Movement to remove death penalty strengthens, but obstacles remain
• Even in the Death Belt, states like Texas, which averaged 34 death sentences a year in the 1990s, handed down just nine this year.
• Three states in the past two years have abolished the death penalty, making the 15th state to do so.
• Eleven states considered an abolition bill, which passed in one house of Colorado and Montana’s state legislatures, and which was adopted by Connecticut’s legislature, but vetoed by the governor.
• Nine more men under sentence of death were exonerated, bringing the total since 1973 to 139.
• A poll of police chiefs nationwide revealed little support for the practice as a law enforcement tool (”…one of the most inefficient uses of taxpayer money in fighting crime” )
While the DPIC report does not make predictions about the future, the movement to abolish the death penalty will also suffer disappointments and setbacks. For example, while public support for capital punishment continues to drop in California, which has the nation’s largest death row, the state may soon experience a spate of executions, which, because of two parallel legal challenges, has kept the state from executing anyone since Clarence Ray Allen was executed four years ago this January.
Both those challenges are likely to be decided early in 2010, and if they are decided in the state’s favor, a number of those individuals will soon be put to death in San Quentin’s death chamber.
But while we face the real possibility of imminent executions here, internationally, both California and the U.S. continue to find themselves ever more isolated in regards to the death penalty. A few examples:
* Last month, the Russian constitutional court ruled that the ban on executions would continue to be in effect.
• Turkmenistan abolished the death penalty a decade ago.
• Last year, Kyrgyzstan abolished the death penalty through a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the “inherent right to life for everyone.”
• South Korea has signaled by letter to the Council of Europe that “it guarantees the non-application of the death penalty.”
• This month, a minister in Japan’s ruling coalition promised that “the Japanese government will work toward abolition.”
• China, which executes more people than any other country, has significantly reduced the number of offenses subject to capital punishment, and the vice president of the Supreme People’s Court has promised more leniency in capital cases.
• In Africa, even while Uganda debates the death penalty for homosexual conduct, other countries are following the lead South Africa established by abolishing the death penalty 11 years ago… Kenya commuted the death sentences of 4,000 people to life in prison, and in June, Togo became the 15th country in Africa to abolish capital punishment.
While the U.S. remains in the international company of Iran, Iraq, China and Cuba in its insistence on putting its citizens to death, mounting evidence points toward continuing erosion of support for capital punishment in the state, in the country, and in the world.
Note: A ruling is expected on the lethal injection regulations for California the first part of 2010.
http://www.sdnn. com/sandiego/ 2009-12-18/ blog/a-more- perfect-union/ movement- to-remove- death-penalty- strengthens- but-still- sees-obstacles
Michael A. Kroll writes for New America Media
DEATH TO THE DEATH PENALTY!