This is a recent mass shooting that could end up in action

Helen H. Richardson / Getty

Helen H. Richardson / Getty

Both Robert Aaron Long And Ahmad Al Ariwi Alyssa Last month, he was arrested for carrying out a famous shooting that killed a large number of people.Both crimes Revived our national debate about guns..

However, only one man has the real potential to reach the death row cell.

Colorado, where Alyssa is tried, is one of the 23 states that have abolished the death penalty. Georgia, where Long was arrested, is one of 27 people still punishing the book. It’s also one of a small subset of the 15 states that actually executed someone in the last decade. According to the Death Penalty Information Center..

And last week, there is California where Amminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez was arrested on suspicion of killing four people, including a child. The death penalty is more symbolic than reality. California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a moratorium on executions, but the state has not been executed since 2006. Sentence.Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is already He told reporters that he would consider seeking the death penalty from Gonzales...

Suspect identified after a deadly “business dispute” shooting in California

State law is only part of the big picture, as the Ministry of Justice may be able to attack and seek the death penalty for federal crimes, depending on the investigation. The fate of these men is determined by decision makers, from the district attorney to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, and serves as the latest example of the strange geographical disparity in the US death penalty.

The death penalty is disappearing: but Georgia still executes peopleSince 2015, only one person has been sent to death row in the state. Nationally, it became clear that whether or not the death penalty was imposed had less to do with what I did than where I went. In 2013, Reported by the Death Penalty Information Center All state death row prisoners across the country came from only 20% of the counties, and most executions were carried out by only 2% of the counties.

Why these counties? Some people have a large population. In other words, the number of murders that could be subject to the death penalty has increased. High cost of capital trial..Last year, a group of scholars led by Frank Baumgartner at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Compiled database They found that even in counties that were lynched during the Jim Crow era in the early 20th century, people are likely to be sentenced to death today.Findings are consistent with what other studies have shown Racial disparity in death row prisoners, And likely to be sentenced to death When the victim is white..

But perhaps the most important factor, even in individual cases, is the simplest. Who is the prosecutor?

Even if Colorado did not abolish the death penalty last year, Alyssa would almost certainly have avoided its fate. He was accused of killing 10 people at a boulder grocery store on March 22, but voters and elected officials in the liberal Colorado county where he was arrested have long opposed the death penalty.The current district attorney is even more President Joe Biden ends it at the federal level.

Long-faced accusations in two different counties in Georgia. He allegedly killed four people last year in Fulton County, including the metropolitan area of ​​Atlanta. All three district attorney candidates have promised to never seek the death penalty. there was Political shift from the death penalty in many metropolitan countiesIncludes Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Amanda Marzullo, a Texas-based defense lawyer and death penalty expert, said: “Actually, only about 25 counties across the country are required to be sentenced to death on a regular basis.”

Long also allegedly killed four people and injured a fifth in Cherokee County. The county has a Republican district attorney, Shannon Wallace. Press release Prosecute the killing “to the maximum extent of the law”. It is not yet clear whether Long’s case will be subject to the death penalty. A Wallace spokesperson did not rule out the possibility, stressing that the crime was still under investigation.

Much remains unclear about the case of more accusations, whether the victim’s family collapses publicly in either way, and local observers said. Predict a “tug of war” between prosecutors over jurisdiction..

Anna Arsenor, Secretary-General of the Georgia Resources Center, who defends people on death row in the state, said: “This creates geographical disparities not only between states, but also between judicial circuits within Georgia.” She also said that prosecutors said Long’s mental health and background, and the cost of the death penalty, “Asia. We must also consider whether it can be used to “prevent further violence against Americans of descent.”

Wallace’s office does not have a long record of being sentenced to death. Scholars have found that the best predictor of whether a county seeks death is whether it has previously sought death. “It gets better as the county goes on the death penalty,” Baumgartner said. The prosecutor uses past decisions as a comparison. If the county sent many people to death row, the bar might look low.

Atlanta Victim Husband Soon Chung Park tried to perform CPR at the crime scene

According to Baumgartner data, this is likely the case in Orange County, California, which has sent more than 80 people to death row since the 1970s.The county is responsible for two of the state’s 13 executions in the last half century, and district attorney Todd Spitzer Opposition movement State moratorium on executions.

In a groundbreaking death penalty case in Oklahoma in 2015, Judge Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court argued that today’s death penalty could be unconstitutional because it is “arbitrarily imposed” by location. I have an opinion.He was sentenced to death Defense lawyer has raised enough funds Or Whether the judge faced political pressure..Some scholars use this phrase “Local muscle memoryDescribes how different factors can inform each other and create a feedback loop.

Judge Antonin Scalia despised the work that Breyer quoted as “Abolitionist Study.” But former Texas prosecutor Lynn Hardaway pointed out that geographical disparities can also be an issue when considering the justice of victims who “can’t afford to decide” where to be killed.

Some prosecutors have no problem with the disparity. “The prosecution is a regional issue and should be,” said Johnny Holmes, a former district attorney in Harris County, Texas, saying that Article 10 of the Constitutional Amendment delegates power to the state. It pointed out. “So I wouldn’t be on national television about this issue. It’s not anyone’s problem, but it’s the Texans problem.”

Holmes’ own office was famous for the culture of seeking the death penalty in the 1980s and 1990s as Houston became the “capital of the death penalty.” Holmes handed out a pen in the shape of a syringe, and his prosecutor, who won the death sentence, participated in the informal “Silver Needle Society.”

“If similar cases occur between jurisdictions, different judgments will be made,” said Shannon Edmonds, a staff lawyer at the Texas County Bar Association. Even if there are disparities at the macro level, it is at the micro level. “

In theory, some of the geographical disparities could be mitigated by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice can sentence federal crimes to death in any state. But instead of making the punishment more equitable, one study Geographical and racial disparities among those sentenced to federal death.

It’s too early to say whether a federal prosecutor would try to define any shooting as a federal crime, but there are many precedents. After the Boston Marathon bombings, they sought the death penalty for Johar Zarnaev, even though Massachusetts had no death penalty. .. They then sought the death of Dylann Roof for killing church attendees in South Carolina. You may have faced Same punishment in state court.

Those incidents happened under President Barack Obama. Expressed anxiety about the ultimate punishment..I’m still not sure About the Biden administration’s approach to the subjectBut he swore on the campaign path to work to finish the practice. It is certain that more mass shootings will test that promise.

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