Mumia on the death penalty – in conversation with Cornel West

Death Row Graveoriginally published by: San Francisco BayView
23rd April 2010

The anti-death penalty movement is an offshoot of the global human rights movement as expressed by private associations and later by a variety of governments.

It is noteworthy, then, for us to cite the state abolition of the death penalty in Kenya in 2009. We should also note the fact that the rate of juries meting out death sentences has fallen to its lowest in 30 years.

And finally, several months ago, the group that was perhaps most instrumental in fashioning the present death penalty, the American Law Institute, announced it would no longer participate in formulating laws governing the death penalty.

The ALI, a distinguished group of 4,000 judges, law professors and lawyers, were the people who initially proposed the aggravating and mitigating circumstances that the U.S. Supreme Court adopted in 1976 when it reinstated the death penalty.

And yet, despite this, the death penalty is alive and well in America. Why? It makes no economic sense, but politicians are wedded to it.

That’s because at its core, the death penalty derives from, and thus replaces, lynch law. Is it mere coincidence that the states which are most active in capital punishment are Southern ones?

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