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July 3, 2016

Draft DNC party platform calls for abolition of death penalty ... which means?

In this post last week, I wondered whether it really mattered what the traditional political parties had to say about criminal justice issues in their party platforms.  But this latest platform news as reported by CNN from the Democratic National Committee will surely matter to those who are eager to see abolition of the death penalty in the United States:

Democrats are calling for an end to capital punishment.  The latest draft of the party's platform, released Friday, says the death penalty "has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment" that "has no place in the United States of America."

The inclusion of the provision represents a victory of sorts for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- a longtime opponent of the punishment who has said he is remaining in the presidential race in order to fight for progressive causes.  Sanders offered mild praise for the platform Friday evening, tweeting, "The Democratic Platform includes some accomplishments that will begin to move this country in the right direction."

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has supported the death penalty in the past, albeit on a limited basis, suggesting that there could be cases for "very limited use" of the punishment in "horrific" terrorist crimes.  She was confronted over the issue during a CNN-TV One town hall event in May by an exonerated former death row inmate who spent 39 years in jail for a murder he did not commit.

For a host of reasons, I would be very surprised to hear Hillary Clinton now express opposition to the death penalty for the likes of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or even Charleston mass murderer Dylann Roof. Thus, it would seem the DNC is charting a path toward adopting a party platform that will not be fully embraced by its Prez nominee. And that, in turn, means .... I have no idea.

July 3, 2016 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


"latest draft"

Posted by: Joe | Jul 3, 2016 12:18:41 PM


It is not that surprising.

5 states with Democratic Governors and Democrat majority legislators have, recently, repealed the death penalty, which would not have, otherwise, occurred. Two of those states, Illinois and New Jersey, had to do so within lame duck sessions.

5 additional states, all with Democratic governors, have suspended all executions either by executive, gubernatorial, order or by intentional inaction (Ca).

The exception is Nebraska, which repealed the death penalty, allegedly because of strong conservative support (the unicameral legislature has no party identifications), which overcame the veto of the Republican governor. However, the repeal was suspended by a write in ballot system, leaving an active death penalty statute, which will be voted on in the November election.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Jul 4, 2016 12:18:43 PM

As far as the death penalty goes, it is about as meaningful on the subject as this blog.

Posted by: Abra K. Dabra | Jul 5, 2016 4:53:24 PM

I am inclined to consider your comment a magical compliment, Abra!

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 5, 2016 6:14:30 PM

Party platforms tend to be "sound and fury signifying nothing." Because convention delegates tend to be party activists, they tend to be less mainstream than primary voters who tend to be less mainstream than general election voters. While there may have been a time when party platform were significant, there main purpose today is to keep the party activists calm so that the delegates don't make a stink at the convention.

Posted by: tmm | Jul 6, 2016 12:15:36 PM

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