America’s Retreat From the Death Penalty

NY Times: “When the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, it said there were two social purposes for imposing capital punishment for the most egregious crimes: deterrence and retribution. In recent months, these justifications for a cruel and uncivilized punishment have been seriously undermined by a growing group of judges, prosecutors, scholars and others involved in criminal justice, conservatives and liberals alike.”

Death penalty grows rarer in U.S.

RNS: “Though the number of death-row inmates executed in 2012 remained unchanged from 2011 at 43, death penalty opponents said the year still showed capital punishment is on the wane. Connecticut this year upped the number of states to repeal the death penalty to 17. Some states that have had relatively high numbers of executions in the past executed no one this year, or issued no new death sentences.”

California's Death Penalty: All Cost and No Benefit

Danny Glover and Mike Farrell: A comprehensive five-year study by Federal Judge Arthur Alarcón (who is pro-death penalty) and Loyola Law Professor Paula Mitchell (who is not) showed the state has spent $4 billion on the death penalty since 1978. They’ve just updated that report to show that California is on track to spend $5 to $7 billion, over and above the cost of a sentence of life in prison without parole, between now and 2050. Five to seven billion dollars!

It’s staggering to realize that with all those billions spent, California has executed only 13 inmates since 1978, at a cost of about $307 million per execution.

But money’s not everything.  The fact is that the death penalty is not making us any safer. A shocking 46 percent of murders and 56 percent of reported rapes go unsolved in California every year. California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty released a report yesterday showing that underfunded, overburdened crime labs with long backlogs can’t process the evidence needed to solve crimes. Prop 34 would direct $100 million of the savings into local law enforcement programs and activities, like DNA testing, fingerprint analysis, and better funding of local crime labs, so we can find the criminals responsible and put them in jail. It’s no secret that the best way to prevent crime is to solve it.”

Will Texas Execute a Man With an IQ of 61?

The Nation: “If 54-year-old Marvin Wilson is put to death on Tuesday, it will not be because Texas denies that he is intellectually disabled, or as the legal literature puts it, “mentally retarded.” This much, the state recognizes. It just does not believe that Wilson is disabled enough not to be executed in Texas—a flagrant violation of the 2002 Supreme Court ruling in Atkins v. Virginia, which held that “the mentally retarded should be categorically excluded from execution,” period.”

Report: Texas Executed Innocent Man

Slate: “Carlos DeLuna maintained his innocence from the moment he was arrested in 1983 for the stabbing death of a young Texas woman right up until he was executed six years later. On Monday, a Columbia University professor and a group of law students offered what appears to be definitive proof that DeLuna’s mistaken-identity claims were the real deal and that an innocent man was put to death.”