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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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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 -…

Another South Carolina Death Sentence Vacated

On Friday, May 25, 2017, the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General elected not to appeal a decision vacating the death sentence of Justice 360 client William Bell. 

In November 2016, Circuit Judge R. Lawton McIntosh found Mr. Bell intellectually disabled and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment. 

The decision of the Attorney General not to appeal ends Mr. Bell’s lengthy struggle against an unconstitutional death sentence.

Mr. Bell was originally sentenced to death in 1989 in Anderson County, South Carolina. 

Justice 360 became involved in Mr. Bell’s case in 2013. 

Justice 360 attorneys Emily Paavola and Lindsey Vann litigated Mr. Bell’s claim that he is intellectually disabled. 

The pair, along with Mark Olive, investigated Mr. Bell’s life and presented evidence of his intellectual disability at a hearing in April 2016. 

After the hearing, Judge McIntosh found Mr. Bell to be intellectually disabled, which makes him constitutionally ineligible to be executed. 

As a result, Mr. Bell’s death sentence was vacated and cannot be reimposed.

Justice 360 commends the Attorney General’s thoughtful consideration of this case and decision not to appeal. 

The decision ensures no further taxpayer money or resources are spent defending an unconstitutional death sentence.

Justice 360 thanks the many other lawyers, investigators, and paralegals who dedicated their time and resources towards Mr. Bell’s case all of which lead to this just conclusion.

Source: Justice 360, Mandy Medlock, June 7, 2017

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