Wednesday, September 28, 2011

R.I.P. Manuel Valle

Roman Colosseum lit to protest an execution
Florida executed Manuel Valle on September 28, 2011, for the 1978 killing of Coral Gables Officer Louis Pena.  The Supreme Court temporarily halted the execution minutes before Valle was set to die but denied the request for a stay a few hours later, and the execution went forward.

Justice Breyer dissented from the Court's order denying the stay, and would have granted review to consider whether being incarcerated on death row for more than thirty years constitutes cruel and unsual punishment.  Breyer claimed to have " little doubt about the cruelty of so long a period of incarceration under sentence of death," and said it would also seem to be unusual given that the average stay on death row is almost 15 years.

Breyer also wrote:  "The commonly accepted justifications for the death penalty are close to nonexistent in a case such as this one.  It is difficult to imagine how an execution following so long a period of incarceration could add significantly to that punishment’s deterrent value.  It seems yet more unlikely that the execution, coming after what is close to a lifetime of imprisonment, matters in respect to incapacitation."

This is the 37th execution in the United States in 2011, the first in Florida.


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