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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…

Chinese court sentences man to death over school stabbings

Zhao Zewei
A Chinese court sentenced a man to death Tuesday for a knife attack that killed 9 children and wounded another 11 as they returned home from school in northern China.

Zhao Zewei, 28, was arrested in April following the killings that he said were in response to a long-held grudge against the school.

The attack was "premeditated murder," the Yulin Intermediate Court said in a statement, adding that the circumstances warranted the death penalty.

"The goal of the crime was clear, the murderer's methods were despicable, and the consequences were extremely grave," it said on a statement on its website.

After his arrest, Zhao said he had been bullied when he attended the school, "hated" his classmates and decided to use a "dagger" to kill people, the court said in its verdict.

In preparation for the crime, he purchased 5 knives online. He carried 3 of them to the school, where he waited outside the gate for classes to finish before "rushing headlong into the stream of students and ... stabbing wildly," the court said.

9 students died, another 4 were seriously wounded and 7 others received light injuries from the assault, it said.

Zhao was subdued by teachers, security guards and students and then handed over to the police.

Photos from the trial show an emaciated Zhao being held by 2 police officers in the dock as he received his sentence.

Knife attacks are not uncommon in the country.

2 boys were stabbed to death outside a Shanghai elementary school in June.

In February, a knife-wielding man with a personal grudge killed a woman and injured 12 others in a busy Beijing shopping mall - a rare act of violence in the heavily policed capital.

In the southern city of Shenzhen, a man armed with a kitchen knife killed 2 people and wounded 9 others in a supermarket last July.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 11, 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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