by Countable | 8.23.17
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."
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."
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)
Written by Countable
The death penalty has no place in a civilized society. It is a non-rescindable penalty that comes from an imperfect legal system.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
China, Saudi Arabi, Iran, Iraq & USA all death penalty countries. We are in shameful company.
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
Get rid of it. Violence begets violence! Not to mention the many innocents killed when justice goes awry.
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.
Killing does not deter killing.
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.
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.
If found guilty? Allow appeal for good measure, then complete the sentence. Think of it as adult abortion or euthanasia. The left should have no problem supporting this measure. It does away with CO2, methane and CO2 from food production, plus lowering global warming from the breathing process.
REVENGE...does not restore the loss of a loved one. It does imprint indelible scar that...'two wrongs make it right'. Is this the Hallmark of a genuine civilized Nation in 2017? There are alternative measures to meet out justice. You know what they are.
The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. People who commit murder don't think about a possible sentence when they pull the trigger. It costs significantly more than life. Our politicians claim we are a Christian nation yet they are willing to take a life.
Death penalty for convicted mass and law enforcement murderers. Life sentences give them things they never had before and create worse people inside than they are outside.