Today, Hillary Clinton stated her opposition to abolishing the death penalty. This is in stark contrast to trends and polling in the last few years, as well as the actions of several states to abolish the practice.
Attitudes on the death penalty have changed a great deal over the last few years, with far more respondents saying they are against it. Several states have banned the practice over the last few years, with Nebraska the latest state to end this barbaric practice. As of 2015, the death penalty is banned in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
This statement by Clinton comes at a time where the implementation of this gruesome practice is being labeled as inherently cruel and unusual in light of the fact that the three drugs used for lethal injections are no longer available. Since stocks have been depleted, several states have engaged in the commission of dubious cocktails from compounding pharmacies. The first execution in Oklahoma using those cocktails was botched and the inmate, an African American, was reported to have suffered greatly.
A majority of death row inmates are African American. The last seven years have seen a huge increase in the number of exonerations due to police and prosecutorial misconduct, with convictions being overturned, in some cases, mere hours before the execution was due to take place.
As an attorney, Clinton knows there is no way to limit a state’s use of any law that is in force. Laws like the death penalty, under States’ Rights, are up to each individual state to abolish. Clinton has got to know that death row inmates are predominantly Black. Clinton has got to know about the huge number of wrongfully-convicted inmates. Should there ever be a large enough majority in both houses of Congress to pass a law to abolish executions, there would still be a need to have it ratified by the states. Such a thing is unlikely to occur any time soon. Technically, the Supreme Court could outlaw the death penalty. However, with the current conservative leaning on the court, it is unlikely to happen.
It is hard to understand how Clinton takes such a position at a time of far greater scrutiny both by voters as part of the election process, and with Black Lives Matter confronting candidates on racial justice with the support of a clear majority of the African American community and the liberal and progressive left.
This is yet another area that Clinton is far to the right of the party in whose name she is vying to lead the nation. This is not a good look, and not the ethical position a majority of Democrats want in their leader. Senator Bernie Sanders has always been a staunch opponent of the death penalty.
** Update: Senator Bernie Sanders called for the abolition of the death penalty from the U.S. Senate floor:
In a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told his colleagues, “The time is now for the U.S. to end capital punishment.”
“I know we are shocked and disgusted by some of the horrific murders we see in this country that seem to take place every week,” he said. “But it seems to me that at a time of rampant violence and murder, it is important that the state itself, the government here in America, say loud and clearly that we will not be part of that process.”
Sanders, who is currently running for president, acknowledged he is in a “minority position” on the issue — with nearly two-thirds of Americans saying they still support the practice. Yet Sanders also called attention to the move globally to eliminate the death penalty, saying that he would rather follow the example of European democracies than countries like China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia that most commonly put their own citizens to death. The U.S. ranks fifth in the world in executions behind those nations, despite the fact that 19 states and the District of Columbia have already abolished the practice.
“The state, in a democratic, civilized society, should not itself be involved in the murder of other Americans,” Sanders said Thursday, noting that he has “no problem” with sentencing violent criminals to life in prison without parole in lieu of capital punishment. “We should lock them up and throw away the key,” he said.
The speech comes just one day after Sanders’ main rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton, said at an event in New Hampshire that she does not support ending the death penalty. Though she acknowledged the punishment has been “too frequently applied, and too often in a discriminatory way,” she said she believes it is still warranted in “certain egregious cases.”
Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Want To Get Rid Of The Death Penalty | ThinkProgress
BY KIRA LERNER
Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she does not support abolishing the death penalty, calling instead for a review of the practice and for it to be used in fewer cases.
“We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied, and too often in a discriminatory way, so I think we have to take a hard look at it,” she said in response to a voter question in New Hampshire.
“I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in most states,” she continued.