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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

SC: Johnny Bennett, sentenced to death by an all-white jury despite undisputed evidence of racial bias

Johnny Bennett
Johnny Bennett
Columbia, S.C. - Below is a brief (4'12") film which illuminates the shocking racial injustice that permeates the capital sentencing system in the state of South Carolina and highlights those injustices specifically in the case of death row inmate Johnny Bennett.

On June 15th, 2016, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson appealed a decision granting a new sentencing hearing to Justice 360 client Johnny Bennett.

Wilson appealed despite undisputed evidence that racial bias infected the decision to sentence Mr. Bennett to death in 2000.

Mr. Bennett, who is African American, was sentenced to death by an all-white jury in Lexington County, South Carolina.

A juror who sentenced Mr. Bennett to death referred to Mr. Bennett as “just a dumb nigger.” At the sentencing hearing, Solicitor Donald Myers made numerous inflammatory references to Bennett’s race, calling him “King Kong,” a “caveman,” a “beast of burden,” and elicited other racially charged testimony in pursuit of a death sentence.

Myers also intentionally told the jury that Mr. Bennett previously had a white girlfriend, a fact completely irrelevant to the case.

Justice 360 is disappointed that Wilson has decided to defend such blatant racism and continues to relentlessly defend the racist actions that so many in the Palmetto State are striving to lay to rest.

The public and elected leaders in South Carolina have demonstrated that we are ready to put the racist relics of our past behind us, yet Attorney General Wilson continues to defend continued racism in the criminal justice system.

Source: Justice 360, July 7, 2016





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