The latest sign that the death penalty is falling out of favor comes from Delaware, where earlier this month, the State Supreme Court struck down Delaware’s capital punishment statute as unconstitutional. The Court found that judges rather than juries wielded far too much power in determining who received a death sentence. The Delaware Attorney General has announced that his office will not appeal the ruling, which makes Delaware the latest in a growing number of states to scrap capital punishment.
Support for the death penalty is also shrinking across the United States. Two recently released polls show how unpopular capital punishment is becoming. According to the surveys, around 72% of Kentuckians and 53% of Oklahomans prefer alternatives to the death penalty.
Dawn Mancarella, a member of EJUSA’s Crime Survivor Network, put out a special appeal today for family members of murder victims to sign on to suspend use of the death penalty in a key Florida county.
If you’ve lost a family member to murder, read Dawn’s letter below and consider taking action. If you know of others who might like to sign, please share this post.
I know the horrible pain of losing a loved one to murder. My mom, Joyce Masury, was murdered 20 years ago, and my life has never been the same.
You’ve identified yourself to EJUSA or an EJUSA state partner as someone who has experienced this same unimaginable horror. So you understand where I’m coming from.
Nevada just became the ninth death penalty state to go a decade or more without an execution. Add those nine to the 19 states without capital punishment, and you have 28 states that have abandoned executions in either law or practice.
And in the remaining states? The death penalty is in complete chaos.
Florida’s death penalty law has already been thrown out twice in 2016. The first ruling came from the U.S. Supreme Court in January. The Florida legislature then passed a “fix” to the law, and last month a Miami judge threw it out again. Alabama’s death penalty law is similar to Florida’s, and the Supreme Court sent a death sentence back for review for the third time this week because of those similarities.
Last week, I was a guest on Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler to discuss Oklahoma’s damning grand jury report on their lethal injection scandal and Florida’s unconstitutional death penalty. You can watch the segment below:
Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCATDP), a project of Equal Justice USA, is a network of political and social conservatives who question the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles and values. For news and updates from CCATDP, join their email list.
Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty (CCATDP), a project of EJUSA, crisscrossed the country in April. CCATDP’s National Coordinator Marc Hyden made trips to Tennessee and Utah, while I traveled to Orlando for the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) Florida State Convention and then to Philadelphia for the Life/Peace/Justice Conference. Our participation in these conferences reflects the interest in CCATDP across a variety of different constituencies, including libertarian and pro-life groups.
Shelby Farah was a bright, compassionate, determined 20-year-old when she was shot to death during a robbery at the Metro-PCS store where she worked. Shelby’s murder shocked the community in Jacksonville, Florida, and her family has spent the last two and a half years grieving their loss.
The death penalty has added to this trauma, as they have been forced to endure an extended legal process, increased media scrutiny, their own complex feelings about the death penalty, and a polarizing, public debate about it at a time when they need each other most.
Lawmakers in Delaware allowed a bill to repeal the death penalty to get a full debate on the House floor for the first time. The bill had been stuck in the House Judiciary Committee for the last several years.
The growing coalition in Delaware is fired up at having broken through the logjam. Though the bill did not pass, the fight is not over. In fact, there is still a chance the bill will have another day on the House floor in 2016.
Continuing its look at death penalty, the Supreme Court will hear argument on Tuesday in Hurst v. Florida1 to decide whether Florida’s practices in capital trials are constitutional. At issue in Hurst is whether a judge properly imposed a death sentence without the necessary fact-finding by a jury. Florida is one of the few states that gives capital sentencing power to judges.
The Supreme Court specifically approved Florida’s death penalty law in 1976, along with those in Georgia and Texas.2 They were the first states to reinstate the death penalty after the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia3 declaring death penalty laws in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Court gave the Florida law its blessing despite concerns that the ultimate sentencing authority was the judge. Several years later, the Court specifically rejected a challenge to a death sentence imposed by a Florida judge even though a jury had recommended a life sentence.4