Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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 -…

Idaho death row inmate found dead in his prison cell

Zane Jack Fields
Zane Jack Fields
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho Maximum Security Institution inmate who has spent more than 25 years on death row was found dead in his prison cell on Monday morning, of apparent natural causes.

Zane Jack Fields, 58, was found unresponsive in his cell about 7 a.m., the Idaho Department of Corrections said. Prison staff initiated first aid, but Fields was pronounced dead an hour later, the agency said.

Fields was one of nine people awaiting execution in Idaho.

As in all cases of unattended deaths at the prison, the Ada County Sheriff's Office processed Fields' cell as a crime scene. The Ada County Coroner's Office will determine the cause of death.

Fields was sentenced to death in 1991 in Ada County for the 1988 stabbing of Mary Catherine Vanderford, 69, while robbing her gift shop in Boise. He got away with $50.

Fields was charged more than a year later after telling a fellow jail inmate that he killed Vanderford. Fields was in jail at the time on an aggravated assault conviction.

Fourth District Judge Gerald Schroeder sentenced him to death in 1991, saying Fields showed "utter disregard for human life."

The number of death row inmates in Idaho has been dwindling. Of the more than 40 people sentenced of death since capital punishment was reinstated in the 1970s, only three have been executed, the last in 2012. Eight people remain on death row.

Many others have had their sentences reduced to life imprisonment. Two were released after their convictions were overturned. Two previously died in prison.

Death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement. They remain inside their 12-foot by seven-foot cells for 23 hours a day, and they can spend one hour outside in a similarly sized cage. They are escorted out of their cells for showers, medical appointments and meetings with attorneys.

Source: ISJ, March 27, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; 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

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

Texas executes Dale Devon Scheanette

Texas executes Anthony Allen Shore

USA: Executions, Death Sentences Up Slightly in 2017

California: Death penalty sought against Redwood City man accused of sexually assaulting, killing infant

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

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