Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Life Row: Does Pennsylvania Really Have the Death Penalty?

This article illustrates that death row inmates typically serve two sentences - life on death row and then (maybe) the execution is carried out.

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The situation described in Pennsylvania is typical - states such as Texas are the exception. Is anyone, regardless of their ideology, satisfied with the manner in which the death penalty is currently being conducted in this country?

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment because of the freakish manner in which it was applied - one justice described the selection process as being akin to being struck by lightening. Have we made progress since capital punishment was reimplemented in 1976? I suggest that the evidence suggests not - huge numbers of reversals of convictions and/or sentences, over 120 exonerations, moratoriums and resolutions, and growing abolition by the international community strongly suggest that, as Justice Blackmun among others, the death penalty experiment has failed.

Let's stop investing millions in a crime control policy that does not deliver deterrence, corrupts the legal system, undermines respect for the rule of law, and diverts attention and resources away from viable crime control policies.

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