US Death Penalty: Systemic Problems

It is not surprising that public opinion in the USA is increasingly recoiling from the death penalty: the annual Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) report reveals continuing “systemic problems” in its implementation:

“As use of the death penalty dwindles, one might expect that the few cases that result in death sentences and the even fewer that result in executions would  truly be the most egregious crimes and the most culpable offenders. But events [in 2017] show once again that this is not the case.
“Instead, states appear to be clinging to the death penalty by executing any prisoner unlucky enough to have reached the end of the appeals process without competent representation or rigorous judicial review, and by doing so by any means at their disposal.”

Of the 23 people executed nationwide in 2017, 90% presented significant evidence of mental illness, intellectual disability, brain damage, severe trauma, and/or innocence. Frequently there were substantial concerns that those executed had received inadequate representation and insufficient judicial review. And those executed were subjected to potentially torturous deaths.

Jeffrey Wogenstahl will be pleased that the public is turning against the death penalty; however, he will also be deeply saddened by the abuse of power that promotes the arbitrary state killing of the some of the most vulnerable in society.

We hope that growing public revulsion will soon kill off the US death penalty for good. It is time for the USA to join the vast majority of industrialized countries that condemn capital punishment. It is time for this scandal to end.

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