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USA | Solitary confinement on death row — a death before dying

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“It is inhumane, and by its design it is driving men insane. Solitary confinement makes the criminal justice system the criminal.” These words were testimony presented to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on solitary confinement June 19, 2012, by death row exoneree #138, Anthony C. Graves. (tinyurl.com/5cs4s59y) Graves spent 18.5 years wrongfully incarcerated in Texas, most of them on death row. Like all those on death row in Texas, Graves was housed in solitary confinement. “Death-sentenced prisoners in 12 states are automatically placed in indefinite solitary confinement, based solely on their death sentence. These prisoners spend between 21 and 24 [hours] per day in their cells, with very limited meaningful human contact. There is no possibility in any of these states for death-sentenced prisoners to have their placement reviewed, to be placed in a less restrictive custody level.” (Merel Pointier, “Cruel but not unusual: The automatic use of indefinite solitary confineme

Kenya | Mobile phone thief gets death penalty

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A man who blocked a motor vehicle using his motorcycle and robbed the occupants of mobile phones, cash and personal effects in Nairobi has been sentenced to hang. Michael Odhiambo was handed the death penalty by senior principal magistrate Philip Mutua of Kibera law courts after he was convicted for three counts of robbery with violence contrary to section 295 as read with section 296 (2) of the penal code. The convict had sought a lenient sentence claiming he is a family man with dependants but Mutua said the law provides for only one penalty – death sentence for the offence. Odhiambo had robbed Peter Kenyatta of Sh5000 and a mobile phone worth Sh14,000 on December 30, 2015. He also robbed John Karani and Peter Gichuhi of different amounts of money and mobile phones. He blocked their car claiming they had knocked down a bodaboda rider in a hit-and-run accident before terrorizing them while robbing them in broad daylight. He was joined by others including Stanley Amos Misiko who was ch

Record of exonerations is one of many reasons to eliminate Ohio's death penalty: Opinion

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I support repealing Ohio's death penalty. It's a costly system that wrongfully convicts people with alarming regularity, burns taxpayer money, harms murder victim family members, and does not serve as an appropriate response to violent crime. This issue is deeply important to me. Executing someone can’t be undone, and there have been too many cases where people convicted of crimes were later found innocent when new evidence was discovered. In Ohio, 11 men on death row have been exonerated since 1976, according to Ohioans to Stop Executions. This means for every five executions that took place, one person has been exonerated, one of the highest rates nationwide. The death penalty is not an effective deterrent to violent crime. In 2015, the murder rate was 25% higher in states that have the death penalty versus states that have no death penalty in place, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. We need to stop wasting resources on an ineffective death penalty and repl

Idaho judge weighs if governor has power over commutations

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BOISE, IDAHO -- A state judge is weighing whether Idaho's Constitution allows the governor to reject a parole board's recommendation when it comes to commuting a death sentence — a decision that may determine if a longtime death row inmate will be executed. 2nd District Judge Jay Gaskill heard arguments in Gerald Pizzuto Jr.'s case on Thursday.  Pizzuto, 66, has been on death row for more than three decades after being convicted for the July 1985 slayings of two gold prospectors at a cabin north of McCall. He was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection last year, but the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole agreed to grant him a clemency hearing.  Late last year, the board voted four to three to recommended that Pizzuto's sentence be changed to life in prison. In their recommendation, the parole board cited Pizzuto's poor health — he has terminal bladder cancer, heart disease and diabetes as well as decreased intellectual function — and said commutation would

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Two More Cases on Death-Row Prisoners’ Access to Federal Courts

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review two cases concerning the scope of death-row prisoners’ access to the federal courts in litigating the constitutionality of their convictions and sentences or the method by which states seek to execute them. On January 14, 2022, the Court granted certiorari in Nance v. Ward and Shoop v. Twyford . Nance is a Georgia death penalty case concerning the process by which prisoners may bring challenges to state execution practices. Shoop is an Ohio death penalty case concerning the extent to which federal courts may issue orders permitting the development of evidence relevant to the investigation and presentation of a state prisoner’s habeas corpus petition. The grants of review come as the Court is deciding appeals by Arizona prosecutors in Shinn v. Ramirez and Shinn v. v. Jones that seek to limit the evidence a federal court can consider in reviewing cases in which prisoners have been provided a series of ineffective lawyers in state court procee

Taiwan woman faces execution over fire that killed 46

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Taipei (AFP) – A Taiwanese woman faces the death penalty for allegedly starting the island's deadliest fire in decades in an attempt to get back at a boyfriend she suspected was cheating on her. October's inferno in the southern city of Kaohsiung raged through multiple floors of a dilapidated 13-storey apartment block for hours, killing 46 people. Authorities had said the blaze started when a resident, identified by her family name Huang, left unextinguished incense ashes on a sofa before leaving the building. Prosecutors on Friday indicted Huang, 51, on murder and arson charges, and said she should get the death penalty for deliberately starting the fire to get back at the boyfriend. "Huang intended to light a fire to cause an incident and embarrass her boyfriend, leading to a major disaster and the loss of many innocent lives," Kaohsiung district prosecutors' office said in a statement. "She has shown no remorse and her attitude is bad ... (prosecutors) rec

Papua New Guinea repeals death penalty 30 years after reintroduction

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Justice minister says state lacks ability to humanely execute those convicted, while PM says PNG is a ‘Christian nation’ Papua New Guinea has repealed the death penalty 30 years after reintroducing it, with prime minister James Marape saying it was “not an effective deterrent to serious crime”. Offences such as treason, piracy, murder – including sorcery related violence – and aggravated rape will now be punishable by life imprisonment without parole or parole after 30 years. The last execution in Papua New Guinea took place in November 1954 in Port Moresby. The country abolished capital punishment in 1970 but reintroduced it in 1991, though there have been no executions since then. In 2013, Papua New Guinea took steps to revive capital punishment, broadening the number of crimes to which it could be applied and also amending legislation to include harsher punishment for other crimes. Presenting the bill to parliament, justice minister Bryan Kramer said there were 40 prisoners on death

Japan | Slain man’s brother says execution is not the answer

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The man who murdered Masaharu Harada’s younger brother was executed years ago, yet it left a void in the older sibling’s life. “The issue (of capital punishment) is merely someone else’s problem for those who have no connection to such terrible crimes,” Harada says. “No one helps us, and my younger brother will never return. I was only filled with a sense of emptiness after the execution was carried out.” Since then, Harada, 74, has pushed relentlessly for the abolition of capital punishment in Japan. He also campaigns for “dialogue” between victims and inmates on death row in the belief it is the only way to trigger public debate on the pros and cons of capital punishment. Harada, a resident of Oita Prefecture, decried the latest round of hangings in Japan carried out on Dec. 21. The executions of the three men were the first under the Kishida administration and also the 1st in Japan in 2 years. RELATED |  Japan hangs 3 death-row inmates; 1st executions in 2 years Death penalty advoca

Iran | #SaveMohammadJavad: Iranian boxer sentenced to death; sports world in shock

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The death sentence issued against Mohammad Javad Vafaei-Sani comes just over a year after the execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari in September 2020, which prompted an international outcry and calls for Iran to be barred from sporting events. Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) NGO said that Vafaei-Sani, 26, was sentenced to death after being convicted of arson and destruction of government buildings. He had been detained in February 2020 and one of the charges against him was taking part in protests in November 2019 sparked by a sudden fuel price rise, it said. His lawyer Babak Paknia confirmed the verdict on Twitter and announced plans to appeal to the supreme court. IHR described Vafaei-Sani as a “champion” boxer in the eastern city of Mashhad where he was currently being held. RELATED | Iran’s regime sentences boxer to death for his peaceful protest vs. corruption Social media users urged the authorities to save his life, with the hashtag #SaveMohammadJavad trending on Tw

Iran | Political Prisoner Hanged in Zahedan, 2 Executed in Shiraz and Khorramabad

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On Monday, January 17, 2022, the clerical regime hanged a 33-year-old Baluch political prisoner, Abdolbaset Rigi, from Saravan, in Zahedan Prison after 4 years in prison on the charges of murder and “collaborating with anti-regime groups.”  He was arrested by the IRGC intelligence Ministry division in Saravan in 2018 and subjected to brutal torture. The clerical regime also hanged 2 prisoners in Khorramabad and Shiraz prisons on January 16 and 17, bringing to at least 33 people the number of prisoners executed during the past month. The Iranian Resistance urges the United Nations Secretary-General and all relevant UN bodies and the European Union and its member states to take urgent action to save the lives of death row prisoners, especially political prisoners.  The persecution of political prisoners has increased since the presidency of Ebrahim Raisi, the henchman of the 1988 massacre.  It is, therefore, imperative to refer the clerical regime’s systematic human rights violations to

Iran | Men Executed for Murder in Khorramabad, Zahedan

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); January 18, 2022: Moslem Aghamirzayi who was sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for murder, has been executed in Khorramabad Central Prison. According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, a man was executed in Khorramabad Central Prison on the morning of January 16. His identity has been established 30-year-old Moslem Aghamirazayi who was sentenced to qisas for murder. “Moslem was working painting buildings and was behind bars for two years. The murder he was charged with was committed when he was defending his sister’s friend during a fight,” an informed source told Iran Human Rights. At the time of writing, Moslem’s execution has not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights’ Annual Report on the Death Penalty, at least 211 of the 267 people executed in 2020 were sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for "premeditated murder." As there are no legal distinctions made between murder and m