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Death Penalty

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Lakshmi Raju

on 30 September 2014

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Transcript of Death Penalty

Death Penalty
Pro - Death Penalty Groups
Victims of crime
Some families of crime victims
State established interest groups

Arguments for the Death Penalty
It is the ultimate warning for criminals
It provides closure for victims and their families
It creates something for criminals to fear
Its not always cruel
It is the best answer to murder
Anti - Death Penalty Groups
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP)
American Civil Liberties Union
Witness to Innocence
Many more national and state organizations exist
Arguments against the Death Penalty
Sufficient alternatives exist
The process involved with capital punishment is more expensive than life imprisonment
It is irreversible in the case of an incorrect verdict
It is not a sufficient deterrent against criminals
The process itself is too arbitrary
Racial Disparity
Religious Perspectives
Relevance to our generation
Process of Capital Punishment
If the person is tried guilty s/he is moved to the state's Supreme Court
The Supreme court then decides whether or not the punishment of death applies to the crime
Appeal Process
The Direct Appeal
State Post Conviction
Federal Habius Corpus
Executive Clemency

Constitutional Issues
Is the death penalty constitutional?
5th Amendment:
"No person shall...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"
: Risk of innocence or due process violations is a necessary consequence
: This risk is too great and morally unacceptable
8th Amendment:
"Cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted."
: Methods comply with evolving standards of decency and most humane method is used
: Execution is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of basic human rights
14th Amendment:
"No state shall...the equal protection of the laws."
: Death penalty is for all criminals who commit the necessary acts
: There is a clear racial bias in the sentencing and implementation of the death penalty
Legislative Action
The evolution of today's death penalty:
Republican View on Death Penalty
"Courts should have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases." - 2012 Republican Party Platform

"Any time you give the government a power that can be abused, it will or may be abused in the future. And taking a citizen's life is kind of the ultimate power the government can have." - Dave Thomas, RLC of Kansas Chair, 2014
Facts about death penalty
Key Issues Now and in the Future
From 2011 to 2013 the support of death penalty in the age group 18-29 dropped by 8%, according to Pew, and 7% overall.

We are seeing more dialog now, and there are more ongoing debates that will continue until a unified decision is made.
Demographics of Death Penalty inmates (as of summer 2013)

Total number of Death Row inmates: 3,108

Race of Defendant:
White 1,334 (43.10%)
Black 1,291 (41.71%)
Latino/Latina 391 (12.63%)
Asian 45 (1.42%)
Native American 33 (1.07%)
Unknown 1 (0.03%)
Democratic View on Death Penalty
Hall v. Florida (2014)
Tackles the idea of death penalty against mentally challenged individuals
Supreme court ruled strict cutoffs based on IQ test scores are unconstitutional
Georgia Lethal Injection Secrecy Upheld by Georgia Supreme Court (2014)
Holds the drugs used in lethal injection a state secret
Information is withheld from public , those condemned, and the courts
Public opinion on death penalty waning, fewer people and criminals sentenced each year
But courts have never declared execution unconstitutional.
Will legislation keep pace with public opinion? Or will public opinion reverse again?
"Given the irreversibility of the death penalty, the possibility of a wrongful conviction can never be overstated." - George Gascon, San Francisco DA, 2011

"I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes, terrorism, the harm of children, in which it may be appropriate. " - President Obama, 2004
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
Supreme Court case: Death penalty violates 8th Amendment
5 Justices agreed, but for different reasons:
too severe for the crime,
, offended society's sense of justice
Placed de facto moratorium on death penalty
Death penalty/execution itself was not outlawed
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
State must provide objective criteria to direct and limit the death sentencing discretion
Plans in GA, FL, and TX were approved by Supreme Court
Moratorium lifted and executions resumed
Not about method - electrocution and gassing continued
Male 3,034 (98.03%)
Female 61 ( 1.97%)

States with the most
inmates on Death Row:
California (746)
Florida (412)
Texas (292)
Full transcript