Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Washington Post: 'Clearly, the death penalty is dwindling in the United States'

Washington Post Editorial, December 30, 2013

The Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report on capital punishment is in, and even though it documents no dramatic developments in 2013, it confirms that death sentences and executions remain at or near historically low levels since the Supreme Court’s reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. The death-row population has declined from its peak of 3,593 in 2000 to 3,108 this year, according to calculations by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund — and two states that rarely carry out executions, California and Pennsylvania, account for nearly a third of those condemned prisoners. Clearly, the death penalty is dwindling in the United States.

Five of those awaiting execution are in Maryland, which this year abolished the sentence of capital punishment. It seems worse than strange that these men should remain on death row, given that they were all convicted under a system that the legislature and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) have repudiated on moral and practical grounds. Mr. O’Malley should make a New Year’s resolution to commute these last death sentences to life in prison, as he is authorized to do under Maryland’s constitution.

The Death Penalty Information Center and other capital-punishment foes attribute the death penalty’s decline to waning public support amid concerns about possibly innocent defendants on death row and other flaws in the system. This is part of the story, but the decline in capital punishment also reflects the decline in commissions of the crime for which it is most often imposed: murder. The national murder rate in 2012, 4.7 per 100,000 population, was among the lowest recorded since 1963. Fewer murder cases mean fewer potential death sentences. In a safer society, there is less of the fear that often drives demand for harsh punishments. The rate at which U.S. juries sentence defendants to death has fallen from its post-1976 peak of 17.8 per 1,000 murders, in 1999, to 5.1 per 1,000 murders in 2013 — a 71 percent decline. Meanwhile, the murder rate dropped 25 percent during that time.

Supporters and opponents of capital punishment alike have reason to applaud the remarkable reductions in homicide, and other violent crime, that this country and its law enforcement agencies have achieved in the past quarter-century. Preliminary estimates from such cities as Chicago and Philadelphia, which are on course to record the fewest homicides this year since 1965 and 1967, respectively, suggest that 2013 brought further progress.

Still, the reasons for violent crime’s extended decline are not well understood — and the fact that the 2012 national murder rate was unchanged from 2011’s implies that the years of rapid improvement may be ending. Though much rarer than it was in the recent past, violent crime remains far more common in the United States than in other advanced industrial countries. Though they have certainly earned their laurels, this country’s increasingly effective crime fighters dare not rest on them.

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dudleysharp said...

The Real Reasons Death Penalties & Executions Fell
Dudley Sharp


Death penalties/executions plummeted from 1994-21013 because 1) capital murders plummeted, 2) court decisions or activism, further limited or delayed death penalty application or executions, 3) 6 states ended the death penalty and 4) DA's may have been more reluctant to seek death because of judicial obstructionism.

Anti Death Penalty Nonsense

Richard Dieter (Death Penalty Information Center - DPIC) states: "I think the (death penalty and execution) decline begins with the revelations about mistakes in capital cases — that innocent people could get the penalty and almost be executed has shocked the public to the point where death sentences are harder to obtain,".

This is typical anti death penalty drivel, with no evidence to support it.


A Nov. 2010 Angus Reid poll showed that a large majority, 81%, believes that innocents have been executed and, with that same group, responding to the "general" death penalty question, found 83% death penalty support and 13% opposition (1a). (there's a similar poll from Texas which I could not locate).

That shows no evidence that the US population has turned away from executions based upon the, largely, misleading innocence claims by anti death penalty folks (2), Dieter, specifically. What chutzpah!

Quite the opposite has occurred- a April, 2013 poll found the highest support, ever, for the death penalty - 86%, with the lowest rejection of it - 9% (1b).

Possibly 25-43 actual innocents have been sentenced to death and released since 1976. Not the fraudulent 143, spouted by DPIC and other anti death penalty activists (2).

That is a 99.6% accuracy rate in convictions, with the 0.4% innocent being released - an admirable record, which would fuel confidence in the death penalty.

Prosecutors, as many others', are very aware of the DPIC deceptions and the reality (3).

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US. at least since the 1930s.

The preponderance of the evidence is that the death penalty is a greater protector of innocents, than is LWOP (2, 4), which would result in even more support for the death penalty.

Nationally, from 1993 to 2012,

1) Murders dropped by 40% (5). Capital murders, the only ones eligible for the death penalty, likely, dropped in the 60-70% range (5), as capital murders are, most often, those combined with rape, robbery, or other crimes, which have dropped substantially, as well, explaining most of the drop. (46% drop in robbery, 20% rape, 54% carjacking. police murders were at their lowest level in 53 years, in 2012 with 120, the highest was 240 in 2001, showing a 50% drop 2001-2012) (5).

Other reasons are:

2) 5 states, with Democratic Governors and Democratic majority legislators, abolished the death penalty and

3) a number of Supreme Court cases have restricted or delayed, even more, the application of the death penalty and executions, as well as have courts at lower levels (6).

with both since 1994 and both in conflict with the majority will of the people (1b).

(Two of those states, Illinois and New Jersey, got the vote in during a lame duck session. A state appellate court vacated New York's death penalty statute).

4) DA's are aware that some judges are, simply, obstructionists to the law (6), and those DA's may be reluctant to seek it, as in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. In California, reform efforts are underway (6). (Ct & NJ repealed the death penalty).

Those four, likely, account for the overwhelming majority of the drop in death sentences.

5) The decline in executions is, solely, the product of the case managers - the judges (6).


dudleysharp said...

contd 1

Anti death penalty judicial activism, from, 1993 to 2011, resulted in the time between sentencing and execution expanding, dramatically, from 113 months to 198 months, respectively, or an additional delay of 7 years, 1 month (6b).

That, alone, could explain the reduction in executions.

In 1996, Congress pass the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, part of which was to streamline appeals in death penalty cases. Evidently, the judges didn't like it.

Judges are twice as likely to overturn death sentences as they are those convictions, a likely indicator of anti death penalty bias (6c).

Classic example: California

California judges do all they can to drag out these cases, taking a reported 5 years to hear the first appeals, after sentencing!

That willful mismanagement has caused a terrible backlog, is a huge insult to murder victim survivors, as to justice, and has created huge burden on taxpayers, all because of this nest of boondoggles, aka judges.

For the last 6 years, these judges have prevented executions based upon California's lethal injection protocol, which mimics the successful use of intravenous medical procedures in countless millions of cases, worldwide, over decades. The lethal overdose of the drugs used in California's protocol have well known, never changing pharmacological properties.

Shocking that these judges haven't stopped all medical intravenous procedures in California, based upon them being cruel and unusual.

The cruel and unusual, here, is the judges.

Are California judges incompetent? No. They are just holding the law and the will of the people in contempt - they are dictators in robes.


1) a US Death Penalty Support at 80% (now 86%): World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty

b) 86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013

2) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

3) The Myth Of Innocence, Josh Marquis, published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology - March 31, 2005, Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois,

4) OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate


dudleysharp said...

contd 2

5) I used national data instead of only states with the death penalty, which should be the subject data source, inclusive not just of crime rates, but also judicial decisions within each state, as well as SCOTUS, affecting all death penalty states, as with cases since 1993, Schlup, Ring, Atkins, Tennard, Roper, Hill, House, Medellin, Baze, Kennedy, Harbison and more).

6) a) The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is infamous for its anti death penalty activism; Pennsylvania courts will only allow executions if an inmate waives appeals; New Jersey judges never allowed an execution; a federal judge in Connecticut threatened to disbar an attorney if he did not oppose his clients desires to waive appeals. Serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross, eventually, became the one person executed in Connecticut.

Judges Responsible for Grossly Uneven Executions

b) Between 1993 and 2011, the time from sentencing to execution increased by 85 months, or more than 7 years, from 9.4 years to 16.5 years, a possible indicator of judicial activism against the death penalty. (Table 10, Average time between sentencing and execution, 1977–2011, page 14, Capital Punishment, 2011 - Statistical Tables, Tracy L. Snell, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment Series, July 16, 2013 NCJ 242185)

Congress passed the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996, partially, to speed up death penalty appeals. Things got much worse.

c) Death sentences are twice as likely to be overturned on appeal (1674, 20%) , as are those convictions (863, 10%) , again, a possible indicator of judicial bias against the death penalty.(Table 16, Prisoners sentenced to death and the outcome of sentence, by year of sentencing, 1973-2011, Capital Punishment, 2011 - Statistical Tables, Tracy L. Snell, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital punishment Series, July 16, 2013 NCJ 242185)

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