The Loss of life Penalty Data Middle (DPIC) released their annual report on Friday, reporting that for the primary time extra People consider the demise penalty is run unfairly than those that consider in any other case. The report additionally revealed that there have been extra demise penalty sentences imposed than executions carried out throughout 2023. A majority of US state have abolished or paused demise penalty executions. Regardless of this, there was little aid from the courts within the face of innocence claims from prisoners, which the DPIC stated, “[R]ais[es] questions in regards to the adequacy of state procedures and the power of the system to guard harmless individuals.”
The trendy period of the demise penalty got here in 1976 when the demise penalty was reinstated by the US Supreme Court docket. Throughout this time the Supreme Court docket was closely concerned in states’ execution processes, however right now, “nearly all of the Court docket seems unwilling to proceed this function,” regardless of severe dissenting considerations from Justices Kentanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
The court docket’s place additionally stands in stark distinction with present public opinion on the demise penalty. For the primary time in American historical past, in accordance with a Gallup survey, there are extra individuals—roughly 50 % of these surveyed—who consider the demise penalty is run unfairly than those that consider it’s administered pretty—47 % of these surveyed.
Innocence circumstances captured quite a lot of the media’s consideration throughout 2023. There have been a complete of three exonerations this yr, together with John Huffington, Jesse Johnson and Glynn Simmons. All three have been exonerated for numerous causes together with error within the convictions and trial in addition to a scarcity of vital proof. There has additionally been “unprecedent assist for prisoners with innocence claims from state legislators, prosecutors, and different elected officers.”
Regardless of the efforts to assist people claiming innocence, there was little assist from the Supreme Court docket. This yr the Supreme Court docket has overruled precedents and ceded “floor to state death penalty laws and procedures,” with the bulk citing that they have to not encroach on “the State’s sovereign energy to implement societal norms by way of prison legislation.” The Supreme Court docket additionally stayed just one execution out of a complete of 26 stays of execution sought, together with the three innocence claims that obtained excessive media consideration.
24 individuals have been executed in 2023, which outmoded the 18 executed in 2022. Regardless of this, 2023 has been the ninth consecutive yr the place fewer than 30 individuals have been executed. Florida and Texas have been chargeable for greater than half of the yr’s whole executions.
Florida has seen a considerable shift within the demise penalty this yr as a result of that is the primary time Florida has executed anybody since 2019. Florida additionally handed two legal guidelines increasing the demise penalty by removing the unanimous jury requirement. “Florida has now set the bottom threshold for the imposition of demise, permitting a demise sentence if not less than eight jurors agree.” Florida additionally handed “a legislation that permits the demise penalty as punishment for sexual battery of a kid beneath the age of 12 that doesn’t end result within the demise of the sufferer,” which is in direct battle of Supreme Court precedent.
The DPIC additionally discovered that marginalized teams are nonetheless victimized by the demise penalty course of. Much like last year, nearly all of crimes involving white defendants concerned white victims. Of all of the white defendants who have been executed, none of them “have been convicted of killing an individual of shade.” Those that suffered from psychological sickness, equivalent to Johnny Johnson, have been denied aid from the courts. “79 [percent] of the individuals executed this yr had not less than one of many following impairments: severe psychological sickness; mind harm, developmental mind injury, or an IQ within the intellectually disabled vary; and/or continual severe childhood trauma, neglect, and/or abuse.”
The DPIC is a nationwide non-profit group based mostly in Washington DC, that goals to serve the general public with evaluation and data on points pertaining to capital punishment. DPIC gives unbiased and factual details about the demise penalty to function a dependable useful resource. The middle releases annual stories on the demise penalty, produces stories on numerous points, and presents quite a lot of multimedia sources to relay all pertinent information. In an interview with JURIST in 2022, DPIC’s former govt director Robert Dunham relayed that DPIC “doesn’t take a place for or in opposition to the demise penalty itself, however we’re vital of the best way wherein it’s administered,” and that DPIC is the “press secretary for the reality in regards to the demise penalty.”