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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. …

California bill bans unsupported jailhouse testimony

California lawmakers have voted to ban use of uncorroborated testimony from jailhouse informants that is used to convict criminal defendants.

The state Assembly on Tuesday approved a bill by Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, that would prohibit use of the unsupported testimony. The Senate passed the measure in May.

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said jailhouse informants frequently have an incentive to lie. He said Romero's bill would help prevent wrongful convictions.

But Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, said the bill would make it difficult to prosecute crimes committed in jails and prisons. He said jurors should be the ones to judge the validity of an informant's testimony.

The 80-member Assembly passed the bill with a bare majority, 41-37.

Source: Associated Press

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