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…

Hearing tomorrow on execution of mentally-ill Pakistani

A Pakistani court will tomorrow (8th Sep) decide whether the government should be allowed to execute a severely mentally ill man.

At a hearing in Lahore, lawyers for Khizar Hayat – who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and is detained in a hospital cell – will argue that his hanging would be illegal. In June this year, the courts halted an initial government plan to execute Khizar after seeing jail records documenting his severe mental illness. The documents include comments from doctors that Khizar – a former police officer sentenced to death for murder in 2003 – “is suffering from active symptoms of severe psychosis”.

The execution of mentally ill people is prohibited under Pakistani and international law, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pûras, has condemned plans for Khizar’s execution.

The hearing comes days after the Lahore High Court ordered prison authorities to explain how they would go about hanging Abdul Basit, a prisoner who is paralyzed from the waist down, and who permanently uses a wheelchair. The Punjab Home Department, which oversees the jail, refused to provide the court with details of its plans. Pakistan’s jail manual gives no instructions for the hanging of disabled prisoners, and lawyers for Basit believe that his hanging would constitute cruel and unusual punishment – violating the fundamental right to human dignity enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution. The Court has yet to issue its judgment.

Pakistan’s 8,500-strong death row is the largest in the world, and the government has hanged over 220 prisoners since resuming executions in December 2014. The authorities’ claims to be targeting only ‘terrorists’ has been repeatedly called into question, most recently by a Reuters investigation which found that the vast majority of those already killed had no links to terrorism.

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch, Deputy Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty Team, said: “Khizar Hayat is a severely mentally ill man - so much so that he is being held in a hospital cell. It is outrageous that the authorities are trying to rush through his execution, along with so many others. It’s abundantly clear that this wave of executions has little to do with combatting terrorism, and will do nothing to make Pakistan more secure. The government must recognise this, and stop these killings.”

Source: Reprieve, Sept. 7, 2015

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