February 28, 1994 |
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.
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.
July 3, 1988 |
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
July 1, 1987 |
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.
January 24, 2005 |
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.
December 4, 2000 |
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.