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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 -…

Iraq: Execution of 31 piles injustice on top of bloodshed

The mass execution of 31 men in Iraq, which was announced yesterday, for their alleged role in mass killings in 2014 is further proof of the Iraqi authority's blatant disregard for human rights and misguided use of the death penalty in the name of security, said Amnesty International.

Local authorities confirmed to Amnesty International that they yesterday received the 31 bodies in Samarrah, Salah al-Din governorate, which were then transferred to the city's hospital for purposes of being collected by their families, who have commenced to do so. 

The executions took place on Friday, January 20, 2017.

The men, whose "confessions" were extracted under serious allegations of torture, were convicted following deeply flawed and speedy trials, over the killing of 1,700 military cadets at Speicher military camp near Tikrit in June 2014. 

The armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for those killings.

"This is the 2nd time in less than 6 months that the Iraqi authorities have carried out mass executions after unfair trials" said James Lynch, Head of the Death Penalty team at Amnesty International.

"The death penalty - the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment - is being used to create an illusion of security but it will only perpetuate the cycle of violence that is ravaging Iraq."

"Amnesty International has consistently condemned IS atrocities in the strongest of terms, including the heinous Speicher massacre. Victims of IS crimes have the right to justice and truth. However, unfair trials, torture and mass executions can never be considered justice."

"The Iraqi authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty."

Source: Amnesty International, January 25, 2017

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