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US debates future of death penalty

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US debates future of death penalty

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The United States is due to witness its 1,000th execution this week – a milestone which is sparking much debate about rehabilition and the penal system.

Over the last decade, juries have called for less capital punishment and a growing number of states have declared moratoriums. A recent poll showed only 64 per cent of Americans are in favour of the death penalty compared with 80 per cent in the mid nineties. Exactly 229 death row inmates have been granted clemency since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The list of reasons is short. Pardons cited lingering doubt about guilt, a governor’s own moral opposition to capital punishment or the mental disability of the accused. Lethal injections are due to be carried out in Arizona, Ohio and Virginia this week. But if not the 1,000th execution is set to take place in California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to decide whether to pardon reformed gang leader, Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who was jailed for killing four people in 1981. Since his incarceration, he has won several Nobel peace prize nominations for his stance against violence.