FEATURED POST

Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

Image
Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

As Sammantha Allen Heads for Death Row, Will Arizona Execute a Woman Again?

Sammantha Allen, ARIZONA
Sammantha Allen
The convicted murderer inadvertently became one of Arizona's capital punishment pioneers when she was hung 87 years ago for killing a Tucson rancher.

On February 21, 1930, she approached the gallows and remained silent and stoic before her hanging. But then something went awry. The rope sliced Dugan's neck and she was decapitated.

As Pinal County Historical Society President Lynn Smith likes to tell it, "Her head popped off when she was hanged and it went across the room and scared all the witnesses."

Sixty people saw the botched and bloody hanging that would cause the state Legislature to switch to gas chamber executions, according to an Arizona Daily Star report from back then.

"It was before sunrise and everybody ran out into the dark and her body went down into the basement," Smith said.

Smith oversees a collection of over 20 nooses used to carry out early executions at the Arizona State Prison at the Pinal County Historical Society and Museum.

Dugan's is one of them. Smith says people have mixed reactions when they hear this story.

"They think it’s gory, but if you’re a murderer, people don’t feel too bad for you," Smith said. "All the people we have hanged supposedly were murderers."

Unlike states like Georgia and Texas, where women have been executed within the last five years, Arizona hasn't executed a woman since Dugan.

But that all could change. Sammantha Allen joined two other Arizona women on death row in the state this week when she was sentenced for the 2011 murder of her younger cousin, Ame Deal. Deal suffocated to death after Allen locked Deal in a padlocked plastic storage box overnight after the 10-year-old took a Popsicle from a freezer without getting permission.

But whether Allen will actually face lethal injection, Arizona's current method of choice for executing inmates, is a different story, according to Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.

"The public is very reluctant to see women executed," Dunham said. "There have only been 16 women executed in the modern history of the U.S. death penalty. There are only 55 women currently on death row, and it is rare that executions of women are actually carried out."

Everybody has the right to appeal to death sentences, and, whether the inmate in question is male or female, Dunham says the "single most likely outcome" of a capital punishment case is that the conviction or death sentence will be overturned.

The appeals process can take 20 years or more, and, at that rate, it could be more than 100 years after Dugan's death before Allen faces execution. Dunham said the memories of Dugan's traumatic and treacherous history could have an unquantifiable impact on whether the state of Arizona would execute another woman.

As of October 2016, Arizona had 125 death row inmates, according to DPIC. Only three of those, now including Allen, are women. Dunham says women are not only statistically less likely to commit crimes that would warrant the death penalty, juries are also less likely to sentence women to death row.

"Juries are more likely to believe females are less likely to be dangerous in a prison setting," Dunham said. "They (juries) are more likely to spare a woman’s life than a man’s life on the basis of evidence that she was severely abused as a child or was involved in an abusive relationship."

But Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender for the district of Arizona Capital Habeas Unit, says he believes the three women up for death row in Arizona should be worried.

"If the cases reach the end of the legal process, the state would push for the death penalty," Baich said. "In Maricopa County especially, the prosecutor has been very aggressive in ... seeking the death penalty for crimes committed by women where the death penalty is a possibility. ... My sense is that Arizona would likely pursue the execution."

In other words, Dugan's death might have frightened the witnesses in 1930, but it may not be enough to scare Arizona prosecutors today.

Source: Phoenix News Times, Molly Longman, August 11, 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 7 Days)

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France

New Hampshire Governor Vetoes Death Penalty Repeal

Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

Las Vegas judge signs Scott Dozier’s execution warrant

Thailand carries out first execution since 2009

Texas assures court it can carry out aging death row inmate's execution

Iran: Six executions in one day

Iran: Death sentence of Gonabadi Dervish Mohammad Salas carried out despite protests

Nebraska: Court orders correction department to release execution drug information

Thailand: 2nd suspect hunted in wake of Monday's execution