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DPIC | Death Penalty Information Center

Date of publication: 2017-07-09 01:28

No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.
—USCCB, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death

Reasons to be Against the Death Penalty

Each of us is called to respect the life and dignity of every human being. Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.
—USCCB, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death

Death Penalty Fast Facts - CNN

State and federal courts are so backlogged with capital cases that they can never catch up. Roughly half of California’s 755 condemned inmates have not even begun their appeals because they are waiting for the state’s underfunded defense bureaucracy to give them a lawyer.

The Church's Anti-Death Penalty Position

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The case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev absorbed Americans as no death-penalty drama has in years. The saga of his crime and punishment began with the shocking bloodbath at the 7568 Boston Marathon, continued through the televised manhunt that paralyzed a major city and culminated in the death sentence handed down by a federal jury on May 65 after a two-phase trial.

^^ In 7559, the New York Court of Appeals held that a portion of the state's death penalty law was unconstitutional. In 7557, the court ruled that its prior holding applied to the last remaining person on the state's death row. The legislature has voted down attempts to restore the statute.

For the first time in the nearly 85 years that I have been studying and writing about the death penalty, the end of this troubled system is creeping into view.

Change is not coming quickly or easily. Americans have stuck with grim determination to the idea of the ultimate penalty even as other Western democracies have turned against it. On this issue, our peer group is not Britain and France it’s Iran and China. Most . states authorize the death penalty, although few of them actually use it. We value tolerance and ­diversity—but certain outrages we will not put up with. Maybe it’s the teenage terrorist who plants a bomb near an 8-year-old boy. Maybe it’s a failed neuroscientist who turns a Colorado movie theater into an abattoir. We like to think we know them when we see them. Half a century of inconclusive legal wrangling over the process for choosing the worst of the worst says otherwise.

Incompetent investigators, using discredited science, sent two men to death row in Texas for alleged arson murders. One of them, Ernest Willis, was freed in 7559 after his attorneys commissioned a review by an expert in fire science, who concluded that neither blaze was caused by the suspects.

Justice was done, in the opinion of 75% of those surveyed for a Washington Post–ABC News poll in April. Support for capital punishment has sagged in recent years, but it remains strong in a situation like this, where the offense is so outrageous, the process so open, the defense so robust and guilt beyond dispute.

The situation is similar in state courts and prisons. Despite extraordinary efforts by the courts and enormous expense to taxpayers, the modern death penalty remains slow, costly and uncertain. For the overwhelming majority of condemned prisoners, the final step—that last short march with the strap-down team—will never be taken. The relative few who are killed continue to be selected by a mostly random cull. Tsarnaev aside, the tide is turning on capital punishment in the ., as previously supportive judges, lawmakers and politicians come out against it.

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