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This is the last mass capture that could end up in execution
Helen H. Richardson / GettyBoth Robert Aaron Long and Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa were arrested last month for allegedly conducting high-profile shootings that killed large numbers of people. Both crimes have reinvigorated our national weapons debates. But only one of the men has a realistic chance of getting onto death row. Colorado, where Alissa is on trial, is one of 23 states that have abolished the death penalty. Georgia, where Long was arrested, is one of 27 countries where the punishment is still on the books. It is also among a smaller subset of 15 states that have actually executed someone in the past decade, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. This article was published in collaboration with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for the Marshall Project newsletter or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. And then there’s California, where Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez was arrested last week on suspicion of killing four people, including a child. The death penalty there is more symbolic than reality: California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered a moratorium on executions that has not been implemented in the state since 2006. However, the local prosecutors often put people on death row, which equates to a virtual life sentence. Orange County’s District Attorney Todd Spitzer has previously told reporters that he will consider moving to the death penalty for Gonzalez, who may be able to impose death sentences for federal crimes. The fate of these men is dictated by decision-makers ranging from local prosecutors to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and serve as the latest examples of the strange geographic differences in the American death penalty. The death penalty is disappearing: Although Georgia is still executing people, the entire state has only put one person on death row since 2015. It is now clear across the country that the question of whether you will receive the death penalty has less to do with what you did than with where you did it. In 2013, the Death Penalty Information Center reported that all state death row inmates across the country came from just 20 percent of the counties, and the majority of executions had been carried out by just 2 percent of the counties. Why these districts? Some are populous, which means there are more murders to be eligible for death sentences and larger tax bases that can handle the high cost of capital litigation. Last year, a group of scientists led by Frank Baumgartner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill compiled a database of more than 8,500 death sentences passed across the country since the 1972 era, and the early 20th century was also more likely To sentence people to death today. The results are in line with other studies that show racial differences on death row as well as higher chances of a death sentence when the victim is white. But perhaps the single most important factor is also the simplest: Who is Even if Colorado hadn’t abolished the death penalty last year, Alissa would almost certainly have avoided that fate. Despite accused of killing 10 people in a Boulder grocery store on March 22, voters and elected officials in the liberal Colorado county where he was arrested have long spoken out against the death penalty. The current district attorney has even urged President Joe Biden to end it at the federal level. Long is facing indictments in two different Georgia counties. He is believed to have killed four people in Fulton County, which includes a large urban part of Atlanta, and where last year all three district attorney candidates vowed never to face the death penalty. There has been a political move away from the death penalty in many major urban counties, including Philadelphia and Los Angeles. “What you are seeing is a great consensus among prosecutors that the death penalty is either immoral or not worth the money, or that it provides this is a limited public safety benefit,” said Amanda Marzullo, a Texas-based defense attorney and expert on death penalty policy. “There are really only about 25 counties in the country where the death penalty is regularly requested.” Long is also believed to have killed four people and wounded a fifth in Cherokee County who has never put anyone on death row. The county has a Republican District Attorney, Shannon Wallace, who has issued a press release pledging to pursue the killings “to the fullest extent possible”. It is not yet clear whether Long’s case is eligible for a death sentence. A Wallace spokesman would not rule out the possibility, stressing that the crimes are still under investigation. Much about the case – whether further charges will come, whether the victims’ families will come down publicly in one way or another – is still unknown and local observers predict a “tug of war” between prosecutors over the jurisdiction. “Prosecutors only seek death in a small fraction of cases,” said Anna Arceneaux, executive director of the Georgia Resource Center, which defends people on the state’s death row. “This leads to geographical differences not only between states, but also between judicial circles within Georgia.” She said prosecutors also need to consider Long’s mental health and background, and consider whether the cost of a death penalty trial could instead be used to “prevent further violence against Asian Americans.” Wallace’s office has no long record of death sentences. Scientists have found that the best predictor of whether a county will seek death is whether or not it has done so before. “As soon as a district takes the death penalty, it gets better,” said Baumgartner. Prosecutors use previous decisions as comparisons; If the county has put many people on death row, the bar seems to be lower. The Atlanta victim’s husband, soon to be Chung Park, attempted CPR on the scene. This is likely in Orange County, California, which has sent more than 80 people to their deaths since the 1970s, according to Baumgartner’s data. The county has been responsible for two of the state’s 13 executions in the past half century, and District Attorney Todd Spitzer has campaigned against the state’s moratorium on executions. In a landmark 2015 death penalty case from Oklahoma, US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his contradiction that today’s death penalty may be constitutional because it is “arbitrarily” imposed from place to place. He cited research suggesting that death sentences could be explained by whether defense lawyers were adequately funded or whether judges were exposed to political pressure. One scientist uses the term “local muscle memory” to describe how different factors inform each other and create feedback loops. Justice Antonin Scalia despised the works that Breyer cited as “abolitionist studies”. Former Texas prosecutor Lynn Hardaway pointed out, however, that geographic differences can also be an issue when it comes to justice for victims who do not “have the luxury of choosing” where they are killed. Some prosecutors agree with the differences. “Law enforcement is and should be a local problem,” said Johnny Holmes, former Harris County, Texas district attorney, noting that the 10th amendment to the constitution delegated power to the states. “That’s why I wouldn’t go on national television on this subject. It’s none other than the Texans. “Holmes’ own office was famous for its search after death culture in the 1980s and 1990s, when Houston became the ‘capital of the death penalty’. Holmes was handing out syringe-shaped pens, and his prosecutors, who had won death sentences, joined an informal Silver Needle Society. “In similar cases, you will receive different penalties between jurisdictions,” said Shannon Edmonds, attorney for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. “But if each of these local communities believes these sentences are a just outcome, then even if there are differences at the macro level, justice will be achieved at the micro level.” Can prosecute death penalty case for federal crimes. Rather than making punishment fairer, a study found that there are geographical and racial differences in who receives federal death sentences. It’s too early to say whether federal prosecutors will attempt to define one of the shootings as a federal crime, but there are plenty of precedents: after the Boston Marathon bombing, they sought death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, even though Massachusetts didn’t Has death penalty. Then they sought the death of Dylann Roof for killing several churchgoers in South Carolina when he could have faced the same punishment in a state court. These cases came under President Barack Obama despite expressing concerns about the ultimate punishment. We still don’t know much about the Biden administration’s approach to the issue, despite having committed on the campaign path to work to end the practice. More mass shootings will test that promise. Read more at The Daily Beast. Do you have a tip? Submit it to The Daily Beast here. Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.