FEATURED POST

Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Image
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…

Ronald Smith, Canadian On Montana Death Row, Pleads For Trudeau Government's Help

Montana's death chamber
Leroy Kirkegard, the warden of Montana State Prison, exits the executioner's
entrance in the rundown trailer that serves as the state's execution chamber
in this photo taken Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo: Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)
DEER LODGE, Mont. — A Canadian on death row in Montana has been living on borrowed time since admitting he murdered two young men more than three decades ago, but he says he has renewed hope he might be able to return home with the support of Justin Trudeau's government.

"I'm ready to come home,'' said Ronald Smith, 59, in an interview with The Canadian Press last week at Montana State Prison. "If you're willing to take me back, I'm willing to come home.''

Smith, who is originally from Red Deer, Alta., has been on death row since 1983 for fatally shooting Harvey Madman Jr. and Thomas Running Rabbit while he was high on LSD and alcohol near East Glacier, Mont.

It's a statement Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion issued in February following a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that is giving Smith new hope.

"If the government of Canada does not ask for clemency for every Canadian facing the death penalty, how can we be credible when we ask for clemency in selective cases or countries?'' Dion asked. "We must end this incoherent double standard. Canada opposes the death penalty and will ask for clemency in each and every case, no exceptions.''

That's a marked shift from the former Conservative government, which initially decided against seeking clemency for Smith or any other multiple murderer facing the death penalty in a democratic country. A court ruling later forced the government to abandon the policy but Smith's lawyer accused it of "treachery'' for its handling of a clemency hearing in 2012.

"I'm considerably more optimistic,'' Smith said. "I'm considerably more positive about the Canadian government becoming involved at least, and with their involvement I think it bodes well for me.''

Smith, who will become a great-grandfather next year, hasn't changed much over the years. His red hair is still shoulder length and the only grey is in his moustache.

Execution date has been set five times


Smith had a change of heart and has been on a legal roller-coaster for decades. An execution date has been set five times and each time the order was overturned.

He said the only reason he changed his mind about accepting his death sentence was because of his daughter, who he reconnected with about 10 years ago.

"I figured the way the law worked that the appeals process would run out in 10 years and then I would be executed. I was wrong,'' Smith said. "I didn't think it was going to be possible to stretch this out.''

Ronald Smith
Ronald Smith
While Smith's family is anxious to see him spared, the family members of his victims have lobbied for his death.

"The decisions he made he has to pay for,'' Running Rabbit's son told Smith's clemency hearing in 2012. "He had no mercy for my father — a person I have never met.''

It's unclear when there might be movement in Smith's case either way.

All executions in Montana have been on hold since 2008 when a court fight began over the types of drugs used during the process.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada confirmed last week that the Canadian government supports Smith's bid for clemency, but didn't elaborate.

"The government of Canada is working with Mr. Smith and his legal representatives to support his case for clemency,'' said John Babcock in a email.

Smith, who has been considered a model prisoner during his time in Montana, said he understands the anger of the family members of his two victims. But he said he has grown up since he committed his crimes.

"I think that's what so many people don't understand, is separating the crime from the person,'' Smith said.

"It was a drunken aberration is what it was and I think some people finally have started to realize that. It's not who I was.

"I was drunk and stupid and committed a heinous crime during that time.''

Source: Huffington Post Canada, Bill Graveland, October 16, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Texas executes Robert Pruett

Texas: Houston Man Condemned in Family Murder Plot Loses High Court Appeal

8 years since last Thai execution, future of death penalty uncertain

Iran: Young man has hand judicially amputated over jewelry theft

Man convicted in Texas prison guard’s death to be executed

Pakistan's angel of death

Why Indonesia Delays Execution of Death Row Convicts

Texas death row inmate gets new sentencing hearing because lawyer refused to present his case

Malaysia: Over 80 Iranians await execution over drug charges in dire conditions