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Judicial killing: American-style


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2016, 07:41:23 pm »


from The Washington Post....

EDITORIAL: ‘Dr. Death’

By EDITORIAL BOARD | 08:01PM EDT - Sunday, July 17, 2016

The execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. — Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press.
The execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.
 — Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press.


IN JUST a few months, Donnie Myers's long and lethal tenure as a top prosecutor in South Carolina will come to an end. If past is precedent, so will the bumper crop of death sentences in his jurisdiction.

Mr. Myers, known locally as “Dr. Death”, has personally secured 39 death sentences against 28 defendants — some were tried twice — in a 38-year career as solicitor of South Carolina's 11th Judicial District. He is notorious for keeping a paperweight model of the state's electric chair on his desk, for his race-baiting courtroom histrionics, and for playing fast and loose with legal rules. According to an analysis by Harvard Law School, courts have found he committed misconduct in 46 percent of his capital cases, and six death sentences he secured were subsequently overturned.

Mr. Myers, who has been convicted of drunken driving and, recently, charged again for the same offense, could usher in a big change when he retires this year. If South Carolina's 11th Judicial District follows what has become a pronounced pattern, the exit of one overzealous prosecutor could bring about a sharp drop in the imposition of the death penalty.

That is among the findings of Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project, which surveyed the wildly disproportionate impact of a handful of fanatical state prosecutors. Even as the frequency of death sentences and executions in the United States has plummeted in recent decades, the Harvard study shows how the nation's death rows, which currently house about 2,900 convicts, have been populated by the efforts of a very few, death-penalty-loving men (and, notably, one woman) like Mr. Myers.

The report's findings underscore the grossly arbitrary nature of capital punishment in this country and undercut whatever legitimacy it may retain. If imposition of the ultimate punishment is to a great extent driven by personality and a hunger for notoriety, then it is the antithesis of justice.

How else to think about prosecutors such as Dale Cox, just retired as the top prosecutor in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, who declared, upon learning of the exoneration of a man who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, “I think we need to kill more people.” Mr. Cox, who secured a third of Louisiana's death sentences in a five-year period ending in 2015, had a simple rationale: “Revenge brings to us a visceral satisfaction.”

The good news is that the number of states allowing capital punishment has shrunk and, in states where the penalty remains active, U.S. juries have mostly lost their appetite for it. Just 49 death sentences were handed down last year, an 84 percent drop from the modern-era high of 315 in 1996.

Nonetheless, in the shrinking numbers of counties where the capital punishment remains in fashion, it's striking how few prosecutors dominate death-sentencing statistics. They are evidence, the Harvard study concludes, “that the application of the death penalty is — and always has been — less about the circumstances of the offense or the characteristics of the person who committed the crime, and more a function of the personality and predilections” of a very few prosecutors.


__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • Charles Lane: Why the muted response to seeking the death penalty for Dylann Roof?

 • The Washington Post's View: Virginia's false choice on the death penalty: Barbarism or secrecy

 • The Washington Post's View: Virginia, don't revive the electric chair


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dr-death/2016/07/17/574df77c-4942-11e6-acbc-4d4870a079da_story.html
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« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2016, 06:13:37 pm »

everyone must die
some are in a hurry
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2016, 08:44:40 pm »


from The Washington Post....

In Texas, a man who didn't kill anybody
is about to be executed for murder


By KRISTINE GUERRA | 9:35AM EDT - Friday, August 12, 2016

Jeffery Lee Wood. — Photograph: Terri Been.
Jeffery Lee Wood. — Photograph: Terri Been.

TERRO BEEN's voice shook as she read a long text message from her niece.

“I had a nightmare about my dad last night,” Paige Rowan told her aunt in the text.

Rowan described a dream in which she watched helplessly as the execution needle pierced her father's skin.

She woke up screaming, panicking and feeling hopeless, she told Been.

Then, she said, she dropped to her knees and prayed.

“Please don't allow this to happen,” Rowan wrote. “Don't take my father away.”

Been struggled to finish reading the text message, her voice breaking as she paused several times to regain her composure during an interview with The Washington Post.

The message was sent Sunday, Been said, less than three weeks ahead of the date her niece has come to dread: August 24th, when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice plans to inject Jeffery Lee Wood with a lethal dose of pentobarbital to stop his heart.

Rowan's nightmares have been happening more often as her father's execution date looms closer.

It is so close now that she can feel it, Rowan told her aunt.

The scheduled execution is Wood's punishment for the 1996 death of a man he did not kill — and, by some accounts, did not know was going to be killed.

Legal experts say his case is rare, even in Texas, the execution capital of America — and a state that allows capital punishment for people who did not kill anyone or did not intend to kill.

Wood was convicted and sentenced to death under what's called the law of parties, which has been in effect in Texas since the 1970s. It states that a person who “solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit an offense” is also criminally liable for that offense.

Under the law, prosecutors are not required to prove that a defendant had any part in committing a crime, or even intended to commit it. Jurors only need to find that there was a plan to commit a crime and that the defendant should have anticipated that the crime would occur.

In Wood's case, he was sitting in a pickup outside a Texaco convenience store in Kerrville, Texas, in January 1996, when Daniel Reneau went inside and shot and killed the store clerk with a .22-caliber handgun.

Wood's supporters say he was under the impression that Reneau, a drifter he had met months earlier, was only going to buy food and drinks.

But they also agree that Wood is not completely innocent.

Court records say he was involved in a scheme with Reneau and the store's assistant manager to steal a safe that they believed contained thousands of dollars. While the others had backed out, Reneau took it upon himself to steal the safe, court records say.

Based on testimony from Wood's then-girlfriend, he asked Reneau to not bring his gun before the two drove to the convenience store that day. Reneau did anyway, without Wood's knowledge.

Wood's attorney, Jared Tyler, said his client could not have anticipated the death of the clerk, Kris Keeran, and was unfairly held responsible for Reneau's actions and decisions.

Both men were convicted of capital murder. Reneau was put to death in 2002.

Wood has been on death row since 1998, when his daughter, Paige Rowan, was a toddler.

If executed this month, Wood will be the “least culpable person executed in the modern era of death penalty,” said Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network, a group that advocates against capital punishment.

Tyler has filed a writ of habeas corpus — used to review the legality of someone's imprisonment — asking the state’s highest court for a new sentencing hearing for Wood, saying punishment should be proportional to culpability.

Wood's death sentence, Tyler said, was based on “false and misleading” testimony from a psychiatrist who did not personally examine his client.

Bruce Curry, the Kerr County district attorney whose office prosecuted Wood's case, said he could not comment because of the pending court decision. A spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General's Office, which is handling the case, also declined to comment.

Tyler is ultimately asking the court to declare the state's death penalty unconstitutional “because of its arbitrariness and inability to ensure that only the worst of the worst receive death sentence,” according to court records.

That raises a question for Terri Been: How is her brother, a man without a violent criminal history, the worst of the worst?


A child in a man's body

At 12, Wood was described as a “highly impulsive” and “very troubled” youngster who often had negative opinions of himself.

When he was 15, he frequently asked how he was doing at school, often assuming he'd flunked, according to the writ of habeas corpus.

By the time he reached high school, he was spelling at a fourth-grade level and reading at a fifth-grade level. He is borderline mentally disabled with an IQ of 80.

His mother described him as an “eight-year-old in a man's body.”

These “debilitating emotional and intellectual impairments” made Wood vulnerable to Reneau's manipulation and rendered him unable to comprehend what Reneau was capable of doing, court records say. Because of those impairments, his attorney argued, Wood should have been declared incompetent to stand trial.

And he was — at least initially.

Wood was committed to a mental health hospital after he was found incompetent. A neuropsychologist had testified that Wood was delusional, unable to grasp the issues about his case and the reality facing him.

But Wood was released after 15 days in the hospital. Court records say the hospital tested his factual understanding of legal proceedings but not his ability to be rational.

This time, he was deemed competent to stand trial. A jury, not knowing about the neuropsychologist's assessment of his mental state, found him guilty of capital murder.


Terri Been and her brother, Jeffery Lee Wood. — Photograph: Terri Been.
Terri Been and her brother, Jeffery Lee Wood.
 — Photograph: Terri Been.


The writ of habeas corpus, filed in July, spotlights something else the jury did not know: the troubled history of a forensic psychiatrist whose testimony resulted in Wood's death sentence.

James Grigson was no stranger to capital murder cases: By the time Wood went on trial, in 1998, Grigson said he had testified in 163 such cases.

Prosecutors often sought his testimony to secure the ultimate punishment for defendants.

Often, they were successful, earning Grigson a nickname: “Dr. Death”.

Grigson didn't personally examine Wood. But during the sentencing phase of the trial, the forensic psychiatrist told jurors that Wood would “most certainly” commit violent crimes in the future, according to court records.

The prosecuting attorney elicited that response by describing a hypothetical situation that laid out the facts of the case.

What jurors didn't know was that Grigson, so beloved by prosecutors, was reviled in his own field.

In 1995, three years before Wood's trial, Grigson was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association and its Texas branch at that time, the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians, for predicting a defendant's potential threat to society based solely on a hypothetical. The expulsions followed an investigation by the Texas association's ethics committee, which cited Grigson's “willfully narrow rendition of psychiatric knowledge.”

In a profile published after Grigson's death in 2004, the Houston Chronicle cited his unusual willingness to testify against capital murder defendants. A former prosecutor who used Grigson in several trials told the newspaper that he was an “outstanding communicator who really connected with a jury.”

But the psychiatric association saw Grigson as a threat to the profession.

In the writ of habeas corpus, Tyler asked the Texas court to find that Grigson's testimony about Wood was false and misleading.


A controversial law

Since 1976, there have been 1,437 executions in the United States.

More than a third of them have taken place in Texas, which has executed 537 people over that period, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Oklahoma and Virginia have the next-highest figures, with 112 and 111 executions respectively since 1976.

Executions of people who did not directly kill the victim are extremely rare: The Death Penalty Information Center lists just 10 such instances that didn't involve contract killings. Half were in Texas under the law of parties.

In recent years, there have been efforts to reform Texas law so that someone who didn't kill won’t be executed. So far, those efforts have failed.

Last year, state Representative Harold Dutton, a Democrat from Houston, introduced a bill that would ban the death penalty in law of parties cases. The bill, however, did not get a vote on the floor.

Tim Cole, a former Texas prosecutor and defense attorney, said the law of parties erases the distinction between an accomplice and someone who pulled the trigger.

“The legal argument is that, obviously, if you look at moral culpability in terms of who's most culpable, it's the person who actually committed the crime,” Cole told The Washington Post. “In most circumstances, most people would think the other person who pulls the trigger should be subject to a higher level of punishment than the other person.”

Cole echoes what the U.S. Supreme Court has said in the past.

In a 1982 case involving the robbery and murder of an elderly Florida couple, the high court threw out the death-penalty sentence of a man who was in a getaway car when the killings happened. Someone who participated in the robbery shouldn't be treated the same as the person who committed the killings, the court said.

But there are exceptions, Cole said. One example is a murder-for-hire case in which the triggerman was following orders from someone else.

Wood's looming execution comes as prosecutors are seeking the death penalty less frequently than they used to, partly because of budgetary reasons. The public's attitude toward the death penalty also has dramatically shifted, as shown by Gallup's documentation of public opinion. Thirty-five percent opposed capital punishment in 2013, up from 16 percent in 1994.

In 1998, the year Wood was condemned to death, 295 people were sentenced to death in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Last year, 49 death sentences were handed down nationwide.

Executions are down, as well: In 1999, nearly a hundred condemned prisoners were executed in the United States. That number was down to 28 last year, according to Death Penalty Information Center data.

Had Wood been charged today, he wouldn't have been facing the death penalty, said Cole, who now teaches Texas criminal procedure at the University of North Texas.

“I really don't think that this case would be prosecuted under today's standards and under today's climate — even in Texas,” he said. “It's just not the type of situation in today's climate for the death penalty where most prosecutors would seek the death penalty.”


Jeffery Lee Wood supporters rally in front of the Texas Governor's Mansion on July 23rd. — Photograph: Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune.
Jeffery Lee Wood supporters rally in front of the Texas Governor's Mansion on July 23rd.
 — Photograph: Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune.


Wood's case also has attracted attention from those outside the criminal justice system.

Earlier this month, 16 Roman Catholic bishops from across the state wrote a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Republican) urging him to grant a stay on Wood's execution.

“Mr. Wood has never taken a human life in his own hands,” the letter reads. “He was not even in the building at the time of the crime. It is extremely rare for any person in the history of modern death penalty to have been executed with as little culpability and participation in the taking of a life as Mr. Wood.”

The letter was sent not long after relatives and supporters of Wood gathered outside the Governor's Mansion in Austin and called on Abbott to call off Wood's execution and commute his sentence.

Some wore T-shirts that said “Punish action. Not affiliation,” The Texas Tribune reported.

In 2007, then-Governor Rick Perry granted clemency to Kenneth Foster Jr., who, like Wood, was convicted and sentenced to death under the law of parties.

Wood's legal team recently submitted his petition for clemency to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. An online petition supporting Wood has garnered nearly 2,500 signatures.

He turns 42 on August 19th, a few days before his scheduled execution.

Been, a science department chair at a middle school in Dilley, Texas, said her brother has always believed he will be spared.

She's not as optimistic.

Been already said goodbye to her brother once, in 2008; his initial execution date was postponed because of issues with his competence.

Panic sets in every time she thinks about doing it all over again.

“I don't have much time left,” she said.


• Kristine Guerra is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • The priest, the exonerated death-row inmate and their continued battle against the death penalty

 • Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penalty

 • Supreme Court turns down death-penalty case

 • Americans are turning against the death penalty. Are politicians far behind?

 • Supreme Court will again consider limits on imposing death penalty

 • The Latest: ‘Grim Sleeper’ sentenced to death in Los Angeles

 • Man spent 28 years in prison after his friend accused him of murder. Now, the friend said he lied.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/12/in-texas-a-man-who-didnt-kill-anybody-is-about-to-be-executed-for-murder
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« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2016, 10:05:22 pm »

.......wish we had the death penalty for our baby killers:)
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« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2016, 05:02:55 am »

Harsh, but party to the offence.
The definitin holds all parties equally guilty to any offence committed in the commision of a crime.
Look up the English case of Bentley, where the killler was too young to be hanged, but Bentley who was even on a. Different part of the building, was hanged as a party to the offence.
The shining light in all this, is that they wont commit further crime and the taxpayer wont be paying hundreds of thousands for upkeep
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« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2016, 04:14:25 pm »

Harsh, but party to the offence.
The definitin holds all parties equally guilty to any offence committed in the commision of a crime.
Look up the English case of Bentley, where the killler was too young to be hanged, but Bentley who was even on a. Different part of the building, was hanged as a party to the offence.
The shining light in all this, is that they wont commit further crime and the taxpayer wont be paying hundreds of thousands for upkeep


Well, if you are going to justify judicial killing just because it was once done for a particular reason, then lets bring back judicial killing for adultery. Death by stoning was the method used. That'd end up with a shitload of judicial killings, eh?

Some people prefer to live in the barbaric past, eh? Good job we got civilised in NZ, unlike those despot nations which include Iran, Iraq, North Korea, the USA, China, Indonesia and others of a like barbaric ilk.
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« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2016, 06:07:38 pm »

Ktj..."Good job we got civilised in NZ"


...mmmm..not sure if leading the world in baby murders would qualify us as being "civilised"

IMHO
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« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2016, 01:29:04 pm »

Ktj..."Good job we got civilised in NZ"


...mmmm..not sure if leading the world in baby murders would qualify us as being "civilised"

IMHO


Just as well you changed your name from reality to clint eastwood, 'cause you've got no comprehension of reality at all.

In reality, the fact you now pretend to be Clint Eastwood just shows us you are still a total clown & idiot & simplton.

Some things never change, eh?
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« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2016, 02:44:53 pm »

.....who the hell is reality.....

...sorry to burst your "civilised NZ " bubble....Because it's very obvious we are not Shocked
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« Reply #34 on: August 17, 2016, 05:47:53 am »

Harsh, but party to the offence.
The definitin holds all parties equally guilty to any offence committed in the commision of a crime.
Look up the English case of Bentley, where the killler was too young to be hanged, but Bentley who was even on a. Different part of the building, was hanged as a party to the offence.
The shining light in all this, is that they wont commit further crime and the taxpayer wont be paying hundreds of thousands for upkeep


Well, if you are going to justify judicial killing just because it was once done for a particular reason, then lets bring back judicial killing for adultery. Death by stoning was the method used. That'd end up with a shitload of judicial killings, eh?

Some people prefer to live in the barbaric past, eh? Good job we got civilised in NZ, unlike those despot nations which include Iran, Iraq, North Korea, the USA, China, Indonesia and others of a like barbaric ilk.

I have absolutely no difficulty with the concept of capital punishment.
Perhaps it arises from actually dealing with the evil denizens that infest our world, as opposed to those who live in a happy state of oblivion and denial.
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« Reply #35 on: October 01, 2016, 02:15:05 pm »


from The Washington Post....

States aren't using the death penalty as much.
Now Americans are abandoning it, too.


By MARK BERMAN | 5:01PM EDT - Friday, September 30, 2016

An arm restraint in Oklahoma's execution chamber. — Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press.
An arm restraint in Oklahoma's execution chamber. — Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press.

THE DEATH PENALTY in America is continuing its steady decline. The United States is on pace to carry out fewer executions this year than it has in a quarter-century, and the number of states putting inmates to death and handing down fatal sentences have both plummeted. Yet through it all, one group has maintained its support for the death penalty: the American people. Polls have shown that while approval of capital punishment has declined since peaking two decades ago, a solid majority of people have still said they are in favor of the death penalty.

Until now, at least. The share of Americans supporting the death penalty had fallen to its lowest levels in more than four decades, dropping below 50 percent for the first time since Richard Nixon was in the White House, according to a new Pew Research Survey.

The new results highlight a dramatic gulf in the way Americans view capital punishment, with an acute gap breaking down along fault lines of age, race and gender. And as the country approaches Election Day, the biggest division can be found between different political parties, a dramatic change from two decades ago, when the number of executions was rising and support for the death penalty was at its modern peak.

Still, the biggest news in Pew's survey is that fewer than half of Americans favor capital punishment for people convicted of murder. The last time the number was so low was in November 1971, according to Pew's records.




The number has fallen since just March 2015, when 56 percent of Americans backed the death penalty. In that earlier survey, a majority of Americans acknowledged that they agreed there was a risk that an innocent person could be put to death under the current system.

Public backing for the death penalty reached its apex in the early 1990s, when about 8 in 10 Americans said they supported the death penalty. At the time, the violent crime rate and murder rate alike were spiking in the United States, though both have since declined dramatically. Despite an uptick in violent crime and murders last year, these numbers still remain far below what they were during that period.

Gallup has found higher levels of support in its polls than Pew, reporting last year that 6 in 10 Americans supported the death penalty, a larger percentage than Pew found. CBS News, in a poll last year, found the same share of people backing the death penalty as Pew had reported. But Gallup and Pew, along with other polls, have been consistently seeing a big decline in public support for the death penalty over the past two decades.

Still, even with the overall drop in support found by Pew, there are some groups still more likely to back the death penalty. Men are more likely to favor it (55 percent) than women (43 percent). People between the ages of 18 and 29 are more likely to oppose capital punishment than support it; in every older age group, at least half said they supported the practice. White people are almost twice as likely (57 percent) as black people (29 percent) to support it. A little more than 1 in 3 Hispanic people support it (36 percent), and half oppose it (50 percent).

A sharp and evolving split can also be seen between people based on their political leanings. Two decades ago, big majorities of Republicans (87 percent), Democrats (71 percent) and independents (79 percent) all supported capital punishment.

All of these numbers have dipped, but by different measures. Republican support has fallen 15 points, to 72 percent this year, while support from Democrats has plummeted by half, falling to 34 percent over that span. Independents are now slightly more likely to oppose capital punishment (45 percent) than support it (44 percent), after more than half of them supported it a year ago.




This drop in public support comes amid a drop in executions and a broader retrenchment in capital punishment that is playing out from coast to coast. Most states still allow the death penalty, but for some of these places it remains on the books without remaining in use. Governors in Oregon and Washington have imposed moratoriums, as has the governor in Pennsylvania, which has one of the country's largest death rows and no willingness to carry out any of these sentences. In other cases, even in ruby-red states, death penalty support is not a given, and some Republican lawmakers have pushed to get rid of the practice.

Even the handful of states that both have the death penalty and an interest in carrying out executions are facing challenges because of a shortage of the drugs used for lethal injections. This issue has forced these states to reconfigure the chemicals they use and scramble to obtain the drugs, an increasingly difficult proposition. Ohio is in the midst of what will be at least a three-year hiatus from executions while it tries to find lethal injection drugs.

In other cases, states eager to carry out executions have struggled against impositions both external and self-imposed.

Florida has the second-biggest death row in the country (trailing only California), but the state remains on the sidelines. The state's Supreme Court is considering what to do with the sentences of nearly 400 death row inmates after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its death-sentencing system as unconstitutional this year. (That statute was later rewritten.) Oklahoma has still not resumed executions since using the wrong drug in a lethal injection last year and nearly using the wrong one again, mistakes that were outlined by a scathing grand jury report.

Meanwhile, so far this year only five states have carried out executions. Two of them — Texas and Georgia — have accounted for 12 of the 15 executions this year. The country's last execution was in July. And so far, no state appears to be immune to these national trends: Even Texas, far and away the country's death-penalty leader, last carried out an execution in April. Since that time, it has seen several executions stayed or delayed.


• Scott Clement contributed to this report.

• Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.

__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • Alabama Supreme Court says state's death penalty system is constitutional

 • Supreme Court Justice Breyer: California embodies the death penalty's ‘fundamental defects’

 • The U.S. saw fewer executions and death sentences in 2015 than it has in decades

 • Most Americans agree that an innocent person might get put to death

 • ‘It was fundamentally unfair.’ A prosecutor apologizes for his role in putting an innocent man on death row.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/09/30/states-arent-using-the-death-penalty-as-much-now-americans-are-abandoning-it-too
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« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2016, 02:16:17 pm »


from The Washington Post....

Voters in California and Nebraska will decide
whether they want to keep the death penalty


California's proposal could affect a quarter of all death-row inmates nationwide.

By MARK BERMAN | 3:26PM EST - Monday, November 07, 2016

The execution chamber in Huntsville Penitentiary, Texas. — Photograph: Pat Sullivan/Associated Press.
The execution chamber in Huntsville Penitentiary, Texas. — Photograph: Pat Sullivan/Associated Press.

WHEN voters head to the polls in California and Nebraska on Election Day, they will get to weigh in on whether their states should abolish the death penalty.

These two initiatives, along with another ballot measure in Oklahoma, represent a sort of microcosm of where things stand nationwide on the death penalty. Most states still have the practice on the books, even if a dwindling number of states actually seek to carry out executions.

In places that do still have the death penalty, some have been unable to carry out executions for years or have been facing legal or logistical challenges. The death penalty initiatives on Tuesday are being considered while capital punishment has been utilized less and has seen its popularity decline nationwide, with a recent survey showing that fewer than half of Americans backed the practice.


Competing initiatives in California

There are actually two death penalty proposals in California, and they are diametrically opposed: One would eliminate capital punishment, while the other would effectively speed up the death-penalty process.

California has not executed an inmate since 2006 because of concerns about its lethal injection protocols, and executions there have been rare in the modern era. But the state is home to 1 in 4 death-row inmates nationwide, with a bigger population of condemned inmates than the next two states (Texas and Florida) combined, so a decision to eliminate the death penalty would have a dramatic impact.

In many cases, California's death-row inmates have been there for decades. Others have been sentenced since the state's last execution, with more inmates sentenced to death in that span than sit on the death rows of all but four other states.

California is also home to Riverside County, which, last year, handed down eight death sentences, more than any other jurisdiction, according to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center.

Michael Hestrin, the Riverside County district attorney, called the state's current death penalty system “broken,” and he said that he thinks juries may factor that in when they deliberate in a case.

“The public knows these are not being carried out,” he said in an interview. “What has happened is we've evolved to have a symbolic death penalty, where the jury is maybe handing down a death sentence to express their outrage at the crime, but sort of — and again, I'm speculating — but perhaps knowing that the sentence isn't going to be carried out.”


The lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California. — Photograph: Eric Risberg/Associated Press.
The lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California. — Photograph: Eric Risberg/Associated Press.

Hestrin said he supports Proposition 66, the measure that would speed the pace of executions, saying that it could bring “reforms to a broken system.” Among other things, that proposition would mandate earlier appointment of attorneys to handle appeals for death-row inmates and quicken the deadlines for when appeals have to be filed and decided. The other proposal, Proposition 62, would scrap the death penalty and replace it with life in prison.

It is not entirely clear what will happen with these measures. A USC Dornsife-Los Angeles Times poll last month found that while there was a little more support for the proposed elimination of the death penalty, neither proposal had majority support. The proposition eliminating the death penalty had 43 percent in favor against 46 percent opposed, while the other proposal had 35 percent supporting it and 43 percent opposed.

In a Field Poll also conducted last month, the abolition of the death penalty had majority support (51 percent versus 45 percent), narrowly leading the proposal to revamp death penalty procedures (48 percent versus 42 percent).

If both proposals pass, the initiative with more votes wins out.


Nebraska's death penalty bill turns to the voters

Nebraska voters are going to decide an issue that lawmakers battled over last year.

The state's legislature voted to abandon the death penalty despite Governor Pete Ricketts's vow to veto the measure. Ricketts, a Republican in his first term, followed through on his pledge and vetoed the bill, but lawmakers overrode his veto and, by the narrowest margin possible, again voted to abolish the death penalty.

The fight did not end there, though. Supporters of the death penalty immediately said they would keep fighting the bill and pledged to get it onto the November 2016 ballot, following a campaign that included a sizable donation from Ricketts, who said he was “appalled” by the bill and called it “cruel” to victims of the people sentenced to death.


Nebraska Governor. Pete Ricketts. — Photograph: Nati Harnik/Associated Press.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. — Photograph: Nati Harnik/Associated Press.

Lawmakers who supported getting rid of the death penalty said they did so for religious reasons or because of people who were wrongly convicted. In other cases, they painted it as an example of government waste. Nebraska has not executed an inmate since 1997, and it has executed three inmates in the past four decades. There are 10 inmates on the state's death row, all of whom would receive life sentences if the death penalty is abolished on Tuesday.

The referendum asks voters whether they want to “retain” or “repeal”, though the wording is somewhat confusing. A vote to retain would actually eliminate the death penalty by retaining the bill passed by lawmakers last year; a vote to repeal would keep the death penalty available by jettisoning the same bill.


Oklahoma could open up more execution methods

This state has recently taken on a central role in the country's debate over the death penalty, so it is best to put the proposal there in a bit of context.

Officials in Oklahoma bungled an execution in 2014, drawing intense national scrutiny as well as criticism from President Obama after the inmate involved writhed and grimaced. The state then halted executions and launched an investigation into what happened.

After that investigation, the state resumed executions in January 2015 — only for authorities to admit that they actually used the wrong drug in that lethal injection and, months later, abruptly called off another execution because they almost used the wrong drug there. A grand jury this year assailed state officials for their behavior in carrying out executions, and three prominent officials have stepped down.

In between all of this, the Supreme Court took up a challenge to Oklahoma's lethal injection procedure, one that largely focused on the state's use of the sedative midazolam. The Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma's use of the sedative, though until that opinion came down, the state again put executions on hold.


The execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. — Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press.
The execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. — Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press.

Before the Supreme Court ruled, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (Republican) signed a law giving the state another backup method of execution: nitrogen gas, which does not seem to have been used before by a state.

This brings us to the new proposal. The measure up for consideration on Tuesday would add a new section to Oklahoma's constitution saying that the death penalty cannot be considered cruel and unusual punishment. It would also offer lawmakers some wiggle room in looking for other methods of execution, something with which they have some experience after their seemingly novel decision to adopt nitrogen gas as an option.

The proposal in Oklahoma says that the legislature can “designate any method of execution not prohibited by the United States Constitution.” It also says that if a method of execution is struck down, death sentences will not be reduced (which is somewhat similar to an issue unsettling Florida's death penalty system right now). Instead, a person's death sentence would remain in place until the state can carry it out another way.


Shrinking — but still sizable — support nationwide

Capital punishment has not been a major issue during the presidential campaign, although it has cropped up at various points. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, has called for the death penalty for the since-exonerated Central Park Five and said he would expand the use of the death penalty in certain cases.

Hillary Clinton, his opponent, was challenged on the issue during the Democratic primary, during which her support for the death penalty put her at odds with many liberals. (This issue returned to the news recently when it emerged in hacked emails that Clinton appeared to have been warned that she would be asked about the issue during a CNN town hall debate.)

A Pew Research Center survey released in September found that support dropped just below the 50 percent mark, though a Gallup poll released a few weeks later found that support still remained at 60 percent. Overall, though, support for the death penalty has fallen since peaking in the mid-1990s.

The death penalty itself has been utilized far less often recently, and in recent years, the number of executions and death sentences have both declined. This year, the country has executed 17 inmates and is on pace to have fewer executions than during any year in a quarter-century.


• Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.

__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • Supreme Court halts scheduled execution of Alabama death row inmate

 • How American support for the death penalty continues to decline

 • The death penalty continues to dwindle nationwide

 • Supreme Court Justice Breyer: California embodies the death penalty's ‘fundamental defects’


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/11/07/voters-in-california-and-nebraska-will-decide-whether-they-want-to-keep-the-death-penalty
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« Reply #37 on: December 26, 2016, 10:40:59 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

In a win for transparency, Arizona ordered to let witnesses see entire execution

By SCOTT MARTELLE | 10:20AM PST - Friday, December 23, 2016

The death chamber of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California. — Photograph: Eric Risberg/Associated Press.
The death chamber of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California.
 — Photograph: Eric Risberg/Associated Press.


TRANSPARENCY in executions picked up a partial win in Arizona this week.

In a lawsuit filed by news organizations, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ruled that an Arizona policy of shielding the actual injections in executions from the view of witnesses violates the 1st Amendment, and ordered future executions to be viewable from start to finish.

But he held over questions about whether the public has a right to know the “source, composition, and quality” of the execution drugs, and the qualifications of the people doing the killing.

This is a significant issue. The lawsuit arose from the botched 2014 execution of Joseph Wood, who took nearly two hours to die. One journalist who witnessed some of the execution said Wood looked like a “fish on shore gulping for air.”

The injection process, though, was done out of view, and it wasn't until days later that it was revealed Wood endured 15 applications of a two-drug protocol, the sedative midazolam to render him insensate, and then an opioid, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), to shut down his lungs and heart.

The midazolam seems to have been the problem — it was involved in several other botched executions in other states. In a legal challenge by Arizona death row inmates, separate from the media lawsuit over openness, Arizona agreed this week to stop using the drug.

Arizona's executions have been on hold under a court order arising from the problems with midazolam, and state officials — who have been anxious to resume executions — may have agreed to stop using the drug to try to get the order lifted. Unknown is whether Arizona's decision will lead other states to follow suit.

State executions are inherently inhumane, and immoral. And the ways states apply the practice are distressingly inconsistent, with poor people of color more likely to be condemned in a justice system that a steady stream of exonerations proves is too susceptible to manipulation to rely on for such an irreversible decision as putting someone to death.

It's bad enough to give the state that power. It's even worse to let it kill people in even partial secrecy.

As the death penalty becomes less popular, and political pressure to get rid of it increases, most of the states that still use capital punishment have been trying to hide aspects of how they actually execute people, including where they get the execution drugs.

California may join the ranks of the secretive under Proposition 66, which in addition to speeding up the appeals process (which I hope the courts find will unconstitutionally deprive people of due process) also removes the adoption of lethal injection protocols from the usual regulatory review process. So the state can decide in secret how it plans to conduct executions. Opponents of the initiative have already sued, and the state Supreme Court earlier this week halted its implementation while the case is pending.

Shielding the sources of the execution drugs goes even further. The argument by Arizona and other states is that businesses will be less willing to sell the killing drugs to prisons if the public will know who they are, and then protest or boycott. That's hardly an excuse, as some courts have agreed, for violating the basic presumption of openness in government.

Capital punishment is a political decision, as California, Oklahoma and Nebraska saw this election cycle (pro-death-penalty initiatives passed in each state). The public has an established right to know how its government conducts business on its behalf, and with its tax dollars. Though it might make sense to shield some information from disclosure, such as police payments to confidential informants and home addresses of judges, saving a government contractor from political embarrassment is not defensible.

If the government is going to kill, it must commit its immoral act under full scrutiny.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-arizona-executions-midazolam-20161223-story.html
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« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2016, 10:41:19 pm »


from The Washington Post....

Executions and death sentences plummeted this year
as capital punishment declined nationwide


The falling numbers offered the most glaring signs yet about how the practice has
dwindled in America today, but this year also offered signs of its persistence.


By MARK BERMAN | 8:00AM EST - Saturday, December 24, 2016

The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. — Photograph: Associated Press.
The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. — Photograph: Associated Press.

A YEAR that began with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the death penalty in one of the most active capital punishment states ended with the country reaching modern lows in executions and death sentences, the most glaring signs yet about how the practice has dwindled in America today.

Still, even as capital punishment has declined in both sentencing and practice, there were also signs this year of its persistence from lawmakers, judges and the public, reminders that the death penalty is far from fading away.

The United States saw 20 executions this year, the fewest nationwide in 25 years. As noted here last week, this number has dropped from the modern peak of 98 executions in 1999, coming as states have struggled to obtain lethal injection drugs and halted executions in the face of court rulings.

But that tells only part of the story. There will be a total of 30 new death sentences this year, the lowest number in the modern era, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. That is the fewest new death sentences in a single year since 1972, when the U.S. Supreme Court effectively halted capital punishment by striking down sentencing statutes. (The justices reinstated the death penalty four years later.) To put that in perspective, in 1996, states across the country handed down 315 death sentences, the report states.




The numbers this year are part of “a consistent long-term trend” with a number of explanations, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“Fewer states authorize the death penalty than in the 1990s,” Dunham said. “There are fewer counties in those states that are pursuing capital punishment. Prosecutors in the counties that are pursuing capital punishment are pursuing it less frequently. And juries are returning death verdicts less frequently. The combination of all of these factors has reduced the number of death sentences.”

Dunham also pointed to court rulings against the practice, declining public support for it and cases where people on death row have been exonerated as other reasons why the death penalty is being used less often. But Dunham also pointed to outcomes on Election Day last month that he said showed “we are not at the point that the public is willing to dispense with the death penalty entirely.”

People in three states — Nebraska, Oklahoma and California — were given a chance to vote on the death penalty, and in all three cases, capital punishment won out.

Nebraska lawmakers last year voted to abolish the death penalty, making it the 19th state in the country to abandon it, but voters last month decided to scrap that measure. California voters rejected a proposal that would have abolished the death penalty and approved one that would quicken the rate of executions (although a court put that on hold this week), while Oklahoma voters gave lawmakers there the ability to adopt “any method of execution not prohibited by the United States Constitution.”

However, none of these votes mean that executions are likely to resume in these places anytime soon. Nebraska has not executed an inmate since 1997, while California — home to the country's largest death row — has not carried out an execution since 2006.

This year marked the first since 1994 that Oklahoma did not carry out any executions, but lethal injections are on hold there after authorities used the wrong drug to carry out an execution last year and then almost used the wrong drug months later. A grand jury report pilloried officials for what it described as several avoidable lapses, and officials there are still not seeking new execution dates in the wake of that.

Support for the death penalty has declined nationwide, although polls are split on precisely where public opinion is right now. A Pew Research Center survey this year found that the share of Americans supporting the death penalty had dropped below 50 percent, its lowest level since the 1970s. Meanwhile, a Gallup poll in October found that support remained at 60 percent, lower than the past few years but on par with where it was in 2013. But in both cases, the level of support is far below where it was in the 1990s, when four out of five Americans backed the practice.

Just five states carried out the country's 20 executions this year, and almost all of them were concentrated in two places: Georgia, which executed nine inmates, and Texas, which executed seven. Even  Texas, the country's leader in capital punishment, was susceptible to the larger trends, as several executions have been stayed while other inmates have had execution dates changed, officials said. This year marked the first time since 1996 that Texas did not execute at least 10 inmates.

There were 336 days between the first and last executions in the United States in 2016, a gulf of nearly a year separating two lethal injections held hundreds of miles apart. In January, Florida carried out the first execution of the year, putting 53-year-old Oscar Bolin Jr. to death for killing Teri Lynn Matthews in 1986. This month, Alabama executed Robert Bert Smith Jr., 45, who was sentenced to death for killing Casey Wilson during a robbery in 1994.

In both cases, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to get involved and declined, but there were key differences in what happened during and after, highlighting the fractious year in capital punishment. Days after Florida executed Bolin, the high court struck down Florida's death penalty sentencing scheme, which ultimately froze capital punishment in the state for much of the year and led to an unusual year for the Sunshine State. Florida lawmakers rewrote the state's scheme, and it was promptly struck down again by the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, after uncertainty swirled around the death penalty in Florida for much of the year, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said that the high court's ruling meant that potentially hundreds of death-row inmates there could seek new sentences.

“The reason it's declined in Florida is not because the governor doesn't want it to be a top execution state,” O.H. Eaton Jr., a death penalty expert and retired Florida judge, said in an interview this week. “It's just that the death penalty's in such flux in Florida that there are no executions scheduled. And I don't think there will be for a while.”

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to stop Alabama's execution of Smith, but the deadlocked justices decided not to step in and he was executed by lethal injection. Media witnesses said that Smith struggled for breath during an execution that lasted for more than a half-hour, making this the latest execution involving the sedative midazolam that took longer than usual or saw inmates physically react during the process.

States have turned to midazolam and other chemicals amid a years-long shortage of lethal-injection drugs that has been prompted, in part, by European opposition to the death penalty. This has halted a supply of the chemicals, causing states to revamp their execution protocols — sometimes multiple times — to seek new drug combinations to keep carrying out executions. The Supreme Court had heard a case involving Oklahoma's use of midazolam last year, and the justices upheld its use of the drug, although that case highlighted bitter divisions among the justices regarding the death penalty.

Drug companies have spoken out in recent years against the use of their chemicals in lethal injections, most recently Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that in May tightened restrictions on its drugs to further ensure they cannot be used in lethal injections. In an effort to obtain drugs, Virginia this year moved to shield the identities of those supplying lethal injection drugs, a move that has been undertaken by other states seeking these chemicals.

Ohio has been at the intersection of several of these trends, halting executions for what will turn out to be at least three years after it changed its lethal-injection protocol and sought new drugs. The state was planning to resume executions in January for the first time since a lethal injection in 2014 that lasted nearly a half-hour.

It is not clear whether Ohio will resume executions as planned. In response to a lawsuit challenging the secrecy law shielding the identities of whoever makes the state's execution drugs, a judge this week stayed those executions. Ohio Governor John Kasich (Republican) then rescheduled those executions once again, pushing the first back to at least February.


• Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.

__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • Florida Supreme Court says hundreds of death-row inmates may get new sentences and avoid execution

 • Executions in the United States just fell to a 25-year low

 • Florida's death penalty was in flux for much of this year. Here's why.

 • Supreme Court Justice Breyer: California embodies the death penalty's ‘fundamental defects’]


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/12/24/executions-and-death-sentences-both-plummeted-this-year-as-capital-punishment-dwindles-nationwide
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« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2017, 08:32:00 pm »


from The Washington Post....

Mississippi considers firing squad as method of execution

Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas
chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs.


By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS - Associated Press | 4:29PM EST - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Lawmakers and other elected state officials sit on floor of the House chamber as they listen to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant discuss his legislative priorities during his State of the State address at the Capitol in Jackson. — Photograph: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press.
Lawmakers and other elected state officials sit on floor of the House chamber as they listen to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant discuss his
legislative priorities during his State of the State address at the Capitol in Jackson.  — Photograph: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press.


JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs.

House Bill 638 is a response to lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals,” said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Republican.

The bill passed the House amid opposition on Wednesday, and it moves to the Senate for more debate.

Lethal injection is Mississippi's only execution method. The state faces lawsuits claiming the drugs it plans to use would violate constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.

Mississippi hasn't been able to acquire the execution drugs it once used, and it last carried out an execution in 2012. The state has 47 people on death row , and some have been there for decades.

The 33 states with the death penalty all have lethal injection as the primary method of execution, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The center says only Oklahoma and Utah have firing squad as an option; eight states have electrocution as an option; five have gas chamber as an option; and three have hanging as an option.

“I have a constituent whose daughter was raped and killed by a serial killer over 25 years ago and that person's still waiting for the death penalty. The family is still waiting for justice,” said Gipson, an attorney and Baptist pastor who lives in the small town of Braxton, about 25 miles south of Jackson.

Democratic Representative Willie Perkins of Greenwood, who's also an attorney, opposes the death penalty. He asked Gipson several questions about “the time of suffering” an inmate would experience before dying by electrocution, gas chamber or firing squad. Gipson said he did not know.

Jim Craig, an attorney who is suing Mississippi over lethal injection drugs, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that each of the proposed new methods of executions would be challenged in court.

“Every single one, in essence, just injects a whole new series of issues in the existing case,” said Craig, who is with the New Orleans-based Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center.

He said with the firing squad, for example, the state would have to set protocols and procedures to reduce the risk of torture, and he doubts the Department of Corrections has prepared to do that.

Craig would not respond to Gipson's comment about “radical” lawyers filing lawsuits challenging death penalty methods.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves is a death penalty supporter and aware of the shortage of execution drugs, spokeswoman Laura Hipp said. He will read the House bill and assign it to a Senate committee for consideration, she said.

Republican Governor Phil Bryant “generally favors the efficient administration of the death penalty in Mississippi” and would review any execution bill before deciding whether to sign it, spokesman Clay Chandler said.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/mississippi-considers-firing-squad-as-method-of-execution/2017/02/08/4f5e32c8-ee21-11e6-a100-fdaaf400369a_story.html
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« Reply #40 on: November 04, 2017, 01:51:59 am »


from The Washington Post....

The Supreme Court should strike down the death penalty

The justices have a chance to take a case that could end executions for good.

By LAURENCE H. TRIBE | 7:33PM EDT - Thursday, November 02, 2017

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. — Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters.
A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. — Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters.

AFTER more than 40 years of experimenting with capital punishment, it is time to recognize that we have found no way to narrow the death penalty so that it applies only to the “worst of the worst”. It also remains prone to terrible errors and unacceptable arbitrariness.

Arizona's death-penalty scheme is a prime example of how capital punishment in the United States unavoidably violates the Eighth Amendment's requirement that the death penalty not be applied arbitrarily. The Supreme Court will soon consider accepting a case challenging Arizona's statute and the death penalty nationwide, in Hidalgo versus Arizona.

Forty-five years ago, in Furman versus Georgia, the court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional because it was administered arbitrarily. Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote that the death penalty was “cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual”. As a result, Arizona and other states rewrote their death-penalty statutes in an attempt to narrow the punishment to the worst offenders. The Arizona legislature passed a law in 1973 that required prosecutors to prove at least one of six aggravating factors before the death penalty could be imposed.

The constitutionality of the death penalty returned to the Supreme Court in Gregg versus Georgia in 1976. There, the court concluded that state lawmakers could “minimize the risk of wholly arbitrary and capricious” executions by specifying aggravating circumstances for which the death penalty could apply. In the four decades since Gregg, Arizona and other states have expanded their list of aggravating factors, such as committing murders for hire or committing multiple murders. Since 1973, the Arizona legislature has more than doubled its number of aggravating factors to 14.

Scholars call this problem “aggravator creep”. As a result of Arizona's ever-expanding list of aggravating factors, 99 percent of those convicted of first-degree murder are eligible for execution. This wholly fails to meet the constitutional duty to narrow the punishment to those murderers who are “most deserving” of the punishment.

It has also opened the door to disturbing racial trends. Studies show that people in Arizona (and nationally) accused of murdering white victims are much more likely to receive the death penalty. There are also geographic disparities: Some counties do not pursue the death penalty, while Maricopa County, where the defendant in the Hidalgo case was tried, imposed the death penalty at a rate 2.3 times higher than the rest of the state over a five-year period.

The Hidalgo case exemplifies the problems with our current capital punishment regimes, problems that several Supreme Court justices have expressed interest in addressing. It also presents these constitutional problems cleanly, without the procedural obstacles that sometimes dissuade justices from hearing important constitutional cases.

Instead of continuing, in the words of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, to “tinker with the machinery of death”, the court should hold the death penalty unconstitutional nationwide.

In doing so, the court would be recognizing our country's movement away from capital punishment: Eleven states that have the death penalty on their books have not had an execution in the past 10 years — four states have suspended the death penalty, and 19 have abolished  it entirely. Each year, the death penalty continues to shrink as its use becomes not less but more arbitrary: Death sentences have declined by more than half in just the past five years. Executions went from a modern-era high of 98 in 1999 to 20 in 2016. A handful of counties — just 2 percent — are driving the death penalty while the rest of the nation has moved on.

One reason jurors are increasingly uncomfortable in choosing death is the growing awareness that too many condemned people are, in fact, innocent. In the modern era of the death penalty, 160 people  have been exonerated and freed from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. A painstaking study from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that 4 out of every 100  people sentenced to death in the United States are innocent. When even 1 in 1,000 would be unacceptable, the continued use of the death penalty undermines the public's confidence in the criminal-justice system.

The court should acknowledge that capital punishment — in Arizona and everywhere else — violates human dignity and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. At the very least, it should enforce the requirement that the death penalty be available only in the rarest of circumstances.


Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Trump remains a staunch supporter of the death penalty, but many Americans are souring on it


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-supreme-court-should-strike-down-the-death-penalty/2017/11/02/8d3c31be-bd86-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html
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« Reply #41 on: November 10, 2017, 07:20:41 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Death row inmate resolute in quest to be executed
next week, but not using Nevada's new drug protocol


By DAVID MONTERO | 8:20PM PST - Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier confers with Lori Teicher, a federal public defender, in August. — Photograph: Ken Ritter.
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier confers with Lori Teicher, a federal public defender,
in August. — Photograph: Ken Ritter.


SCOTT DOZIER was calm and chatty as he appeared by video in a court here on Wednesday — he wanted his execution to go forward next Tuesday with no delays.

“No, I'm not going to change my mind,” he testified. “I am still resolute and steadfast in this, and my primary goal at this juncture is to get this done.”

But there was one complication with his request: The 46-year-old death row inmate said he continued to oppose the state's plan to kill him using a drug protocol that has never been used in an execution and includes cisatracurium, which paralyzes the body.

The state has not clearly articulated why it wants to use the drug. But other states have been embarrassed in recent years by executions gone wrong, and the paralytic drug would potentially mask spasms or other undesirable effects from the fatal combination of the other two drugs, fentanyl and diazepam. Nevada’s last execution was 11 years ago.

Dozier appeared in jailhouse garb and glasses and engaging in some light banter with Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti over his penchant for regularly writing her letters.

The judge pressed the state's attorneys on whether Nevada had enough of the other two drugs to carry out the execution. Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith said it had more than double the necessary amounts to kill Dozier.

There was anticipation that the judge would rule on Wednesday on whether Nevada could carry out the execution.

But she said she wouldn't let the execution proceed before the new protocol was approved by Nevada's chief medical officer — an official who took the job a week ago after the previous person who held it stepped down.

Smith said the approval was a formality and that the protocol would be signed. Togliatti has asked the lawyers to return to court on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Dozier's attorneys face an unusual situation in that they are fighting for a client who wants to die.

A medical expert testified last week that the execution was at risk for problems because of the new drug protocol and inexperienced personnel. He said the paralytic drug — if not administered correctly — could cause pain and suffering.

Wesley Juhl, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said the organization has several concerns about using a paralytic drug, including its ability to mask any mistakes.

He said Dozier's body would be unable to reflexively react to any potential problems during the process — including if the doses of the other drugs were somehow miscalculated.

The new protocol was adopted last month and remains under court seal and unavailable to the public. The execution would be the first in Ely State Prison's new execution chamber, which was completed last year and cost more than $800,000.

Brooke Keast, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, said in an email this week that the “staff is practicing everything” as the execution date looms closer.

Dozier was convicted in 2007 of murdering and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at a Las Vegas motel in 2002. He also was convicted in Arizona 12 years ago for the murder of 26-year-old Jasen Green.


• David Montero is a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times based in Las Vegas, primarily covering Nevada and the West. He previously worked at the Orange County Register, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Rocky Mountain News. He is a Southern California native and graduated from Cal State Fullerton.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-dozier-drug-execution-20171108-story.html
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