America’s death penalty: What cruelty

YESTERDAY the American state of Georgia excuted a 79-year-old man for a murder he committed in 1979 — 37 years ago.

Brandon Astor Jones, the oldest inmate on the state’s death row, died by lethal injection at 12.46am at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. Even after nearly four decades in jail Jones’ death was delayed for nearly six hours by 11th hour appeals by his attorneys, appeals that were rejected by the US supreme court late on Tuesday. His execution was the fifth this year in the US and the first of two scheduled this month in Georgia.

Adding to European sensibilites at least, the lunacy around this case, a federal district court overturned his death sentence in 1989 because a trial judge had allowed a bible in the jury deliberation room, finding it could have improperly influenced jurors to base their decision on scripture instead of the law. Whether America likes it or not the death penalty, and its bizarre gun laws, are a real blot on its character, as is the figure that shows America has a higher proportion of its population behind bars than any other country in the world.


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