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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Former Alabama death row inmates to share their stories of confinement, freedom

Anthony Ray Hinton spent nearly 30 years on Alabama death row
Anthony Ray Hinton spent nearly 30 years on Alabama death row
Racism, poverty, freedom and confinement will be the focus of speeches delivered by 2 former Alabama death row inmates, sharing their stories at the University of North Alabama later this month.

Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row, and Gary Drinkard, who was released after 5 years, will share their stories of exoneration and wrongful conviction during a conference at UNA Feb. 23-24. The events are open to the public.

Hinton walked free in April 2015 at age 52. He'd been on death row for 30 years for the 1985 murders of 2 Birmingham fast food restaurant managers. Hinton and his attorneys asked prosecutors for years to retest the gun that linked him to the crime.

On April 3, Anthony Ray Hinton walked free, prosecutors dropping the charges - the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered a retrial - that he'd killed 2 men in a Birmingham area fast food managers in 1985. The bullets didn't match up beyond a doubt, the state said.

Shortly before his release, new tests ultimately ruled that the bullets found at the crime scenes couldn't be conclusively linked to the gun or to each other.

Hinton's conviction, he has said, is rooted in racism, poverty and failures of the criminal justice system.

"We want to help people think critically about the crimes and evidence that warrant sentencing someone to death," said Stephanie Renee Adair, one of several English graduate students helping plan the conference at UNA.

Incarceration has been a focus of Alabama politics recently, particularly with Gov. Robert Bentley's plans of spending millions on new prisons to house the state's inmates, who currently are being held in overcrowded facilities.

Bentley will propose a plan similar to the one he proposed last year, borrowing $800 million to build 4 new prisons, while closing most of the existing prisons.

"Mass incarceration is a crisis, but we're not really answering why," said Katie Owens-Murphy, an assistant professor of English at UNA. "Maybe the problem isn't with space but rather with the way the criminal justice system itself operates. Anthony Ray Hinton and Gary Drinkard show how it becomes possible to convict and sentence innocent people, even to death."

Gary Drinkard spent 5 years on death row for the Morgan County murder of Dalton Pace, a junkyard dealer. But, he was released in 2000 after getting a new trial. Drinkard said his lawyers weren't up to the task of defending him in a death penalty case the 1st time around, and the Alabama Supreme Court threw out his 1st conviction.

7 men have been released from death row in Alabama since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. One man who has been there shares his experience.

The 2 are speaking at the Alabama Regional Graduate Conference because its focus this year is on confinement. Graduate students have studied prison literature as part of their focus on American literature.

Anthony Ray Hinton and Gary Drinkard show how it becomes possible to convict and sentence innocent people, even to death.

Rather than having only academic research and scholarship tell the story of the criminal justice system, Adair said the conference will offer a real-life testimony of the system's failures.

"We're putting on human face on how the system can go wrong," Adair said.

Hinton will speak Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. in UNA's Guillot University Center. Drinkard will speak at 4 p.m. the next day.

Source: al.com, February 10, 2017

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