Showing posts from January, 2009


U.S. | Execution by nitrogen hypoxia doesn’t seem headed for widespread adoption as bills fall short and nitrogen producers object

The day after Alabama carried out the first-known US execution using nitrogen gas, its attorney general sent a clear message to death penalty states that might want to follow suit: “Alabama has done it, and now so can you.” Indeed, in the weeks immediately following the January execution of Kenneth Smith, it appeared a handful of states were listening, introducing bills that would adopt the method known as nitrogen hypoxia or a similar one. Officials behind each framed the legislation as an alternative method that could help resume executions where they had long been stalled.

Iran hangs three

3 Iranians convicted of murder have been hanged in the south of the country, local newspapers reported on Saturday. 1 man convicted of killing 2 people and identified by only his 1st name Heshmat was hanged last week in prison in the town of Kazeroon, the government newspaper Iran said. 2 other men were executed on Wednesday in Adel-Abad prison in the southern town of Shiraz, the Etemad newspaper reported. The latest hangings bring to at least 41 the number of executions in Iran so far this year. Iran executed at least 246 people last year, according to an AFP count. Last year the Islamic republic stepped up its use of the death penalty in what it says is a bid to improve security in society. Amnesty International says Iran carried out more death sentences in 2007 than any other country apart from China which executed 317 people. Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery. Source: Agence France-Presse, Jan. 31, 2009

Iran: Juvenile offender Bahman Salimian at imminent risk of being executed

Juvenile offender Bahman Salimian is again at imminent risk of being executed. His family told his lawyer on or around 22 January that they had received notification of his execution, now scheduled to take place on 5 February in Esfahan prison. Bahman Salimian was sentenced to qesas (retribution) by Branch 33 of the Supreme Court for the murder of his grandmother, committed in 1996 when he was 15 years old. He was due to be executed on 28 August 2008, but the judicial authorities halted his execution three days before the execution date, to allow for further attempts to negotiate a pardon from his uncle, the only relative who still insists that Bahman Salimian should be executed. His two other uncles have pardoned him. Throughout his trial, Bahman Salimian repeatedly claimed that his 70-year-old grandmother had talked of committing suicide, and so he had killed her to minimize her suffering. On hearing Bahman Salimian's unusual motive for the murder the trial judge ordered that he

Hamas executes former B'Tselem field worker

January 7, 2009: a Palestinian human rights activist and journalist who used to work for the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem was executed in Rafah by Hamas on charges of "collaboration" with Israel. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip identified the man as Haidar Ghanem, 46, of Rafah. Ghanem, who was a field researcher for B'Tselem, was sentenced to death by a Palestinian Authority court in 2002 after being found guilty of passing on information to Israel that later resulted in the elimination of Fatah gunmen. The PA state security court had sentenced Ghanem, a father of two, after holding only two brief sessions. He was convicted of helping Israel kill four Fatah activists in Rafah. Sources: Jerusalem Post, 25/01/2009

Iran: six hanged

Four young men were hanged in the prison of Mashad (northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan) yesterday morning January 27, reported the Iranian daily newspaper Quds. The men who were not identified by name, were convicted of kidnapping and rape of a boy, according to the report. Iran Human Rights is investigating further the details. So far 39 people have been executed in the first 27 days of 2009. In another distinct incident, two men were hanged in the prison of Isfahan (central Iran) early this morning January 28, reported the state run news agency Fars news. The men were identified as Ahmad A. (age not given) and Reza A. (21), and both were convicted of murder. Reza A. (20) was convicted of a murder in September 2006. Depending on his exact date of birth, there is a possibility that Reza was a minor at the time of committing the alleged offense. Iran Human Rights is investigating Whether Reza was under 18 years of age at the time of committing the alleged offence. Source: IranPre

Texas: Virgil Martinez executed

Texas has executed a former Houston security guard for gunning down 4 people, including his ex-girlfriend and her 2 small children, during a 1996 shooting frenzy. 41-year-old Virgil Martinez was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m. Wednesday. Martinez was condemned for the slayings of 27-year-old Veronica Fuentes; her 5-year-old son, Joshua; 3-year-old daughter, Casandra; and an 18-year-old neighbor, John Gomez. Lawyers for Martinez had hoped to get the punishment delayed, raising questions he may be so mentally ill that he could be disqualified for execution. A state court denied the request. Martinez becomes the 4th Texas inmate executed this year and the 1st of 2 on consecutive nights this week in the nation's most active death penalty state. He becomes the 427th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982, and the 188th overall to be put to death since Rick Perry became governor in 2001. Martinez becomes the 6th condemned inma

Texas: Ricardo Ortiz executed

A high-ranking Texas prison gang member whose violent history included an attack on an inmate with a homemade spear was put to death Thursday night for fatally injecting a fellow prisoner with an overdose of heroin. Ortiz, 46, expressed love for his family and thanked them for their support in the moment before he was executed. "Stay strong," he said, although he had no personal witnesses in the death chamber. "I'm at peace. I love you and my kids. See you." 9 minutes later, at 6:18 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead. Ortiz was condemned for the slaying of Gerardo Garcia, 22, who was killed at the El Paso County jail more than 11 years ago. The slaying was in retaliation for snitching on Ortiz and so he couldn't testify against Ortiz about bank robberies the pair were suspected of carrying out, authorities said. Ortiz sought to put off the execution on the grounds that he should get federal money to pay for legal representation to file a state clemency request

Japan hangs four

Japan has hanged four convicted murderers, despite international calls for it to stop executions. Japan is the only industrialised country other than the United States to enforce the death penalty. The four executed prisoners had all been convicted of murder and each was given only last-minute notice that they were heading to the gallows. Japan is stepping up its hangings of death row prisoners and last year it executed 15, the highest number in three decades. While the death penalty has strong public support in Japan, international human rights groups have called on it to stop the executions. Amnesty International says it will issue a protest to the Japanese Government over the latest hangings. Source: ABC, January 29, 2009

Texas hiring a Maryland arson expert to examine the evidence in the case of executed inmate Cameron Todd Willingham.

In 2004, four fire experts told the Chicago Tribune that the fire that had sent Cameron Todd Willingham to Death Row and later to his execution in Texas might have been an accident rather than a crime. Nearly two years later, a panel of four other experts who reviewed the case for the Innocence Project came to a similar conclusion, saying the State of Texas had convicted and executed Willingham based on forensic evidence that no longer was considered scientifically valid. Now what may be the final verdict on the fire, and on Willingham's execution, will be delivered by a Maryland expert, who will examine the evidence in the first state-sanctioned inquiry into a Texas execution. Fire scientist Craig Beyler has been asked by the Texas Forensic Science Commission to conduct an independent review of the case's forensic evidence. "He appears to be one of the pre-eminent people in the fire and arson investigation field," Samuel Bassett, an Austin attorney and commission mem

Saudi Arabia: Turkish barber returns home after death penalty pardon

Sabri Bogday, a Turkish barber who was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for swearing at God and his Prophet but was later pardoned, returned to Turkey on Tuesday morning. Bogday, 30, was welcomed at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport by his wife, Muazzez, two year old son, Suleyman, and mother, Hadra. Bogday's sentence was overturned after he repented and asked God for forgiveness. More on this story ... Source:, January 28, 2009

Reprieve for Larry Swearingen

A federal appeals court on Monday stopped this week's scheduled execution of a man condemned for abducting, raping and strangling a 19-year-old suburban Houston woman 10 years ago. Larry Swearingen, 37, faced lethal injection Tuesday evening for the death of Melissa Trotter, whose body was found Jan. 2, 1999, in the Sam Houston National Forest south of Huntsville. The discovery came 25 days after she was last seen leaving the library at Montgomery College near Conroe. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reprieve came in response to questions from Swearingen's attorneys about the timing of Trotter's death. Swearingen insisted he couldn't have killed the woman because he was in jail for outstanding traffic warrants when newly evaluated forensic evidence indicates her body was dumped in the woods not far from his home. Swearingen's lawyer, James Rytting, said he was told of the ruling by the court but hadn't seen it at midday Monday. "I can't jump up and

Larry Swearingen granted a stay

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A federal appeals court has stopped this week's scheduled execution of a man condemned for abducting, raping and strangling a 19-year-old suburban Houston woman 10 years ago. Larry Swearingen, 37, faced lethal injection Tuesday evening for the death of Melissa Trotter, whose body was found Jan. 2, 1999, in the Sam Houston National Forest south of Huntsville. The discovery came 25 days after she was last seen leaving the library at Montgomery College near Conroe. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the reprieve Monday after Swearingen's attorneys raised questions about the timing of Trotter's death. Swearingen insisted he couldn't have killed Trotter because he was in jail for outstanding traffic warrants when newly evaluated forensic evidence indicates the woman's body was dumped in the woods not far from his home. Source: Houston Chronicle, Jan.26, 2009

Texas: Three lethal injections in a row

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of [this] week Texas plans 3 lethal injections in a row. And in each case, there are troubling questions. On Tuesday, Larry Swearingen is scheduled to be executed for a crime that probably took place while he was in jail. Read more on Texas Death Penalty Blog . On Wednesday, Virgil Martinez is scheduled to be killed for shooting to death an ex-girlfriend, her friend, and two children. An awful crime. But Martinez was arrested at a mental hospital where he had admitted himself for hearing voices ordering him to kill, and jurors were never told that he suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). The Brazosport Facts published a good overview of the Martinez case in 2006. According to federal court records accessed by the Texas Civil Rights Review, a magistrate judge concluded in 2005, and a federal district judge agreed in 2006, that the trial attorney for Martinez could have made better use of medical evidence about TLE and "post-seizure aggressi

Iran: six hanged

Iran executed 6 people convicted of drug trafficking and other crimes in a prison in the northeastern province of Khorasan Rasavi, local media reported on Sunday. All the convicts were executed by hanging in a prison in one of the province's centers, the media reported without saying when the executions took place. Since the start of this year, Iran has executed around 35 people. Iran holds the 2nd place in the world after China by the number of executions. Iran rejects accusations by the West that it is violating human rights. Source: Ria Novosti, January 26, 2009

Time running out for Larry Ray Swearingen

The question isn’t whether Larry Ray Swearingen is a liar, or a cheater, or a schemer, or even a rapist. There is ample evidence to suggest he is all of these things. The question is whether he is a murderer. Or, more precisely, whether he is guilty of the 1998 capital murder for which he is set to die in five days. There is ample evidence to suggest that he is not. For starters, Swearingen was sitting in a jail cell on an unrelated charge at the time Melissa Trotter’s lifeless body was dumped in the Sam Houston National Forest. Trotter, a 19-year-old student at Montgomery College in Conroe, went missing on Dec. 8, 1998. After an extensive search, her body was found in the forest Jan. 2. She’d been strangled with one leg of a torn pair of panty hose. Swearingen, a convicted rapist from Willis, became an obvious suspect. The married electrician had been spotted with Trotter. Some of his co-workers said she had angered him a couple of days before her disappearance when she sto

10 people were hanged in Tehran's Evin prison today, Jan. 21

Iran Human Rights, January 21: Ten men were hanged in Tehran’s Evin prison early this morning reported the Iranian state run enws agency ISCA news. According to Fars news agency, execution of one man was postponed for one month, since the family of the man he was convicted of murdering, were not present. He watched hanging of the other 10 men before being taken to his cell, said the report. According to a later report by ISCAnews, those executed today were identified as: Mehdi (25), Firouz (27), Yadollah (33), Safar Ali (also named Kianoosh) (26), unidentified person convicted of murdering a man called Bakhtiyar, Behrooz (age not given, convicted of a murder in 1992), Majid (age not given), Arash (age not given), Safi (age not given), Wasim (age not given). IranPressNews , January 21, 2009 --------------------------------------------- A possible minor offender among yesterday executions Iran Human Rights, January 22: One of the 10 men executed in Tehran’s Evin prison yesterday, was a 2

Iran : 19 people executed in 48hrs

January 21, 2009: According to the Iranian media 19 people were hanged in Iran in the last two days. Ten men were hanged in Tehran’s Evin prison early this morning, Iranian state run news agency ISCA reported. The report didn’t identify any of the men by name, but wrote that they were all convicted for murder. According to Fars news agency, execution of one man was postponed for one month, since the family of the man he was convicted of murdering, were not present. He watched hanging of the other 10 men before being taken to his cell, said the report. Nine people were hanged yesterday in three different cities in Iran. According to the Iranian daily newspaper Quds, one man identified as Gholam was hanged in the Ghezal Hesar prison of Tehran. He was convicted of selling drugs inside the prison according to the report. Six people were hanged in the prison of Yazd reported the state run news agency ISNA. These people were identified as "Ch. R." convicted of armed robbery, "

Texas: Reginald Perkins executed

A convicted rapist and suspected serial killer was executed Thursday evening for strangling and robbing his stepmother in Fort Worth more than 8 years ago. Asked by the warden if he would like to make a statement, Reginald Perkins responded, "I already made my statement. Appreciate it. Love y'all." About an hour before he was executed, Perkins had summoned a prison official to his cell and gave him a statement professing his innocence. "They didn't link me to nothing. I did not kill my stepmom," he said. "I loved her. Texas is going to kill an innocent man." On the other deaths, Perkins said, "There's other suspects they questioned besides me. They let them go. I don't know what they're talking about. I can't tell you who killed them. I ain't killed nobody. I've never killed." As the drugs were being administered, he said, "I can fill it going in." Just before the drugs took effect, he looked at

Oklahoma: Man convicted in 1995 Tulsa murder executed

A man convicted of beating a convenience store clerk to death with a baseball bat nearly 14 years ago has been put to death. Darwin Demond Brown was pronounced dead at 6:11 p.m. Thursday after receiving a lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The 32-year-old Brown and 3 other men were convicted of killing Richard Yost during the February 1995 robbery of a QuikTrip store in Tulsa. Yost's bound and battered body was discovered by a customer in the store's walk-in refrigerator in a pool of blood, milk and beer. The state Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency for Brown on Jan. 7, and Brown's attorney, James Hankins, said his client had exhausted all of his appeals. Hankins had not denied that Brown participated in the killing, but appealed to the parole board to spare his client's life because he was just 18 years old when the killing happened and two of Brown's co-defendants were the "primary movers" behind the robbery. But prosecutors argued the

Obama signs executive order to close Guantanamo Bay

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama issued four executive orders Thursday to demonstrate a clean break from the Bush administration on the war on terror, including one requiring that the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed within a year. A second executive order formally bans torture by requiring that the Army field manual be used as the guide for terror interrogations. The order essentially ends the Bush administration's CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods. A third executive order establishes an interagency task force to lead a systematic review of detention policies and procedures and a review of all individual cases. A fourth executive order delays the trial of Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident who has been contesting his detention for more than five years as an enemy combatant in a military brig without the government bringing any charges against him. The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay became a lightning rod for critics who char

Texas: Frank Moore executed

Condemned prisoner Frank Moore was executed Wednesday night for a double killing exactly 15 years ago in San Antonio. "Self-defense is not capital murder," Moore said from the death chamber gurney, repeating his unsuccessful claims to the courts to stop the punishment. Moore then addressed his wife and relatives, thanking them for their support and expressing his love. He did not address relatives of his victims, who also watched through a window a few feet from him. 9 minutes after the lethal flow of drugs began, he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. CST. Moore, 47, insisted he shot Samuel Boyd, 23, and Patrick Clark, 15, in self-defense as they were trying to run him down outside a bar where they had been involved in an earlier altercation. About an hour before the scheduled punishment, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals that sought a reprieve based on affidavits recently obtained by Moore's lawyers from 3 eyewitnesses who supported his self-defense claims. Testimony

Iran: two sisters spared stoning

The Iranian judiciary is to free 2 sisters sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, after they were cleared of the charges in a retrial, a press report said today. Sisters Zohreh, 28, and Azar Kabiri, 29, each mother of 1, were arrested in February 2007 after the husband of one of them presented a film allegedly showing them with other men. Last week "Tehran penal court judges acquitted the 2 sisters of adultery in a retrial and they will be freed soon'', the reformist Etemad daily said. In August 2007 the 2 received 99 lashes for an "illegitimate relationship'' and were then freed. They were later rearrested and sentenced in November 2007 to death by stoning for adultery. The verdict was halted after Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi said the video was not sufficient evidence for the ruling and that their living conditions had not been considered in the trial, the report said. Their lawyer argued that the defendants could not be

Iran hangs 12

Iran has hanged 12 men in 2 days in different cities for offences of murder, rape, drug trafficking or armed robbery, media reported on Wednesday. Three men identified only as Alireza, Hassan and Mohammad Hassan were hanged in the prison of the province of Yazd on Wednesday for drug trafficking, the ISNA news agency reported. In a group execution in Yazd prison, six men died on Tuesday after being convicted for murder, rape, armed robbery or drug trafficking, the Fars news agency reported. Jan Mohammad M., 41, and Reza M., 34, were put to death in a prison in the province of Isfahan on Tuesday for drug trafficking, Fars said. Another convicted drug trafficker, identified only as Gholam, was hanged on Tuesday in a prison in the northwestern city of Karaj, the Irannewspaper reported. Fars also reported that 11 men were lined up to be sent to the gallows on Wednesday morning in the Evin prison of Tehran, but it did not say whether the executions were carried out or suspended. The hangings

Writing for Their Lives: Death Row USA

IF I had nothing more to do each day than consider matters of life and death and all that happened in between from the confines of an 8ft x 8ft cell then I'd probably be a much better writer. I'd probably also go insane and hope to die before someone else killed me. The madness of death row in the USA is described in graphic detail in this collection of testimonies, short stories and poems. In addition to contributions from prisoners, included are accounts from people employed in the business of killing: defence lawyers, psychiatrists, spiritual advisers, abolitionists and executioners. The journey to a horrific and excruciating death is documented from a capital trial to the point of execution through the testimony of the prisoners themselves and those who love, watch, listen and write to them. It is an uncomfortable journey, however far removed you may be from the ultimate destination when you embark on it. Whether it is the careless humiliations heaped upon Martin Draughton&

Evidence Is Valid, Despite Police Error: Rights Were Not Violated, Justices Rule

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that evidence obtained from an unlawful arrest based on careless record keeping by the police may be used against a criminal defendant. The 5-to-4 decision revealed competing conceptions of the exclusionary rule, which requires the suppression of some evidence obtained through police misconduct, and suggested that the courts commitment to the rule was fragile. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said that the exclusion of evidence should be a last resort and that judges should use a sliding scale in deciding whether particular misconduct by the police warranted suppressing the evidence they had found. "To trigger the exclusionary rule," Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "police conduct must be sufficiently deliberate that exclusion can meaningfully deter it, and sufficiently culpable that such deterrence is worth the price paid by the justice system." That price, the chief justice wrote, "is, of cou

Saudi Arabia: Juvenile offender executed

January 15, 2009: a Saudi Arabian minor convicted of murder was beheaded by the sword in the south-western border town of Abha. Moshabab bin Ali al-Ahmari used a machine gun to kill compatriot Said bin Abdulrahman al-Ahmari because of a dispute between them, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency. The statement did not explain the nature of the dispute. Al-Ahmari was a minor when he was sentenced. The statement said his execution was delayed until he came of age. It is not clear when he was sentenced. Source: Agence France Presse,, 15/01/2009

Alabama: James Callahan executed

James Harvey Callahan was executed at 6:24 p.m. today [Jan. 15, 2009] at Holman Correctional Facility for the 1982 kidnapping, rape and murder of a Jacksonville woman. He had been on Alabama's death row almost 26 years. Callahan's attorneys had sought a stay today from the U.S. Supreme Court. It was rejected. Almost a year ago, the high court granted a reprieve only an hour before his scheduled execution. State prosecutors had said Callahan's appeals were exhausted. Gov. Bob Riley's office agreed, saying the governor had no plans to intervene. "Tonight, justice will finally be served," his statement said. Callahan was twice convicted for the Feb. 3, 1982, slaying of Rebecca Suzanne Howell, a 26-year-old Jacksonville State University student abducted from a coin-operated laundry. The victim's sister, Donna Wood released a statement that said, "This ordeal has never been anything but sad and difficult for everyone involved. She said it was unfortunate

Iran: Adulterer sentenced to death by stoning escapes pit and is freed

A MAN convicted of adultery has escaped death by stoning in Iran after dragging himself out of the pit he had been buried in for the punishment an act that means he is free under Islamic law. 2 other male adulterers were killed by the barbaric method in the same incident, which took place in the north-eastern city of Mashhad last month. The stonings were confirmed yesterday by a spokesman for the judiciary, which says it is trying to have the widely condemned punishment abolished. Ali Reza Jamshidi said: "Given that the third person managed to pull himself out of the hole, the verdict was not carried out." The stonings were in defiance of repeated calls from the international community for the Islamic Republic to abolish the practice. John Watson, Amnesty International's Scotland programme director, told The Scotsman: "Execution by stoning is a grotesque and unacceptable penalty which Iran should abolish immediately. We urge the authorities to heed our calls and thos

Iran Stones 2 Men to Death, 3rd Flees: Sentences Carried Out Despite Judicial Moratorium in 2002

2 men convicted of adultery in the northeastern city of Mashhad were stoned to death in December, but a 3rd convicted man escaped while the punishment was being carried out, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said Tuesday. Ali Reza Jamshidi also said a moratorium on the controversial punishment, announced in 2002 by the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, was an advisory rather than an edict. "Judges can't act based simply on advisories by the head of the judiciary, since judges are independent," he said, according to the semiofficial Iranian Students' News Agency. The European Union, the United Nations and human rights advocates inside and outside Iran have decried stoning, which is enshrined in the country's Islamic legal code as a punishment for homosexuality and adultery. Condemned men are buried in sand up to their waists, and women up to their necks, and are pelted with stones until they die or manage to escape. Under the law, a con

Texas: executions resume

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A man convicted of murdering three people during a night of robberies more than 13 years ago in Fort Worth was put to death Wednesday evening in the nation's first execution of the year. In a brief final statement, Curtis Moore, 40, thanked a woman who administers to the spiritual needs of death row inmates. "I want to thank you for all the beautiful years of friendship and ministry," he told Irene Wilcox as she watched through a window a few feet from him. Moore never acknowledged a man who survived his attacks or five relatives of the three who died. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. He exhausted his appeals in the courts and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this week refused a clemency petition that said he could be mentally retarded and ineligible for the death penalty. Courts earlier rejected similar mental retardation claims. Moore was the first of six prisoners scheduled to die this month in Texas, the nation's most active de

Singapore: Harvesting organs from death row "donors"

Singapore's Changi Prison In his 12 years of practice, urologist Dr Lim (not his real name) has harvested kidneys from death row inmates a total of 6 times. As 1 of the 15 doctors in the Ministry of Health's renal transplant team, he is occasionally rostered for duty whenever there are cadaveric kidneys to be harvested. While most of the kidneys come from brain-dead stroke patients in hospitals, members of the renal transplant team are sometimes required to make a trip to Changi Prison to harvest the kidneys of a prisoner to be hanged. The harvesting is a voluntary service and doctors do not get paid, he said. If a doctor is not available, he will be replaced by another assigned by a transplant coordinator. Since hangings at Changi Prison take place on Fridays at 6am sharp, the 2 renal transplant surgeons - a junior and senior doctor rostered - will have to be at the prison by 5.30am. Said Dr Lim, who was last rostered for duty a year ago: 'By 6am, the whole

California: We all pay the price for death penalty

GOV. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared that we are facing "financial Armageddon," yet California continues to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a dysfunctional death penalty. This year's budget already makes deep cuts to drug treatment, struggling schools and mental health programs. The very real prospect of a $40 billion budget deficit by June 2010 may require even more cuts. This puts every one of us at risk. We are cutting the very programs that help reduce violent crime and without them, violent crime may well increase. Meanwhile, we continue to waste more than $250 million on an ineffective and broken death penalty, and it's a price we can no longer afford. In these times of unprecedented budget shortfalls and financial crisis, it's important to understand how the state is spending that $250 million on the death penalty: - $117 million is for the extra costs of death row housing, attorneys for the prosecution and defense, and court costs. Th

Saudi man beheaded

January 11, 2009: Authorities in Saudi Arabia beheaded a Saudi man convicted of killing a fellow national after a dispute. An Interior Ministry statement says Khaled Ahmad was executed in the northern town of Arar. He was convicted of stabbing to death his compatriot Sultan al-Ruwaili in an argument. The statement did not explain the nature of the dispute. Source: Ap, 11/01/2008

Saudi Arabia: former policeman executed

January 9, 2009: A traffic police officer in Riyadh was executed after he was convicted of kidnapping an expatriate man, raping him and taking away his money at gunpoint, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The ministry identified the criminal as Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Oqail, who used the ministry's vehicle for the purpose. He was also accused of taking the mobile phone of the expatriate and driving under the influence of liquor, the statement said. During investigation, Al-Oqail acknowledged the crimes he had committed and was then passed to the Shariah Court to give its verdict. The court decided to execute the man as a deterrent and lesson to others while the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Judiciary Council ratified the verdict, which was carried in Riyadh in presence of a number of witnesses. The Interior Ministry said it would not allow anybody to undermine the Kingdom's security and stability and would punish those who try to attack or kill peacefu

Iran: two public hangings

January 8, 2009: Two men have been hanged in public in the Chamran square of Jahrom (in Fars province, southern Iran), reported the local news website Jahromnews. This site indicated the hanging might have taken place on January 7. The men were convicted of murder according to the report. Jahromnews published pictures from the hanging and according to this site the men who were hanged were identified as Mojtaba Roozgar (age not given) and Mohammad Hossein Roozgar , 24, convicted of a murder 5 years ago. Source: Iran Human Rights, 13/01/2009

Child rapist re-sentenced to life

GRETNA (AP) — A man whose conviction led the U.S. Supreme Court to ban the death penalty for child rape last year has been re-sentenced and will spend life in prison. During a brief hearing Wednesday, 44-year-old Patrick Kennedy appeared in shackles before state District Judge Ross Ladart to receive the mandatory life term. Kennedy, of Harvey, had been convicted of aggravated rape of a juvenile under age 12 and was sentenced to die under a Louisiana law that allowed such punishment for that crime. The U.S. Supreme Court considered whether the death penalty is a disproportional punishment for child rape. Its 5-4 decision, handed down June 25, banned the punishment, effectively eliminating Louisiana’s statute as well as similar ones in five other states. Source:, January 13, 2009