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Laws Regarding the Death Penalty

 
The death penalty has always been a controversial subject and criminal laws regarding the death penalty differ from state to state. Over the last few years at the state level, the death penalty has seen many overalls, such as in the case in June of 2003 when Governor George Ryan of Illinois reduced 167 inmates that were on death row to life imprisonment. In 2000, he ordered a moratorium or suspension on executions after evidence proved that 13 inmates on death row had been wrongfully convicted.
 
In 1989, the execution of mentally retarded inmates was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. After this time, many states have now changed laws so that executions of this type are prohibited. The Supreme Court in 2002 even changed their view of the executions of mentally retarded inmates such as was seen in Atkins vs. Virginia in 2002 when the Court stated that these executions are prohibited under the Eighth Amendment and were deemed to be cruel and unusual punishment.
 
In 2005, another landmark decision was made by the Supreme Court when executions of persons who are under the age of 18 when they commit capital crimes were barred.
 
2004 Death Penalty Statistics – the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics available at this time
 
Those on death row in 2004:
  • 3,315 inmates on federal and state death rows
  • Over half were white
  • 1,390 African Americans, which was the largest group
  • 13 percent was Hispanic
59 persons were executed across 12 states, which was much higher than the previous year of only 6 nationwide. All of the executions in 2004 were males. The type of executions in 2004 was electrocution and lethal injection. The ages of inmates on death row in 2004 were from 18 to 89 with only 52 women serving time on death row at the end of 2004. By the end of 2004, 39 states allowed the death penalty.
 
To learn more about your rights, contact a criminal defense attorney in your state.
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