Thursday, August 30, 2007

Judge takes on death row gridlock - Los Angeles Times

Federal appeals jurist urges reforms, saying heavy backlog and a dysfunctional system make capital punishment an illusion.

read more digg story

The judge omitted one reasonable alternative to the crisis in California - abolish the death penalty. There can be no doubt that the average wait on California's death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. It is also obvious that executions are rare in California. Both of these conditions are grounds for abolishing the death penalty based on Justice Brennen's opinion in Furman v. Georgia.

Why not take the money being squandered on capital punishment and invest it in crime control strategies that might prevent future death and sorrow? Are politicians afraid to make policy based on empirical evidence? Has the death penalty so corrupted the legal system that it is incapable of upholding the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution?

We need an exist strategy. The federal courts are no longer willing or able to abide by constitutional safeguards of liberty. The revolution in abolishing the death penalty will have to come from statehouses as the federal government, including the courts, are at a loss to deal with the issue of crime and crime control policies.

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