The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider taking another step toward limiting the use of the death penalty, this time by trying to clarify the legal standard for who is ineligible for the ultimate punishment because of mental disability, reports the LA Times.
“At issue is whether states such as Florida may disqualify anyone who scores above 70 on an IQ test. A score below 70 generally indicates mental disability.
“The justices agreed to hear the case of Freddie Hall, a Florida death row inmate who killed two people in 1978, but who was described as mentally disabled when he was a child and was deemed to be mentally retarded by the judge who sentenced him to die. Three years ago, Florida prosecutors said Hall had scored a 71 on a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale test and therefore could be executed for his crimes. At other times he scored 73 and 80.
“His case figures to be the most important death penalty dispute decided during this court term. During the last decade, the court has limited the use of the death penalty by excluding those who were younger than 18 at the time of the crime or who suffered from a significant mental disability. But until now, the court has not intervened to clarify who qualifies for an exemption based on a mental disability. “It’s been 11 years, and this issue is still not settled,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Continue reading “Court to address death penalty and mental disability”
Is compulsory voting in a democracy a contradiction in terms?
That is the question some Australians have been asking since voting became required by law here nearly a century ago, reports the BBC today.
“The right to vote is a freedom fiercely sought by people all over the world, but Australians do not have a choice. The continent is part of a small minority of just 23 countries with mandatory voting laws. Only 10 of those enforce them.
“Registering to vote and going to the polls are legal duties in Australia for citizens aged 18 and over, and failing to do so can result in a fine and potentially a day in court. Opponents of the system like Libertarian columnist Jason Kent say this stifles political freedom and threatens the basic principles of democracy.
“People have been sentenced to jail terms for not voting. It’s disgusting. It’s far from being democratic. We are not a democracy if we can’t vote democratically.” But Dr Peter Chen, who teaches politics at the University of Sydney, warns that this type of heated rhetoric blows things out of proportion. He says showing up to the polls every so often is not a huge burden.
“The system demonstrates a social expectation that at a minimum everyone needs to participate every few years and that’s a good thing.”
“Failing to vote in Australia may result in a fine or a day in court. Although small, the A$20 (about $18, £12) fine is enough to drive voters to the polls in substantially greater numbers than countries with voluntary vot Supporters of the system say Australia boasts some of the highest civic participation the word over, with a reported 94% voter turn-out in the last federal election, compared to about 65% in the UK’s 2010 general election and an estimated 57% in the 2012 US presidential election. Continue reading “Compulsory voting in Australia”
Iraq executed almost twice as many people last year compared to the year before, while India and Pakistan resumed executions after abandoning the practice for years, global human rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday
In a story appearing in today’s Al Jazeera, “Amnesty said China still led the top five countries carrying out executions, followed by Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Despite setbacks in several countries, the group said it was encouraged by overall signs of progress in the global trend toward ending the death penalty.
In the US, nine states carried out executions in 2012, compared to 13 in the previous year. Continue reading “Death penalty diminishing worldwide”
It’s widely known that the United States is one of the few nations in the world still using the death penalty.
No other nation in the Americas retains capital punishment. And only Belarus in Europe does. This week the U.S. Supreme Court rejected permanent stays on
executions of the mentally ill. And a new survey shows 63% of the population still likes the idea of executions. Political division? A culture of fear? The Gallup Organization reports that
“Americans’ support for the death penalty as punishment for murder has plateaued in the low 60s in recentyears, after several years in which support was diminishing. Sixty-three percent now favor the death penalty as the punishment for murder, similar to 61% in 2011 and 64% in 2010. Continue reading “Americans still favor death penalty”