Your biggest questions about the death penalty answered by legal experts

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America may be one of the few wealthy nations that still regularly kills its citizens, but not many understand America’s deep fondness for the death penalty.

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So we called in the experts to help clarify things.

as part of GranthshalaAs the U.S. campaign calls for an end to the death penalty, our readers posed questions to Herman Lindsay, a former Florida inmate who was later acquitted and is now entitled to Witness to Innocence, a reformed The board members of the group are; Leena Patel and Ben Cumming, our campaign partners Responsible Business Initiative for Justice; Lauren Myerskoff-Mueller, Staff Attorney at clemency project; and Josh Marcus, an American reporter, Granthshala. Here’s what he said.


NS: Hey Herman, thanks for doing this. What was the hardest thing about living on the death penalty? Have you ever lost hope?

a: The hardest part is being put to death for a crime I didn’t commit and realizing our justice system can allow this to happen. I lost hope because I didn’t expect the same justice system that had put me there to set me free.

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NS: What kind of support is there for the death penalty in America, and has that changed over the years?

Herman: Along with others sentenced to death in Witness to Innocence, I have been conducting workshops with prosecutors around the country and have also testified in legislatures and spoken to many college students. All of this is affecting public opinion, which is now at an all-time low for the death penalty. It’s great how the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice is engaging the business community in this fight.

Ben: I think what we are seeing is a generalization of the anti-death penalty stance. The breakdown of the justice system is the most obvious social issue facing an American generation, and the death penalty embodies all its flaws—racism, cruelty, ineffectiveness, ruin. We are seeing a rapidly growing appreciation for this across various stakeholder groups.

Perhaps the strongest indicator of this change is the growing support for abolition by conservatives. Virginia became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty (as well as the bloodiest in executions)—as well as promising efforts in states like Utah—all pointing to a truly bipartisan push to end the death penalty.

Passion: Overall support for the death penalty sharp in the late 1990s.

It is slowly declining, although most Americans are still in favor of it, according to pew pole.

Interestingly, once you delve deeper into those numbers, some interesting statistics emerge. For example, a large number of people think that the death penalty does not prevent serious crime, and that innocent people are at risk of being put to death.

Other surveys show that most people support the option of the death penalty for crimes such as murder.

Lauren: Thanks for this question. All I would add is that sometimes changes in society’s view of the death penalty are reflected in the courts. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and lower courts look to “evolving standards of civilization” when determining whether the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment. We have seen that SCOTUS prohibits the death penalty against juveniles and people with intellectual disabilities based on these “developed standards of civilisation”.

NS: Can the President unilaterally abolish the death penalty? What are some of the political hurdles lawmakers face in making laws, or is it a matter of political will to do so?

Lena: The President cannot unilaterally abolish the death penalty. It is a matter of political will. Unfortunately, despite the amazing work done by campaign organizations over the years, lawmakers tend to revert to their tough stance on crime. This is why we need business voices and investors working with campaign organizations to support eradication efforts and cover the need for lawmakers.

Herman: Thanks Lena, I just want to add that politicians want votes. If voters are pushing for an end to the death penalty, more politicians join in as they seek votes for re-election.

Passion: Another thing to consider is that in a way there are two capital punishments: separate state and federal execution systems.

As our Washington correspondent Eric Garcia reported, Joe Biden on the campaign trail called for legislation to end the death penalty, but has yet to accomplish much.

His agenda on criminal justice as a whole has overtaken Covid and the infrastructure bill. He could use executive action to reduce the punishment of everyone in the federal line, which would be a big step, but would not eliminate the practice altogether. the state level is really where we’re most likely to see elimination, and Utah One of the prime places to visit right now.

NS: Doesn’t the death penalty prevent murders and other capital crimes? What are the statistics on that?

Ben: Hi Gorak, while the causal link may be difficult to establish, we do know that there is no corresponding increase in homicides in states that abolish the death penalty. In fact, states using the death penalty have higher rates. We see this repeating around the world (i.e. countries that eliminate it see a declining trend in homicide).

This is borne out by the latest behavioral science, which tells us that crime is influenced not by the severity of punishment but by the likelihood of being caught.

Herman: yes i agree. Most of the people who commit criminal activities are not thinking of the death penalty. The idea of ​​the death penalty doesn’t scare them. The question at hand during the process is whether they will be caught, and if the likelihood is high that they can back down from committing that crime. I don’t believe anyone is saying, “I’ll get the death penalty so I shouldn’t do it.”

Passion: As noted during an interview by one of our campaign partners, Sir Richard Branson Granthshala In New York, much of Europe has also outlawed the death penalty and has not seen an increase…

Credit: / The Granthshala

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