As Connecticut goes, so goes, hopefully, the nation

The State of Connecticut voted this week to abolish the death penalty, making it the 17th State to do so.

Since capital punishment was reintroduced in the U.S. in 1976, 1,290 people have been executed – with Texas leading the sway with 481 executions. 3,199 are presently death row in America’s prisons. This year twelve executions have taken place across the country, a steadily declining number since the highpoint in 1999, when 98 executions took place.

Almost two-thirds of Americans prefer other punishment than the death penalty for murder, according to a survey from 2010, and in the fall voters in California will decide on the death penalty there.

So, maybe, things are moving in the right direction, albeit slowly, and maybe there is hope, that the United States, one day, will move away from the present dubious company of China, Iran, North Korea, and other undemocratic countries, where the death penalty is actively used against their  citizens.

“There is something stunningly disgraceful about the company we (the U.S.) keep on this issue,” columnist Robert Scheer wrote once. It’s also sad.


After Troy Davis, is there still hope?

Troy Davis was executed last night in Georgia.

The question is whether it could be said any better than by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:

”There is something stunningly disgraceful about the company we (USA) keep on this issue…Execution is a means of summarily ending the pursuit of justice rather than advancing it.”

Scheer did not mention that another death sentence was carried out last night, in Texas, against Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist who killed a black man, James Byrd Jr., in a hideous hate crime in 1998. The execution took place, quietly, without any public protests.

Since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, 1, 267 people have been executed in the United States. Of all the things about America, this is the hardest for us Europeans to comprehend, and nothing upsets us more.

Still, there might be hope that America will finally turn against the death penalty, as outlined in two recent must-read articles on the death penalty by Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic, and Dahlia Lithwick on Slate.