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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Torture, flogging, amputations and executions continue in Iran: Amnesty International

Iran: A theocratic regime meting out medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran: A theocratic regime meting out medieval and barbaric punishments
The authorities in Iran have “severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, arresting and imprisoning journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others who voiced dissent, on vague and overly broad charges,” Amnesty International said in its annual report on violations of human rights in Iran.

“Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and was committed with impunity; prison conditions were harsh. Unfair trials continued, in some cases resulting in death sentences.”

“Women and members of ethnic and religious minorities faced pervasive discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities carried out cruel punishments, including blinding, amputation and floggings. Courts imposed death sentences for a range of crimes; many prisoners, including at least four juvenile offenders, were executed.”

Detainees and sentenced prisoners were denied adequate medical care; in some cases, the authorities withheld prescribed medications to punish prisoners, or failed to comply with medical doctors’ recommendations that prisoners should be hospitalized for treatment. The authorities also frequently subjected detainees and prisoners to prolonged solitary confinement amounting to torture or other ill-treatment.

"Prisoners were kept in severely overcrowded and insanitary conditions with inadequate food and exposed to extreme temperatures. This included prisoners in Dizel Abad Prison in Kermanshah, Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, Gharchak Prison in Varamin, and Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad. According to some former detainees, in Tabriz Central Prison, some 700 to 800 prisoners were held in three poorly ventilated, insanitary cells with access to only 10 toilets."

"Courts continued to impose, and the authorities continued to carry out, punishments that violate the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. These were sometimes carried out in public and included flogging, blinding and amputations. On 3 March the authorities in Karaj deliberately blinded a man in his left eye after a court sentenced him to “retribution-in-kind” (qesas) for throwing acid into the face of another man. He also faced blinding of his right eye."

The report by Amnesty said: “The authorities continued to use the death penalty extensively, and carried out numerous executions, including of juvenile offenders. Some executions were conducted in public.”

Source: NCRI, Feb. 25, 2016

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