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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Belarus: Unprecedented Supreme Court decision to suspend death sentences

Belarus prison
Responding to the news that the Supreme Court of Belarus has in an unprecedented move decided to suspend and review the death sentences of Ihar Hershankou and Siamion Berazhnoy while their appeals are under consideration, Marie Struthers, Director of Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, said:

“This is a hugely significant and unprecedented decision for the only country in the region that has continued to execute people all these years. We are not aware of other cases where the Supreme Court of Belarus has suspended an execution.”

“We continue to monitor the case closely, but it gives us hope that after years of discussion on the death penalty Belarus is ready to walk the talk. We urge Belarus’ highest authorities to build on this development by immediately establishing a moratorium on executions and commuting all death sentences as first steps towards making Belarus death penalty-free.”

Background


Since 1994 the Supreme Court of Belarus has upheld all convictions and death sentences that came before it and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has only once granted clemency.

Ihar Hershankou and Siamion Berazhnoy were convicted and sentenced to death by the Mahiliou Regional Court in eastern Belarus on 21 July 2017. They were found guilty of murdering six people between 2009 and 2015 with the aim of appropriating their property. Their convictions and death sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court on 20 December 2017 and the two men have since been at risk of imminent execution. Amnesty International has campaigned for their sentences to be commuted and for the President to introduce an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

Despite continuing assurances from the Belarusian authorities that it is progressing toward a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty, Belarus has shown a flagrant disdain for global and regional trends towards abolition. Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As of today, 106 countries have fully abolished the death penalty in law and 142 are abolitionist in law or practice.

Source: Amnesty International, 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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