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…

Pakistan sets execution date for man arrested as juvenile

Shafqat Hussain
Shafqat Hussain
The Pakistani government has issued a so-called Black Warrant for the execution of a man who was a juvenile when he was arrested and tortured into a 'confession'.

Death-row prisoner Shafqat Hussain was arrested in 2004 as a juvenile and sentenced to death on the basis of a ‘confession’ extracted after nine days of torture. The Pakistani government has attempted several times to issue orders for his execution since resuming hangings at the end of last year. A total of 99 prisoners have been killed since December, including 17 this Tuesday alone.

Pakistan's Interior Minister, Chaudry Nisar, had recently granted a stay of execution for Mr Hussain and ordered the government's Federal Investigations Authority (FIA) to investigate evidence of Mr Hussain's torture and juvenility, raised by lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) and Reprieve. However, last week, after concerns were raised about the neutrality of the probe, the Islamabad High Court ordered officials to appear at a hearing in early May to answer questions about their approach. Ahead of that hearing, lawyers for Mr Hussain have submitted evidence to the court of his forced confession and juvenility.

Pakistan has the largest death row in the world, with some 8,500 prisoners awaiting execution. Police torture and forced confessions are “systematic” in parts of the country, according to a 2014 report by Yale Law School and JPP. There are concerns that many death-row prisoners could have been forced into 'confessions', and that hundreds may have been arrested as juveniles.

Today's stay of execution sets Mr Hussain's hanging for May 6th.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “It is deeply disturbing that, in the face of concern from both the international community and the Pakistani courts, the authorities in Pakistan are sending ever more prisoners to the hangman’s noose. Given the strong evidence that some of these prisoners were illegally convicted as juveniles – and in Shafqat's case, tortured into a dubious ‘confession’ – the decision to continue issuing execution warrants is perverse. The Government of Pakistan must change course and admit it may have made a terrible mistake, before more lives are lost.”

Source: Reprieve, April 24, 2015

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