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

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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. …

U.S. Supreme Court stays execution amid lethal injection concerns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the pending execution of a Virginia man convicted of beating a co-worker to death in 2001 for drug money.

It's the latest in a number of executions the court has blocked recently amid questions about the constitutionality of lethal injection -- the primary method of execution in all states with the death penalty.

Christopher Scott Emmett killed co-worker John Langley during a botched robbery in Danville, Virginia, by beating him to death as he slept, then used his cash to buy crack cocaine, according to documents filed in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

He was set to die at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The Supreme Court order stays Emmett's execution pending final disposition of the appeal by the 4th Circuit. But if the 4th Circuit allows the execution to proceed, another round of appeals to the high court would be expected.

The Supreme Court had rejected an earlier stay of execution in June, before agreeing to hear Kentucky cases on the constitutionality of lethal injection. Oral arguments in those cases will be held early next year.

The high court's agreeing to hear the cases, however, has prompted a flood of appeals from capital defendants seeking execution stays or new hearings as a result of the court's intervention.

The justices, meanwhile, have stayed a number of pending executions, presumably until the larger constitutional questions surrounding the method of execution are settled.

With 42 people executed in the United States so far in 2007, the concerns may lead to the fewest number of executions in a year since 1996, when 45 people were put to death in the U.S., according to The Associated Press.

On Friday, Georgia plans to execute Jack Alderman, convicted in the 1974 death of his wife. Alderman's attorneys have filed a last-minute appeal with the Supreme Court.

Source : CNN.com

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