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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

The Four Best Charts From the Supreme Court's Death-Penalty Ruling

Justice Stephen Breyer
Justice Stephen Breyer
Breyer makes the case against "unusual" punishments

When the Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor a controversial lethal-injection drug, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an impassioned dissent. He argued that not only was the specific drug combo unconstitutionally cruel, but the entire practice of lethal injection should be reconsidered. To back his argument, he brought charts.

"Cruel and unusual punishments" are expressly forbidden in the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The first three items above are Breyer's reasoning for why the death penalty is cruel: The methods are unreliable, the sentencing is arbitrary, and the years of uncertain waiting before execution are torturous. It's the fourth item—the declining use of capital punishment across the U.S.—that Breyer uses to argue the unusual nature of executions.

Argument #4. Geographic Concentration of Executions Is Narrowing

Of America's 50 states, 30 have either legally abolished executions or just stopped conducting them. Of the remaining 20 states, only 11 have had more than four executions in the past eight years. That, writes Breyer, is "a fairly rare event."

The geography of executions is even more concentrated than these numbers imply.


Counties With Five or More Death Sentences




Breyer argues that it's not the number of states that are still executing prisoners that matters but the consistent decline. In the past two decades, no state has reinstated the death penalty. Just three states—Texas, Missouri, and Florida—accounted for 80 percent of executions last year.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Bloomberg, Tom Randall, June 30, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

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