Skip to comments.Grim milestone looms for US death penalty: 1000th execution
Posted on 11/30/2005 4:04:31 AM PST by cloud8
The United States will likely reach this week the grim milestone of 1,000 executions of convicts since 1976, although capital punishment is declining with fewer juries choosing death sentences.
A convicted murderer was put to death by lethal injection in Ohio on Tuesday, making him the 999th executed inmate since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment 29 years ago.
John Hicks, 49, was killed by lethal injection in the prison of Lucasville, Ohio, state prison authorities said.
Hicks was sentenced to death over the 1985 murder of his mother-in-law and five-year-old step-daughter. He was under the influence of drugs during the killings.
According to a copy of his final statement before his execution, Hicks said: "First I'd like to thank my Heavenly Father for forgiving me of these crimes I committed and to the victims who lost their love ones, I know it has been 20 years of pain and hurt."
"Y'all endured the pain each day. I hurt too. I cared and loved them too. God has forgiven me. I'm sorry and I wish I could bring them back," he said.
"The real me began with a syringe in my arm and now today I have a needle in my arm. I have come full circle. I'm at peace with it," he said.
An execution was scheduled in Virginia for late Wednesday, but on Tuesday, Virginia Governor Mark Warner issued an eleventh-hour reprieve for Robin Lovitt, commuting his death sentence to life in prison without parole.
The governor explained his decision by the fact that evidence from Lovitt's trial was destroyed by a court employee, even though the state of Virginia was legally obligated to maintain physical evidence until a defendant has exhausted every legal post-trial remedy.
The grim milestone is now likely to be reached on Friday as North Carolina and South Carolina both have executions scheduled for that day.
"The impending milestone occurs at a time when the country is sharply moving away from the use of the death penalty," according to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
"The 1000th execution is a significant event in the nation's 30-year experiment with capital punishment, but it is not indicative of an expanding or strongly endorsed use of capital punishment," said DPIC director Richard Dieter.
"To the contrary, there is a wealth of evidence that the country is pulling back from the death penalty," Dieter said.
Statistics show a 50 percent decline in the number of death sentences since the late 1990s and a drop of 40 percent in executions since they peaked at 98 in 1999. There were 59 executions last year.
Moreover, the number of inmates on death row -- the prison wing for prisoners awaiting execution -- has declined each year since 2001.
Last month, a Gallup poll showed that 64 percent of Americans remain in favor of capital punishment, although 80 percent backed it in the 1990s.
The death penalty has also come under fire since inmates facing execution have been found innocent after their convictions, unmasking flaws in the judicial system. In the last 32 years, 122 death row inmates have been released.
Former Illinois governor George Ryan triggered a heated debate in January 2003 when he cleared the state's death row after learning of various cases in which innocent people were sentenced to die.
"More and more people understand that the death penalty makes mistakes, disproportionately affects the poor and people of color, doesn't deter crime, and is expensive, arbitrary, and immoral," according to 1000executions.org, an Amnesty International website.
The Supreme Court court barred executions of people with mental illness in 1986, people younger than 16 at the time of the crime in 1986 and people with mental retardation in 2005.
This year, it forbade capital punishment for people who were under 18 at the time of the crime.
The death penalty is currently on the books in 38 US states, but many seldom or never use it. The vast majority of executions take place in southern states.
More than half of all executions take place in three states: Texas has executed 355 people, Virginia has put to death 94 and Oklahoma another 79.
The US government also has the death penalty for federal cases, but it rarely uses it.
The most prominent US execution in recent years was that of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. He was executed in 2001 after a federal trial over the attack of a federal building in 1995 in which 168 died.
The first person executed after the Supreme Court's 1976 ruling was Gary Gilmore, who was killed by firing squad in Utah in 1977. It was the first execution in 10 years.
Gilmore was immortalized in American author Norman Mailer's "The Executioner's Song."
It's not grim, it's cause for celebration.
But the number should be at least 100 times higher.
What is the total number of victims for that 1000?
This piece of crap got 20 years to watch tv, visit with his prison bitc#, exercise, and whine about how unfair life is. The five year old will be forever 5 years old. Did the poor innocent criminal, true to form, apologize as most of them do? Oh for the days of the lightening bolt to hell execution method.
I suspect China executes more than 1000 every year.
It's not grim, it's cause for celebration
The number seems low, but the count started back in 1976. Now that we have DNA evidence --- and the greater certainty of guilt that such evidence brings with it --- there's no reason that the rate of executions can't increase. Hopefully, we'll reach our next 1000 in a much shorter time.
Well, it's AFP. 'nuff said
Euroliberals = Supporters of the criminals
1000...far fewer than it should be, but at least Texas is trying.
Maybe Texas can push us over the top!
Exactly. Its not so grim if one keeps in mind these guys (gals) are the most vile of rapists and murderers. Of course, the people who write these articles live in the good neighborhoods.
WRONG! The SCOTUS never banned it so it didn't have to reinstate it. Even Furman didn't strike down all statues.
FURMAN V. GEORGIA
408 U.S. 238 (1972)
Petitioner in No. 69-5003 was convicted of murder in Georgia and was sentenced to death pursuant to Ga. Code Ann. 26-1005 (Supp. 1971) (effective prior to July 1, 1969). 225 Ga. 253, 167 S. E. 2d 628 (1969). Petitioner in No. 69-5030 was convicted of rape in Georgia and was sentenced to death pursuant to Ga. Code Ann. 26-1302 (Supp. 1971) (effective prior to July 1, 1969). 225 Ga. 790, 171 S. E. 2d 501 (1969). Petitioner in No. 69-5031 was convicted of rape in Texas and was sentenced to death pursuant to Tex. Penal Code, Art. 1189 (1961). 447 S. W. 2d 932 (Ct. Crim. App. 1969). Certiorari was granted limited to the following question: "Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in [these cases] constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?" 403 U.S. 952 (1971). The Court holds that the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these (emphasis mine - Tarkin) cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The judgment in each case is therefore reversed insofar as it leaves undisturbed the death sentence imposed, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings.
(...) MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, MR. JUSTICE POWELL, and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST join, dissenting.
At the outset it is important to note that only two members of the Court, MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, have concluded that the Eighth Amendment prohibits capital punishment for all crimes and under all circumstances.(...)
MR. JUSTICE POWELL, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST join, dissenting.
(...) [ Footnote 1 ] (...)MR. JUSTICE STEWART, in [408 U.S. 238, 416] addition to reserving judgment on at least four presently existing statutes (ante, at 307), indicates that statutes making capital punishment mandatory for any category of crime, or providing some other means of assuring against "wanton" and "freakish" application (ante, at 310), would present a difficult question that he does not reach today. MR. JUSTICE WHITE, for somewhat different reasons appears to come to the conclusion that a mandatory system of punishment might prove acceptable. Ante, p. 310.
[ Footnote 2 ] While statutes in 40 States permit capital punishment for a variety of crimes, the constitutionality of a very few mandatory statutes remains undecided. See concurring opinions by MR. JUSTICE STEWART and MR. JUSTICE WHITE. Since Rhode Island's only capital statute - murder by a life term prisoner - is mandatory, no law in that State is struck down by virtue of the Court's decision today.
GREGG V. GEORGIA
428 U.S. 153, 168 (1972) (excerpt from the plurality opinion of STEWART, POWELL and STEVENS, JJ.)
But until Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), the Court never confronted squarely the fundamental claim that the punishment of death always, regardless of the enormity of the offense or the procedure followed in imposing the sentence, is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution. Although this issue was presented and addressed in Furman, it was not resolved by the Court. (emphasis mine) Four Justices would have held that capital punishment is not unconstitutional per se; two Justices would have reached the opposite conclusion; and three Justices, while agreeing that the statutes then before the Court were invalid as applied, left open the question whether such punishment may ever be imposed. We now hold that the punishment of death does not invariably violate the Constitution.
Or maybe more criminals are detered. (Lberals will never admit that armed citizens and stiff penalties reduce crime.)
There, now it's OK.
Well the number should be a lot higher if you consider the fact, that the People's Republic of California had 648 people on death row, as of July 1st, 2005 (and only 11 executions post-Furman). OTOH Virginia currently has only 23 inmates on death row (with almost 100 executions), good for Virginia :-).
"35,000,000 executions of convicts babies"
That headline should horrify everyone. Thanks for the focus on the innocent and not the convicted felons.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
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