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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Israel: Knesset to Debate New Death Penalty for Terrorists Bill

The Knesset
The Knesset
A bill proposing an amendment to the Penal Law and the Anti-Terrorism Law, allowing the court to sentence to death terrorists who murdered innocent civilians will be added to the Knesset agenda soon by MK Nava Boker (Likud), Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

The bill proposes adding two new articles to the Penal Law, the first of which, 99 (a), states that “a person who committed acts of intentional killing in order to assist a terrorist organization or an enemy during hostilities carried out against Israel, following a call from a terrorist organization or an enemy state, whether the order to carry out the operation was given to him personally or he responded to a general and non-specific call to take violent action out of identification with a goal of the enemy or terrorist organization – will be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.”

In a similar fashion, the amended articles which so far imposed only life imprisonment for acts of treason and/or terrorism, will now carry the death penalty as the first option before a judge.

The explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that “there is a legislative, social and public need for deterrent punishment that will contribute to social safety and the principle of protecting the state against and citizens by eradicating terrorist attacks.”

The bill’s sponsor, Knesset Deputy Speaker MK Nava Boker, said that she had decided to submit the bill because “the murderers of the Fogel family from Itamar now live in a four-star hotel in an Israeli prison.”

Terror attacks


The Itamar massacre of March 11, 2011 was a terror attack on the Israeli settlement of Itamar in Judea and Samaria, in which five members of the Fogel family were murdered in their beds.

“I have no doubt that the death penalty for terrorists, along with other means, constitutes real deterrence and helps to eradicate terror in Israel,” MK Boker stated, adding that “the time has come to put an end to our groveling before terror and our enemies. It is important that the family of a terrorist who sends its son to murder will know that he would receive the worst punishment of all and will not spend a few years in a four-star hotel in an Israeli prison and then be released in a swap deal and go back to murdering innocent civilians.”

Following the recent massacre of three members of the same family in Halamish, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed support for the execution of the terrorist Omar al-‘Abd from the nearby village of Qubar, who carried out the murders.

Source: Jewish Press, David Israel, August 2, 2017


Poll: 70% of Israelis support death penalty for Palestinian terrorists


Some 70 percent of Israelis favor giving the death penalty to Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israelis, according to the monthly Peace Index that was released by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Wednesday.

The poll found that 69.8% of Israelis would support giving death sentences after a trial to Palestinians who murdered Israeli citizens for nationalistic reasons. The percentage saying they would oppose the death penalty was 25.3%, and 4.9% said they did not know or declined to respond.

When asked specifically about giving the death penalty to murderers of IDF soldiers, the numbers were not much different, with 65.8% in favor, 28% against, and 6.1% not knowing or responding.

Likud MK Naava Boker proposed a bill Wednesday that would allow giving the death penalty to terrorists sent by a terrorist organization who murder at least two people.

"The murderers of the Fogel family in Itamar currently live in a four-star hotel in an Israeli prison," Boker said. "The recent murders of border policemen on the Temple Mount and the Solomon family in Halamish require taking stricter measures. Enacting a death penalty for terrorists, along with other measures, could restore deterrence and help stop terror in Israel."

The poll asked respondents whether punishments given by Israeli courts to Palestinian terrorists who kill Israelis fit the crime. There was a huge difference by Israeli Arabs and Jews in their response.

Among Israeli Arabs, 63% said they were too harsh, 2.3% said too easy, 25.4% said just right, and 9.3% did not know or respond.

Among Israeli Jews 71.6% said too easy, 2.6% said too heavy, 18.5% said just, right and 7.3% did not know or respond.

The poll of 600 Israelis representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population was taken July 25-27 and had a margin or error of plus or minus 4.1%.

Source: The Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2017

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