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…

Implementation of the New Anti-Narcotics Law in Iran: 1700 Death Row Cases Reviewed

Hangings, Iran
Iran Human Rights (Jul 5, 2018): According to the Iranian state media, Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, announced that cases of 1700 of the prisoners sentenced to death or life imprisonment for drug-related crimes in Tehran have been reviewed, while there are 1300 more requests which remain to be reviewed in the future. 

According to ILNA, Jafari-Dolatabadi mentioned the impact of the new drug law on the aforementioned statistics and pointed out, “We received 3000 requests from death-row prisoners and those sentenced to life imprisonment. 1700 requests have been reviewed in courts based on the new drug law so far and most sentences have been reduced to imprisonment. There are still 1300 more requests that will hopefully be reviewed in courts as soon as possible.

However, Tehran Prosecutor didn’t reveal to the press the precise number of the defendants whose death sentences have been reapproved. On the other hand, it is not clear how many of those 1700 prisoners were sentenced to death and how many were sentenced to life imprisonment. 

So far, there have been no official statistics on the process of reviewing the cases according to the new amendment to the Anti-Narcotics Law in other cities.

Iran Human Rights had previously mentioned the use of bribery and arbitrary prioritization in different cities in an earlier report addressing the situation six months after the implementation of the new anti-Narcotics Law.

Of note, the new amendment to the Anti-Narcotics Law doesn't address the issue of unfair trials and inaccessibility of many defendants to the lawyers during the investigation phase. 

This phenomenon may lead to the reapproval of some of the death sentences which were issued based on forced confessions.

Commenting the new report, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for IHR, had said, “We demand more clarity in the review process of the death row drug offenders' cases. At the present moment, the judges who have issued the death sentence are also responsible for reviewing the cases. We call for an independent committee to monitor this process.” He continued, “We also demand that the process of the trials be reviewed and for those defendants who did not have a lawyer or were forced to make a confession a retrial should be held.”

Source: Iran Human Rights, July 6, 2018

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