State lawmakers continue re-evaluating the death penalty

Photo of the New Hampshire State Capitol

We’re less than a quarter into 2018, and the movement to end the death penalty has already made major strides in state capitols around the country.

In Utah, a Republican-sponsored repeal bill passed out of a House committee for the first time ever. Two years ago, Utah came close to ending the death penalty but ran out of time before getting to the House. This year, Utah’s session was extra short, but with strong backing from conservative lawmakers and civic leaders, the state is primed and ready to take repeal the rest of the way in 2019.

Washington’s death penalty also appears to be on its last legs. The Senate voted ‘yes’ on a repeal bill and so did a House committee, leaving just one final hurdle left. But like in Utah, Washington lawmakers ran out of time before they could get the bill to the Governor’s desk. The state, however, was a veritable echo chamber of voices calling for repeal, from families of murder victims, law enforcement, newspaper editorial boards, and, recently, from Kirk Bloodsworth, who had the personal experience of being exonerated from death row. Stay tuned for what is sure to be an exciting campaign next year.

Continue Reading →

Unconstitutional – an update from CCATDP

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.

Continue Reading →

Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas Execution Demand New Sentencing Hearing for Jeff WoodThe Gospel Herald
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas ExecutionEvangelicals for Social Action
Evangelicals urge halt to Texas executionBaptist News Global
Evangelical leaders: Texas has ‘moral obligation’ to stop execution of death row prisoner, Christian Today
Several stories about the almost 50 Evangelical pastors who called on Texas Governor Greg Abbot and the Board of Paroles and Pardons to commute the death sentence of Jeffrey Wood. Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 23, even though he never killed anyone, had no previous criminal history, and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness. Although Wood was involved in a robbery, he didn’t plan to kill anyone and wasn’t even inside the gas station when the victim, Kris Keeran, was shot. He was sitting in a truck outside.

Even violent crime victims say our prisons are making crime worseThe Washington Post
According to a new  report from the Alliance for Safety & Justice,“A majority of crime victims prefer investments in treatment & prevention over prison spending.” The report, “Crime Survivors Speak,” includes the first national survey of crime victims’ views on safety and justice policy. It reveals their preference for prevention, health, and rehabilitation over more spending on prisons and jails. Continue Reading →

Republicans at the forefront of death penalty repeal campaigns

Republicans at the forefront of death penalty repeal campaignsMost states will start the New Year with a new legislative session, which means supporters of death penalty repeal are preparing efforts to end the death penalty across the country. In the wake of repeal in Nebraska – an effort championed by conservatives – more Republicans are stepping up to lead many of these campaigns.

In Kansas, Republican Representative Steven Becker has already announced his plans to sponsor repeal legislation. In his corner stands the state’s Republican Liberty Caucus and the Kansas Federation of College Republicans, both of which passed resolutions in support of repeal. Last year, the Kansas Republican Party modified its party platform to remove support of the death penalty.
Continue Reading →