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September 2, 2008

Did the Supreme Court's work in Baze matter at all?

The DPIC has this recent item discussing the details of the 20 executions in months since the Supreme Court "resolved" the constitutionality of lethal injection protocols through its decision in Baze v. Rees.  When I look at the data, I find it remarkable not only that we have returned to four or five executions each month all in traditional death penalty states, but also that we have not seen any post-Baze increase in executions even though the Baze case led to a halt of all executions for over six months.

It seems that, even when the Supreme Court stirs up the pot, the modern dynamics and pacing of execution realities are hard to disrupt significantly. 

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September 2, 2008 at 04:15 PM | Permalink

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The pace has upticked just a little in Texas (where, of course, 60% of executions took place in the year before Baze). We've executed eight men since the Baze moratorium lifted, and have 12 more scheduled by the end of the year, plus four already set in early 2009.

That said, the rate of people SENT to death row continues to decline here. In 2007, the last full year of reporting, Texas had 14 new death sentences out of 849 new prison sentences for homicides. So our trends continue - more executions, fewer new death sentences.

All this to say, no, Baze didn't matter at all. Looking back in a few years, I doubt it will even qualify as a statistical blip. And state courts are giving its dicta about LI procedures about as much consideration as they are felons' gun rights post-Heller - which is to say, zippo.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 3, 2008 10:56:37 AM

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