Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

House Committee Votes To Expand Indiana Death Penalty

Indiana death chamber
The Senate responded to last year's murder in a Purdue classroom with a bill allowing the death penalty for shootings in schools or during worship services.

A House committee has approved one expansion of the death penalty, but put another on hold.

The Senate responded to last year’s murder of a Purdue teaching assistant in his classroom with a bill allowing the death penalty for school shootings or shootings during worship services.

But Public Defender Council executive director Larry Landis says the bill would break new and questionable legal ground by allowing the death penalty based not on the method of killing or the character of the killer or victim, but on where the murder took place.

“I don’t think arbitrarily saying if it’s a building it’s gonna be subject to the death penalty,” Landis says, “but if it’s a school gymnasium used for basketball, and somebody breaks in and shoots one of the basketball players, does that count? So you can get all kinds of issues where you say, ‘Wait a minute.’”

And Landis says an attempt to limit the bill’s impact to hours when classes or church services are actually in session instead could make the bill too vague.

Committee Chairman Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield, says he’ll decide next week whether to hold a committee vote.

The committee did unanimously endorse a bill allowing the death penalty for beheadings.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, says Indiana law allows the death penalty if a body is dismembered after death, but says a court has ruled that doesn’t apply if the dismemberment is the act of killing itself.

Approval by the full House would send the bill to Gov. Mike Pence.

Source: Indiana Public Media, April 2, 2015

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