A U.S. Supreme Court decision this month to ban execution of juvenile offenders is finding strong support among some national religious groups.
The 5-4 decision will remove from death row about 70 individuals who were convicted of murders committed before they turned 18. Prosecutors will also be prevented from seeking the death penalty in future cases of juvenile capital crime.
A wide array of nearly 30 religious groups has called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to outlaw the execution of minors. The high court is expected to hear oral arguments in a juvenile death penalty case when its new term opens in the fall.
The United States ranks third, behind only China and Iran, in reported executions, according to Amnesty International’s annual report on the death penalty. It noted that four countries accounted for 84 percent of the 1,146 government-reported executions worldwide in 2003—the U.S. (65), China (726), Iran (108) and Vietnam (64).
George Ryan, until last month the Republican governor of Illinois, has revolutionized the debate over capital punishment. His genius, such as it is, has been to ignore the great moral and philosophic questions that surround the topic and focus on the pragmatic ones.
In the death chamber at San Quentin just after midnight on January 28, a confessed killer was executed by lethal injection. He was convicted two decades ago for the murder of an 81-year-old woman during a botched burglary in which he cooked noodles in her kitchen as she died.
Dear Timothy, As I was preparing a brief meditation on the “last words” of Jesus, I thought of you. The rector of my church asked me to speak about the “second word”: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” If you know your Bible you will remember that Jesus said this to one of the criminals who was crucified with him.