Lauren Sudeall

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Harvard Law Review Forum

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race, multiracial, black lives matter, loving v. Virginia, equal protection


Criminal Law | Law | Law Enforcement and Corrections


As someone who lives in a red state and has practiced capital defense in Georgia and Alabama, my view for some time has been that the death penalty is not going anywhere any time soon. And while the dominant message from legal experts and commentators in recent years has been that the death penalty is on the decline,' the results of this past election might suggest otherwise. The three referenda regarding capital punishment on the 2016 ballot - in California, Nebraska, and Oklahoma - were all resolved in favor of the death penalty. These votes could be taken to signal a resurgence of public support for- or at the very least, a reluctance to completely abandon- the most severe punishment available under the law. Indeed, for those representing capital defendants in Georgia, last year only confirmed the death penalty's brutal persistence. While the imposition of new death sentences in Georgia has declined, the number of executions reached an all-time high in 2016; in fact, Georgia led the nation in total number of executions, with nine (Texas was second, with seven). Thus, while prosecutors and jurors have exhibited an increasing reluctance to seek and impose death, voters and legislators throughout the country have chosen to leave their capital punishment schemes intact. The machinery of death continues to grind away at a brisk pace.



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