Abolition of the Death Penalty: A Tough Road ahead for India

The movement against the death penalty in present-day India faces a tremendous challenge in terms of extensive public clamour for swift executions, removal of appeals, and even support for summary executions. 
With the imminent execution of the four convicts in the Delhi gang rape and murder case against the background of reactions to incidents in Hyderabad, Kathua and Unnao, harsher punishments are receiving tremendous public support, and politicians are only happy to oblige. The Supreme Court has issued administrative orders (1) to hear death sentence cases faster amidst misplaced concerns in the public that death row prisoners have too many loopholes in the law to exploit.
Framing the death penalty as a political–legal issue in India is not easy. Located within the wider spectrum of social and state violence in India, the exceptional nature of the cruelty of the death penalty is difficult to establish. 
The suffering inflicted by the death penalty is the constant and daily uncerta…

Statement By Robert Dunham, Executive Director Of The Death Penalty Information Center, On Colorado’s Abolition Of Capital Punishment

Colorado becomes 22nd state to abolish the death penalty

Colorado is following the trend that we're seeing in the West, which is a steady movement away from the death penalty -- first in practice, and then in abolition. With Governor Jared Polis’s signature this afternoon, Colorado became the 22nd U.S. state to abolish the death penalty and the 10th in the past decade-and-a-half.

Colorado’s action exemplifies the trend we are seeing in states across the country, which is a continuing movement away from capital punishment, first in practice, then in law. Half of U.S. states have either abolished the death penalty or have imposed moratoria on executions. 2/3 either no longer authorize capital punishment or have not executed anyone in more than a decade. New death sentences are down nearly 90% since the mid 1990s and executions have declined by 75% since the turn of the century. And more than 80% of U.S. counties have no one on death row and have not executed anyone in the past half century.

The trend away from the death penalty has been particularly strong in the West in recent years. Governors in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California have all halted executions. Washington and Colorado have gone on to judicially or legislatively abolish the death penalty and Oregon has significantly restricted its scope. No state west of Texas has carried out an execution in the past 5 years and fewer new death sentences were imposed in those states last year than in any year since California brought back its death penalty in the late 1970s.

Governor Jared Polis
That is not a surprise. Public support for capital punishment has been thinning and is near a generation low. America’s views of criminal justice have experienced a sea change and in state legislatures, the issue has become increasingly bipartisan. And as legislators have shifted from viewing the death penalty as an instrument of politics and have increasingly subjected it to the same type of scrutiny afforded other government programs, we have seen significant legislative movement towards abolition across the country.

Growing numbers of legislators have criticized the high cost of capital punishment, the inherent risk of convicting and executing the innocent, the continuing racial, geographic, and economic disparities in the way it is applied, and the untrustworthiness of states to carry it out fairly, consistently, or in a principled manner. As Governor Polis noted in his statement today, “the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado.”

Colorado’s legislators engaged in heartfelt, respectful, and good-faith debate on very sensitive issues. In the end, they based their decision on the evidence and what each legislator individually believed in his or her heart was right for the people of the state. Governor Polis recognized that, as distasteful as the crimes were that resulted in the three remaining death sentences in the state, it was better to close out this chapter in Colorado’s criminal justice history than to let the issue fester while unnecessarily spending millions more of taxpayer dollars.

Source: Death Penalty Information Center,  Robert Dunham, March 24, 2020

Statement By Kirk Bloodsworth, Executive Director Of Witness To Innocence, On Colorado’s Abolition Of Capital Punishment

As the Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, a national organization run by and for death row survivors and their family members, I applaud Colorado Governor Jared Polis for signing a bill to abolish the death penalty in his state. 

The death penalty should fall throughout the nation, because an innocent person could be executed. It can happen to anyone in America. 

I know this because it happened to me and 167 others. 

Now it can't ever happen in Colorado. Governor Polis, we thank you on behalf of our board and our exonerees members.

Source: witnesstoinnocence.org, Kirk Bloodsworth, March 24, 2020

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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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