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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 -…

Come on, you know as well as I do what it is...



'Of course,' he said, 'you know what it is, Rieux, don't you?'
'I'm waiting for the results of the tests.'
'Well, I know. I don't need tests. I spent part of my life working in China, and I saw a few cases in Paris, twenty years ago - although no one dared put a name to it at that time. Public opinion is sacred: no panic, above all no panic. Then a colleague told me: "It's impossible, everyone knows it has vanished from the West." Yes, everyone knew that, except the dead. Come on, Rieux, you know as well as I do what it is...'
'Yes, Castel,' he said. 'It's almost impossible to believe. But it appears that it must be the plague.'

-- Albert Camus, The Plague, 1947



- Naturellement, vous savez ce que c'est, Rieux ?
- J'attends le résultat des analyses.
- Moi, je le sais. Et je n'ai pas besoin d'analyses. J'ai fait une partie de ma carrière en Chine, et j'ai vu quelques cas à Paris, il y a une vingtaine d'années. Seulement, on n'a pas osé leur donner un nom, sur le moment. L'opinion publique, c'est sacré : pas d'affolement, surtout pas d'affolement. Et puis, comme disait un confrère : "C'est impossible, tout le monde sait qu'elle a disparu de l'Occident." Oui, tout le monde le savait, sauf les morts. Allons, Rieux, vous savez aussi bien que moi ce que c'est...
- Oui, Castel, dit-il, c'est à peine croyable. Mais il semble bien que ce soit la peste.

-- Albert Camus, La peste, 1947

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