FEATURED POST

Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

Image
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 -…

Nick Yarris: 'How I survived 22 years on death row'

Nick Yarris was charged with rape and murder when he was 20
Nick Yarris was charged with rape and murder when he was 20.
Nick Yarris spent more than two decades on death row in the US after he was wrongly convicted of rape and murder, before a DNA test eventually freed him.

"I genuinely believe that being on death row for 22 years ultimately saved my life. It was the greatest adventure of my life, and I survived it."

Nick Yarris has never had an apology for being imprisoned for crimes he did not commit.

He spent almost all that time in solitary confinement, sometimes being beaten so badly by prison guards that, on one occasion, his retina detached.

"The hardest thing to do when people are hurting you is to remain a decent person," he told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

While on death row, he educated himself about the law, and sometimes read up to three books in a day. "The whole purpose of my education ultimately was so I could deliver a statement eloquently before my execution," he said.

For 22 of the 23 years he spent in prison, Nick genuinely believed he would be executed.

Nick has now written his own book about his life called "The Fear of 13", because he believed bad things happened to him around the 13th date.

"I didn't mind the 23 hours a day solitary confinement for the majority of the time, because after the first few years in prison, when I stopped being angry and started to like myself and understand myself, it was OK. I still enjoy my own company sometimes.

"I've never had any psychiatric help since leaving prison. I studied psychology in there and applied it to myself."

Nick grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia with his parents and five siblings, but his happy childhood was shattered when, aged seven, he was attacked by a teenage boy who hit him on the head so hard it gave him brain damage and then raped him. He did not tell his parents.

The trauma of this assault led his behaviour into a downward spiral and as he got older he began drinking and taking drugs. He was arrested, aged 20, after being accused of the attempted kidnap and murder of a police officer - a charge of which he was later acquitted.

But while in custody before that trial, Nick was desperate to get out and so made up a story, telling police he knew who committed the murder of a woman, Linda Mae Craig, who he had only read about in the newspaper and had never met.

"I was just desperate, a drug-addled kid who didn't know what to do to get out of jail."

He said the murderer was a man with whom he once briefly lived. Nick thought the man - who had stolen money from him - had later died and so believed he could safely trade this false information for his own freedom.
However, the man Nick accused was still alive and the lie was exposed. The police then charged Nick with these crimes instead. In 1982, he was convicted of the woman's rape and murder and sent to death row.

During his imprisonment in Pennsylvania jails, Nick's only possessions were a couple of paper sacks full of legal materials, some novels, toiletries and a small radio. He was only allowed to exercise for 30 minutes on weekdays in a small cage.

He would spend 14 years, from 1989 to 2003, without being touched by another human being. During this time, he would lie on his arm until it went numb and then use it to rub his face, as though it were someone else.

In 1988 he became the first man on death row in the United States to ask for DNA testing, but this led to years of heartbreaking delays and churning frustrations, such as when a vital package containing DNA samples burst open when it was posted to a laboratory, destroying the evidence.

Click here to read the full article

Source: BBC News, Mario Cacciottolo, November 16, 2916

⚑ | 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 30 Days)

Harris County leads Texas in life without parole sentences as death penalty recedes

Idaho County commissioners take stand against death penalty

Texas: Reginald Blanton executed

30-year-old Chinese inmate bids farewell to daughter, wife and mother before execution

USA: Executions, Death Sentences Up Slightly in 2017

Indonesian death penalty laws to be softened to allow reformed prisoners to avoid execution

Death penalty cases of 2017 featured botched executions, claims of innocence, 'flawed' evidence

Virginia Governor commutes death sentence of killer found mentally incompetent to be executed

5 worrying things we’ve learned from new Saudi execution numbers

Texas man with scheduled execution uses letters from fellow death row inmates to argue for reprieve