FEATURED POST

Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

Image
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 -…

North Dakota's history with the death penalty

North Dakota
A recent letter to the editor from Shaun Moser published June 7 questions why Ashley Hunter isn't facing a death sentence. I would like to try and explain a few things about North Dakota's history with the death penalty.

First of all, no one has been executed in North Dakota since a murderer by the name of John Rooney was hanged here in Cass County on Oct. 17, 1905. 

From my perspective, North Dakota doesn't have the death penalty, most likely because of both the costs involved, and the fact that there hasn't been a murder case that would be considered eligible for the death penalty tried under state law since at least 1914.

North Dakota has only carried out eight judicially-ordered executions between statehood in 1889 and 1905. All eight of the executions were the hangings of condemned murderers. The executions took place in the county in which the inmates were convicted, with the county sheriff presiding over the hangings. If I understand the history correctly, each of these hangings were public spectacles.

However, the Rooney execution was the only execution in state history that was carried out inside of a state prison. Not in public. I wasn't aware that at one time, Cass County had a state prison, but the execution is mentioned on the North Dakota state courts website as having taken place at the Cass County Prison.

North Dakota had a death penalty on the books until it was struck down with all death penalty laws across the country in the 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Accordingly, the North Dakota Legislature repealed the last vestiges of the death penalty during its 1973 regular session.

At the time, the only death penalty eligible crime was when a prisoner either killed another person while in the custody of the state penitentiary, or when a prisoner escaped from the penitentiary and killed someone outside of the prison. This was a law under which no one had been sentenced to death.

There have been bills to reinstate the death penalty introduced on a number of occasions since the death penalty was repealed in 1973. All of them failed to pass.

Yes, North Dakota is regarded as a "red" or ultra-conservative, Republican-dominated state; yet it does not have the death penalty. It doesn't seem there is any hurry to reinstate capital punishment in this state.

Source: INFORUM, Rick Olson, June 10, 2017. The author is a regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary and opinion pages. Email rickolson@midco.net.

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Comments

Most Viewed (Last 30 Days)

Harris County leads Texas in life without parole sentences as death penalty recedes

Idaho County commissioners take stand against death penalty

Indonesian death penalty laws to be softened to allow reformed prisoners to avoid execution

Texas executes Anthony Allen Shore

USA: Executions, Death Sentences Up Slightly in 2017

Texas executes Dale Devon Scheanette

Death penalty cases of 2017 featured botched executions, claims of innocence, 'flawed' evidence

California: Death penalty sought against Redwood City man accused of sexually assaulting, killing infant

Virginia Governor commutes death sentence of killer found mentally incompetent to be executed

Texas man with scheduled execution uses letters from fellow death row inmates to argue for reprieve