America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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…

Thailand: 2nd suspect hunted in wake of Monday's execution

Death chamber, Thailand
Police are stepping up the hunt for the 2nd suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old student in a public park 6 years ago, in the wake of the much debated execution on Monday of the youth's convicted killer.

The teenager was attacked by 2 young men on July 17, 2012 and killed. He was stabbed 24 times.

They stole his mobile phone, wallet and contents.

Theerasak Longji, 26, was put on trial for the crime and convicted of aggravated robbery. He was put to death by lethal injection on Monday afternoon, Thailand's 1st legal execution since 2009.

The 2nd, unidentified, suspect fled with the victim's possessions, deputy Muang Trang police chief Prasoet Songsaeng said on Wednesday. He was not the killer.

When the victim tried to run away, Theerasak had chased him down and stabbed him to death, Pol Lt Prasoet said.

That was murder with the intention to cover up a crime, he said.

Witnesses had identified Theerasak, who was wanted in another 5 criminal cases, as one of the attackers. He was arrested the following day and his knife seized as evidence, but he had denied the charges, Pol Lt Prasoet said.

Investigators in the case returned to the park on Wednesday, 6 years after the murder, as they planned their renewed hunt for the 2nd suspect.

Theerasak's execution has generated wide debate, especially across the internet. Amnesty International, which is against the death penalty for any crime, condemned the execution as deplorable.

Theerasak's mother still believes he was innocent.

Source: Bangkok Post, June 20, 2018

As world protests execution, Thai netizens speak up for death penalty

Social media
Members of Amnesty International gathered outside Bangkok's Bang Kwang Central Prison on yesterday to voice their disapproval of Thailand's 1st execution in 9 years. That disapproval was echoed by numerous rights groups - considerably less so from the general public.

The execution was carried out Monday afternoon, as 26-year-old Theerasak Longji was put to death by lethal injection for the robbery-murder of a 17-year-old boy, who Theerasak brutally stabbed 24 times.

Among the roughly dozen Amnesty members at the protest, signs could be seen reading "Execute Justice Not People" and "The death penalty does not decrease crime rates."

"The death penalty doesn't solve crimes. It is a violation of the right to live. We do not want to see heinous crimes in Thailand, however, we should not use violence as a solution," a Thai representative of the group told reporters.

Thailand was just one year short of reaching an important milestone. According to Amnesty International's guidelines, reaching the 10-year point with no executions marks the abolition of the death penalty "in practice." But that wasn't to be.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), meanwhile, voiced concern that the execution was carried out without prior notice. In a public statement, OHCHR said that transparency regarding the death penalty is in the public interest and that information about its application should be readily available for every and any citizen.

"We urge the Royal Thai Government to take steps to immediately instate a moratorium on the use of the death penalty as part of a process toward the full abolishment of capital punishment" said Cynthia Veliko, a representative of OHCHR.

Kingsley Abbott, a senior legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists, tweeted that the execution "flies in the face of Thailand's repeated commitments on the international stage to work towards abolition."

The reaction of many Thai netizens, however, stood in stark contract to that of rights groups, as comments disagreeing with the prison-front protest flooded Amnesty International Thailand's Facebook page.

"You advocate for a convict who stabbed the victim 24 times. Have you thought about what he was thinking when the he stabbed the victim? The 1st, 2nd, 3rd stab - what was going through his head? Do you have a proven successful solution?" said a comment that has received more than 500 likes.

A quick scan of Twitter - where the hashtag #deathpenalty was Twitter's top trending topic yesterday - showed fairly widescale support for the decision to bring back death penalty.

And few were using facts to argue that the death penalty is an effective deterrent. Rather, most seemed to see capital punishment as simply a sensible way to remove a proven threat from the public. Or, as with the tweet below, a justifiable form of vengeance.

"The Thai laws already consider the violators' rights and often give them a 2nd chance - too many chances, in fact. When a crime is too hideous and any sort of opportunities to redeem themselves have gone to waste, they should be punished by the full extent of the laws."

Meanwhile, E-jeab Liab Duan, an anonymous internet personality who offers his own take on news stories of the day, defended the death penalty's surprise reintroduction to his 2.5 million Facebook followers.

"I'm very okay with the 1st execution in almost 10 years - just like all of you, the majority of people in this country," reads post yesterday, which has gained nearly 70,000 likes.

"I don't want the death penalty to be carried out just for the sake of the public's satisfaction - just the heinous cases where the convicts had repeatedly committed crimes, the cases with solid proof.

"For the sake of those human rights folks, I won't say I agree with death penalty. I'll just say I don't disagree, and thanks to Department of Corrections for bringing it back, okay?"

The online outpouring of pro-death penalty sentiment is far from new in the decade of social media - movements for the government to bring back death penalty often follow the news of horrific crimes such as the rape and murder of children.

Source: coconuts.co, June 20, 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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