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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…

U.S.: Upcoming executions demonstrate unlawful nature of death penalty

NEW YORK — Three executions set for this week all demonstrate the irreparable failings of the death penalty, experts from Amnesty International USA said today.

“Three states are set to put prisoners to death this week, and every single one of these cases raises disturbing questions about the fairness of the legal proceedings that put them on death row,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer for criminal justice programs at Amnesty International USA. “These cases show that there is no justifiable way for the state to put a prisoner to death. The death penalty system is irrevocably broken and should be done away with for good.”

Prisoners scheduled for execution this week are

Patrick Hannon, who has been on death row in Florida for over 26 years, or more than half of his life. Hannon’s co-defendants received lighter sentences due in part to what two Florida Supreme Court judges attributed to ineffective counsel. 

Hannon is scheduled to be put to death on November 8;

Ruben Cárdenas Ramírez is a Mexican national who was denied consular assistance as was his right under the law and interrogated without counsel for days despite asking for a lawyer. He has also been denied requests for DNA testing that could exonerate him. 

He is scheduled to be put to death in Texas on November 8 as well.

Jack Greene’s execution was scheduled this August when the state of Arkansas was able to obtain fresh supplies of the lethal injection drug midazolam. His would be the first execution since the state sought to execute eight prisoners in 11 days this past spring before the last supply of the drug expired, resulting in four executions taking place. Greene has been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and his lawyers say he is not competent enough to know why he is being put to death.

Source: Amnesty International USA, November 7, 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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