FEATURED POST

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…

Nebraska: Death penalty in our hands now

Nebraska: Gathering signatures against the death penalty repeal
Nebraska: Gathering signatures against the death penalty repeal
The death penalty debate has moved out of the Legislature and into the public square.

State senators in 2015 said repeal it, and they spoke with enough force to override a gubernatorial veto. Now, it's our turn to decide.

Conventional wisdom says Nebraskans will overturn the Legislature's decision and restore the death penalty by supporting a referendum in November to do just that.

But there's also a widespread hunch that this might not be a slam dunk, not really quite settled yet.

And so voters now will hear some of the same arguments that senators heard from supporters of death penalty repeal: It's costly, it's used so rarely that it's essentially unworkable and ineffective, it runs the risk of killing an innocent person who later is found not to have committed the crime.

And then there's the overriding issue of personal or religious belief: Do pro-life believers make exceptions? Or does the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, not only justify, but direct punishment by death if you kill another?

Lots of fundamental issues and important questions for Nebraska voters to weigh, just as their elected representatives did last year when they voted for repeal.

That decision startled many people in other parts of the country and made them reconsider some of their stereotypical views about Nebraska and Nebraskans. Some of your friends and associates in other states probably already have told you that.

On the other hand, that decision surprised and disappointed some people who looked on from afar, friends may also tell you.

In any event, it was noticed. It was news. Big change, unexpected, even startling, chronicled in New York newspapers and celebrated in Rome by bathing the historic Colosseum in white light.

On the other hand, it also was a decision that quickly mobilized death penalty supporters determined to reverse the Legislature's decision.

So now it's our turn as voters to decide.

TV ads are going to try to influence us, convince us, nudge us toward a decision.

Death penalty opponents probably are going to have to change minds if they hope to succeed, just as they did in the Legislature; supporters will make a case for deterrence and just punishment, pointing to heinous crimes.

The most compelling 30-second ads -- we'll probably see a ton of them -- could make a difference in moving the needle on voter consideration of this issue.

But this essentially is a private and personal decision and one that for most people probably already has been made.

The critical question is: Are there still open minds?

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, August 22, 2016





Source: Retain A Just Nebraska. Aug 17, 2016. For more, please visit: http://retainajustnebraska.com


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