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Barbaric US Death Penalty Just Got Worse

Written by Subject: United States

Barbaric US Death Penalty Just Got Worse

by Stephen Lendman ( - Home - Stephen Lendman)

Capital punishment is barbaric by any standard, what just societies denounce and don't tolerate.

Taking the life of a human being for any reason is state-sponsored murder.

Time and again, wrongfully accused victims suffer the ultimate punishment — on the phony pretext of serving justice.

In the US, Blacks, Latinos, and disadvantaged individuals of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds are denied due process and judicial fairness.

Evidence shows countless numbers of constitutional errors in US capital punishment cases — innocent victims sentenced to death for offenses they had nothing to do with.

The US 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) reads like something from a Hollywood horror film or tyrannical society where the rule of law no longer exists.

In his book titled "Capital Punishment, The Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake," constitutional scholar Charles Black (1915 - 2001) called the practice fatally flawed, stressing:

"(H)anging prosecutors, hanging juries, hanging judges, and hanging governors" control things.

"But, overwhelmingly, the trouble is not in the people but in the system – or nonsystem."

The possibility of due process and judicial fairness for America's most disadvantaged is as remote as someone from the West "learn(ing) to speak decent Japanese by the end of the month."

In 1972, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said if ordinary people knew the truth capital cases, they'd find it "shocking to (their) conscience and sense of justice."

Judge William A. Fletcher discussed Kevin Cooper's wrongful convictions of four murders he had nothing to do with, saying:

"There is no way to say this politely." 

"The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and flouted our direction to perform" proper tests. 

It "also impeded and obstructed Cooper's attorneys at every turn as they sought to develop the record." 

Unreasonable testing conditions were imposed. So was "refused discovery that should have been available as a matter of course."

Testimony was unfairly "limited… and found fact unreasonably, based on a truncated and distorted record."

"The most egregious, but by no means the only, example (was) the testing of Cooper's blood on (a) t-shirt for the presence of EDTA." 

"(The district court) so interfered with the design of the testing protocol that one of Cooper's experts refused to participate in the testing." 

"(It let) the state-designated representatives (choose) samples to be tested." 

Cooper's experts were refused the right to participate in choosing samples or "even to see the t-shirt."

If proper tests were done, they would have been shown that "Cooper's blood had been planted on the t-shirt, just as (he) maintained."

The process was rigged to convict an innocent man.

Wrongfully found guilty in 1985, Cooper still unjustly languishes on death row.

Judge Fletcher stressed his innocence, saying he was "framed."

In 2000, former Illinois Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on capital punishment after 13 prisoners were found innocent and released.

On January 11, 2003, two days before leaving office, he cleared death row, commuting sentences for 163 men and four women to life imprisonment – declaring a moratorium on future executions, saying:

"The facts that I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions not only about (their innocence), but about the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole." 

"Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die."

Calling Illinois' death penalty system "arbitrary, capricious, and therefore immoral," he ended his gubernatorial tenure by pardoning four men and issuing a blanket commutation for all state prisoners on death row, adding: 

"The legislature couldn't reform it. Lawmakers won't repeal it, and I won't stand for it. I must act."

In 2011, Illinois legislators and Governor Pat Quinn abolished capital punishment in the state.

It's impossible "to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system," Quinn stressed.

Equity and justice demands its abolition nationwide.

Instead of congressional and executive branch elimination of capital punishment once and for, Trump's (In)justice Department made the practice worse.

Henceforth, federal executions may be carried out by lethal injection, electrocution, hanging or firing squad.

Maybe burning at the stake, victims thrown to lions, lashing them to death, and even greater barbaric practices may be authorized ahead.

Police state ruthlessness defines how the US is governed — equity, justice and the rule of law long ago abandoned.

Privileged interests alone are served, ordinary people denied their fundamental rights and otherwise exploited so the rich and powerful benefit at their expense.

Democracy exists in name only, the real thing banned so special interests can do whatever they want with impunity.

Ordinary Americans are consistently hung out to dry, including wrongfully convicted victims languishing under gulag conditions, including on death row for crimes they didn't commit.

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My two Wall Street books are timely reading:

"How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion, and Class War"

"Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity"