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USA | The Dreadful Failure of Lethal Injection

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Editor’s Note: This column is the product of a research collaboration with five Amherst College students, Mattea Denny, Nicolas Graber-Mitchell, Greene Ko, Rose Mroczka, and Lauren Pelosi. America’s death penalty continues to fall out of favor, a well-known fact. When the year started, eight executions were scheduled for February and March in five different states. But all of them are now on hold, and two of the three executions that were set for April already have been halted. While advocacy for the end of the death penalty has played some role, it is the decomposition of the lethal injection paradigm that has truly driven down execution numbers. We have now seen a decade of chaos and experimentation as death penalty jurisdictions tried to find reliable sources of drugs to carry out executions. States rolled out new drugs, but things did not go smoothly. The number of mishaps associated with lethal injection increased substantially. From 2010-2020, an already problematic method of ex

The Texas Law of Parties Snares Another Innocent Man

Jeff Wood petition
It only feels like only yesterday that people from all parts of the world were fighting to free Kenneth Foster from the deadly net only known to Texas called the "Law of Parties".

Kenneth Foster, Jr. (born October 22, 1976) was a prisoner formerly on death row in Texas. He was convicted of murdering Michael LaHood in August 1996. His conviction and execution were contested because he was convicted under a law of parties, not for physically committing the crime.

The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment only three hours before the execution was scheduled to take place on August 30, 2007. Kenneth Foster, Jr. will be eligible for parole in 2037. He is currently located at the Byrd Unit of the Texes Department of Justice to be reprocessed as a general population prisoner.

Though there may be some slight differences in their cases one fact stands out, just as Kenneth Foster, Jeff Wood did not physically commit the crime in question: murder.

Jeff Wood having no prior criminal record was convicted and sentenced to die for killing a convenience store clerk during a January 1996 robbery in Kerrville, TX under the "Law of Parties". The actual shooter (Jeff Wood's co-defendant) Daniel Earl Reneau was executed on 06/13/2002.

While a law of parties, or criminal responsibility for the conduct of another, is a common legal concept, Texas stands alone in the application of this strangely worded law. No other death penalty state has a statute that is applied as the Texas law of parties is. The Law of Parties was written in 1973 and became effective the following year, since its intent has been expanded by rulings of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals over the years. Since 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court has twice tackled the "law of parties" and its applicability in capital cases, with conflicting results.

The case of Jeff Wood has raised the concerns of hundreds of people in only a matter of weeks after Jeff Woods received an execution at which time his loved ones decided to go public with this injustice. Even citizen's that are clearly proponents of capital punishment believe the execution of Jeff Wood would be an injustice.

At a time when the opinion of the death penalty seems to be shifting it's difficult to comprehend how Texas would even consider executing a man that is clearly not guilty of committing the act of murder.

Sign the petition to Save Jeff Wood!

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