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NCJ Number: 141059 Find in a Library
Title: Execution of a Disabled Killer Rekindles the Debate on Capital Punishment
Journal: Washington Post Health  Volume:9  Issue:5  Dated:(February 2, 1993)  Pages:10-12
Author(s): B Miller
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 3
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The execution of Charles Sylvester Stamper, a physically disabled inmate in Virginia on January 19, 1993 has caused people to examine the philosophies and goals of capital punishment.
Abstract: These goals are retribution, protection of the community, and deterrence. Those favoring capital punishment said that Stamper's execution achieved all three goals. However, opponents of the death penalty said that Stamper's execution was purely retribution and that the symbolic value of the death penalty disappears when the condemned persons are disabled and pose little future threat. Executions tended to be State matters until the late 1950's, when the Federal courts began intervening. A series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960's and 1970's limited their use, and a 1972 ruling barred the death penalty. However, in 1976 it ruled in favor of new State laws written to meet standards set in past judicial decisions. Since then, the physical and mental health of death row inmates has been a crucial issue in the debate over executions. The Supreme Court has barred the execution of insane persons, but not of mentally retarded persons. Stamper's attorney argued that although no legal precedent existed forbidding an execution of a disabled prisoner, Stamper's execution should be canceled because of his physical health and because his injuries were sustained while in prison. As condemned prisoners grow older or become mentally or physically disabled while in prison, health issues will continue to be important. The cases of three other disabled prisoners have also generated controversy recently. Photographs
Main Term(s): Capital punishment; Persons with physical disabilities
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment; Death row inmates; Mentally ill offenders; Offenders with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities; Virginia
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