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The Florida Bar

Discussion About Capital Punishment

The death penalty remains a hot button topic for Americans, says Broward criminal lawyer William Moore. Although the United States is the only industrialized nation that uses capital punishment, many Americans favor its use for homicide or child sex crimes. A recent movement to allow states to re-institute the death penalty for child rapists failed after the state of Louisiana took the case to the Supreme Court last year. Interestingly, the Supreme Court overturned capital punishment for child sex offenses on a vote of five to four. The Court found that execution for rape was a disproportionate punishment in 1977. Although the victim in that case was actually only 16 years old, the case stood for the legal principle that the government cannot execute rapists whose victims are adults.

Figures for executions vary widely between regions of the United States, reflecting local opinion, says Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer Moore. Currently the United States military, the federal government, and 38 states allow for capital punishment. According to 2006 figures, the South represents the vast majority of executions, with 841 since 1976. The Midwest trailed in second at 119, with the West at 65. The Northeast part of the country has executed just four people in that time frame. In 2004 alone, 125 people were sentenced to death in the United States. Sixty people were actually executed in 2005 with well over 1,000 executed in total since 1976. The vast majority of those executed were male; very few women are actually executed and less than 1.5 percent of the total inmates on death row nationally are female. Florida has only executed two women ever, although many more had their sentences commuted. Currently just one woman sits of Florida’s death row, compared to approximately 400 men. Florida has the third-highest number of death row inmates, behind California and Texas.

Canada, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, most European nations, and a number of other countries have abolished capital punishment for all offenses, notes Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney William Moore. In all, 92 countries have abolished it entirely. Thirty-two nations, a significantly smaller portion, have retained the death penalty, but it is not in active use or has not been used in at least the last decade. Russia is the largest country that keeps it available legally but does not actively use it. Ten countries, including Brazil and several other South American nations, have retained the death penalty, but use it only under special circumstances, such as war crimes. The United States is one of 64 countries that retains its use entirely.

China executes far more people than any other country, says criminal defense lawyer Moore. Next are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and then the United States. Iraq executes slightly fewer people than the U.S. does.

A video on the Louisiana governor’s response to the decision that child rapists cannot be executed:

Broward criminal lawyer William Moore has experience in all kinds of criminal defense, including sex crimes and DUI. A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor can have consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in the south Florida area, contact William Moore, P.A., which has offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

This article should be used for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice nor as implied representation of any person.

Article contributed by Mallory Shipman, Esq.

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