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 -…

Hopes high profile of Schapelle Corby, Bali Nine’s drug-running plight a deterrent: Michael Keenan

Bali's Kerobokan Prison
Bali's Kerobokan Prison
The high profile plight of Schappelle Corby and the Bali Nine had hopefully gone some way to deter young Australians from risking their life to traffic drugs in foreign countries, Justice Minister Michael Keenan has said.

Speaking on the eve of Corby’s deportation, 13 years after her arrest and later conviction for smuggling 4.2kg of cannabis, Minister Keenan told News Corp Australia while some may have been dissuaded others still did not appreciate the severity of offshore laws and were prepared to risk their life.

Mr Keenan said Asian countries particularly had strict drug laws and there were still Aussie fools looking to take risk over gain despite the Corby case and that of the Bali Nine, the group of nine Australians convicted of smuggling heroin in Indonesia with ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran sentenced to death and executed and the others serving lengthy prison sentences.

“I hope the example of her case dissuades, but also don’t forget the people who were executed in Indonesia shows that anyone involved in the drug trafficking in Indonesia is doing so with enormous risk of harm to themselves and it is an incredibly foolish thing to do, an incredibly foolish thing to do” he told News Corp.

“So look I hope yes the message has sunk in that when Australians go offshore and commit crimes they are not protected by the Australian government and of course they will be subject to the full force of the jurisdiction that they are in.

“I don’t want to comment on any one individual case but anyone who gets involved in drugs overseas particularly in our region where the death penalty exists is doing something incredibly foolish.”

Mr Keenan said while Corby’s case was high profile there were many other Australians getting caught overseas, not necessarily on the public radar.

“Unfortunately in the course of decades there have been plenty of Australians that involve themselves in drugs trade in the region and I deal with cases regularly, maybe not high profile case you are mentioning, but Australians do involve in the drug trade at enormous risk to themselves,” he said.

One of those high profile cases is that of 22-year-old Cassie Sainsbury, facing 25 years in jail in Colombia for allegedly attempt to traffic 5.8kg of cocaine to Australia.

Source: Courier Mail, Charles Miranda in Bali, News Corp Australia Network, May 23, 2017

Been busted in Bali too: other offenders


Sara Connor, a mother of two from Byron Bay in NSW, was sentenced to four years in March after being found guilty of fatally assaulting Bali police officer Wayan Sudarsa in company with her British boyfriend David Taylor. Mr Sudarsa's battered body was discovered on Kuta Beach in the early hours of August 17, 2016. Prosecutors appealed her sentence and in May it was increased to five years. She continues to proclaim her innocence.


Ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad on Indonesia's Nusakambangan island in April 2015 for their part in the 2005 plot to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia. Renae Lawrence has been the only member of the Bali Nine eligible to receive reductions on her 20-year jail term. The others - Martin Stephens, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Michael Czugaj, Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Scott Rush - are serving life sentences.


Model Michelle Leslie was deported from Bali in November 2005 after serving three months for ecstasy possession. After her arrest she claimed she had converted to Islam 18 months earlier and began covering her head. She emerged from prison wearing jeans and a tank top.


Jamie Murphy, 18, walked free from a Bali police station in November 2016, after officers announced the white powder he was discovered with at the Kuta nightclub Sky Garden almost 48 hours earlier was a mixture of painkillers, caffeine, and cold medication. Police initially suspected the 1.6 grams of powder was heroin or cocaine - an offence that carries a maximum 12 years in prison.


In a case that highlighted the scourge of child sex tourism in Southeast Asian countries, Australian Robert Ellis was sentenced to 15 years prison in October 2016 for molesting at least 11 local girls. His trial heard the 70-year-old Victorian man abused the girls aged nine to 15 at his rented room in Tabanan, near Kuta, in exchange for gifts and money. He later wrote a letter saying he was acting under "God's law not man's".


A 14-year-old Australian found himself in police custody for two months in 2011 after being caught with 3.6 grams of marijuana, which he said he bought on Kuta Beach. Dubbed the "Bali Boy", because he could not be identified, the NSW teenager ended up serving his time at an immigration facility after the government intervened and ruled that Kerobokan prison was not suitable.

Source: news.com.au, Lauren Farrow, Australian Associated Press, May 22, 2017

Finding a drug deal as simple as making eye contact in Indonesia's tourist hotspots

Bali street
'Tourists are particularly vulnerable to Indonesia's drug syndicates.'
Twelve years after Schapelle Corby was convicted of importing marijuana to Indonesia, the country's tough narcotics laws haven't dented the drugs market in Bali.

The nation's anti-drugs body, the National Narcotics Board, says tourists are particularly vulnerable to Indonesia's drug syndicates.

Much harder substances than marijuana are sold on the street, and dealers boast of their connections to police.

Being offered drugs in Kuta's tourist strip

On Kuta's tourist strip, Bali's drug dealers work the crowd in gangs of five or six people.

Finding a deal is as simple as making eye contact. I do that — and the lookout approaches.

"What you got?" I ask.

"Cocaine," he replies before taking me around the corner, on a slightly darker street, to meet the dealer.

He's a skinny guy, about 40 years old. We sit on a step behind some parked motorbikes. The tourists in their shorts and t-shirts don't look twice at us as they stroll by.

Leaning in close so we can hear each other, we must look pretty suspicious. Clearly, at this hour, we're not discussing motorbike rentals.

He shows me a bag of what he says is cocaine — and asks whether I want one or two grams.

I tell him I'm worried about the police.

You don't have to be Corby or the Bali Nine to get into serious trouble here — Australians are jailed for a year and longer for the smallest amount of drugs.

I don't tell him that I was here last year covering the case of a Perth teenager who was nabbed in a nightclub with a bag of white powder — and was only freed because police tested it and it turned out to be painkillers, not cocaine.

The dealer reassures me.

"I'll look after you, don't you be scared, no worries," he says.

Foreigners targeted by drug syndicates

The National Narcotics Board (BNN) says the supply of drugs is in abundance in tourist destinations like Bali.

The board's spokesman, Sulistiandriatmoko, strongly advises visitors to be cautious.

"Tourists come in a happy mood, they're financially able — and they're the target of the drugs syndicates. For those who don't realise they're being targeted the temptation is very great.

There's plenty of temptation here — 50 metres from the Bali bomb memorial, a dealer offers me a gram of cocaine for $300.

He says if I buy 2 grams, he'll give me a $100 discount.

In the space of an hour in Kuta I'm offered speed, cocaine, hash, marijuana leaf, and cocaine by four separate dealers.

One man pursues me along the street. I walk past him, and he reappears in my path a minute or two later, as if by magic. He'd ridden ahead of me on his motorbike, he explains, and his prices drop each time.

By the third interaction he's offering to sell me 2 grams of cocaine for $100 — and to ease my concerns about the police, he'll deliver to my hotel room, as if it was a takeaway pizza.

"Where you staying? I bring you," he promises.

That would be a risky delivery to accept. The death penalty here applies for tiny quantity of drugs — technically it can be used for anything greater than 5 grams of marijuana.

Indonesia's major ice problem

Corby was lucky, in a way. She received her 20-year term about a year before the courts began regularly imposing the death penalty.

After remissions and clemency, she has ended up serving 12 years in jail.

The penalties in Indonesia are ruthless, not because of marijuana or cocaine, but because of the drug ice — crystal methamphetamine — known here as Shabu.

Indonesia has a major Shabu problem.

The BNN says 70 per cent of Indonesia's 5 million drug users are on Shabu.

I'm not offered any ice on the streets of Kuta. Maybe I'm just lucky.

Source: abc.net.au, Adam Harvey, May 24, 2017

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