Saturday, 6 March 2010

Texas Judge Declares Death Penalty Unconstitutional

A judge in Texas has declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional, according to the Houston Chronicle.
According to Judge Kevin Fine, a District Judge in Houston:
Based on the moratorium (on the death penalty) in Illinois, the Innocence Project and more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed. It's safe to assume we execute innocent people. Are you willing to have your brother, your father, your mother be the sacrificial lamb, to be the innocent person executed so that we can have a death penalty so that we can execute those who are deserving of the death penalty? I don't think society's
mindset is that way now.

It seems likely that Fine's ruling is likely to be overturned on appeal by the State prosecutors. But this is how the abolition of the death penalty in the United States will begin.
With only about 47 States in the world that still use the death penalty, and only about 20 of them that use it regularly and to a significant extent, the United States is increasingly isolated on this important human rights issue. Statistics show that the use of capital punishment in the use is on the decline, and that juries are increasingly reluctant to impose it. Public opinion favourable to capital punishment has dropped significantly compared with a decade or two ago. Concerns about the execution of the innocent, which Judge Fine highlighted, have contributed to these changes.
Probably, some minor adjustments in the composition of the United States Supreme Court will be required before an application whose consequence would be judicial abolition could succeed. Hopefully, President Obama will get the chance to do this in the course of his term(s).
Thanks to Diane Amann.

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