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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 -…

Bill to eliminate the death penalty heads to Louisiana Senate

Louisiana's death row
Louisiana's death row
BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - A bill that would eliminate the death penalty in Louisiana will hit the Louisiana State Senate floor Monday afternoon.

The bill cleared a committee last month on a 6-1 vote and Monday the full senate is expected to debate the death penalty at the Capitol.

The bill authored by Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor would eliminate the death penalty as of August 1 of this year.

Capital punishment opponents argue the practice is too costly for the state. Louisiana spent more than $90 million in the last 10 years defending capital cases.

A post-conviction attorney told legislators that judges and juries do not always reach the correct conclusion.

Data shows more than 80-percent of death penalty cases were overturned in the last four decades.

But opponents think it could green light judges to overturn death penalty sentences for convicts currently on death row.

Claitor said the bill is not designed to be used retroactively.

State Representative Terry Landry, (D) New Iberia said now is the time to make a change.

“It is a bad act that has outlived its time economically, morally, and I think it is time for us to turn a course,” Landry said.

But death penalty supporters say there are times when it is the correct punishment.

“There are crimes that are so heinous that I submit to you the death penalty may be the appropriate penalty,” said Ricky Babin, Ascension Parish District Attorney.

Landry, a former superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, is sponsoring a similar bill in the house.

Source: WVUE, May 15, 2017

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