Joseph Sledge was sentenced to life without parole in North Carolina for a murder he didn’t commit. It took 36 years for him to be freed, largely because exoneration cases focus on those given the death penalty—a dilemma faced by inmates in many states where capital punishment has been abolished.
By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court said Monday that it would not review a challenge to new federal death penalty protocols proposed by the Justice Department, which wants to resume executions next month for the first time since 2003.
Joseph James DeAngelo, accused of a series of rapes and murders as the Golden State Killer, is expected to plead guilty on June 29 in order to escape the death penalty. Now many police departments are reexamining cases from the 1970s and reevaluating the statute of limitations in order to get justice for victims’ families.
Krishna Maharaj has spent the last three decades in a Florida prison, where he faces the death penalty for murders he says he didn’t commit. Now 81 years old and ailing, he charges that the state has not responded to his appeals for a new hearing on evidence that proves his innocence, putting him at risk for infection from COVID-19.
The Republican Party’s national platform still contains a pro-capital punishment plank, but few appear to be standing by it these days. Beginning in 2012, the number of GOP-sponsored repeal bills has sharply increased, and the pace has picked up since 2016, argues the head of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.