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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…

Belarus Suspends Two Death Sentences, Rights Group Says

Belarus prisoners
RFE/RL -- The Supreme Court of Belarus has suspended two death sentences, the Minsk-based Vyasna (Spring) human rights center says.

Vyasna cites relatives of Ihar Hershankou and Syamyon Berazhnoy as saying that the court has suspended the implementation of the two men's death sentences while their appeals are being considered.

In a June 14 statement, Vyasna lawyer Paval Sapelka said the appeals offers a possibility that the sentence be commuted.

Appeals usually take at least one month to consider.

Earlier in January, Amnesty International raised concerns about Hershankou and Berazhnoy, saying their executions were imminent after the Supreme Court upheld their sentences in December.

In July 2017, the two men were found guilty of murder and kidnapping, after an investigation established that they were part of a gang that killed old home-owners in order to acquire their properties.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe and Central Asia to carry out the death penalty.

The European Union and rights groups have urged Belarus for years to join a global moratorium on the death penalty.

According to rights organizations, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in Belarus since it gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Source: RFE/RL, June 15, 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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