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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…

Sydney festival to exhibit paintings by Myuran Sukumaran of Bali Nine

Myuran Sukumaran (left) and Ben Quilty in Kerobokan's painting workshop
Myuran Sukumaran (left) and Ben Quilty in Kerobokan's painting workshop
The first major exhibition of artworks by Myuran Sukumaran, who was executed by Indonesia for heroin smuggling, is to be held during next year’s Sydney festival.

Sukumaran, one of a group known as the Bali Nine, took up painting during his time in Kerobokan prison and his artworks became a very public part of the campaign for clemency. He was killed by a firing squad in April 2015 alongside fellow Australian Andrew Chan, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian. All had been convicted of drug crimes.

The Australian artist Ben Quilty, Sukumaran’s friend and mentor and the co-curator of the exhibition, which will be held at Campbelltown arts centre in January, said he hoped the show would reignite public debate about human rights for prisoners.

“[Sukumaran] really deeply wanted the abolition of the death penalty worldwide,” Quilty said. “No one deserves to be shot in the chest ever, for anything. And he wanted that message spread as widely as he could.”

More than 100 of Sukumaran’s works will be shown at the western Sydney centre. The exhibition also features commissioned pieces by seven other Australian artists alongside Sukumaran’s work, including Matthew Sleeth, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Megan Cope, and Jagath Dheerasekara, who have all responded to the issues of the death penalty, justice and human rights.

During the exhibition period, the arts centre will also stage three symposiums focusing on human rights and capital punishment.

Myuran Sukumaran standing in front of a self portrait in Bali's Kerobokan prison
Myuran Sukumaran standing in front of a self portrait in Bali's Kerobokan prison
Sukumaran used art “as a visual language to communicate his humanity” during his time in incarceration, said Quilty, including instructing his lawyers on how to carry his paintings out of the prison to best display them to waiting press. “He was engineering his own message about the death penalty. He was humanising himself and his friends who were executed that night.”

Quilty believes drug abuse, recidivism rates among offenders, and the retributive model of justice need to be debated in Australia and abroad.

“The uncomfortable truth is that a huge proportion of the population deals drugs, uses drugs, and quite often the dealer and the user are the same person.”

Quilty said that over the past decade Sukumaran had become “a beautiful, compassionate, caring 31-year-old man who looked out for his family, who worked really hard”.

Taking away someone’s liberty is very different to taking away someone’s dignity, and if you destroy someone’s dignity then you can expect insanely high recidivism rates,” Quilty said. “It’s as simple as that. And we don’t seem to learn. We haven’t learnt from when we were locking people up in rough-hewn sandstone prisons on the shores of Sydney. And we still do it, we still treat people really badly when they’re in prison. We’re trying to punish them rather than rehabilitate them.”

Sukumaran was arrested in 2005 and was sentenced to death in 2006. “Myuran wasn’t the first and will not be the last to do something so self-indulgent and dangerous, and he went on to become a great young man and left an amazing legacy,” Quilty said.

• Myuran Sukumaran: Another Day in Paradise will open on 13 January as part of the 2017 Sydney festival

Source: The Guardian, Stephanie Convery, October 25, 2016

Paintings by executed Bali Nine inmate Sukumaran stolen in Adelaide


Entrepreneur Shane Yeend posted on social media that works from his personal collection had been taken from his Adelaide home, which was “cleaned out”, on the weekend.

Yeend, the CEO of Imagination Entertainment, is a co-founder of the Australian Cannabis Corporation, which InDaily revealed this month had been given approval to apply for a federal licence to cultivate medical marijuana in South Australia, with a view to creating “a global research hub”.

Stolen: A portrait of Shane Yeend's on by Myuran Sukumaran
Stolen: A portrait of Shane Yeend's son by Myuran Sukumaran
Yeend did not return calls today, but posted a Facebook update asking for people to keep a eye on the second-hand art market, after the theft of some “very valuable aboriginal paintings” and “my collection of Myu Sukumaran paintings [including] this one in particular that he did for [my son]”.

“If anybody on the second-hand market comes across this please let me know,” Yeend wrote, adding that most of the works were “priceless [to me but] worthless to anyone else”.

Yeend has previously spoken publicly about how he befriended Sukumaran – visiting him in Kerobokan prison after trying to buy one of his paintings at auction – before his execution with fellow convicted drug smuggler Andrew Chan in April last year.

Sukumaran, who Yeend told ABC891 last year was a “model poster child for reform”, famously turned his hand to painting in prison, studying a fine art degree and holding a number of exhibitions.

“It’s kind of funny, I never did drugs, I didn’t know anyone who did drugs, I had never been in a jail, but we just struck up a bit of a relationship,” Yeend told Fairfax in February 2015.

“He’s a really good bloke. He made a stupid mistake and ended up in the worst stupid mistake situation.”

Yeend pledged the establishment of a foundation in Sukumaran’s honour.

SA Police told InDaily in a statement: “We can confirm a matter has been reported to police and is being investigated [but] at this time we are not in a position to release further details.”

Source: IN Daily, Tom Richardson, October 25, 2016

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