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USA: A HANDFUL OF COUNTIES ARE KEEPING THE DEATH PENALTY ALIVE

October 12, 2016: The death penalty, it seems, is slowly dying. Public support for capital punishment in the U.S. is lower today than it has been in more than 4 decades: 49 % of Americans favor the death penalty for defendants convicted of murder, versus 80 % in 1994.
Amid that declining support, a handful of counties across the country are clinging to the practice and regularly doling out death sentences.
In 2015, death sentences were issued in only 33 counties out of the 3,143 counties in the U.S. Just 16 of those 33 imposed 5 or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015, according to a report published Wednesday by Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project.
"This is about overzealous prosecutors paired with severely inadequate defense lawyering in most of the counties," Rob Smith, director of the Fair Punishment Project, told TakePart. Among the counties were Pinellas, Florida; Jefferson, Alabama; and San Bernardino, California. The report is the 2nd half of the project's in-depth examination of where the use of the death penalty is concentrated and why.
Focusing on eight counties in Texas, Alabama, Florida, and California in the newest report, researchers reviewed all the appellate opinions of the states' supreme courts between 2010 and 2015 to uncover commonalities. In the counties that sentenced 5 or more people to death over this 5-year period, the report's authors noted persistent patterns of racial bias, ineffective defense lawyers, and "overzealous" prosecutors.
The researchers also found that more than 1/2 of the defendants sentenced to death in these counties had significant mental impairments. 73% of the defendants were people of color, and 46 % were black. 'It's not an accident that many of these counties have had ongoing struggles with racial fairness and equality, and those are the same places that are holding on to the death penalty," said Smith.
Alabama's Jefferson County is home to Birmingham, the site of some of the civil rights movement's most influential protests.
Florida, which is home to 4 counties on the report's list, is the state with the 3rd-largest number of hate groups in the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, including active Ku Klux Klan and black separatist groups. Florida falls behind Texas and California, both of which also have counties on this list.
Smith also noted that people of color are routinely excluded from juries in these jurisdictions, interfering "with the ability of communities most impacted by violence to take part in governing themselves." The dismissal of black jurors from juries that decide cases involving black defendants is a national problem and directly contributes to the racial disparities in death sentences illustrated by this report.
Alabama and Florida share another distinction when it comes to juries: They are the only 2 states in the country that permit nonunanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases. 5 of the 16 counties studied by the Fair Punishment Project were in those states, and of the 71 cases reviewed in those counties, 89 % had nonunanimous verdicts. Until August, Delaware also allowed non-unanimous verdicts in capital trials. On Aug. 2, the state's supreme court ruled the statute that allowed such verdicts unconstitutional and struck it down. "One of the biggest reasons you see so many death sentences in those counties is because they don't require a unanimous cross-section of the community to agree," said Smith. "Juries sometimes debate these cases for less than an hour because they don't need to reach unanimity to decide if someone lives or dies."
Of all the states that are home to the counties studied in these reports, Florida boasts the most.
The state's Duval, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties lead Florida's death sentencing practice. Since the state resumed executions in the 1970s, 92 people have been executed, and 26 have been exonerated, according to Mark Elliott, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "No one knows how many more innocent people are on death row, or God forbid, have been executed," Elliott said in a statement. (Source: Yahoo News, takepart.com, 12/10/2016)

GAZA: THREE MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR SPYING, MURDER
SAUDI ARABIA: PRINCE EXECUTED FOR MURDER
ZAMBIA: TWO YOUTHS TO HANG FOR MURDER AND AGGRAVATED ROBBERY
GAZA: PALESTINIAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR 2011 MURDER
BANGLADESH: JHALAKATHI JUDGE KILLER JMB MAN EXECUTED
NEVADA (USA): SEARCH FOR EXECUTION DRUG SUPPLIERS TURNS UP ZERO BIDS
FLORIDA (USA): SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN STATE'S CAPITAL SENTENCING STATUTE, REQUIRES JURY UNANIMITY BEFORE IMPOSING DEATH
MALAYSIA: 24-YEAR-OLD THAI BAR GIRL SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING IN KL
PAKISTAN: GENERAL SHARIF SIGNS DEATH WARRANTS OF TEN TERRORISTS
SRI LANKA: WOMAN KILLER SENTENCED TO DEATH
SOMALIA: AL-SHABAAB MILITANTS KILL '2 SPIES'
TUNISIA: 76 SENTENCED OVER SOLDIER KILLINGS
TEXAS (USA): LOWEST NUMBER OF EXECUTIONS IN 20 YEARS
MALAYSIA: FOREIGN DRUG TRAFFICKER SENTENCED TO DEATH
IRAN: 22-YEAR-OLD IRANIAN KURDISH WOMAN FACES IMMINENT EXECUTION AFTER GROSSLY UNFAIR TRIAL
GHANA'S PRISONS OVERCROWDED BY 3,810 INMATES
HANDS OFF CAIN: PRIORITY IS TO CONTAIN THE DEATH PENALTY FOR TERRORISM
ZIMBABWE: ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY - MPS SAY THEIR HANDS TIED
KENYA: WOMAN WHO SOLD TOXIC DRINK THAT CAUSED DEATH OF 8 SENTENCED TO HANG
CHINA: CORRUPT YUNNAN PARTY BOSS SENTENCED TO DEATH WITH REPRIEVE
GAZA STRIP: PALESTINIAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING CHILD
EGYPT: MILITANT SENTENCED TO DEATH, 8 TO LIFE FOR ANTI-CHRISTIAN ATTACK
INDIA: 5 OF FAMILY AWARDED DEATH PENALTY FOR KILLING 4 PERSONS
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DOES NOT REDUCE TERRORISM, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ON WORLD DAY AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
SINGAPORE: 80 PER CENT OF RESIDENTS SUPPORT THE DEATH PENALTY
GAZA: WOMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HANGING
TEXAS (USA): BARNEY RONALD FULLER EXECUTED
SUDAN: THREE CONDEMNED TO HANG IN BURAM, SOUTH DARFUR
USA: SUMMER 2016 ‘DEATH ROW USA’ SHOWS ONGOING DECLINE IN DEATH ROW POPULATIONS
IRAN: TWO PRISONERS HANGED FOR DRUG CHARGES IN KHORRAMABAD

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IRAN. HANDS OFF CAIN, REDUCTION OF DRUG EXECUTIONS BUT NUMBERS REMAIN WORRISOME
  HUMAN RIGHTS: DEMONSTRATION OF THE RADICAL PARTY BEFORE IRANIAN EMBASSY 14 FEBRUARY  
  BELARUS EXECUTES TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS  
  MALAYSIA: GOVT HALTS EXECUTION OF 1,200 DEATH ROW INMATES  
  JAPAN HANGS CULT LEADER SHOKO ASAHARA, 6 OTHERS FOR 1995 TOKYO SUBWAY SARIN ATTACK  
  SOMALIA - DEATH PENALTY AND TERRORISM  
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