Death Penalty Abolition: Five States That Could Be Next

witness viewing room death penalty

Witness viewing room © Scott Langley

Three states have abolished the death penalty legislatively in recent years: New Jersey in 2007, New Mexico in 2009, and Illinois in 2011.  Inevitably, more states will follow; but can a state or states abolish the death penalty in an even-numbered (read: election) year?  We will find out in 2012.

As Politico reported on Friday, states that are poised to end their experiment with capital punishment next year include Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, and Ohio, as well as California (through a ballot initiative).  This is quite a diverse collection of states, ranging from small to large and from conservative to liberal, which goes to show how mainstream an issue death penalty abolition has become.


King of Horror's New Anti-Torture Ad

When I was around 10-years-old, I somehow caught a few minutes of Christine, the film based on Stephen King’s novel about a killer car. And it freaked me out. To this day, I’ve still never gotten a driver’s license.

Anyway, Stephen King knows a lot about horror. So if he is freaked out about the U.S. government’s use of torture, then you know it’s serious. Recently, Mr. King took the time to write a personal letter to President Obama calling for an independent commission of inquiry into the U.S. torture program, and that letter will be published tomorrow as an ad in the special Congressional printed edition of Politico, right next to the paper’s section on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

It’s part of the Committee’s job to “provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

They’ve done about as good a job as Christine’s mechanic.

Members of the committee had agreed to start a review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. When, you ask? 2002? ’03? ’06? Nope, not until last March. A little slow off the blocks. Then, late last month, the ranking Republican on the committee, Kit Bond (R-Mo.), “withdrew from the probe” in protest over Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to open a preliminary review into a small number of cases of alleged detainee abuse that the DOJ under President G.W. Bush declined to prosecute.

Basically, a guy who was supposed to make sure that the government follows the law in intelligence operations quit to protest an investigation into whether the government followed the law in intelligence operations.

This is unacceptable. And it’s illegal. Congress and President Obama are obligated by U.S. law to fully investigate, prosecute and provide remedy for torture and other human rights violations. They need to know that the U.S. public will hold them accountable if they do not obey the law and hold accountable those responsible for torture.

Join Stephen King in calling for a full investigation into torture. Read his letter and forward it to President Obama at You wouldn’t want to make Stephen King mad, would you?