“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Court of Criminal Appeals Decision Signals Likely Shutdown of Executions in Texas

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a stay of execution to Heliberto Chi, following the U.S. Supreme Court's lead after it decided to review Kentucky's lethal injection procedures. Chi was scheduled to be executed on October 3. Attorneys for both the prosecution and defense said that the stay signals a probable slowdown, if not a complete shutdown, of executions in Texas until the Supreme Court issues a decision in the lethal injection case. Andrea Keilen, executive director of the Texas Defender Service, said she was encouraged "that the Texas Court did the right thing instead of waiting for another mandate from the Supreme Court." Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Steven Conder said he was not surprised by the court's decision in light of the Supreme Court's consideration of the issue.

Prior to the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling in the case, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to grant Chi relief, and Texas Governor Rick Perry refused to intervene in the case based on his belief that the state's lethal injection protocols are proper.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it would take the Kentucky case on September 25. That same night, Texas executed Michael Richard after defense attorneys were unable to file an appeal with the Court of Criminal Appeals. Despite being told of the defendant's efforts to appeal and of a computer problem causing delays in completing the appeal, the court closed at its regular time of 5 pm. The Supreme Court then declined to issue a stay because the Texas court had not made a ruling on it. Richard would probably have been granted a stay, based on the subsequent rulings, if the Texas court had agreed to stay open a little later to accept the appeal. On September 27, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to stay the execution of Carlton Turner, but the U.S. Supreme Court did so without explanation.
(Dallas Morning News, October 3, 2007).

Source : Death Penalty Information Center

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