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Multiple States Try to “Fix” Executions, But Support For the Death Penalty Still Wanes

Multiple States Try to “Fix” Executions, But Support For the Death Penalty Still Wanes

In the wake of an alarming number of horrific executions over the last few months, numerous states are beginning to reevaluate their methods when it comes to the death penalty. The more they analyze and search out other and more effective means for executing prisoners, however, the less the public supports the death penalty as a criminal punishment at all.

The Supreme Court already weighed in on a Missouri case, asking for a delay because they were unsure how the drugs used in a lethal injection would affect a prisoner with a medical condition, and whether the procedure could result in cruel and unusual punishment. Now they have stepped in again, this time in Florida, where they have determined that IQ cut offs are too rigid to determine effectively if a person is too mentally disabled to receive the death penalty for a crime. According to the New York Times, the ruling could affect a number of other states that use an IQ test point cut off to determine eligibility for the death penalty, working off a 2002 court ruling that forbids the use of the death penalty on the mentally disabled.

“The death penalty is the gravest sentence our society may impose,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. “Persons facing that most severe sanction must have a fair opportunity to show that the Constitution prohibits their execution. Florida’s law contravenes our nation’s commitment to dignity and its duty to teach human decency as the mark of a civilized world.”

The Supreme Court may be once more limiting who can receive the death penalty, but when it comes to the execution itself a number of states are still grappling with how to do them, especially with lethal injections being at best unreliable and at worst a slow, agonizing death.

Texas, however, has decided to change nothing, and will even continue to make the source of their injections a secret. The Attorney General, who is also running for governor, has once more refused to answer the questions of the Texas Criminal Department regarding where the drugs are manufactured, ironically stating that providing that information could potentially open the drug provider up to “threats of violence.” If only Greg Abbott took the privacy rights of women seeking abortion services or doctors who provide terminations as seriously as he takes the privacy rights of drug manufacturers.

In the search for more  lethal injection drugs, Louisiana has chosen to start looking outside the state for a supplier, but would still keep the source of those drugs a secret, just as it had for the ones they obtained in state. The Attorney General in Missouri, however, has decided that the state’s best way to ensure better lethal injection drugs is to manufacture them itself, cutting out the secrecy factor.

“For Missouri to maintain lethal injection,” Attorney General Chris Koster said, “it is my belief the legislature should remove market-driven participants and pressures from the system and appropriate funds to establish a state-operated, DEA-licensed, laboratory to produce the execution chemicals in our state. As a matter of policy, Missouri should not be reliant on merchants whose identities must be shielded from public view or who can exercise unacceptable leverage over this profound state act.”

States are continuing to look at any means necessary to continue their executions, but the general public is growing more opposed to the practice. As Voice of America reports, Pew polling in the last two years shows that the number of people who “strongly favor” the death penalty has dropped by 10 percent in just two years. Much of that loss of support stems from fear of people being condemned to death who were actually innocent.

“Even if you support the death penalty, you cannot possibly support an innocent person being sent to death as collateral damage to support a broken institution,” activist Kathy Spillman of the Witness to Innocence told Voice of America.

With public support waning, courts implementing delays and new standards and the obtaining or manufacturing of lethal injection drugs becoming a greater hassle, and even the president beginning to intercede, perhaps finally it is the death penalty itself that is on its last legs.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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4:49AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Thank you

4:18AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

It's too bad they didn't ask me if I believe in the death penalty, because my answer would be a big YES!
If someone is convicted without a doubt with total proof that they raped, murdered or tortured someone, Yes, put them to death! Why should we pay for them to have free room and board with meals, medical and everything else provided for them???

7:24PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Noted.

2:33AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

Following on from the murder of 3 RCMP officers yesterday the BBC has just published a table of countries and their murder rates b shooting per 100,000 had of population. The US is at the top of that list at 3.51, Switzerland second and 0.52 and Canada third at 0.49. What do all of these countries have in common? Extensive, legal personal gun ownership. The US murder rate dwarfs everybody else, so what does that tell you? Capital punishment has no deterrent effect (the only possible justification for it).

The simple fact is that CP is inefficient. Life imprisonment is more expensive but it has several major benefits: 1) the punishment lasts and is not "cruel or unusual"; 2) miscarriages of justice can be put right at a later date and 3) the GOP and other associated nutters can continue to claim to be "Christian" and stop rewriting the Commandments.

As a slightly smug Brit might I point out that our rate is 0.06, which is approximately one sixtieth of the rate in the US - the benefits of controlled gun ownership and a ban on hand guns and no death penalty (like the rest of the EU - Switzerland is not a member of the EU).

4:08PM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

There is only one conclusion to derive from this.
The states who use the death penalty are not Christian, because the death penalty is about VENGEANCE, not justice.
'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. The Lord will judge his people.'

It may be nice for people stop pretending to be something they are not. Invoking god whenever it suits you, is sacrilegious and a travesty.
The so-called conservative right should not wonder why they are failing at bring people around to their way of thinking. You can only fool, a fool; you can't fool an intelligent thinking person.

The day will come and in my lifetime, when the Teapublicans will be shown for what they truly are, insecure foolish individuals.

10:11AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

THe REAL problem is that we are killing innocent people. There are too many that are being found innocent when DNA tests are redone. There was jsut a thing on TV the other day about how sloppy things have gotten at the FBI labs. They have found all kinds of huge mistakes. AS long as this many mistakes are being made and we hear about people being let go after 20 to 30 years in jail. Why are we ok with putting innocent people to death?? How many others are innocent that we havent discovered yet? It would be different if our legal system was perfect….but its FAR from perfect.

So the death penalty doesnt just kill bad people it kills innocent peopel too. How many innocent people dying is acceptable??

5:20AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Death Penalty don`t solve anything AT ALL! Yes they are charged guilty of murder but does it help to kill them? Will the people the victim left behind be a better person/s, will they feel better and for what? Justice? Who are we to judge? In that case we will be no better than those who did the murder.

We are only people, but do we have to make it and/or be worse by be a part of the wheel that turns around and around and around as it has done for thousands of years? By that i mean, do what has always been done. We can not change if we are to be on that weel. History prove it! The word "change" means doing something else. We know our "system" in our community, it has been there for a long time, but have the world got any better through thousands of year? Of course it has not! Think about it! Thousands of year and we still do the same thing, running inside the spinning wheel, and guess what? WE ARE STILL AT THE SAME PLACE!

To get the world to be a better place WE have to CHANGE! That means WE need to take new steps, new steps that has never been used before :-)

4:04AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

This is my opinion of the death penalty. I believe the court system should do all that is necessary to prove the accused is guilty. Then if he/she is found guilty, they should be executed quickly instead of staying on death row for many, many years. I don't really believe a person should be put through torture to be put to death. But most of these people are guilty of murder and heinous crimes against others. They didn't show their victims any mercy, so why should we show them mercy? If this point of view was taken and criminals saw what the punishment is, we may just have less crime. If it's the torturing of the criminals your worried about, go back to the old days of lining them against the wall and shooting them in the head. I promise you they will feel no pain and it certainly would be a lot cheaper than lethal injection. But as I said, this is only one persons opinion.

10:07PM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

While I have always believed that there are some criminals who, due the horrendous nature of their crimes, certainly deserve to be put to death, I find the death penalty problematic. There have been too many cases where someone was executed, only to have new evidence surface afterward that proved their innocence. That's why I could never sit on a jury in a capital case - I would not be able to live with myself if someone I help send to their death was later proven innocent.

7:44PM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

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