States Move in Opposite Directions on Death Penalty: Repeal and Speedups


Supporters and opponents of capital punishment agree that the current death penalty is expensive, inefficient, and arbitrary, says Stateline. Some state legislatures have reacted by abolishing the death penalty, while others are trying to speed it up. Since 2007, six states have abolished capital punishment–most recently Maryland, which did so this year. Other states, troubled by some of the same problems, have moved in the opposite direction. They include North Carolina, which repealed its Racial Justice Act, Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott has signed a law that will speed up Florida's execution process, and California, where death penalty supporters are working on a citizens' initiative for the 2014 ballot to restart the death penalty. Attorneys general in California and North Carolina are contesting lawsuits that claim their executions by lethal injection are “cruel and unusual,” and thus unconstitutional. Nationwide, the lag between handing down a death sentence and the actual execution averages 14 years. In Florida, however, the average wait is 22 years.

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