Science

The report said that the number of hangings continued to decline this year but many failed

Public support and use of the death penalty in 2022 continued a more than two-decade decline in the US, and many executions carried out during the year were “wrongful” or highly problematic, says an annual report on the death penalty.

18 people are executed in the US in 2022, the lowest in any pre-pandemic year since 1991. Last year 11 were hanged. outside of Epidemic The 20 death sentences handed down in 2022 were the lowest of any year in the US in half a century, according to a report by the Washington, DC-based Death Penalty Information Center.

“All indicators point to a continued decline in the death penalty and that the movement away from capital punishment is sustainable,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonprofit, which takes no position on the death penalty, but on the way states execute executions. Yes, he has been criticized. ,

In the US, 37 states have abolished capital punishment or have not carried out executions in more than a decade. on Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown reduced the sentences of all 17 State death row inmates to serve life in prison without parole. Oregon last executed an inmate in 1997. There have been no federal executions since January 2021, following the historic use of the death penalty by the Trump administration. In July 2021, the Department of Justice adjourned on federal execution.

The report calls 2022 “the year of wrongful executions”, as seven out of 20 executions in the US were clearly problematic or took too long. This prompted some states to put them on hold so that procedures and protocols can be reviewed.

Significant problems were reported with all three of Arizona’s executions as corrections officials struggled to find suitable veins for IV lines to deliver the lethal injections.

In Alabama, Gov. Ivey last month ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s capital punishment system after three failed lethal injections, including two in 2022, involving the drugs used to administer the drugs. There was a problem with the intravenous lines.

Other concerns with executions included a South Carolina judge’s ruling in September that called the state’s newly created execution firing squad unconstitutional, as well as the use of the electric chair. The state Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the issue next month.

In April, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee halted lethal injection in his state because the drugs used in executions had not been tested. The oversight forced Lee to abruptly halt plans to execute inmate Oscar Smith an hour before he died last April.

Dunham said she believes ongoing issues with wrongful executions or review of execution protocols by states are helping to erode public support for the death penalty. Gallup polling shows that public support of the death penalty has fallen steadily over the past 28 years, from 80% in 1994 to 55% this year.

Dunham said, “There are very few states that are trying to impose the death penalty. But they are acting in such a way that … their conduct is undermining the public’s confidence that states are committed to the death penalty.” can be trusted.”

While five of the 18 executions in 2022 occurred in Texas, the nation’s busiest executions state has historically seen. In 2000, Texas executions reached a high of 40, according to this year’s annual report by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Kristin Houle Cuellar, executive director of the coalition, said she believes Texas’ “era of excessive use of the death penalty is gone” because prosecutors will continue to use long prison sentences to hold people accountable.

Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University in New York, said she is not surprised by the dwindling use and public support for the death penalty. She cites as reasons: more people learning about the various problems in carrying out the execution, doubts about whether it deters crime and the increasing number of prisoners.

Denno said, “Any kind of prediction about the future shows that the death penalty is going to be limited to some states. Over time, those states will come under increasing pressure to abolish the death penalty.”

Dunham said he believed the number of wrongful executions contributed significantly to the movement among lawmakers, especially conservatives, to express skepticism about the death penalty.

In Oklahoma, GOP state representative Kevin McDougal, a self-described death-penalty supporter, became one of the strongest advocates of death row inmates richard glossip After concerns were raised about lost or destroyed evidence and police bias. The execution of Glossip was delayed last month.

In Texas, GOP state Rep. Jeff Leach helped lead a bipartisan group of lawmakers who believe the new evidence shows a death row inmate. Melissa Lucio Before his execution was delayed in April, Leach and some lawmakers placed Lucio on death row.

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year, Leach said he hoped lawmakers could work to make sure “there’s no chance we’re killing an innocent Texan.”

“To say I’m wrestling with the existence of the death penalty in Texas would be a dramatic understatement,” Leach said.

Michael Benz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said the changing political climate around the death penalty has made it easier for policymakers to have a meaningful discussion about the death penalty.

“And they are troubled by it when they actually see what’s happening. I think politicians are wondering whether it’s really the right thing to do or not,” Benza said.

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