The movement to end the death penalty

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The movement to end the death penalty

Post  Yoke on Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:37 pm

As opposition to capital punishment has increased around the world in recent years, an active and organized movement has developed to oppose the practice, citing worries about its effectiveness, fairness, and morality. Those seeking to end the death penalty argue that it represents the kind "cruel and unusual punishment" prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. They also argue that it doesn't deter crime, is more expensive than incarcerating a prisoner for life, is disproportionately applied to poor defendants, and presents the risk of executing an innocent person.

In the last decade, the movement has employed a range of strategies to end - and, as much as possible, - to limit - executions. Human rights activists around the world call on governments to outlaw the practice on moral grounds. In the United States, reformers have successfully argued before the Supreme Court in recent years that certain vulnerable groups should not be subjected to the death penalty. For example, in 2002, the court ruled that executing the mentally retarded violated the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause in the eight amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In 2005, the court ruled that the death penalty is " a disproportionate punishment for juveniles." In 2008, another Supreme Court decision overturned laws in six states allowing death sentences for defendants convicted of child rape. Also in 2008, the court rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of the three-drug cocktail used in most lethal injections. The battle over lethal injections is sure to continue.

Opposition to the death penalty spans borders, ideologies, and religions. At the forefront of the movement internationally is Amnesty International, which works to abolish the death penalty around the world. In the United States, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty works with dozens of other groups, including local groups in almost all 36 death penalty states, to get rid of the practice. The Death Penalty Information Center monitors the issue around the world and conducts critical research on various aspects of the death penalty. The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends' Service Committee and the Catholic Church, among many other groups, also oppose the practice of capital punishment. Other criminal justice reform organizations - such as the Innocence Project - work to free innocent prisoners from death row and prison and support a moratorium on the death penalty due to the risk of executing an innocent person. Seventeen people have been proven innocent by DNA testing and exonerated after serving time on death row to date.

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