Monday, August 4, 2014
Angela April Sun has posted 'Killing Time' in the Valley of the Shadow of Death: Why Systematic Preexecution Delays on Death Row Are Cruel and Unusual (113 Columbia Law Review 1585 (2013)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In the nearly four decades since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the average time between sentencing and execution in the United States has steadily increased to 16.5 years as of the end of 2011. In states like California, the total lapsed time from sentencing to execution exceeded two decades as of 2008. In response to these lengthening delays, scores of death row inmates have been raising Lackey claims over the last few decades — claims that inordinate preexecution delays on death row constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. These claims have universally failed in the lower courts, even though two Supreme Court Justices have staunchly supported these claims and repeatedly noted that these claims have merit.
This Note examines the two existing formulations of the Lackey claim and argues that the reason that Lackey claims have been unsuccessful is that their focus on individual inmates’ delays has been misplaced.