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View Diary: Death Penalty Juries: Are You Excluded? (115 comments)

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  •  I'm teaching this subject to Canadian students... (1+ / 0-)
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    dharmafarmer

    taking an American political science class.

    I have about 30 minutes to cover this topic.  What do you think is most important for this audience to know?

    Member of the "Fellows of the Ass Society." Dedicated to reminding people that most knowledge still comes from books. Not Wikipedia.

    by David Kroning on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:27:27 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  That is a tough question (5+ / 0-)

      I can't say there is one issue that is "most important."  However the arbitrariness of our system is a big problem.  We have the federal system, and then about 34 states that have the d.p. on their books.  Each has to follow U.S. Supreme Court precedent, but state law dictates much of what occurs, from jury selection, to presentation of evidence, to instruction, and lastly to the penalty phase.

      So, what passes in one state may not in another.  For example, in about half of the jurisdictions (plus the feds), a hung jury in penalty means that the case is over, and the defendant receives LWOP (life w/out parole).  In others (including California), the prosecution can elect to retry the penalty phase.  

      Also, funding for capital cases vary greatly, as does qualifications of counsel.  In Los Angeles, we usually get the money we need and have well qualified attorneys.  Such is not the case in many other places.  

      Just a few issues to ponder.

      •  This is useful because... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        daninoah, dharmafarmer, gchaucer2, Munchkn

        they tend to have great difficulty understanding the relationship between State and Federal authority in the US.

        There is no death penalty in Canada and, in fact, the maximum that anyone can be sentenced for first degree murder is 25 years.  

        I think I will focus on explaining to them the roots of the death penalty and why it exists in some states and not others.

        Would you recommend any particular states to focus upon?

        Member of the "Fellows of the Ass Society." Dedicated to reminding people that most knowledge still comes from books. Not Wikipedia.

        by David Kroning on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:46:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Look at California, Florida, and Texas (4+ / 0-)

          Texas and Florida execute the most and put more on death row per capita.  California has the largest death row (about 660) but has not had an execution in 3 years.  The leading causes of death in California death row inmates is natural causes and suicide.  And the cost to keep them locked up compared to other murder inmates is immense.  Factor in the added costs in legal counsel and courts, and a death row inmate in most states costs millions more than one who is serving a life sentence.

          For a state scheme gone haywire, look at illinois' system in the 1990's.  Lying cops, unscrupulous prosecutors, and poor defense counsel put several factually innocent persons on death row.  

          I suggest you look at some capital punishment web sites such as death penalty focus or the Southern Poverty Law Center.  There may also be some good stuff at the Innocence Project, ACLU, or Amnesty International.

          Good luck.  

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