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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…

Chilling Tale in Duterte’s Drug War: Father and Son Killed in Police Custody

Philippine police officers
MANILA — Even amid the slaughter of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, the killings of Renato and Jaypee Bertes stand out.

The Bertes men, father and son, shared a tiny, concrete room with six other people in a metropolitan Manila slum, working odd jobs when they could find them. Both smoked shabu, a cheap form of methamphetamine that has become a scourge in the Philippines. Sometimes Jaypee Bertes sold it in small amounts, relatives said.

So it was unsurprising when the police raided their room last month.

They were arrested and taken to a police station where, investigators say, they were severely beaten, then shot to death.

The police said the two had tried to escape by seizing an officer’s gun. But a forensic examination found that the men had been incapacitated by the beatings before they were shot; Jaypee Bertes had a broken right arm.

“There is no justification at all,” said Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, a member of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, an independent government body that investigated the case. “How can you shoot someone who is already in your custody?”

The two men are among more than 800 people who have been killed by police officers and vigilantes since the May election of Mr. Duterte, who has repeatedly called for killing drug dealers and users. Most have been killed by police officers, in encounters the police characterize as confrontations or self-defense. More than 200 have been attributed to vigilantes, who often leave cardboard signs declaring their victims to be drug pushers.

Mr. Duterte has not commented on the case, which has been widely reported in the local news media. In a speech on Wednesday, he said that the police should not use excessive force, but he showed no sign of backing down from his call to kill drug suspects.

“The fight against drugs will continue unrelenting until we have destroyed the apparatus operating in the entire country,” he said.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The New York Times, Richard C. Paddock, August 19, 2016
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