Ask Me Anything

The dark world of America’s death penalty: ‘Ask Me Anything’ hosted by US reporter Josh Marcus

The Independent is embarking on a long-term project to explore America’s execution epidemic. US reporter Josh Marcus joins legal experts, human rights campaigners, and Herman Lindsey, who was on death for a crime he didn’t commit, to answer all your questions about the controversial practice that has killed more than 1,500 people in the last five decades—many of them innocent.

Monday 11 October 2021 19:15
Comments
<p>Sylvester Edwards expresses his opposition to the death penalty during a protest near the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana</p>

Sylvester Edwards expresses his opposition to the death penalty during a protest near the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana

At the end of the Trump administration, amid the din of the 2020 election season, it was easy to miss that a historic shift was underway in America’s execution chambers. Or perhaps it was a return to form.

Since America’s execution fever peaked in the late 1990s, US states have been slowly banning or pausing the practice, joining, in piecemeal fashion, most other developed countries which have long outlawed capital punishment. But after a 17-year pause, Donald Trump restarted federal executions, and 13 people were killed during the second half of 2020. That’s the most federal inmates put to death under one president in the last 120 years, likely in a cold-blooded attempt to score political points. Despite years of Black Lives Matter activism, here was the most powerful man in the world returning to a policy shown by numerous studies to disproportionately kill people of colour.

Why the death penalty isn't working for America

That’s just one of the many contradictions of the death penalty. It’s a tool touted as the ultimate symbol of tough justice, yet roughly one person on death row is exonerated for innocence for every 8.3 executions carried out. Prosecutors claim it brings families closure, even as appeals drag on for decades and cost millions. It’s described as a crime prevention tool, but there’s no proof that’s true either.

So where do things stand now with the death penalty? What are Joe Biden’s plans for capital punishment? Which states might end it next, and which are digging in? How is execution tangled up in systemic racism?

I will be here live to answer your questions. Joining me will be Herman Lindsey, who was exonerated from Florida’s death row in 2009 after receiving a death sentence for a crime he didn’t commit; Lena Patel and Ben Cumming, our campaign partners at the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice; as well as Lauren Myerscough-Mueller, staff attorney at The Exoneration Project. The event kicks off at 5pm BST on 8 October. If you have a question, submit it now, or when I join you live at 5pm on Friday.

The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty - with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are making a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in