Updated 2 December 12.05 am, EST
North Carolina Governor denies clemency and both the US Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reject final appeals. Kenneth Lee Boyd (NC) will be executed at 2 am; he will be the 39th person executed in North Carolina and the 1,000th in the US since 1976.
In the almost 30 years since the Supreme Court lifted the moratorium on capital punishment in 1976, federal and state governments have executed 999 prisoners. Texas leads the nation in executions; Department of Justice data ending in 2003 showed Texas with 44 percent (318) of those executions. The US joins China, Iran and Vietnam in leading the world in executions; it is estimated these four account for 97 percent of all executions in the world (overwhelmingly, most are in China, and those numbers are estimates).
If you live in a red state, you are more likely to face the death penalty and execution than if you live in a blue state: the odds are 9-to-1.
Should NC Governor Mike Easley grant clemency, the distinction of being number 1,000 shifts to South Carolina inmate Shawn Humphries, who is also scheduled to be executed on Friday. The milestone brings heightened media attention to the topic. More than 1,000 religious leaders have called for the abolishment of capital punishment:
We join with many Americans in questioning the need for the death penalty in our modern society and in challenging the effectiveness of this punishment, which has consistently been shown to be ineffective, unfair, and inaccurate…
With the prosecution of even a single capital case costing millions of dollars, the cost of executing 1,000 people has easily risen to billions of dollars. ..
As people of faith, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our opposition to the death penalty and to express our belief in the sacredness of human life and in the human capacity for change.
However, a majority of Americans support capital punishment, in part because of a belief that it serves as a deterrent but more because of the concept of retribution. Other Gallup research suggests that most Americans would not support capital punishment if it did not deter murder. A majority also believes that the death penalty is applied fairly. Conversely, a 2004 Texas study suggests most (64 percent) Lone Star State residents support halting executions to explore questions of fairness and accuracy.
From Around About:
Death Penalty: The Only Justice for Killers?,
Race and the Death Penalty – Is the Life of a White Person Worth More?,
Recent Legal History of the Death Penalty in America,
Top 10 Capital Punishment Videos
This article first appeared at uspolitics.about.com