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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

U.S.: Bike Path Terrorism Suspect Seeks Plea Deal to Avoid Death Penalty

Sayfullo Saipov
Lawyers for the Uzbek man charged in the truck attack on a crowded Manhattan bike path that killed eight people on Halloween said on Wednesday that their client would plead guilty and accept life imprisonment without parole if prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

The proposal came in an exchange of letters to Judge Vernon S. Broderick of Federal District Court in Manhattan, in which prosecutors were seeking a firm trial date for the defendant, Sayfullo Saipov, arguing that victims and witnesses needed closure, and Mr. Saipov’s lawyer said the best way to obtain closure was through such a plea deal.

The government has not yet said whether it would seek the death penalty for Mr. Saipov, 29, who was indicted on eight capital counts and other charges in the Oct. 31 attack, the deadliest terror attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Saipov has pleaded not guilty.

In the days immediately after the attack, President Trump posted messages on Twitter declaring “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY,” and “Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY.”

On Tuesday, the office of Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, wrote to Judge Broderick, describing the process that occurs before a decision on the death penalty is reached: Mr. Berman’s office would make a recommendation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions; the defense may make its own submission; a special Justice Department capital case unit conducts a review; and Mr. Sessions makes the ultimate determination.

The prosecutors asked the judge for a firm trial date around April 2019. “Of critical importance,” they wrote, “the victims in the United States and abroad have a strong desire for closure.”

In the defense’s letter on Wednesday, David E. Patton, one of Mr. Saipov’s federal public defenders, said, "The most straightforward way to achieve closure would be for the government to accept a plea of guilty and a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

That outcome would obviate the need for victims’ families to prepare for and participate in a trial and, in the event of a death sentence, prevent years of appeals, Mr. Patton noted.

Such a decision would “bring immediate closure to the case without the need for the public and victims to repeatedly relive the terrible events of Oct. 31, 2017,” Mr. Patton added. “We hope to convince the government of that view in our submissions.”

Neither Mr. Patton nor Mr. Berman’s office would comment.

Mr. Saipov is accused of driving a pickup truck down a bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in the abdomen.

Source: The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser, January 17, 2018


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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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