FEATURED POST

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

Image
Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Judge Accepts Challenge of Law in Death Penalty Case

Donald Fell
Donald Fell
In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford said there was "strong disagreement" in "judicial and scholarly" circles about the legality of the death penalty

The federal judge hearing the death penalty retrial of a Vermont man charged with killing a Rutland supermarket worker more than 16 years ago said he was open to hearing a constitutional challenge of the federal death penalty law.

In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford said there was "strong disagreement" in "judicial and scholarly" circles about the legality of the death penalty.

"Preliminarily, and with an open mind about the arguments recently made by both sides, the court is looking at the constitutional challenge to the death penalty," Crawford wrote in the entry order dated Tuesday.

Crawford said that cases from the 1970s identified and tried to correct problems with the death penalty but "40 years later the question of a systemic violation of the Eighth Amendment remains."

Crawford scheduled a hearing for Feb. 26 so defense attorney for Donald Fell and prosecutors can discuss the details of the case and be ready for a hearing on the issues this summer.

Robert Dunham of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center said Crawford's ruling was an important development in the case.

"Judges don't grant evidentiary hearings if they don't have concerns about the issues," Dunham said.

Fell was arrested in 2000 shortly after the abduction and killing of Terry King, a North Clarendon grandmother. At the time, prosecutors decided the case should be heard in federal court. Vermont has no death penalty.

In 2002, the judge then hearing the case declared the federal death penalty unconstitutional. Two years later, an appeals court overturned that ruling, allowing the original trial to go forward.

Fell was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to death for the abduction and killing of King. A judge ordered a new trial because of juror misconduct. A second trial is scheduled for February 2017.

Last fall, Fell's attorneys asked the court to rule the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Source: necn, Feb. 10, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

North Carolina death row becoming frail, aging

Trump calls for death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer

California: Riverside County leads U.S. in death penalty sentences, but hasn’t executed anyone in 39 years

Bali jailbreak: US inmate escapes notorious Kerobokan prison

Georgia executes Emmanuel Hammond

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

Law of Parties: Prosecutor who put Jeff Wood on Texas’ death row asks for clemency

Iran: Two Prisoners Hanged In Public

Execution date set for convicted killer in Alabama who is terminally ill

Iraq hangs 38 members of Daesh, al-Qaeda