Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Idaho: Eight Death Row Inmates Cost Taxpayers Millions

BOISE – Inside the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, you can tour the state’s former death row.

“The Old Pen executed a total of 10 inmates, one was a federal execution and none of them were state executions,” Meghan Anderson, interpretive specialist for the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, said.

Idaho only hanged one man in their gallows before a Supreme Court decision banned executions in the country.

Raymond Allen Snowden was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a woman in Garden City in 1956.

“His body didn’t drop with the proper weight, so he ended up having to strangle, and it took him about 15 minutes to die,” Anderson said.

Snowden only sat in his cell for about a year before his execution in 1957, a stark contrast to the amount of time Idaho’s eight remaining death row inmates have been awaiting their executions.

“The average length of time between a sentence and an execution is about 16 years,” College of Western Idaho criminal justice professor Stephanie Breach said. “However, there are some states that execute a lot more quickly, so they throw the numbers off.”

In Idaho, the last two executed inmates waited on death row for about 30 years each.

Richard Albert Leavitt was executed in 2012.

Leavitt is one of only three to be executed in the state since the death penalty was officially reinstated in 1976. In comparison, in the time Idaho has put three people to death, Texas has executed more than 500.

“Since they are doing executions a lot, some of the research shows that they are equipped to continually be doing executions,” Breach said.

Keeping inmates on death row is more expensive than letting them serve out a life sentence.

“It’s 44 times more for the appeals on a death penalty case versus a life in prison case,” Breach said.

Taxpayers are footing the bill.

“Some studies show that, on average, it costs $3 million for a death penalty case from the time that the case starts until the time of execution,” Breach said.

Nationwide, that adds up to $25 billion in taxpayer money spent on death row cases since 1976.

Breach said that number does not include the court costs of those who die in prison before their execution.

“We’re paying those costs,” Breach said. “Our taxes are paying the appeals. We’re paying the corrections budget. … It’s very expensive.”

Source: East Idaho News, KIVI (CNN), Marissa Morrison, May 5, 2017

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