Death penalty removed from the Model Penal Code
Death by lethal injection
Introduction and Motion to withdraw section 210.6 of the Model Penal Code
As an avid follower of both the legal system and laws, and especially the death penalty I don't know how this slipped past me. I live in Texas where using the death penalty has made us notorious. After the execution of "Cameron Todd Willingham " in 2004 for the arson fire that killed his three daughters, I joined many watchdog groups that monitor the administration of the death penalty. "Cameron" was found to have been innocent by a report issued by the Texas Forensic Science Panel. Texas Governor Rick Perry had this report before the execution and choose to ignore it. The execution of "Cameron Todd Willingham" was carried out after Mr. Perry denied a 30 day stay to allow review of the report. I will cover both reports in another hub.
The following is taken from the The American Law Institute. ALI is resposible for the Model Penal Code used by 38 of the states in the U.S. to define what is a crime and what punishments are recommended for each.
Why Is This Issue Before Us Again?
In 2001 The American Law Institute began work on some of the sentencing provisions of the Model Penal Code with Professor Kevin Reitz. In the early stages of the process the Director, Council and Reporter concluded with the supporters, that the sentencing issue of the death penalty should not be addressed in the first stages of the effort. The decision still stands today.
An ad hoc committe came to the conclusion that there were three possible courses of action:
1. Call for abolition of the death penalty.
2. Withdraw Section 210.6 from the Model Penal Code.
3. Undertake a new project to replace Section 210.6
The council voted in December to adopt the 3 positions below.
1. The Institute without further study should withdraw Section 210.6 from the Model Penal Code.
2. The Institute should not (as it did not in 1962) take a position on whether the death penalty is ever even an appropiate punishment and thus should not endorse the death penalty or call for its abolition.
The programs committe and council's review and consultation, as well other sources, provided ALI with sufficent basis for the withdrawal of Section 210.6 without undertaking a traditional ALI project and to recommend that the Institute neither endorse or oppose the abolition of the death penalty.
In 1962 Section 210.6 was an untested innovation. Now there have been decades of experience with the death penalty systems. Since its approval in 1962 by ALI, U.S. Supreme Court Decisions have re-shaped the Constitutional landscape regarding sentencing in general and the death penalty, specifically raising questions about certain aspects of section 210.6 . With the exclusion of juveniles and the mentally ill, which have proved to be prescient as confirmed in constitutional jurisprudence. If we look at section 210.6 since 1962 it has not withstood the test of time and experience.
The council expressed many concerns about section 210.6 's influence on the administration of the death penalty:
" Unless we are confident we can recommend procedures that would meet the most important concerns, the institute should not play a further role in legitimating the death penalty as a punishment option, no matter how unintentionally, by retaining the section 210.6 in the Model Penal Code.
American Constitutional Law Today
American Constitutional Law today permits the use of the death penalty. The death penalty still has very strong support among U.S. citizens. Federal law also provides for the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for prescribed crimes.
The question posed by the Clark-Podgar motion raises deep moral, political and social issues that are often based on deep seated personal beliefs. The Institutes Process, which has influenced law reform in many ways in the past, probally would not affect, rather contribute to the political debate, and would not influence the views of the legal policy makers.It is for this reason that the Institute that does not believe that further study or speak on this question was necessary. It is also unlikely that a substantial concencus among council members would be likely. Some members of the council believe that since many states in the U.S. will continue to use the death penalty, ALI could play a useful role in in recommendation of procedures that would be consistent with current constitutional requirements. Others believe that real world constraints make it impossible for the death penalty to ever be imposed in a consistent, fair, un-biased manner, and with due process. Any effort by ALI to offer contemporary procedures for the administration of the death penalty regime would not succeed intellectually or institutionally within a divided council or politically in terms of influence outside the Institute.
ALI provided the reasons used to reach this consenous along with supporting documentation as to why the death penalty regime in place in 3/4 of the states or in any form implemented in the future would ever be likely to ever meet the basic concerns of fairness in process and outcome, including the following:
1. tension between statutory identification and the constititional requirements of individual determining which murders should qualify as death penalty cases.
2. limiting the list of aggravating factors so that murders are not protected.
3. addressing the legal rule, uncouncious or concious racial bias present in the criminal justice system today that has resulted in racial disparity in the imposition of the death penalty based on the race of the victim.
4. the enormous costs of administering the death penalty regime, combined with studies showing that the legal representation provided to criminal defendants is inadequate.
5. the likelihood especially with the availability and reliability of DNA, will later, perhaps too late, will show that a defendant did not commit the crime of which he was convicted and sentenced to death.
6. the politicalization of judicial elections, in campagins and personal views of the death penalty which become the focus of the election.
Summary of Report By The American Law Institute Regarding the Removal of Section 210.6 Capital Punishment
Council recommends withdrawal of Section 210.6 Capital Punishment from the Model Penal Code. When the motion to that effect is presented at the 2009 conference, Council recommends that those present vote in favor.
Council recommends that if a motion that the Institute endorse or oppose the abolition of the death penalty is presented that all members present vote against the motion.
Council reports no plans to begin another ALI project to revise or replace the language of Section 210.6, or otherwise address the issue of capital punishment.
Among developed countries, the U.S. is in a minority that retain the use of the death penalty. While relevance of foreign legal policy to American Policy is a controversial question. At a minimum the international evolution away from the death penalty provides the ALI with an additional reason for the conclusion that in major respects, section 210.6 adopted in 1962 does not supply a model statutory law that the ALI should endorse.
Section 210.6 Capital Punishment was withdrawn from the Model Penal Code on Tuesday , May 19th of 2009 at 2:00pm, in Washington, DC.
(This is only a summary of the report from ALI. To read the report in full, it takes awhile, go to the link provided."
(Please note that i have replaced the word "murderer with the word offender, in respect for those wrongly convicted.")
My own opinion of the death penalty
After 25 years in the court and correctional field I have developed the ability to see others as human beings. Only in extrodinary cases would I ever agree that the death penalty is appropiate. The results of the death penalty are final, there is going back and no amount of money can replace a human life.
If the use of the death penalty is for closure I do not believe that taking anothers life brings closure. The feelings of emptiness and loss still remain.
If the use is for retribution , it also fails as it does not restore the life taken and in killing another we do not restore the life lost.
As a deterrent it is a total failure. If it were a deterrent our jails and prisons would not be over flowing. An execution has no effect on anyone since at the most it gets a three line announcement in the paper and is forgotten, especially here in Texas where we execute so many it is almost as if we have become numb. It is a major issue in the election of our govenors, which is sad. To know that to win you have to promise to be hard on crime, support the death penalty and forget the rehabilitation process.
Texas has had many exonerations thanks to the work of Project Innocence. But how do you restore a life that has been taken?
The Bible says " Thou shall not kill, not thou shall not kill unless you are the State of Texas or where ever.
I agree that there are many whom are unsafe to be ever again in society, but the choice remains to keep them locked away for the rest of their lives. It is much more suffering than the death penalty.
After being in the corrections field and the court system for so long I am convinced that life without parole is a much more dreaded sentence than death.
Also if we execute a person, then that person happens to later to be found innocent, what can we do to repair the damage done? NOTHING!!!! dead is dead. We have spent multi-millions on prisons like the supermax to ensure public safety. Use them.
If one innocent person is executed the system has failed.. We as a society have failed.
The death penalty is irreversible, remember that before you elect someone using that to further their campiagn. Think about the chance that you or your loved one could be wrongly convicted and in the current system would not give you a chance.
The taking of a life is wrong and no one has that right but God. Even Cain, the first murderer was spared from death. Forgiveness, rehabilitation and another form of payment to society is always available.
Think before you act... a life is a life. Jesus forgave the murderer on his side before dying. Should we be any less forgiving?