As of December, 2016, thirty-two states and the Federal government allow the use of the death penalty. Since 2007, four states have abolished the death penalty, and the rate of executions in the states that allow it has slowed dramatically. Several states have bills pending that have the potential to end or limit the use of capital punishment in those states. •Illinois is one of the states that recently abolished the death penalty. Prior to making the change in the law, the governor had simply stopped signing death warrants. For what reason did the governor decide to stop approving executions? Was his reason valid? Explain your reasoning. •Describe the “Innocence Project,” including its goals and procedures. Is this group effective? •Consider the 2002 and 2005 Supreme Court cases of Roper v. Simmons and Atkins v. Virginia. Do these decisions indicate a trend? What can you surmise about future challenges to the death penalty, based on the current Court’s recent decisions?
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