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

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…

Netanyahu Told Bereaved Family He Favored Death Penalty for Terrorists, but Told Cabinet He Was Against

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The death penalty for terrorists is part of the army’s legal code in the West Bank but requires discussion of the evidence even if the suspect confesses and a unanimous ruling by the judges in the lower and appellate court

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a July request by the attorney general to seek cabinet approval for the death penalty for terrorists, but only two days later said publicly he was in favor of the death penalty for terrorists, people at the cabinet meeting told Haaretz.

The death penalty for terrorists is part of the army’s legal code in the West Bank and has been on the books since the British Mandate that ended in 1948. A death penalty requires discussion of the evidence even if the suspect confesses, a unanimous ruling by the judges in the lower and appellate court, and the possibility of the military commander commuting the sentence.

In the ‘80s, the military courts in the West Bank imposed the death penalty but it was never carried out. The last time such a penalty was imposed was on one of the perpetrators of the 2000 lynching in Ramallah of two Israeli soldiers, Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz. One of the three judges on the bench dissented, so the sentence could not be carried out.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman supports the death penalty and is trying to move ahead on it. During the July 25 cabinet meeting in which the ministers voted to remove the metal detectors from the Temple Mount entrances, Lieberman asked military prosecutors to seek the death penalty for the terrorist who had been apprehended after the killing of three members of the Salomon family in the West Bank.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz supported Lieberman’s position. According to three sources familiar with the details of the meeting who requested anonymity, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit responded that the prosecution’s policy has long been not to seek the death penalty. He said the issue was complex and asked the cabinet’s approval to seek the death penalty in cases of particularly brutal murders. According to the sources, Netanyahu heard the remarks and said that this was not the subject under discussion.

But two days later, at a visit to the Salomons’ home, Netanyahu declared publicly that “the death penalty for terrorists is something whose time has come. It’s enshrined in law, the judges must be unanimous, but they also want to know the government’s position – and my position as prime minister in such a case, of such a despicable murderer, is that he should be executed. He simply should never smile anymore.”

Despite these statements, the military prosecutors decided not to seek the death sentence because the cabinet had not made a decision on the matter. A cabinet member told Haaretz that Netanyahu’s two contradictory statements torpedoed the vote.

Haaretz has not received a response from the prime minister since requesting it on Wednesday.

Last week Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party once again presented a bill that was rejected two years ago to install the death penalty and amend the law in the West Bank so that the death penalty could be imposed with two judges out of three ruling in favor. In any case, the bill does not circumvent Mendelblit’s discretion as head of the prosecution not to seek the death penalty.

Source: Haaretz, Chaim Levinson, November 5, 2017

Report: Netanyahu prevented advance of terrorist death penalty

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
PM publicly supported death penalty for terrorists at condolence visit, 2 days after reportedly thwarting a proposal to advance the issue.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thwarted several months ago during a cabinet meeting a proposal that sought to impose a death penalty on terrorists who had committed particularly brutal acts, according to a report this morning in Haaretz.

At a July 25 cabinet meeting following the murder of 3 members of the Salomon family in the community of Neve Tzuf, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly requested that the military prosecutor seek a death penalty for the terrorist murderer, who was caught alive after the attack. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz also supported Liberman's position.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit responded that the prosecution's policy has long been not to seek the death penalty. He added that the issue was complex and had broad political implications, and he therefore did not want to make such a decision alone. He suggested that cabinet ministers authorize him to seek the death penalty for particularly cruel murders.

According to the report in Haaretz, Netanyahu heard the remarks and said that they had not convened to talk about this issue, thus ending deliberations on the matter.

2 days later, the Prime Minister arrived for a condolence visit at the Salomon family home, where he specifically expressed support for the progression he had thwarted 2 days before.

Netanyahu told the family members, "The time had come to impose the death penalty for terrorists."

"This is permitted by the law; it needs a unanimous decision by the judges, but they'll want to know the position of the government as well. And my position is, as Prime Minister, that in this case, of this lowly terrorist, that he should be executed. He simply cannot be allowed to smile again," Netanyahu said, referencing pictures taken of the terrorist smiling shortly after the attack.

Several cabinet ministers present were amazed by Netanyahu's words, in light of the gap between his rhetoric and lack of readiness to advance such a proposal when the opportunity had presented itself.

Source: israelnationalnews.com, November 5, 2017

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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