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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…

Indonesia's Aceh considers beheading as penalty for murder

Public caning in Indonesia's Aceh province
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh known for publicly caning gays, adulterers and gamblers is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, a top Islamic law official said Wednesday.

Syukri M. Yusuf, the head of Aceh's Shariah Law and Human Rights Office, said the provincial government has asked his office to research beheading as a method of execution under Islamic law and to consult public opinion.

"Beheading is more in line with Islamic law and will cause a deterrent effect. A strict punishment is made to save human beings," Yusuf told reporters. "We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed."

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, a concession made by the central government in 2005 to end a decades-long war for independence.

Its implementation has become increasingly harsh and now also applies to non-Muslims. Last year, the province for the first time caned two men for gay sex after vigilantes broke into their home and handed them over to religious police.

Yusuf said if Shariah law is consistently applied, then crime, particularly murder, will decrease significantly or disappear.

He said punishment for murderers has in practice been "relatively mild" and they could reoffend after release from prison. He pointed to Saudi Arabia as an example to follow in practicing severe punishment for murder.

Indonesia has the death penalty for crimes such as murder and drug trafficking, which it carries out by firing squad. Its last executions were in July 2016 when three Nigerians and one Indonesian convicted of drug offenses were shot on the Nusa Kambangan prison island.

Source: The Associated Press, March 14, 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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