The decline and fall of the American death penalty

(The death penalty is rapidly disappearing in the United States)

‘Fewer people were executed in 2020 than in any year for nearly three decades, and fewer people were sentenced to die than at any point since the Supreme Court created the modern legal framework governing the death penalty in 1976. Those are two of the striking findings in the Death Penalty Information Center’s (DPIC) annual report, which was released on December 16.

One significant reason so few people were executed in 2020 is the Covid-19 pandemic — which has slowed court proceedings and turned gathering prison officials and witnesses for an execution into a dangerous event for everyone involved. But even if 2020 is an outlier year due to the pandemic, DPIC’s data shows a sharp and consistent trend away from the death penalty since the number of capital sentences peaked in the 1990s.

…The trend away from new death sentences and executions has continued despite two recent significant pro-death penalty opinions from the Supreme Court.

…Why has the number of death sentences and executions declined so sharply?…’

— Via Vox

Activists Turn Facial Recognition Tools Against the Police

“Accountability is important,” said Christopher Howell, who tapped his knowledge of neural net technology after police tear-gassed him at a protest in Portland, Ore. “We need to know who is doing what, so we can deal with it.”

‘“We’re now approaching the technological threshold where the little guys can do it to the big guys,” one researcher said….’

— Via The New York Times

R.I.P. H. Jack Geiger


Doctor Who Fought Social Ills Dies at 95

(H. Jack Geiger, Doctor Who Fought Social Ills, Dies at 95 – The New York Times)

‘Dr. H. Jack Geiger, who ran away to Harlem as a teenager and emerged a lifelong civil rights activist, helping to bring medical care and services to impoverished regions and to start two antiwar doctors groups that shared in Nobel Peace Prizes, died on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 95.

…Dr. Geiger was a leading proponent of “social medicine,” the idea that doctors should use their expertise and moral authority not just to treat illness but also to change the conditions that made people sick in the first place: poverty, hunger, discrimination, joblessness and lack of education….’

— Via New York Times

Jack Geiger was one of my heroes in the practice of medicine. He was a cofounder of two groups doing important work in medicine — and for the world — in which I have been active, Physicians for Social Responsibility, which leveraged our medical stature in the fight against nuclear weapons, and Physicians for Human Rights. His genius was in defining many of the aspect’s of inhumanity and aggression as public health problems to mobilize health care professionals as social change agents, “redefining what it meant to be a physician.”