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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 -…

Obama commutes the sentences of a record number of inmates

President Obama
President Obama granted clemency to a record 214 inmates on Wednesday, far surpassing his previous single-day record, as part of an ongoing effort to release federal inmates serving prison terms deemed to be unduly harsh.

To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 562 federal inmates, more than the previous nine presidents combined. 

The White House said in a statement that the president will continue commuting the sentences of inmates through his remaining months in office.

“Today began like any other for 214 federal inmates across the country, but ultimately became a day I am confident they will never forget,” said Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel. 

The 214 inmates freed represents the most commutations in a single day since at least 1900, Eggleston said.

Typically, Obama has granted clemency to 40 or 50 inmates a month. In this case, 67 of the 214 inmates had been sentenced to life in prison. 

Almost all of those released from their sentences on Wednesday had been convicted of nonviolent drug crimes, according to the White House.

The White House said the large number of commutations underscores the need for broader criminal justice reform, which has some bipartisan support but has stalled in Congress.

“While we continue to work to act on as many clemency applications as possible, only legislation can bring about lasting change to the federal system,” Eggleston said. “It is critical that both the House and the Senate continue to work on a bipartisan basis to get a criminal justice reform bill to the President’s desk.”

Click here to read the full article (+ list of inmates)

Source: The Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, August 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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