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CI: The Demise of Death ???

December 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Criminal Defense, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, White Privilege

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Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal InJustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.

The Demise of Death ???
by Nancy A Heitzeg

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me…”
~
Troy Anthony Davis, lynched by the State of Georgia, 11:00 PM Sept 21, 2011

In spite of the recent execution of Troy Davis (or perhaps in part, because of it?), the year marked a steady decline in both the application and public appeal of the death penalty. The Death Penalty Information Center’s Annual Report (pdf) note that executions fell to the lowest point since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Richard Dieter, DPIC* Executive Director:

“This year, the use of the death penalty continued to decline by almost every measure. Executions, death sentences, public support, the number of states with the death penalty all dropped from previous years. Whether it’s concerns about unfairness, executing the innocent, the high costs of the death penalty, or the general feeling that the government just can’t get it right, Americans moved further away from capital punishment in 2011.”


The year has been a noteworthy one with political victories for aboltionists and high -profile cases ( including the decision by Philadelphia prosecutors to end their pursuit of the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal). As the DPIC notes, the declining numbers occurred in the context of three significant developments in the evolution of capital punishment this year:

~ Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to repeal the death penalty, making Illinois the fourth state in four years to abandon capital punishment. A commission reported that the state had spent $100 million on assisting counties with death penalty prosecutions while the state’s deficit grew to one of the country’s largest.

~ Many Americans were shocked to learn that a man, Troy Davis in Georgia, could be executed in spite of strong doubts about his guilt. Several key witnesses recanted their testimony against Davis, causing even death penalty supporters like former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr to state: “Imposing a death sentence on the skimpiest of evidence does not serve the interest of justice.”

~ Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stopped a pending execution and ordered that no others would occur during his term. Governor Kitzhaber, who oversaw two executions in the 1990s, urged citizens to “find a better solution” to a system that he said is arbitrary, expensive and “fails to meet basic standards of justice.”

In the year ahead, the death penalty will continue to face challenges as lethal injection protocols, drug shortages and costs force several states to consider repeal.

Nearly 20 years ago, Blackmun was right – “the death penalty experiment has failed.”

Governor Quinn sums it all up :

It is time – long past time – to abandon capital punishment completely and refuse to continue “tinker[ing] with the machinery of death.”

Until that day, I am Troy Davis.

We all are.

*Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. DPIC was founded in 1990 and prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefings for the media, and serves as a resource to those working on this issue. DPIC is widely quoted and consulted by all those concerned with the death penalty.

54 comments
Domino
Domino

I was too   (((Indie)))

hope you are doing well

Domino
Domino

and p.s.

Happy Holidays to everyone :)

Domino
Domino

hi all..
sorry to be so late..

the dp is such a disturbing deal...
glad it is on the decline but man!  it so needs to be abolished yesterday

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

i will send you Emma's info -- she is off for 3 months on maternity leave but i have other contacts there too

wish NN12 were not in providence- that decreases the options re poc....

there was a lot that could have been done in Mpls -- and we proposed it all..

Sigh --hope it is better nonetheless

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

You're right

and it did receive much less press than deserved..

i a bracing myself for a series of bad 5-4 decisions on Obama Care etc right before the election too

Arghhhhh!

beach babe in fl
beach babe in fl

Glad you mentioned that opera sberel...been wanting to see it.  Wow! Frederica von Stade's last opera performance..you are so lucky!

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

at some point the SCOTUS needs to declare it Cruel and Unusual

which of course it has always been

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

love you indie! love your spirit!

So glad you are with us my friend

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

try again indie and i will be back in a few with other resources for you

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

Sigh the SCOTUS :(

you know i try too hard not to think about Florida Bush v Gore and Ohio but yes that is where the action ultimately is

How much coulda been different -- even around Roberts and Alito --  no Citizens United etc etc

The single best reason maybe for always voting Dem..

And Always casting a suspicious eye on third party politics on a national level..

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

i am sorry indie -- too hard

it was very sad

there was every every every reason to commute but NO

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

sometimes yes

Or it takes time to sink in

I think a lot of people really thought GA wouldn't do it

My jaded self was sure they would :(

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

ha! you already know what i think :)

Surely MIT can do better!!

beach babe in fl
beach babe in fl

I agree,  really I think they use that system just to increase membership.   I hope they'll reconsider voting methods in the future.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

yes and i think they should not let the mod have proposals either

made me squeamish from the start :(

beach babe in fl
beach babe in fl

Here in Fl many of us are obsessed with getting rid of the rethugs.  Gov. Scott has had his plan to privatize the prison system ruled unconstitutional ...thank God.   He is now trying to privatize medicaid.   Forgive me for my obsession with getting rid of the rethugs.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

i share that obsession beach babe

there is no room to move much at all with them in the way

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

good for her!

Yes i think that sacrifice -- and yes it was --- will have a lasting impact indie

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

You  are right..

The ethical argument is bottom - line

And as you know for me -- the most compelling  argument is the sociological one -- roots in racism/connections to lynching and yes consistent class disparities inthe application..

Fatally flawed from the start

beach babe in fl
beach babe in fl

yes,  so true about Richards.   But I can't see a progressive Dem.  going that route.   Good to see you too.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

yes -- I think the issue of actual innocence has moved this debate farther and faster than any other issue

And Troy Davis -- well that case exposed  it all didn't it??

Yasuragi
Yasuragi

You mean there's actually good news? 

This is so encouraging.  All the more reason to keep  fighting.

I've never understood idea that we punish murder by committing murder.  How can a nation have any crediblity when it has laws against taking  life and yet deals with it by taking yet another?

(Wow... that was redundant, eh?)  ;)

Hi, guys --so  good to see you all.  Don't know how long I can stay, as my keyboard requires that I type everything twice... otherwiseit looks like this all the time anditmakesmecrazy    .

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

Yes Actual Good News Yas!

So good to see you too- thank so much for stopping..

You have been missed!

Yasuragi
Yasuragi

as I've missed you guys.  :)

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

well now we're back together :)

((((((((((((((((((((Yas)))))))))))))))))))))))

Yasuragi
Yasuragi

Wow... might have to steal that for my sig line0.  :)

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

hey Yas -- thank so much for being here :)

that would be a great sig wouldn't it??

Yasuragi
Yasuragi

oops... keyboard is behaving very badly -- sorry for the errant O.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

the GOP antics of late are stunning even to me  - yes they have got to go!

And we are going tohave to GOTV like our lives depend on it in 2012 - because well they do

beach babe in fl
beach babe in fl

Yes, Kay abolishing the prison industrial complex..somehow it now seems possible.   I think the occupy movement will be a great influence and getting the republicans out of office so important.

Beach babe in fl
Beach babe in fl

Good to be here tonight and to hear this good news.   I think would be even much better if we could get a good Democrat as Gov. of Texas.  RIP  Troy Davis

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

hey - was just thinking about you and the UN :)

thanks for being here and yes to Texas -- it is really stunning isn't it how a handful of states do the bulk of the killing???

Here is to better days

beach babe in fl
beach babe in fl

Good to see you Nancy:),    sorry haven't been around been crazy busy.    UN is Jan 24  and US congress Jan 25.   At this point I hope I have the energy to get it done.
If you're  in NYC or DC those days come join us!   I think the issue will get big play in Rio

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

i will be in NOLA again with a class or otherwise i would try to

Let me know if you need anything at all before your trip

btw my students in Environmental Justice ( they all voted!) were soooo excited you were the Judge's Choice :)

Congrats again -- well-deserved

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

So true sberel -- yes educating against the mis-information and public fears is a long haul..

and Great quote -- thank you!

and great to see you

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

Yes -- and then on to the pic..

Thanks as always Kay for all you do -- much love and gratitude always for you

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

Yes -- thank for pointing that out Kay

How any others indeed???

Seeta Persaud
Seeta Persaud

There have been some significant developments -- thanks for pointing this out Nancy.  The death penalty is barbaric, plain and simple. Those who support this uncivilized act of state violence need a serious education.  America cannot call itself a civilized nation until the death penalty is outlawed and abolished.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

I truly believe the tide has turned here Seeta..

Thank you -- for CMP and all you do