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April 8, 2014

NY Times debates "What It Means if the Death Penalty Is Dying"

The Room for Debate section of the New York Times has this new set of notable commentaries discussing the death penalty in the United States.  Here is the section's set up:

Last week, lawmakers in New Hampshire heard testimony on a bill outlawing the death penalty.  If passed, the law would make New Hampshire the 19th state to abolish capital punishment.  The United States, the only country in the Americas to practice the death penalty last year, executed 39 people, four fewer than the year before, and Texas accounted for 41 percent of them, according to Amnesty International.

As executions become concentrated in fewer and fewer states and racial disparities continue, does the application of capital punishment make it unconstitutionally cruel and unusual?

Here are the contributions, with links via the commentary titles:

April 8, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Permalink


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"As executions become concentrated in fewer and fewer states and racial disparities continue, does the application of capital punishment make it unconstitutionally cruel and unusual?"

I say yes.

Posted by: obective observer | Apr 8, 2014 11:16:35 AM

"No Justice for Victims of Color"
“The arbitrary way in which we decide … leaves us with a system of capital punishment that is cruel, unusual and irreparably broken.
“In our inevitably imperfect justice system the death penalty is and will always be cruel and unusual.”

{Platitutes of Pablum}

"Of Course, It’s Cruel and Unusual"
“If you want to know if capital punishment is cruel and unusual, ask Carlos DeLuna,Ruben Cantu or Cameron Todd Willingham.
Oh, that’s right. You can’t ask those guys. They were executed even though they were probably innocent.

The death penalty will never work. ... Someone will always end up on the short end of the stick. … The death penalty system is broken beyond repair.”

{If this were a movie, Ebert could fitly say that “it does not improve on the sight of a blank screen”}

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 8, 2014 11:40:39 AM

This is a scary rendition of the Constitutional disrespect and Machiavellian morality held by ‘living Constitution” evolutionists:

“Next time the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether the death penalty is constitutional,
the justices will have to take notice of where the country is heading.”


Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 8, 2014 11:42:16 AM

"concentrated in fewer and fewer states"

The framing arguably is generous -- even in the few states where the death penalty is practiced (it is possible in many more, but take a look at how often it actually is used), it repeated is 'concentrated' in certain sections of the states. This was flagged here, I recall, a few months ago with a cite to a study where something like 2% of the country has a majority of the death sentences. Such is how localized prosecutions, somewhat favored by the BOR (see the vicinity clause), boils down things.


What "unusual" means in this context is subject to lots of argument, so you know, what you take from all of this, balancing everything, is anyone's guess, putting aside the regulars here have pretty clear views on such matters.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 8, 2014 12:37:13 PM

Prosecution hides evidence again. Cases like that of Johathan Flemming (another Michael Morton)make more ant-dp folks:

A New York man, freed Tuesday after spending more than two decades in state prison, would not have been convicted if vital evidence had not been withheld by investigators, the man's lawyer alleged.
"Where the hell was this evidence all these years, and why wasn’t it turned over until 25 years later?" attorney Taylor Koss asked.
Jonathan Fleming, 51, was 27 years old when he was convicted of a murder that he insisted he did not commit. Now, 24 years later, he has been released from Washington Correctional Facility in Comstock, N.Y.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson said in a press release Tuesday that his office was dismissing murder charges against Fleming following a re-examination of his case by the office's Conviction Review Unit. Thompson said he made his decision based on "key alibi facts."
Koss, along with attorney Anthony Mayol and a team from the private investigative firm Management Resources, had spent the past year collecting evidence to prove Fleming's innocence.
According to Koss, it was recently discovered that two vital pieces of evidence had been kept from Fleming's original defense team. That evidence, Koss said, shows that Fleming was in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 15, 1989, the day Darryl Rush was gunned down outside a Brooklyn housing project.
"He told his attorney he had in his pocket at the time of his arrest a phone receipt from paying a phone bill at [a Florida] hotel late in the evening of Aug 14, 1989," said Koss.

Posted by: anon | Apr 9, 2014 12:38:15 AM

"she shoots, she misses"


When Flemming becomes relevant to the DP, please inform us.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 9, 2014 4:48:06 PM

Adamakis, you ask the relevance of Fleming to the DP. The relevance is this:
The prosecution is not to be trusted; case after case, after case, they hide evidence. why should anyone vote to convict the defendant, or vote for his death, when we think the prosecutor is hiding evidence that would help him? That's the relevance.

"In 1989, Jonathan Fleming was convicted of a Brooklyn murder that from day one he insisted he did not commit. After nearly 25 years behind bars, Fleming is now a free man.

Fleming explained to HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski that a recent reexamination of the case revealed two key pieces of evidence that led to his exoneration: one being a receipt and another being eyewitness testimony -- both of which confirmed his alibi that he was in Florida, not Brooklyn, at the time of the murder.

While Fleming says that he isn't bitter about his wrongful conviction, and is only focused on moving forward with his life, he still wants an apology.

"Yes, I would like an apology, because all along they knew I didn't do it," Fleming said. "All I know is the judge exonerated me, and I haven’t heard from no one since. I’m hoping to hear from someone."

Since his exoneration, Fleming says he has been faced with many challenges, including a lack of housing, employment, and resources to feed his family. His attorney Taylor Koss pointed out that the city and state "have programs in place for felons who are put on parole, prisoner re-entry programs, but what about the guy who just rotted in a cell for 24 and a half years for something that he didn't do. Where's the help?"

When Minkovski asked Fleming about what he'd tell prospective employers, Fleming responded, "I just need a chance."

Posted by: obective observer | Apr 10, 2014 6:44:01 PM

I quite agree with objective observer. In their zeal to obtain convictions at all costs, these prosecutors are making even ardent death penalty supporters have second thoughts.

Posted by: anon14 | Apr 10, 2014 11:21:08 PM

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