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Capital Punishment

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NEWS
February 28, 1994 | By GEORGE F. WILL
Justice Harry Blackmun, again confusing autobiography with constitutional reasoning, has dissented from the Supreme Court's refusal to review a Texas capital-punishment conviction, announcing that he is too personally distressed ever again to sanction the death penalty, no matter what. His 22-page outburst, rebutted by Justice Antonin Scalia in four scalding paragraphs, uses the results of the court's recent rulings about how capital punishment can be constitutional as an excuse for declaring capital punishment unconstitutional.
NEWS
March 15, 2011
Illinois spent 10 years trying to fix its capital-punishment system after 13 condemned men were found innocent. Finally, Gov. Pat Quinn concluded it was "impossible" to have a death-penalty system "free of all mistakes," and free of discrimination by race, economic circumstance, or geography. So, Quinn signed a law last week that abolishes the death penalty in Illinois. He commuted the sentences of all inmates on death row; they will now serve life in prison. Illinois joins 15 other states without capital punishment, including New Jersey.
NEWS
July 3, 1988 | By George F. Will
On Jan. 22, 1983, William Thompson was 15 and, as a matter of Oklahoma law, a child. He also was busy. With three older accomplices, he murdered his former brother-in-law. The victim was beaten severely and shot twice, and his throat, chest and stomach were cut "so the fish could eat his body," Thompson said. Thompson was tried as an adult and sentenced to death. Now the Supreme Court has ruled 5-3 (Justice Anthony M. Kennedy not participating) to overturn his sentence. Four justices said it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment on anyone who is even a day younger than 16, no matter how careful the consideration of his circumstances, no matter how much evidence is gathered to overcome the presumption against trying a 15-year-old as an adult.
NEWS
June 14, 2007
THE U.S. SUPREME Court's recent decision to make it easier for prosecutors to exclude people who express reservations about the death penalty from juries in capital cases reveals the court's own reservations. In a ruling that reverses a recent trend in which this court has restricted the application of the death penalty, the court on Monday upheld the exclusion of a juror who was removed after he began to equivocate about his willingness to apply the death penalty. The ruling settles an issue that has troubled legal experts for years - the seating of what are called "death-penalty-qualified" juries.
NEWS
February 18, 2015
LAST WEEK, Gov. Wolf announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. He cited as reasons a system riddled with flaws, and said that the penalty is expensive and often applied unfairly. Wolf's move is to be lauded. The only thing we disagree with is his call for a task-force report on the state's death penalty. Another report? There are numerous reports and studies on the subject of the death penalty in general and in Pennsylvania in particular. For example, as recently as 2007, the American Bar Association released the results of a four-year Death Penalty Assessment project it conducted for eight states, including Pennsylvania.
NEWS
November 30, 2007
New Jersey leaders are poised to make history by becoming the first state to eliminate the death penalty since the 1970s. They should do it. With staunch support from Gov. Corzine, Democratic legislators are pushing for a vote in the coming weeks on a plan to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. The time is right. The cause, unquestionably, is just. Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. (D., Camden) and Senate President Richard J. Codey (D., Essex)
NEWS
May 18, 2011
Regarding your front-page story on Sunday ("Pa. juries reluctant to condemn killers"): It is easy to mock the jury system and indeed there are many long-running jokes, such as, "I don't want to be judged by 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty. " Nevertheless, and despite some flaws, it is still the best system of justice so far created. It is hard to find fault with people who abhor the death penalty as vindictive, ineffective, barbaric, expensive, and subject to irreversible error.
NEWS
July 1, 1987 | From Inquirer Wire Services
The House of Commons voted early yesterday against restoring the death penalty by a decisive 21-vote margin, upholding a decision first made 11 years ago. The 148-127 vote came after an emotional debate that spokesmen for both the Conservative government and the opposition had said would be too close to call. Conservative Parliament member Bill Domm, the leading proponent of the death penalty, was shocked by the size of the defeat and said he felt the vote failed to reflect public sentiment in favor of capital punishment.
NEWS
January 24, 2005 | By Steve Chapman
Wilbert Rideau, a convicted killer, was spared the electric chair, thanks to a 1972 Supreme Court decision invalidating capital punishment as it was applied then. That outcome gratified opponents of the death penalty, a group that includes me. But last week, Rideau walked out of a Louisiana prison, an outcome that ought to disturb opponents of the death penalty. His release will strengthen support for capital punishment by showing the alternative can't be trusted. The alternative, of course, is life imprisonment without parole.
NEWS
December 4, 2000 | By Wendy Ginsberg, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
When his daughter was slain in 1988 by his estranged son-in-law, Lorry Post personally longed to see the killer dead. But as a longtime opponent of the death penalty, Post thought it would be hypocritical to ask the court to execute his son-in-law. "Yes, I did want death for him, but I wanted to kill him with my own hands," Post told an audience of about 60 people at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday morning. Post, joined by other death-penalty opponents, spoke at a forum entitled, "The Death Penalty in New Jersey: Pros and Cons.
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NEWS
December 30, 2015
ISSUE | DEATH PENALTY Reprieve warranted The Jewish Social Policy Action Network applauds the unanimous decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Gov. Wolf's grant of a reprieve to death-row inmate Terrance Williams ("Court backs Wolf in Phila. death penalty case," Dec. 22). The decision was in keeping with the position taken by JSPAN in a detailed statement of interest supporting a brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, in which we reviewed our long-standing opposition to capital punishment as it is imposed, based on a reading of many Jewish sources and our concern about its moral implications.
NEWS
September 18, 2015 | BY PAIGE GROSS, Daily News Staff Writer grossp@phillynews.com, 215-854-5938
ON THE ALTAR of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Germantown sits an oil painting of Pope Francis holding a tiny prisoner in his hands. The artist - the inmate pictured in the painting - resides at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the prison where the pope will stop during his visit to Philadelphia later this month. "We're here to build a fire," Magdaleno Rose Avila, executive director of the Philly-based group Witness to Innocence, told the Daily News yesterday as he waited for Mass to begin at St. Vincent de Paul.
NEWS
September 18, 2015 | By Matthew Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
Hoping to gain the attention of Pope Francis, activists and religious leaders gathered at an East Germantown church Wednesday to pray for criminal justice reform and the abolition of capital punishment in this country. The event's keynote speaker was Harold Wilson, who was convicted of a triple murder by a Philadelphia jury and sentenced to death in 1989, only to be exonerated in 2005 after DNA evidence led a new jury to acquit on all charges. During the trial that would eventually lead to his acquittal, Wilson was held at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility - the same prison the pope will visit Sept.
NEWS
July 31, 2015
ISSUE | MORATORIUM Death penalty hardly tough on crime Two positives arise from the death-penalty confrontation among Gov. Wolf, District Attorney Seth Williams, and Attorney General Kathleen Kane ("Wolf calls on court to uphold his moratorium on death penalty," July 22). It keeps capital punishment under the spotlight, and it also makes it clear that many Democrats differ little from Republicans in important areas. Williams, Kane, and other tough-on-crime officials of either party seem to have given no consideration to the words of George Bernard Shaw: "It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind.
NEWS
July 23, 2015 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
Gov. Wolf on Tuesday asked the state Supreme Court to ignore Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane's challenge to his death-penalty moratorium, arguing that the justices had already decided to consider a similar petition brought by the Philadelphia district attorney. In a court filing that responds to Kane's petition, Wolf also repeated the claim he has made since February: That he has the right under the state constitution to temporarily stay executions as he awaits a Senate report on capital punishment.
NEWS
June 12, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
The two brothers charged with killing Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III during a March 5 robbery were formally arraigned Wednesday in Common Pleas Court. The arraignment, a formality for which neither defendant was present, was an acknowledgment of the charges and the official passing of discovery, or evidence, from prosecution to defense. The case against brothers Carlton Hipps, 29, and Ramone Williams, 25, now moves to what will likely be months of pretrial conferences and motions hearings before Judge Benjamin Lerner.
NEWS
April 10, 2015
WOULD YOU step on a cockroach in the kitchen? Would you step on a cockroach who built a bomb in a kitchen and used it to injure 260 Americans and kill three, one an 8-year-old boy who was cut in half? Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, is a cockroach. That's how I will refer to him from here on. A jury found the cockroach guilty on all 30 counts, thanks mostly to security cameras in public places that recorded his every move, along with his brother, another cockroach, two years ago. The seven-woman, five-man jury has the weekend off and next week is expected to embark on the punishment phase, meaning they can impose the death penalty.
NEWS
February 20, 2015 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
DISTRICT ATTORNEY Seth Williams is fighting what he calls "an unconstitutional takeover of powers" lobbied by newly elected Gov. Wolf. In a statement yesterday, Williams announced that he's filed a petition to the state Supreme Court to reject Wolf's recent moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. "Just weeks ago, Governor Wolf took an oath to faithfully execute his duties in accordance with the Constitution of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Williams said in the statement.
NEWS
February 18, 2015 | Inquirer Editorial Board
The Old Testament's recommendation of an "eye for an eye" to compensate an injured party has been cited over the ages by proponents of capital punishment. Meanwhile, death penalty opponents note the New Testament's directive to set aside the desire for retribution and "turn the other cheek" when slapped. No biblical debate is required, however, to determine the value of capital punishment. There is more than enough empirical evidence to show that the practice is neither fair nor cost-effective and that it fails to deter violent crime.
NEWS
February 18, 2015
LAST WEEK, Gov. Wolf announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. He cited as reasons a system riddled with flaws, and said that the penalty is expensive and often applied unfairly. Wolf's move is to be lauded. The only thing we disagree with is his call for a task-force report on the state's death penalty. Another report? There are numerous reports and studies on the subject of the death penalty in general and in Pennsylvania in particular. For example, as recently as 2007, the American Bar Association released the results of a four-year Death Penalty Assessment project it conducted for eight states, including Pennsylvania.
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