Q&As: Kirsten Han, anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore

In the third of the DPRU's (Death Penalty Research Unit, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) series of Q&As with death penalty experts from around the world, Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore, tells DPRU Research Officer Jocelyn Hutton about her current work and about her involvement in the case of the recently executed Nagaenthran Dharmalingam . Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in relation to the death penalty? A lot of my contribution to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Singapore has to do with storytelling, since that fits with the skills that I have as a writer and journalist, and because abolitionist perspectives, or any in-depth coverage of capital punishment, are missing from the local government-controlled mainstream media. I write about death row prisoners and the experiences of their families, try to humanise this issue. For many Singaporeans, it’s so distant and so abstract that it’s very easy to dismiss; so

Arizona executes Robert Charles Towery

Robert Charles Towery
(CBS/AP) FLORENCE, Ariz. - Arizona death row inmate Robert Charles Towery apologized to the family of the man he killed and to his own family, said his life was one mistake after another and started crying before he was executed via lethal injection Thursday.

Towery, 47, convicted of killing Mark Jones while robbing his Scottsdale home in 1991, was the second inmate put to death in the state in eight days.

"I would like to apologize to Mark's family and friends for what I did to them. I would like to apologize to my family," Towery said. "So many times in my life I went left when I should have gone right and I went right when I should have gone left. It was mistake after mistake after mistake."

Towery, who lay strapped to a table with a sheet up to his waist, started weeping after he looked at his sister, his nephew and a friend in the room and said, "I love my family." Then he took a few heavy breaths and appeared to fall asleep.

The execution took nine minutes and Towery was declared dead at 11:26 a.m., following a delay of more than an hour, which prison officials attributed to a meeting between Towery and his attorneys and to difficulty in finding a good vein to inject him.

An injection in Towery's right arm was visible during the execution, but the execution team also injected him in the femoral vein, which is in the groin. It's unclear which injection delivered the fatal dose.

Towery's defense attorney, Dale Baich, expressed concern over the difficulty the execution team had with finding a vein and whether it caused Towery any unnecessary pain.

"Did they say how many times they stuck him?" Baich asked after the execution. "That will be something I will definitely try to find out."

Throughout the execution, his family members wept, sniffled and comforted each other. They declined to speak to reporters afterward.

Deacon Ed Sheffer of the Roman-Catholic Diocese of Tucson met with Towery earlier in the day and witnessed the execution. He described Towery as remorseful and prayerful in the morning, adding that he thinks Towery cried during the execution for the pain that he has caused others.

"He was trying to find peace," Sheffer said, adding that nothing was accomplished with Towery's execution.

"Life, in the end, is all sacred," he said. "To teach that killing is wrong by killing - that is impossible to reconcile."

In a statement, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said that Towery caused great suffering and that Jones' family finally has justice 20 years after Towery was found guilty.

Towery becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death in Arizona this year and the 30th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992.

Towery becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1285th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977. There are at least 6 more scheduled executions across the country this month.

Sources: CBS, AP, Rick Halperin, March 8, 2012

Arizona executed inmate's diary details final weeks

Convicted murderer Robert Towery was executed Thursday morning for the 1991 murder of Paradise Valley philanthropist Mark Jones.

Beginning Feb. 2, the day he was taken from his regular cell at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman in Florence and put on "Death Watch," Towery chronicled his life for his attorneys. There, he was housed with fellow Death Row inmate Robert Moormann, who was executed Feb. 29.

On March 7, his last night on Earth, Towery was taken a few miles down the road to "Housing Unit 9," in the main prison, where Arizona carries out executions by lethal injection. He made his last diary entry the next morning.

These are excerpts from that diary - Towery's words, his descriptions of the tedium, the rituals, the security, the indignities and the humanity, precisely as he wrote it - right up to the morning of his execution. Excerpt:

March 7
Hey now! I hope this, my last log finds you doing great! As for myself? Well, things are about as I imagined. They showed up at about 10:20 p.m. to strip me out. They did the whole naked dance and the squat and cough. Then they gave me a pair of boxers and a pair of deck shoes. I was grabbed on both sides, firmly, but not roughly. I was taken to the boss chair, and from there I was taken to a day cell, given a pair of socks, t-shirt, and a pair of pants with A BUTTON + ZIPPER!! Woo-hoo!!
Anywho, I was then put in a belly chain, shackles and then led out to a waiting van. Again, I went nowhere without hands on me. Even when they were putting the cuffs on, someone was holding my arm. We rode over here. Nice ride, and they kept up the small talk. It was cool watching one of the COs with what I assume was an iPhone.
Once arriving here, they ushered me in. All the while they are telling me they will be respectful and ask that I be. The warden warned me about my final words. I've been told that I should think about my statement and that he will (or someone will) rehearse it with me in the morning.

Click here to read the full article

Source: AZCentral, March 8, 2012

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