Death penalty receives another blow, this time in Pennsylvania


Galleries - Capital Punishmentsource: Above The Law 
published: 5 January 2016

The death penalty has come under fire recently in state courts. Now a recent case out of Pennsylvania highlights a possible role for state executives in hastening the death penalty’s demise.

Remember how last summer the Connecticut Supreme Court issued an opinion ending the death penalty in Connecticut? The court held that the death penalty violates the Connecticut constitution’s cruel and unusual punishment provision — the state analog of the Eighth Amendment — because the practice of killing convicts “fails to comport with contemporary standards of decency” and “is devoid of any legitimate penological justifications.”

Back when the court handed down its opinion, I wondered whether the case might be a sign that the end of the death penalty is near, given the opinion’s careful (and arguably persuasive) application of Eighth Amendment case law from the Supreme Court to inform its reading of the Connecticut constitution.

At the same time, a very different case with similar results was winding its way through the Pennsylvania courts.

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