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Missouri Execution Postponed: What Do You Think About the Death Penalty?

by Countable | 8.23.17

What’s the story?

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens issued a temporary stay just hours prior to the scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams. Williams was convicted of murder in 2001, but maintains his innocence. His attorneys argue that new DNA evidence will support his claim.

Gov. Greitens has appointed a Board of Inquiry to review the case, along with the new evidence:

"A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt. In light of new information, I am appointing a Board of Inquiry in this case."

Why does it matter?

Currently, there are 31 states that have the death penalty, while 19 do not. Four have the death penalty, but are under gubernatorial moratoriums. There is no federal death penalty.

The administration of the death penalty has been declining steadily for years. According to a December 2016 report by the Washington Post, there were 20 executions on 2016, down from the modern high in 1999 of 98 executions. Death sentences have dropped sharply as well. There were 30 in 2016 — the lowest single year number since 1972. Compare that to 1996, when there were 315, and you can see the magnitude of difference.

In 2015 Time Magazine published an extensive article pointing to five reasons for the "death of the death penalty." One, there continue to be persistent problems with administering the death penalty — executions get botched, appeals processes are slow, while frequently leading to questionable convictions. Two, the violent crime rate is falling. Three, the justifications for capital punishment are eroding. Life without parole sentences are actually cheaper. Four, the appeals process is expensive for states with constrained budgets. Five, the Supreme Court continues to rule in favor of a society that no longer needs capital punishment, restricting the circumstances in which the death penalty may be sought.

According to a 2016 Pew Research survey, for the first time in over 40 years less than half, 49 percent, of Americans support the death penalty, while 42 percent actively oppose it.

In discussing the decision regarding the stay for Marcellus Williams, Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, an advocacy group focused on overturning wrongful convictions, argued that all Americans want to feel confident about convictions, regardless of whether they support the death penalty:

"While many Americans hold different views on the death penalty, there is an overwhelming consensus that those sentenced to death should be given due process and a full hearing on all their claims before an execution, and the governor's action honors that principle."

What do you think?

Do you support the death penalty? If so, why? If not, why not?

Tell us in the comments what you think and then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(111)
  • Eric
    08/23/2017
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    The death penalty has no place in a civilized society. It is a non-rescindable penalty that comes from an imperfect legal system.

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  • Matthew
    08/23/2017
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    It should be banned. While I believe that there are crimes that should cost the person who committed it their life, it is not used fairly or equitably. How many cases, including this one have found a conviction to be wrong? Some prosecutors, police and judges should be punished for these miscarriages of justice.

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  • B john
    08/23/2017
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    Death penalty is legalizing the State to murder people. And that's simply wrong. Rehabilitation instead of punishment. And while I'm at it, restore convicted citizens' right to vote.

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  • OWorthyFool
    08/23/2017
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    The death penalty as enacted in this country is nothing more than state-sanctioned genocide. It is wielded disproportionately against poor, black, Latinx, and other minority populations, and ultimately comes down to nothing more than punishment for not being able to afford a good lawyer. It is not effective as a deterrent, is often applied only for the dead to be found innocent, and is utterly antithetical to a moral and fair nation.

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  • Thelma
    08/24/2017
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    The death penalty should be ended. Our system of punishment needs a complete overhaul. It does not reduce crime, it creates more criminals. Murdering people we think might be criminals is no answer, it only makes us all murderers and complicit in a terrible system. There is little justice in our Criminal Justice system.

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  • YorEl
    08/23/2017
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    It's a tough question. I think it is an easy way out for crimes that are so violent and horrific. They should be made to suffer when they are truly guilty. The problem is our judicial system is screwed up, half the time we convict someone who is innocent because of what ever reason. Until that's resolved, we cannot resolve the punishments.

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  • Brian
    08/23/2017
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    Not a fan. I think it's better punishment to keep them confined till they die naturally. Plus it costs us way more than if they are simply incarcerated for life. Also you can't take back the death penalty. As we seen recently technologies advance and enable proof of innocence for many convicted of crimes they didn't commit. I can't think of much worse thing to do than kill an innocent human because of human error. Life sentences at least leave us a chance to repair mistakes.

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  • Christine
    08/24/2017
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    China, Saudi Arabi, Iran, Iraq & USA all death penalty countries. We are in shameful company.

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  • Dennis
    08/23/2017
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    Death penalty should be thrown out. We are human and make mistakes--death penalty victims cannot benefit from error correction

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  • James
    08/23/2017
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    In extreme cases like Terrorism, Killing a Police Officer! Battering or bludgeoning someone to death! Mayhem! Rape involving murder especially when a child is involved! And of course High Treason!!!!

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  • Anne
    08/24/2017
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    Get rid of it. Violence begets violence! Not to mention the many innocents killed when justice goes awry.

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  • Dorothy
    08/23/2017
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    Killing does not deter killing.

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  • Jewel
    08/23/2017
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    The death penalty should be abolished. Too many innocent people are put to death. If it is to be used at all, it should be only when there is clear evidence, as in the case of Dylan Roof.

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  • Nichole
    08/23/2017
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    There is no way to morally defend the use of the death penalty. It's inhumane, cruel, and an affront to the sanctity of human life.

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  • Jerise
    08/23/2017
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    Glad to hear about the stay, but we need to get rid of the death penalty and join the rest of the civilized world!

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  • DrRichSwier
    08/23/2017
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    The death penalty helps prevent the most heinous of crimes. The problem isn't with the death penalty. The problem lies in the extended and unnecessary appeal process. Justice must be swift to be effective.

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  • Oneda
    08/23/2017
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    It's inhumanity, takes decades to take affect while inmate is confined. Many are spending decades incarcerated only to be exonerated after being proved innocent.

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  • David
    08/24/2017
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    We should not send people to prison to punish them like children. Criminals who commit murder should have life in prison so long as they have the possibility to evolve emotionally as human beings. But there are other murderers who cannot, like serial killers who pose a threat to guards as well as other inmates; they should have the death penalty.

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  • Jesse
    08/23/2017
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    i am against the death penalty

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  • Keith
    08/23/2017
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    The death penalty is a savage's way of remedying a problem. Civilized nations shouldn't kill its citizens; we should work to keep kids in school, on birth control, in families with guidance, out of gangs, but this all takes money that the wealthy, the CEOs, the board members would never allow their republican bidders to spend. If you think abortion is wrong but the death penalty is okay, you're a hypocrite.

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