Wainwright ,  the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the state from carrying out the death penalty on an individual who is insane, and that properly raised issues of execution-time sanity must be determined in a proceeding satisfying the minimum requirements of due process. In Atkins v. Virginia ,  the Supreme Court addressed whether the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of mentally retarded persons. The Court noted that a "national consensus" had developed against it. However, the recent case of Teresa Lewis , the first woman executed in Virginia since , proved to be very controversial because Governor Bob McDonnell refused to commute her sentence to life imprisonment, even though she had an IQ of In theory, opponents of capital punishment might argue that as a matter of principle, death penalties collide with the substance of Madison's understanding on democratic rule.
According to the Madisonian principle, the majority's will shall prevail, but at the same time, the minority shall be respected. Hence, the majority cannot pass legislation which imposes the death penalty for the simple reason that such legislation eliminates in total the minority that chooses to disobey the law. Thus the question pertaining to capital punishment is whether the majority has the power to enact legislation imposing capital punishment on the minorities that disobey the laws and exercise the prohibited conduct. Recent studies show that executing a criminal costs more than life imprisonment does.
Many states have found it cheaper to sentence criminals to life in prison than to go through the time-consuming and bureaucratic process of executing a convicted criminal. Donald McCartin, an Orange County, California , jurist famous for sending nine men to death row during his career, said that "it's 10 times more expensive to kill [criminals] than to keep them alive. Capital punishment is often opposed on the grounds that innocent people will inevitably be executed. Supporters of capital punishment object that these lives have to be weighed against the far more numerous innocent people whose lives can be saved if the murderers are deterred by the prospect of being executed.
Between and , people in 25 states were released from death row when new evidence of their innocence emerged. Statistics likely understate the actual problem of wrongful convictions because once an execution has occurred there is often insufficient motivation and finance to keep a case open, and it becomes unlikely at that point that the miscarriage of justice will ever be exposed. In the case of Joseph Roger O'Dell III,  executed in Virginia in for a rape and murder, a prosecuting attorney bluntly argued in court in that if posthumous DNA results exonerated O'Dell, "it would be shouted from the rooftops that Virginia executed an innocent man.
Despite this, some controversial cases have been re-investigated following the execution by state authorities, such as post-conviction DNA testing ordered by Mark Warner of evidence in the Roger Keith Coleman case in Virginia  and reviewing the forensic evidence in the Cameron Todd Willingham case in Texas. Another issue is the quality of the defense in a case where the accused has a public defender.
The competence of the defense attorney "is a better predictor of whether or not someone will be sentenced to death than the facts of the crime". In , the Justice Department and the FBI formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an FBI forensic squad overstated forensic hair matches for two decades before the year Those cases involve 32 cases in which defendants were sentenced to death.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved 13 March Retrieved April 10, Council of Europe. Oxford University Press. The New York Times. Journal of American Ethnic History.
Retrieved Steiker, Jordan M. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Northwestern University Law Review.
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