Execution Drop Makes Some Think Death Penalty is Fading Away - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Execution Drop Makes Some Think Death Penalty is Fading Away

Posted: Updated:
(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

WASHINGTON (AP)- Is the death penalty in America gradually dying?
    
There have been just two executions since May 1 and the total for 2016 probably will hit a 25-year low.
    
Execution drug shortages, sometimes grotesque errors in death chambers and legal challenges to sentences imposed by judges have contributed to a dramatic decline in the number of states that are carrying out executions.
    
Just three states, Texas, Georgia and Missouri, are using the death penalty with any regularity, though Texas has not executed anyone since April. Four executions are scheduled in the state before the end of the year.
    
The reduction in executions and in the number of states that are enforcing death sentences led Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to conclude recently, "I think the death penalty is fading away." There is not enough support on the court to abolish capital punishment, Ginsburg said, but added that may not be necessary.
    
"Most states don't have any executions. The executions that we have are very heavily concentrated in a few states and even a few counties within those states," she said in an interview with The Associated Press in July. Ginsburg joined a lengthy dissenting opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer last year that highlighted problems with the death penalty that led the two justices to conclude that it probably is unconstitutional.
    
States that have had to halt executions, though, are trying to figure out how to resume. Ohio and Oklahoma are among states that intend to re-start executions once they have corrected well-publicized problems in their death chambers.
    
Ohio, which last executed an inmate in January 2014, has set a January 12 execution date for a man convicted of raping and killing a three-year-old girl in Akron. But it's unclear whether his execution, or more than two dozen others that are scheduled into 2020, will take place because the state lacks lethal execution drugs and has struggled to find a supplier, as have other states.
    
In Ohio's last execution, in January 2014, Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted repeatedly during a 26-minute execution that used a never before tried combination of two drugs. That protocol has since been eliminated and those drugs aren't available for executions.
    
Oklahoma last execution was in January 2015, amid the use of the wrong drug and other problems. The state's prison system is expected to adopt new execution procedures soon. Even then, Attorney General Scott Pruitt says he will wait at least another five months before asking a court to schedule an execution.
    
Oklahoma imposed a moratorium on the death penalty after two problem-filled executions and a third that was called off when prison officials noticed they received the wrong drug. The top lawyer for Gov. Mary Fallin urged officials to go forward anyway, telling another lawyer to "Google it" to confirm the drug could be used, according to a grand jury investigation.
    
Alabama and Florida haven't put anyone to death since January because of questions about the way death sentences are imposed in those states.
    
Even Texas has seen a reduction in executions. The state's highest criminal appeals court has stopped four executions in the past month, though each case raised different issues. Separately, the Supreme Court will take up two Texas death row cases in the coming months, also involving discrete issues.
    
California has the largest death-row population, 746 inmates as of early August, but hasn't executed anyone in 10 years. Voters in the nation's most populous state will consider separate ballot questions in November that would abolish the death penalty on the one hand and speed up the appeals process on the other.
    
The longer states go without executions, the harder it may be for them to resume, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
    
"The law of inertia is that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. There are policy parallels for that with the death penalty. Right now most states are comfortable not executing anybody. And for the most part, the public is comfortable, even in death penalty states, with their states not executing anybody," Dunham said.
    
At the current pace, there would be 19 executions this year, the fewest since 1991, when 14 people were put to death.
    
The number of new death sentences also is approaching historic lows as most jurisdictions are forgoing costly capital trials in favor of seeking life sentences with no chance of parole. Texas, which has executed more people since the modern resumption of the death penalty in 1976 than the next six states combined, had only two new death sentences last year.
    
Many of the executions that are being carried out are for crimes committed up to 30 years ago, before some states enhanced the legal representation in capital cases, said Stephen Bright, an experienced death penalty lawyer who is president of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
    
"There are a lot of people who are getting executed who would never be sentenced to death today," Bright said.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Maryland Governor Calls Trump's Remarks 'Terrible Mistake'

    Maryland Governor Calls Trump's Remarks 'Terrible Mistake'

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 3:47 PM EDT2017-08-16 19:47:30 GMT
    Wednesday, August 16 2017 3:47 PM EDT2017-08-16 19:47:30 GMT
    President Donald Trump (left) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (right). (Photo credits: Win McNamee/Mark Wilson/Getty Images)President Donald Trump (left) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (right). (Photo credits: Win McNamee/Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
    Maryland's Republican governor has criticized President Donald J. Trump's comments blaming "both sides" for racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.More
    Maryland's Republican governor has criticized President Donald J. Trump's comments blaming "both sides" for racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.More
  • Police Search for Suspects in Dover Armed Robbery

    Police Search for Suspects in Dover Armed Robbery

    08/16/2017 15:26:00 -04:002017-08-16 19:26:00 GMT
    Wednesday, August 16 2017 3:26 PM EDT2017-08-16 19:26:02 GMT
    A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.
    The Dover Police Department is investigating an armed robbery that occurred Wednesday morning.More
    The Dover Police Department is investigating an armed robbery that occurred early Wednesday morning in a convenience store parking lot.More
  • Del. Judge OKs Takata Request to Halt Some Lawsuits Over Air Bags

    Del. Judge OKs Takata Request to Halt some lawsuits over air bags

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 3:05 PM EDT2017-08-16 19:05:31 GMT
    Wednesday, August 16 2017 3:05 PM EDT2017-08-16 19:05:31 GMT
    (Photo: CBS)(Photo: CBS)
    A Delaware bankruptcy judge on Wednesday temporarily halted the prosecution of lawsuits filed by Hawaii, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against Japanese auto-parts supplier Takata over its lethally defective air bag inflators.More
    A Delaware bankruptcy judge on Wednesday temporarily halted the prosecution of lawsuits filed by Hawaii, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against Japanese auto-parts supplier Takata over its lethally defective air bag inflators.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Woman Steals Tip Jar From OC Ice Cream Shop

    Woman Steals Tip Jar From OC Ice Cream Shop

    Assiss Dhal was working at Justine's Ice Cream Parlor when security cameras captured a woman stealing a tip jar from the counter.

    More

    Assiss Dhal was working at Justine's Ice Cream Parlor when security cameras captured a woman stealing a tip jar from the counter.

    More
  • Maryland SHA Closes Eastbound US 50 Salisbury Bypass

    Maryland SHA Closes Eastbound US 50 Salisbury Bypass

    The Maryland State Highway Administration today closed the eastbound US 50/US 13 Salisbury Bypass at the US 50 Business (Salisbury Boulevard) split due to pavement damage and drainage erosion just prior to US 13 Business.

    The right lane was already closed at the same location for a pipe repair. The westbound Salisbury Bypass is open and not impacted by the closure.

    More

    The Maryland State Highway Administration today closed the eastbound US 50/US 13 Salisbury Bypass at the US 50 Business (Salisbury Boulevard) split due to pavement damage and drainage erosion just prior to US 13 Business.

    The right lane was already closed at the same location for a pipe repair. The westbound Salisbury Bypass is open and not impacted by the closure.

    More
  • Students, Parents Happy with US 301/MD-304 Overpass Opening

    Students, Parents Happy with US 301/MD-304 Overpass Opening

    Now, in place of the dangerous intersection between Route 301 and 301, they have the overpass. Mothers Barb Burkhardt and Niki Pino say they can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing their children are a lot safer. A Maryland State Highway official says a ramp still needs to be completed before the entire $50 million project is done.

    More

    A new overpass has opened at the US 301/MD 304 interchange in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. A new overpass opened Tuesday at the US 301/MD 304 interchange in Queen Anne's County.  

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices