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Death Penalty Controversies

September 23, 2005 • Volume 15, Issue 33
Should states impose moratoriums on executions?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

Opponents of the death penalty hold their annual vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29, 2005. The court in its upcoming term will hear two cases affecting death-row inmates' ability to challenge their convictions.  (Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski)
Opponents of the death penalty hold their annual vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29, 2005. The court in its upcoming term will hear two cases affecting death-row inmates' ability to challenge their convictions. (Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski)

Critics and opponents of the death penalty are warning that capital trials and sentencing hearings are so riddled with flaws that they risk resulting in the execution of innocent persons. Supporters of capital punishment discount the warnings, emphasizing that opponents cannot cite a single person in modern times who was executed and later proven to have been innocent. The debate over erroneous convictions has increased in recent years because DNA testing now allows inmates to prove their innocence years after their convictions. The Supreme Court opens its term on Oct. 3 with two closely watched cases pending on rules allowing state inmates to use newly discovered evidence to challenge their convictions in federal courts, based on “actual innocence” as well as constitutional violations. Meanwhile, death penalty critics want states to follow Illinois' example and impose moratoriums on executions.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Death Penalty
Nov. 19, 2010  Death Penalty Debates
Sep. 23, 2005  Death Penalty Controversies
Nov. 16, 2001  Rethinking the Death Penalty
Jan. 08, 1999  Death Penalty Update
Mar. 10, 1995  Death Penalty Debate
Jul. 13, 1990  Death Penalty Debate Centers on Retribution
Jan. 18, 1985  Emptying Death Row: More U.S. Executions
Jan. 10, 1973  Death Penalty Revival
Jul. 17, 1963  Punishment by Death
Aug. 14, 1953  Death Penalty
Feb. 16, 1943  Treason
Jun. 21, 1927  The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Death Penalty
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