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March 1, 2007

Will there ever be an international get-rid-of-200-year-sentences day?

As detailed here by the folks at CUADP, today is International Death Penalty Abolition Day, as March 1 is the "anniversary of the date in 1847 in which the State of Michigan officially became the first English-speaking territory in the world to abolish capital punishment." 

I suppose all the murderers sentenced to death in the United States will be heartened to know that there are folks all over the world eager to reduce their sentences.  But I cannot help but mark the day by being disappointed that non-violent offenders like Morton Berger and Genarlow Wilson have to endure long prison sentences without having an international day committed to reducing their sentences.

March 1, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

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Tracked on Mar 1, 2007 3:57:17 PM

Comments

I suppose you could just pick a day and declare it. It would be just as authoritative.

Except that I'd add the "undeserved" qualifier to the name of your day. Some people deserve LWOP, which is what a 200-yr sentence is.

Posted by: | Mar 1, 2007 12:11:45 PM

LWOP, for a money crime? It's disgusting, and does nothing except placate the ignorant masses and get everyone in the prosecutors' office a slap on the back and a promotion.

No one, repeat NO ONE deserves to lose what's left of their life because of money. NO ONE.

Posted by: BabbuLu | Mar 1, 2007 1:16:25 PM

The answer is there won't, because of the perception that "Death is Different."

I would argue that what happened to Morton Berger and Genarlow Wilson is worse than any death sentence, but most people don't see it that way. As a society, we've built up a mystique around the death penalty, which is reinforced by SCOTUS precedents that treat death cases much, much differently. I don't see that changing.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Mar 1, 2007 1:27:33 PM

Charles Rust-Tierney of ACLU fame is looking at quite a stretch in the pokey for kiddie porn.

Posted by: | Mar 1, 2007 1:50:00 PM

"I would argue that what happened to Morton Berger and Genarlow Wilson is worse than any death sentence, but most people don't see it that way."

Assuming you are referring to death sentences for murder, I think a lot of people would see it that way.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Mar 1, 2007 2:29:54 PM

Yes, I was referring to death sentences for murder --- since that's the only crime for which death can be imposed these days.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Mar 1, 2007 2:58:44 PM

Marc, that's not true. Several states have passed laws that aim to execute molesters purely for their sex crime.

Yesterday the La. S.Ct. had oral arguments on whether a death sentence is constitutional for Patrick Kennedy, the only person on death row in America for a non-homicide sexual assualt.

Texas is currently considering a bill. Steve Hall and others are covering these developments.

Posted by: rothmatisseko | Mar 1, 2007 5:20:21 PM

rothmatisseko, Mr. Shepherd may be right. It depends on how broadly or narrowly one reads Coker v. Georgia, afaik

Babbulu, I never suggested that people who commit financial crimes deserve LWOP, only that some people do, though as I think about it I don't think I would say categorically that no one could ever deserve LWOP for a financial crime.

Posted by: 12:11 anonymous | Mar 1, 2007 6:02:34 PM

12:11 anon: However broadly you read Coker, the fact is that at least one person has received a death sentence for a crime that did not result in death. Murder is not the only crime for which a defendant can receive the death penalty.

I'm not speaking to the substantive issue or whether the Supreme Court will hold that execution is disprorportionate to the crime of child rape.

BTW, there's an interesting note out of Cornell that brings in some interesting arguments viz. Roper and Atkins.

Posted by: rothmatisseko | Mar 1, 2007 6:13:18 PM

Why is a 200 year sentence so much more egregious and uncalled for than a life sentence? There are plenty of people service life sentences for nonviolent offenses (particularly drug offenses).

Posted by: Bruce | Mar 2, 2007 8:15:49 PM

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