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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Washington can lead on ending death penalty. But it must take one more step

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California’s new governor channelled his inner Jay Inslee last week when he shut down the largest death row in America. Gavin Newsom called the death penalty “inconsistent with our bedrock values” and said it “strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.” 
We’ll give Newsom credit for strong convictions, if not originality, and accept that the world seldom notices a West Coast social movement until it takes hold in California. 
Leaders in our state have long known capital punishment is an inherently wasteful, erratic and morally fraught practice — and that it runs counter to what it means to be a Washingtonian. 
Inslee set the tone in 2014, during his 1st term as governor, when he said no executions would proceed on his watch. The Washington Supreme Court was next to lay down a marker, unanimously ruling last fall that the death penalty is unconstitutional because it’s “arbitrary” and “racially biased.” 
All that remains is for lawmakers in Olympia to pas…

Assemblymember Levine Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Abolish California’s Death Penalty

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Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- Marin County) Wednesday led a statewide coalition of lawmakers in announcing the introduction of Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 12, to abolish the death penalty in California. 
As introduced, ACA 12 would end California’s failed death penalty in 2020 by prohibiting a criminal sentence of death and require the re-sentencing of existing death penalty cases to a sentence of lifetime imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The constitutional amendment is co-authored by 23 members of the Legislature. 
California’s death row is the largest in the United States with 737 condemned prisoners. Since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1978, California has executed only 13 individuals, costing taxpayers over $5 billion, nearly 18 times the cost of imprisoning a convicted person for life. African Americans and Latinos represent 67% of California’s death row population, leading criminal justice reform advocates to question whether race …

Colorado’s death penalty repeal in holding pattern. Vote margin appears close.

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Colorado’s Senate has for the second time this week postponed its floor debate on a bill to repeal the death penalty. The vote is rescheduled for April 1, after lawmakers iron out the state budget over the next 11 days. 
Passage of the bill seemed certain in the Democratic-controlled legislature until the past week and a half, when a few Senate Democrats quietly signaled they may not be supporting it. 
“It’s close, very close,” Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, told The Independent. 
Williams and others working to abolish capital punishment cite, among other reasons, studies showing it doesn’t deter violent crime; the high cost of taxpayer-funded legal work, and racial inequities in how capital cases are prosecuted in Colorado. African-Americans make up 4 % of Colorado’s population, yet all three of the state’s death-row inmates are black. Supporters of the death penalty have argued this session that the question of repeal should be referred to voters. Gov. Jared Polis has sa…

Mahathir seeks clemency for condemned man in Singapore

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Malaysia pleads for citizen as Singapore prepares to execute man convicted of murder Mahathir seeks clemency for condemned man in Singapore
Barring a last-minute pardon or stay of execution by Singapore authorities, Michael Garing will be put to death in the early hours of March 22. 
The 30-year-old Malaysian is 1 of 4 men who went on an armed robbery spree in the island republic in 2010 that ended in the murder of 41-year-old Shanmuganathan Dillidurai. 
Michael was given the death sentence for the crime. His family received notification last week to make funeral arrangements for him. 
The short notice has triggered 11th-hour efforts by human rights activists and Malaysian politicians including Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to make representations to save his life. 
The planned execution of its citizen in the neighboring country comes as Malaysia moves towards abolishing the death penalty. 
Singapore, in its bid to make the city state crime-free and safe, has kept its ruth…

Federal Court Orders Alabama to Release Execution Protocol

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In a victory for the media and advocates of open government, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled on March 18, 2019 that Alabama must disclose key portions of its highly secretive lethal-injection execution protocol to the public. 
The Associated Press, the Montgomery Advertiser, and Alabama Media Group had sued for access to the protocol, which came under intense scrutiny in the wake of Alabama’s failed attempt to execute Doyle Lee Hamm (pictured) in February 2018. 
Hamm, who has terminal cancer, challenged Alabama’s execution protocol. He argued that his veins had been compromised by his illness and executing him by lethal injection would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 
The courts permitted the execution to proceed after Alabama said it would not attempt to insert an IV-line in Hamm’s arms or upper extremities. 
On February 22, 2018, executioners tried and failed for 2 1/2 hours to set an intravenous executio…

“Texas 7” Member Contests “Law of Parties”

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A robbery ended in a police officer death while Patrick Murphy waited outside. Current Texas law holds him responsible.
If the state has its way, 57-year-old Patrick Murphy of "Texas 7" infamy will be executed on March 28, though he didn't commit the murder that landed him on death row.
Murphy, along with 6 other prisoners (including Joseph Garcia, who was executed in December), achieved the biggest prison escape in Texas history in 2000 when they broke out of a maximum-security facility near San Antonio armed with stolen weapons. 
The men committed several robberies across Texas before hitting a sporting goods store outside of Dallas on Christmas Eve, an act which went awry, leading to the shooting death of Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins. 
Murphy, however, maintains he did not wish to participate in the robbery and instead waited outside in the car. He, Garcia, and four others were caught in Colorado soon thereafter (the 7th committed suicide), and each was senten…

Clarence Thomas Breaks a Three-Year Silence at Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON — For the first 55 minutes of a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday about racial discrimination in jury selection, the justices seemed united in their view that a white Mississippi prosecutor had violated the Constitution in his determined efforts to exclude black jurors from the six trials of Curtis Flowers, who was convicted of murdering four people in a furniture store.
As Mr. Flowers’s lawyer concluded her argument, Justice Clarence Thomas asked his first questions from the bench since 2016. He wanted to know whether the defense lawyer in the sixth trial had excluded any jurors. The lawyer said yes.
“And what was the race of the jurors struck there?” Justice Thomas asked.
White, said the lawyer, Sheri Lynn Johnson.
Justice Thomas holds the modern record for silence on the bench. Before his questions in 2016, he had gone a decade without asking one. His explanations have varied, but he has said lately that the other justices asked so many questions that they were rude t…

This Iranian Lawyer Saved My Life. Now We Must Save Hers

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Shajarizadeh is a former Iranian political prisoner and women's rights leader who was freed by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. She is a Senior Fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
The lawyer who saved my life was just sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes in Iran.
I first met Nasrin Sotoudeh — an internationally renowned human rights lawyer, and our country’s foremost campaigner for women’s rights and against child executions — when I was being harassed and violently intimidated by Iran’s intelligence services. My crime? I had removed my headscarf in public and put the video online, in protest of Iran’s forced hijab law and the stifling control over women’s bodies and choices that it represents.
I finally felt empowered, being part of this White Wednesday movement in Iran, where every Wednesday women would courageously defy the regime in removing their headscarves, or wearing a white shawl in support of those who did, and which quickly grew into a …

India: After 13 years on death row, 5 men finally walk free: "The fear never leaves you"

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In an unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court, after restoring the appeals of the six convicts on death row, not only set aside their conviction and death sentence but also asked the state to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of them
Twenty-one-year-old Arjun Shinde points to a shed built with 12 bamboo sticks and eight asbestos sheets that he and his 17-year-old brother Krishna built last week. “Not all the sheets are new, some are old. But we wanted to have some semblance of a home when Pappa came back from prison. He was coming home after 16 years. He would have felt bad to find out that his family had no home while he was gone,” says Arjun.
In Bhokardan’s Kailash Nagar, stripped of lustre both by its parched backdrop and abject poverty, the shiny sheets of metal are conspicuous in their newness. The colony that is home to five extended families of the nomadic Vadar tribe, however, closed in to cheer the return of Ambadas Shinde, Bapu Shinde, Rajya Shinde last week but still …