I was watching a documentary on Ted Bundy last night. He was convicted in 1979 and executed in 1989. Several people involved were complaining about how long it took to execute him.
Today the time between sentencing and execution can take 20 to 30 years or even more. My state does not have the death penalty, but a direct appeal usually takes about one year and a post conviction habeas corpus case takes about three years from circuit court to final disposition at the Supreme Court.
Let’s assume that in a death case, we double that time to more carefully look at the issues. We are at 8 years. A federal habeas under the AEDPA should be relatively quick as the bar for relief is so high. Let’s say that takes one year and the Court of Appeals takes another year. We are at 10.
Why does it take 20 to 30? What is going on? And although this may turn into a debate about the death penalty, and that’s fine, maybe we could keep it to a minimum. My take is that I support the death penalty in theory, but its applicability in the United States whereby death, if it comes, is 20 to 30 years later is really silly and takes away any deterrent effect the penalty may have.