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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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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…

Oklahoma Inmate the Focus of Renewed Attention as Execution Date Nears

Richard Glossip, Sister Helen Prejean
Richard Glossip, Sister Helen Prejean
"If Richard Glossip's case doesn't have enough holes to merit a 60-day stay from Gov. Mary Fallin, I don't know what does." Sister Helen Prejean

Richard E. Glossip was at the center of a major Supreme Court case this year, arguing along with two other men on Oklahoma’s death row that the state’s choice of lethal injection drugs could cause unconstitutional suffering.

The court rejected that claim in a 5-4 decision in June, clearing the way for Oklahoma to resume executions. Mr. Glossip’s is the first; he is scheduled to die on Wednesday.

Now Mr. Glossip, 52, is again a focus of attention, this time over whether he is guilty of the arranged murder in 1997 of the owner of a run-down motel he was managing.

Mr. Glossip’s supporters call his case a striking example of a repeating pattern in American capital punishment, in which a defendant receives inadequate legal representation early on and then, many years later, only as execution nears, higher-powered lawyers and civil rights groups become involved, raising important new issues at the 11th hour, when it may be too late.

In a drumbeat of media appearances, Mr. Glossip’s supporters are calling on Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma to delay his execution for 60 days while they explore what they say is important new evidence that they released on Friday and will discuss in a news conference in Oklahoma City on Monday.

In a new report commissioned by the defense team and released on Friday, Richard A. Leo, an expert on police interrogations, said that based on transcripts of Mr. Sneed’s questioning and testimony, officers had used techniques that were known to cause false confessions — like telling him he would be the scapegoat for the murder, planting the idea that Mr. Glossip was the mastermind and pressuring Mr. Sneed to say so.

Mr. Glossip’s appeals to the state and federal Supreme Court have been exhausted. His last hope is for Governor Fallin, a Republican, to stay his execution while his lawyers work to persuade a judge, or the state board of pardon and parole, that significant new evidence warrants a new hearing or clemency.


Source: New York Times, Erik Eckholm, September 11, 2015

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