Death Penalty

American Law Institute Shifts Course on the Death Penalty

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Citing "the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment," the American Law Institute has retracted its guidelines for administration of the death penalty in the United States.

Adam Liptak argues in the New York Times that this may have been the most important death penalty story of 2009. The organization of 4,000 judges, lawyers, and academics essentially provided the scholarly heft behind the Supreme Court's reinstatement of the death penalty 30 years ago.

In 1962, as part of the Model Penal Code, the institute created the modern framework for the death penalty, one the Supreme Court largely adopted when it reinstituted capital punishment in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. Several justices cited the standards the institute had developed as a model to be emulated by the states…

A study commissioned by the institute said that decades of experience had proved that the system could not reconcile the twin goals of individualized decisions about who should be executed and systemic fairness. It added that capital punishment was plagued by racial disparities; was enormously expensive even as many defense lawyers were underpaid and some were incompetent; risked executing innocent people; and was undermined by the politics that come with judicial elections.

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  1. Citing “the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment,”

    I don’t know about this. Guillotines always seem to do the trick.

  2. The death penalty should be restricted solely to “public officials” guilty of abuse of power.

    1. It was in anticipation of this that the ALI changed their position.

  3. I am waiting for Death Panelist to weigh in on this.

    1. It added that capital punishment was plagued by racial disparities; was enormously expensive even as many defense lawyers were underpaid and some were incompetent; risked executing innocent people; and was undermined by the politics that come with judicial elections.

      Such minor concerns. Hardly worth considering when weighed against the benefits of padding your re-election r?sum? as being tough on crime.

      1. Innocent of the particular crime which earned them the death penalty. No one is innocent anymore, DP.

  4. if anybody ever read about what happens in prisons they would understand that life in there is worse than death…

    1. Yep, I’ve never understood all the guys who try to get their sentence reduced from death to life without parole. I would much rather face death. Of course, I realize some of those guys are innocent, but certainly not all.

      1. I find this an odd position. If you find that your life is not worth living, then you do not need the state to off you…you can do it yourself. Most people, however, find that life, even a diminished or difficult life, is worth preserving. The death penalty takes away the choice from the individual…life in prison doesn’t.

        1. If I had committed a crime which would put me up for life without parole, I would kill myself if I was about to be caught. In case it wasn’t obvious from my previous comment, let me say that if I was innocent and had to choose between death or life without parole, I would obviously choose life.

        2. Also, once you’re already in prison, it becomes much more difficult to off yourself, because the state prevents you from doing it. So you kind of do need the state to do it for you.

        3. All that being said, I actually don’t support the dealth penalty because a perfect justice system is unattainable.

    2. Max security prisons are not that bad. There is a lot more security so you tend to suffer less at the hands of other inmates.

      Further, you can easily get yourself solitary confinement by hurting/killing a few other prisoners.

  5. Wow dude, I never thought that would ever happen! LOL

    RT
    http://www.total-anonymity.at.tc

    1. Someone make it stop. Nick! Dust off the ‘delete’ button or something here.

  6. I don’t object to the death penalty on moral grounds, I don’t think it’s a power government should have becuase, well, government just can’t be trusted.

    1. That’s my belief, also. There’s just too much wrong with our criminal justice system to give it that kind of power.

  7. So few people are executed in the US per year that maybe it should be stopped.

    However, I find it goofy that a homeless person can kill 5 people and be set for life with shelter, food, health care, books, etc.

    1. But he is denied the thing he loves the most, panhandling and urinating in public spaces. 😉

  8. So after Gregg v. Georgia, the Institute copies and pastes Blackmun’s dissent in Callins v. Collins thirty odd years later.

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