Alabama Has Death Panels

by Zack Beauchamp

With one member:

That is, in Alabama judges, who are elected, can override the verdict of the jury and change a life-without-parole sentence to death. Since 1976, when America's death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court, judges have handed down nearly 100 death sentences by overriding jury decisions. Alabama is the only state that allows this.  (Delaware and Florida allow for judicial override, but subject to stricter provisions and almost always in the opposite direction—commuting death to life without parole.)

It's things like this that make abstract debates about the death penalty almost worthless.  In its American incarnation, the death penalty is riddled with inconsistencies, racial bias, and the execution of innocents.  Though one might be able to justify an idealized version of the institution, the death penalty in the United States seems beyond defense.