Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Philippines: Palace not giving up on death penalty despite Pope’s declaration

Pope Francis
MANILA - Malacañang said Friday it is not giving up on pushing for the reinstatement of death penalty despite Pope Francis’ declaration that it is “inadmissible" in the Catholic Church’s teachings.

The House of Representatives in March last year approved a bill restoring the death penalty on third and final reading, but its counterpart measure in the Senate remains pending as some senators are not keen on calls to bring back such form of capital punishment.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace will “try gentle persuasion” on the senators so they would pass the bill. President Rodrigo Duterte has been hoping to reinstate the death penalty as he wages his war on drugs and pursues an anti-crime campaign.

Leaders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, where 80 percent are of the faith, have been strongly opposed to government's move. 

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on Friday said the Pope’s declaration clears any vagueness on the Church's position on death penalty.

Pope Francis approved the change to the catechism, which covers a wide range of moral and social issues, during a meeting in May with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church's doctrinal watchdog.

"The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person'," the new text states.

The update also says that the Church will "work with determination" for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

"Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good," says the new text.

"Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Source: ABS-CBN News, Dharel Placido, August 3, 2018

Sotto to reconsider death penalty push after Pope Francis declares it 'inadmissible'

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said he would have to "think over" his push for the reimposition of death penalty in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, following Pope Francis' declaration that capital punishment is "inadmissible" in all circumstances.

"Let me think it over. I'll try to find some kind of compromise," Sotto said Friday (August 3) in a text message.

Senators continue to reject death penalty, with Sotto admitting that it faces an "uphill climb" in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told reporters a death penalty bill "will die if put to a vote today," while former Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel Jr. said, "We will not reimpose it."

A possible compromise, Sotto said, is his Senate Bill No. 1, which seeks to create a "highly secured" Anti-Drug Penal Institution "located in an uninhabited place" for high-level drug traffickers.

Pope Francis approved a change in Catholic catechism on death penalty in May, saying it is "inadmissible."

The new draft of the catechism, released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reads, "The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she (the Church) works with determination for its abolition worldwide."

Before this, the Church taught that death penalty is permissible in cases of "absolute necessity."

Now, the Church says it recognizes that "the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Sotto, a Catholic, authored 1 of 8 bills pending in a Senate committee seeking to reimpose death penalty, which was abolished in the Philippines in 2006.

He filed Senate Bill No. 4 in 2016 which seeks to reinstate death penalty by lethal injection for heinous crimes, including treason, murder, robbery with violence or intimidation, rape and plunder.

However, after he was elected as Senate President in May, he said he is only pushing for capital punishment for high-level drug traffickers.

In an interview on ANC Thursday (August 2), Sotto said he wants death penalty for drug lords to keep them from continuing with their trade even behind bars. He also defended his proposal against critics who say it is anti-poor.

"My question is mayroon bang drug lord na mahirap? Wala. So my death penalty for high-level trafficking is not anti-poor," Sotto said.

Aside from Sotto, Senators Manny Pacquiao, Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian and Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito have filed bills seeking to either fully reimpose death penalty or impose it for selected crimes only.

Even after a key change in Catholic catechism, the Malacanang said it is still pushing for death penalty to be restored, but is leaving the Senate to pass a law for it.

Opposition leader Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said his fellow senators from the Liberal Party would oppose the reimposition of the death penalty, which they "do not see as a deterrent to crime."

Sotto also admitted in his interview on ANC that he had been "convinced" by former colleagues in past Congresses "that death penalty is not really that much of a deterrent."

President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in Congress have been pushing for the death penalty to be restored, with the House passing a capital punishment bill in March 2017.

Source: politics.com.ph, August 3, 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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