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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. …

China businesswoman gets death sentence for fraud

BEIJING — A Chinese businesswoman was sentenced to death Friday for cheating investors out of $56 million — the latest case in the country's struggle against widespread corruption.

The 28-year-old Wu Ying started out a decade ago with a single beauty salon but eventually built up a holding group, Bense Holdings, that was known around the country, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The report said Wu collected the $56 million from investors over two years and was arrested in 2007.

Video posted online of her sentencing had the petite, ponytailed Wu showing little emotion as she was led into the courtroom.

In China, the death penalty is used even for nonviolent crimes such as corruption or tax evasion. The country's highest court, which reviews all death sentences, this year called for it to be used less often and for only the most serious criminal cases.

The Intermediate People's Court in Jinhua city, eastern Zhejiang province, said Wu used the money for personal use and operating costs and to pay off loans.

The Xinhua report said Wu confessed but then retracted her confession in April.

Rights group Amnesty International has said China put at least 1,718 people to death in 2008.

Source: The Associated Press, December 18, 2009

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