America's Barbaric Death Penalty - by Stephen Lendman
Numerous organizations oppose capital punishment, including the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), an alliance of about 60 NGOs, bar associations, local bodies and unions, founded in May 2002. In 2003, it established October 10 as the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
On October 10, 2011, the 9th World Day seeks to raise awareness of the inhumanity of capital punishment from sentencing to execution. In fact, death row inmates endure horrific emotional and physical suffering under appalling conditions with little regard for their well-being.
Last year, the 8th World Day was "dedicated to the USA which executed 52 people and handed down 106 death sentences in 2009." America is one of the few federalists countries empowering states with this right. Presently, 34 use it. The others opt out, Illinois the latest one abolishing it, although 10 retentionist states haven't executed anyone for 10 or more years.
Amnesty International (AI) calls capital punishment "the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice."
In fact, there's nothing just about state-sponsored murder, especially against wrongfully accused victims. In America, they're mostly poor Black and Latinos, denied due process and judicial fairness. The system, in fact, is rigged to convict even known innocent defendants, the most famous being Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Falsely convicted in July 1982, he's been on death row for nearly 29 years. The Supreme Court repeatedly denied him a new trial despite clear prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, racial discrimination, perjured testimonies, and political intent to hold him culpable for a crime he didn't commit.
Kevin Cooper is less well known, also languishing on death row despite his innocence, another victim of American injustice because he's poor, Black, and easy prey. An earlier article on him can be accessed through the following link:
More about his case below and US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William A. Fletcher's belief in his innocence.
The Chicago-based Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) aims to abolish it in America, hoping to grassroots activism will achieve it. The US is the only Western country still using it. In addition, since 1990, 30 countries abolished it, and among the 74 still executing, four are the main abusers - America, China, Vietnam and Iran.
Currently, about 3,200 US prisoners are on death row. In 1972, the Supreme Court (in Furman v. Georgia) said:
"the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, (and so) harsh, freakish, and arbitrary" to be constitutionally "unacceptable." The decision voided 40 death penalty statutes, thereby commuting the sentences of over 600 death row inmates nationally.
In 1976 (in Gregg v. Georgia, Jurek v. Texas, and Proffitt v. Florida - collectively called the Gregg decision), the High Court reinstated the death penalty and let states impose it. The Court held that new death penalty statutes in these states were constitutional under the Eighth Amendment, even with cruel and unusual punishment clauses that should have banned them.
In Gregg v. Georgia, the Supreme Court called the death penalty not inherently cruel, only "an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes."
In fact, it's extremely cruel and barbaric, flouting due process, judicial fairness and humanity, violating equal constitutional protection. It disproportionately affects people of color, the poor, and disadvantaged. It legitimizes state-sponsored murder, innocent as well as guilty prisoners affected. Moreover, it's ineffective in deterring crime, and unconscionable in civilized societies.