Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Unusual Punishment


As a relatively slow- uh, er- careful reader, it was 12 or 13 minutes of my life I'll never get back from reading in Mother Jones' Nathlie Baptiste's article entitled "In Some States, the Death Penalty's Days Might Be Numbered." Now it's your time to give up five minutes of your life to read this post. And I thank you.

Baptiste writes

“There are always bills to abolish the death penalty,” Gregory Joseph the director of communications for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty says. “What we’re seeing now is they are actually moving.” In New Hampshire and Wyoming, for instance, repeal bills are pending in the legislature with decent chances of passing, and even in Louisiana and Kansas,  anti-death penalty advocates are catching winds of a growing movement to end the practice. Why? For the same reasons advocates have been arguing against the death penalty for years: It is arbitrary, racist, expensive, and does not deter crime...

Other states are also making inroads to getting rid of capital punishment. In Colorado, a bill has been introduced to abolish the death penalty and the newly-elected Democratic governor Jared Polis is anti-capital punishment and said that he would sign such a bill if it came across his desk. In Indiana, death row inmate Roy Lee Ward filed a lawsuit against the state seeking an injunction to stop executions and a court ruling that the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional. The suit is currently pending.

Later, and immediately before pivoting, Baptiste does acknowledge "And, despite President Trump’s affinity for capital punishment, the number of executions nationwide continues to remain at its lowest rate over the last 25 years."
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In the five states- New Hampshire, Wyoming, Louisiana, Kansas, and Colorado- cited by Baptiste, there has been in the past decade a grand total of one (1) execution. One: as in one-half of two and one more than zero. Baptiste does state  "And, despite President Trump’s affinity for capital punishment, the number of executions nationwide continues to remain at its lowest rate over the last 25 years."

It is, state-by-state on average, at its lowest in the past 25 years.  However, while states executed only 23 individuals in 2017 and 25 in 2018, there were exactly zero (0) in 2018 in those five aforementioned states.

Shhh. Don't tell anybody, but capital punishment affects very few people in the United States of America outside of Texas, in which there were 13 executions in 2018. Other states executed only 12 people last year; the federal government, none. The death penalty may well be on its way to extinction, except where it's used.





Color me unimpressed by the current activism. If death penalty opponents don't want to waste their time on the low-hanging fruit, try as Rachel Maddow would put it in other contexts) "the great state of Texas." Then I will be impressed, and exultant or outraged- depending on the circumstances. All the rest is noise.



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