Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Death Penalty in Alabama

Here’s a rather disturbing story. Alabama is the only state in the nation that allows judges to overrule juries on death penalty decisions with no standards at all on when they can and cannot intervene and nullify a jury ruling.

AS A follow-up to last week’s discussion on the death penalty, I wanted to highlight a new report (pdf) from the Equal Justice Initiative. I hadn’t realised this, but in per-capita terms, Alabama beats the notoriously intransigent Texas in both death sentences and executions, and a unique feature of their system is judicial override. That is, in Alabama judges, who are elected, can override the verdict of the jury and change a life-without-parole sentence to death.

And this is the result, from the report itself:

Since 1976, Alabama judges have overridden jury verdicts 107 times. Although
judges have authority to override life or death verdicts, in 92% of overrides elected judges have overruled jury verdicts of life to impose the death penalty…

Judge override is the primary reason why Alabama has the highest per capita death sentencing rate and execution rate in the country. last year, with a state population of 4.5 million people, Alabama imposed more new death sentences than texas, with a population of 24 million.

Holy cow. You have to work overtime to have a worse death penalty record than Texas. To have a worse record with 1/5 the population? That’s mind boggling.


  1. #1 Telyesumpin
    August 8, 2011

    If they knowingly helped put an innocent man in jail I think there should be consequences.

    Take this man for example


    As much as I hate it this guy will probably get fired and hired on by a neighboring dept. I believe he should never work in law enforcement again.

    Or if you want something new


    Every single one of those teens should be charged with accessory to murder. When the punishment is not adequate nothing will deter people from doing bad things.

    Too many people get a slap on the wrist, it does not matter if these are teenagers. They know right from wrong and should be held accountable for their actions. When I was a teenager I knew this was wrong these kids do also. There is NO excuse for beating a man senseless then running him over.

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