Essay on Death Penalty - Herrera vs Collins

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Death Penalty - Herrera vs Collins

The Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of executing someone who claimed actual innocence in Herrera v. Collins (506 U.S. 390 (1993)). Although the Court left open the possibility that the Constitution bars the execution of someone who conclusively demonstrates that he or she is actually innocent, the Court noted that such cases would be very rare. The Court held that, in the absence of other constitutional violations, new evidence of innocence is no reason for federal courts to order a new trial. The Court also held that an innocent inmate could seek to prevent his execution through the clemency process, which, historically, has been "the 'fail safe' in our justice system." Herrera was not
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Since 1994, support for the death penalty has again declined. Today, 66% of Americans support the death penalty in theory. However, public support for the death penalty drops to around 50 % when voters are offered the alternative of life without parole. (See also, DPIC's report, Sentencing for Life: American's Embrace Alternatives to the Death Penatly)

Religion

In the 1970s, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), representing more then 10 million conservative Christians and 47 denominations, and the Moral Majority, were among the Christian groups supporting the death penalty. NAE's successor, the Christian Coalition, also supports the death penalty. Today, Fundamentalist and Pentecostal churches as well as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) support the death penalty, typically on biblical grounds, specifically citing the Old Testament. (Bedau, 1997).

Although traditionally also a supporter of capital punishment, the Roman Catholic Church now oppose the death penalty. In addition, most Protestant denominations, including Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ, oppose the death penalty. During the 1960s, religious activists worked to abolish the death penalty, and continue to do so today.

In recent years, and in the wake of a recent appeal by Pope John Paul II to end the death…

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