Tag: death penalty

Nebraska Court Bans Electric Chair

cross posted from The Dream Antilles


Nebraska’s Electric Chair

I’m cheering and applauding.  Nebraska’s Supreme Court has dragged the state kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by forbidding the state, as a matter of State Constitutional Law, from using the electric chair to kill prisoners sentenced to death.  Because electrocution was the only means of execution in the Nebraska statute, the state has reluctantly now joined the nationwide de facto stay on state executions.

Join me in stir.

Doctors Should Not Be Involved In Executions


Today the New England Journal of Medicine has an editorial entitled, “Physicians And Execution.” The editorial makes it clear that medical doctors should never be involved in state killing.

This is extremely important and another significant step toward the abolition of state killing. How so?  “Lethal injection” was introduced to “medicalize” and lend moral authority to executions when hanging, gassing, and electrocution were finally recognized to be inhumane.  That is why those to be executed are required to lie on hospital like gurney (see above).  And that is why the gurney has sheets on it.  That is why in many cases hospital like curtains are used to surround the dead person after the execution.  The “medical” appearance of killing is intended to make it more palatable.    

More after the jump.

Propaganda: Mexico Thwarts US State Killings

Is the Associated Press another propaganda outlet for US wingnuts who justify state killing and don’t recognize Mexico’s sovereignty?  Apparently.  Tonight AP has a story that Mexico thwarts US death penalty cases because Mexico won’t extradite US fugitives unless the US signs on the dotted line that it will not execute them.  This isn’t news.  Mexico’s policy has been in place for thirty (30) years.

Well, maybe demanding an assurance that the extradited person won’t be killed is unusual?  It isn’t.

Other countries, including France and Canada, also demand such “death assurances” [that the extradited person won’t be executed]. But the problem is more common with Mexico, since it is often a quick drive from the crime scene for a large portion of the United States. /snip

The Justice Department said death assurances from foreign countries are fairly common, but it had no immediate numbers. State Department officials said Mexico extradited 73 suspects to the U.S. in 2007. Most were wanted on drug or murder charges.

No, the point of the story isn’t the policy.  It’s US exceptionalism and how Mexico should cave in to US barbarism and the death penalty and return fugitives slaves for execution:

“We find it extremely disturbing that the Mexican government would dictate to us, in Arizona, how we would enforce our laws at the same time they are complaining about our immigration laws,” said Barnett Lotstein, special assistant to the prosecutor in Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix.

“Even in the most egregious cases, the Mexican authorities say, `No way,’ and that’s not justice. That’s an interference of Mexican authorities in our judicial process in Arizona.” /snip

“If you can get to Mexico – if you have the means – it’s a way of escaping the death penalty,” said Issac Unah, a University of North Carolina political science professor. /snip

John Walsh, host of TV’s long-running “America’s Most Wanted,” … said the delays and death-penalty compromises needed to get fugitives returned can be heartbreaking for victims’ families

“It’s not about revenge. It’s not so much about closure. It’s about justice,” he said.

Lotstein, the prosecutor’s assistant in Phoenix, said the county has agreed to drop the death penalty in a number of cases: “The option we have is absolutely no justice, or partial justice.”

Is the point of the article that US justice is somehow were synonymous with state killing? Is the point of the article that Mexico is somehow obstructing US state killing?

No.  Those are incidental points.  The real point, the Britney Spears size point of the article is that the Marine who allegedly killed a pregnant Marine may have fled to Mexico after the crime and now prosecutors may have to agree not to kill him in exchange for having him returned to the US.  I’m sorry.  But this doesn’t seem to me to be unfair.  Not in the slightest.

What would be unfair is allowing this alleged killer, or for that matter anyone else, to be executed.

Huckabee For Executioner

Seldom have we seen a politician who so relished and justified the grisly business of state killing.  Mike Huckabee actually brags about his willingness to kill.  And justifies it by talking about Jesus.

This from the reactionary conservative Washington Times:

Mike Huckabee has started to cite the 16 executions he oversaw as Arkansas governor in his presidential campaign, pointing to them as a type of experience no other candidate in the Republican race can claim.

It’s a grisly claim to make, but Huckabee is trying to counter Mitt Romney’s attacks that he is soft on crime.

“The 16 people I carried out execution on in Arkansas would hardly say I’m soft on crime,” Huckabee told supporters while campaigning in Indianola, Iowa, over the weekend.

Last week he made a similar statement to voters in Pella, telling them, “Ask the 16 people on which I carried out executions.”

The implication is this: Huckabee is tough and will kill.  Romney is weak. He has not killed as governor.

If this were isolated tough talk it would be disgraceful enough.  But, in fact, it’s part of Huckabee’s long willingness to act as executioner.

More across the jump.

Is 2007 The Beginning Of The End Of The Death Penalty?


As 2007 draws to a close, it’s again time for the annual data about executions in the US.  From my abolitionist’s perspective, this year’s statistics are better than last year’s and are trending in the right direction.  But the numbers are especially troubling because they show a concentration of state killing and a continued enthusiasm for it in Texas.

Join me across the wall for the 2007 wrap up.

Ending the Real Culture Of Death

Cross-posted at The Great Orange Satan (DailyKos)

The faux religious zealots like to go around spouting about a “culture of death” in our country because we let women make their own decisions about their bodies. However the real culture of death in this country is the unjust death penalty. We join beacons of justice China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan in accounting for 90 percent of all executions. 133 countries around the world have abolished the death penalty. And yet we stick on to this culture of death. However great news has been coming out in recent days for those who wish to end this injustice. Two days ago New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine on Monday signed a law abolishing the death penalty, the first state to ban it in 42 years. And then yesterday on a 104 to 54 vote, with 29 abstentions the U.N. General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.

Finally Ending The Death Penalty

cross posted at The Dream Antilles

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On Thursday, the New Jersey legislature voted to end capital punishment in that state.  I was delighted by the breaking news, and posted an essay.  Yesterday, I learned that around the world, death penalty abolitionists were rejoicing and that in Italy the Coliseum was being illuminated in celebration.  I was delighted, and posted an essay.  Today my happiness continued.  The New York Times has an editorial about the death penalty.  It begins:

It took 31 years, but the moral bankruptcy, social imbalance, legal impracticality and ultimate futility of the death penalty has finally penetrated the consciences of lawmakers in one of the 37 states that arrogates to itself the right to execute human beings.

This week, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate passed a law abolishing the death penalty, and Gov. Jon Corzine, a staunch opponent of execution, promised to sign the measure very soon. That will make New Jersey the first state to strike the death penalty from its books since the Supreme Court set guidelines for the nation’s system of capital punishment three decades ago.

Some lawmakers voted out of principled opposition to the death penalty. Others felt that having the law on the books without enforcing it (New Jersey has had a moratorium on executions since 2006) made a mockery of their argument that it has deterrent value. Whatever the motivation of individual legislators, by forsaking a barbaric practice that grievously hurts the global reputation of the United States without advancing public safety, New Jersey has set a worthy example for the federal government, and for other states that have yet to abandon the creaky, error-prone machinery of death.

More over the jump.

Congratulations, New Jersey!!

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Yesterday I posted an essay announcing that New Jersey was about to legislatively abolish the death penalty.  I was elated.  Apparently, I was not alone.  Today the IHT reports:

Rome will light up the Colosseum in support of the planned abolishment of the death penalty in the U.S. state of New Jersey, a lay Roman Catholic organization said Friday.

The Sant’Egidio Community, which is at the forefront of an international anti-death penalty movement, said in a statement that the arena will be lit up when the state’s governor, Jon S. Corzine, signs the legislation within a week.

New Jersey is poised to become the first U.S. state in four decades to abolish the death penalty after votes by state legislators this week.

Sant’Egidio praised New Jersey’s decision, saying it is a “crucial passage” for a worldwide moratorium on capital punishment.

Rome’s Colosseum, once the arena for deadly gladiator combat and executions, has become a symbol of the fight against capital punishment. Since 1999, the first century monument has been bathed in golden light every time a death sentence is commuted somewhere in the world or a country abolishes capital punishment.

I am so happy that this news is receiving the response it deserves.  And I hope that those abolitionists who worked so very hard and consistently to bring about this legislation– that means you, too, Abe Bonowitz– are enjoying the fruits of their victory.  I also hope this will inspire all of the rest of us!

Breaking: New Jersey To Abolish Death Penalty

This from AP should bring cheers and applause:

The New Jersey Assembly approved legislation Thursday to abolish the state’s death penalty, making Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s signature as the only step left before the state becomes the first in four decades to ban executions.

Lawmakers voted 44-36 to replace the death sentence with life in prison without parole. Corzine, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill within a week.

This is a fantastic victory by abolitionists in New Jersey, and something that should inspire those in the other states.

The vote comes as state executions across the US are on hold until the Supreme Court decides the lethal injection challenge.

Break out the champagne!!

Details on the vote now at Blue Jersey.

WaPo suggests the victory had its roots in the state’s finances:

The repeal bill follows the recommendation of a state commission that reported in January that the death penalty “is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.” But equally persuasive to lawmakers was not saving lives but money — it costs more to keep a prisoner indefinitely on death row than incarcerated for life.

And Reuters adds:

In New Jersey, a legislative commission in January 2007 recommended abolishing the death penalty, saying there was no clear evidence it deterred the worst crimes, and that it was “inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.”

I am so very pleased with this!  This is the best good news I’ve had all week!  I hope you all are enjoying this even a tenth as much as I am!!  

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