised the plaform last week, calling it "the most ambitious and progressive platform" the party has seen.

Although Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper last week that he claimed some "very, very important victories" in the initial draft of the Democratic platform, he also said his camp had "lost some very important fights" on some issues, including trade, a carbon tax and health insurance.

He vowed to "take that fight to Orlando" -- where the committee will meet next week to approve the final draft of the platform -- and said if he doesn't succeed there, he will "certainly take it to the floor of the Democratic convention."

Source: CNN, Rachel Chason, July 2, 2016

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