BREAKING NEWS (9/3): South Carolina prosecutors have announced that they intend to seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof in the Charleston church killings.
NEWS (9/1): Missouri has executed Roderick Nunley, the state's 16 execution in 2014-2015. Missouri has conducted 6 of the 20 executions in the U.S. so far this year.
NEWS (8/28): The United States Supreme Court has denied the Oklahoma death-row prisoners' request for rehearing in Glossip v. Gross.
NEWS (8/26): Nebraskans for the Death Penalty report that they submitted signatures from more than 166,000 voters in support of their efforts to suspend the state legislature's repeal of capital punishment, pending the outcome of a voter referendum in November 2016. If more than 114,000 of the voter signatures are verified by the Secretary of State, the issue will be placed before Nebraska voters.
NEWS (8/25): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has STAYED the execution of Nicaraguan foreign national Bernard Tercero, scheduled for Aug. 26. The stay will permit Tercero to litigate a claim that a lead prosecution witness testified falsely in his case.
CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN DEATH PENALTY
On August 13, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court (4-3) held that the state's death penalty was in violation of the state's constitution, especially in light of the state legislature's prospective repeal of the death penalty in 2012. The ruling means that the death sentences of those who were not covered by the legislative repeal will now have those sentences reduced to life. Excerpts from the main opinion follow:
"[W]e are persuaded that, following its prospective abolition, this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose."
‘‘'[W]e have little more than an illusion of a death penalty in this country. ... Whatever purposes the death penalty is said to serve— deterrence, retribution, assuaging the pain suffered by victims’ families—these purposes are not served by the system as it now operates.'" (quoting Judge Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Cir.)
"In concluding that the death pen- alty is unconstitutional, however, we recognize that the legal and moral legitimacy of any future executions would be undermined by the ever present risk that an innocent person will be wrongly executed."
"In prospectively abolishing the death penalty, the legislature did not simply express the will of the people that it no longer makes sense to maintain the costly and unsatisfying charade of a capital punishment scheme in which no one ever receives the ultimate punishment. Public Act 12-5 also held a mirror up to Connecticut’s long, troubled history with capital punishment: the steady replacement by more progressive forms of punishment; the increasing inability to achieve legitimate penological purposes; the freakishness with which the sentence of death is imposed; the rarity with which it is carried out; and the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic biases that likely are inherent in any discretionary death penalty system. Because such a system fails to comport with our abiding freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, we hold that capital punishment, as currently applied, violates the constitution of Connecticut."
(Connecticut v. Santiago, SC 17413, Aug. 13, 2015).
DPIC Podcast Series: We have begun a new set of podcasts on the death penalty in each state, each with interesting historical facts. The following are now available: Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Check out our podcasts now! Also listen to DPIC's podcasts on death penalty issues.