Posts

Showing posts from March, 2018

FEATURED POST

Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

Image
In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

USA: Mapping the Modern Death Sentence

Image
New Online Resource a UVA Law Collaboration
The University of Virginia School of Law has collaborated on a new website that uses adata-driven, interactive map to illustrate the rapid decline of the death penalty in the United States since 1991.
The website is a supplement to Professor Brandon Garrett’s 2017 book, “End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice,” published by Harvard University Press.
Previously, there had not been comprehensive, county-level data about persons sentenced to death during the period of 1991-2016. So Garrett worked with a UVA Law librarian and a group of law students, with assistance from undergraduate students in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, to code and check the data of more than 5,000 death sentences. They gathered the information from government records, court rulings and other sources.
“This is the first resource to map out modern death sentencing in the United States,” Garrett said. “The mappin…

Drugs will expire before court ruling on Nevada execution

Image
Some drugs obtained for the first lethal injection in Nevada since 2006 will expire before the state Supreme Court decides whether to approve their use, officials said Friday.
The sedative diazepam that the state has expires May 1, and Nevada Department of Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Santina said the agency may not be able to get more.
"In 2016, we sent out a bid to 247 vendors to provide us the drugs to carry out an execution in Nevada," Santina said. "We received not one response."
The state last year obtained diazepam, commonly known as Valium, along with supplies of fentanyl, the powerful opioid painkiller and the muscle paralytic drug cisatracurium from its regular pharmaceutical distributor, Cardinal Health.
The high court this week set a May 8 date for oral arguments about whether prison officials can use the never-before-tried 3-drug mixture for the execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.
The 47-year-old twice-convicted murderer has said he wants to die and …

Editorial: The death penalty just isn't worth the risks

Image
We've advocated against the death penalty multiple times just in the past year. Besides the moral implications of possibly putting an innocent man to death, or even a guilty man, government error could also affect outcomes.
Even worse than malfeasance, though, would be actual bad faith. Prosecutorial misconduct, or bad faith from a state agency, compounds the difficulty in condemning a defendant to death.
And that's just what may have happened recently in Sanpete County. Stephen Douglas Crutcher pled guilty last May to killing a cellmate at the Gunnison prison in 2013. A jury trial was scheduled to determine whether to impose the death penalty or not.
On Wednesday, instead, a court sentenced Crutcher to life in prison.
The court imposed the life sentence after Sanpete County prosecutors withdrew their intent to seek the death penalty after Crutcher's attorney - not the prosecution, but the defense - uncovered the unfortunate fact that despite a judge's order last Octo…

Florida Supreme Court rejects death row appeals

Image
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected appeals by 2 death row inmates who were convicted of murdering women in the 1990s in Santa Rosa and Hillsborough counties.
One of the appeals was filed by Norman Grim, who was sentenced to death in the 1998 murder of Cynthia Campbell, whose body was found by a fisherman floating off the Pensacola Bay Bridge, according to a brief by Attorney General Pam Bondi's office. The victim, who was wrapped in a sheet, a shower curtain and masking tape, had been beaten in the face and suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest.
The other appeal was filed by Samuel Smithers, who was convicted in the 1996 murders of Cristy Cowan and Denise Roach. The bodies of the women were found in a Hillsborough County pond, with a 2002 Supreme Court summary of the case saying both women had been strangled and suffered other injuries, including "chop" wounds to Cowan's head.
The appeals dealt with issues related to a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling…

Nigeria: Delta Gov. Commutes Death Sentences on 30 Prisoners to Life Imprisonment

Image
The Delta State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has approved the grant of total pardon to 5 inmates who were serving various terms of imprisonment and commuted 30 others on death row to life imprisonment in the exercise of his Prerogative of Mercy under Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
A statement released from the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor stated that the Governor acted pursuant to powers vested on him in exercise of his powers of prerogative of mercy in the spirit of the Easter celebration and took into considerations the several international and local pleas including those from Amnesty international.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice explained that the Governor acted in accordance to his constitutional powers based on the recommendations of the 7-Man Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy headed by Chief Patrick Okpakpor t…

China: Serial killer sentenced to death

Image
Beijing, Mar 30 (PTI) -- A court in northwest China today gave the death penalty to a serial killer, dubbed "Jack the Ripper", for killing 11 female victims, including an eight-year-old girl, between May 1988 and February 2002.
Gao Chengyong, 53, was found to have robbed, raped and mutilated his victims, according to a report in state-run Xinhua news agency.
The youngest of the victims was an eight-year-old girl.
The Peoples Intermediate Court of Baiyin City said in its verdict that the crimes happened in the northwest Gansu Province and neighbouring Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The court found he killed his victims to cover up robbery or rape in Baiyin, Gansu and Baotou, Inner Mongolia.
Gao confessed his crimes in the court and said he would not file an appeal.
He was arrested in August 2016 after a DNA test of one of his relatives for an unrelated crime suggested he could be linked to the serial killings.
The "Ripper" was being hunted by the police for 28 y…

Veterinarians Won’t Use This Gas to Kill Animals, but 3 States Want to Use it on Prisoners

Image
Undeterred by a shortage of drugs used for lethal injections and capital punishment’s waning popularity, states that still practice the death penalty are seeking alternative ways to kill death row inmates. The latest suggestion? Death by nitrogen gas, a method that has never been used before.
After several international drug companies decided to stop sending drugs to prisons if they were to be used in executions, state officials began scrambling to find alternatives. Several states have mulled bringing back older methods such as the electric chair or firing squads. Recently, Nebraska and Nevada suggested fentanyl, a powerful opioid responsible for thousands of deaths in the United States. And in the last several months, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama have authorized nitrogen gas for executions. 
But there may be a problem. “Nitrogen hypoxia, whatever that might be, is not a medical act,” Dr. Joel Zivot, a professor of anesthesiology at Emory University, told Mother Jones. 
The id…

Thailand: Six men sentenced to death over Krabi execution-style killings

Image
BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Krabi Provincial Court on Wednesday (March 28) handed down the death penalty to six men for the shocking massacre of a village head and seven of his family members, including three children.
The brutal killings occurred at the victims' home in Krabi province last July. Three people survived the execution-style attack.
National police commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda came to the courtroom to listen to the verdict in the high-profile case.
The public was shocked last year to learn that Worayuth Sunglung, a village headman in Ao Luek district, had been shot in the head along with relatives after being held hostage for hours.
Shortly after the killings, police arrested eight suspects including Surifath Bannopwongsakul, also known as "Bang Fath". All of the suspects were prosecuteded.
Surifath reportedly had a dispute with Worayuth after he failed to return land-title deeds to the latter. Worayuth had initially submitte…

Pope, in Holy Thursday prison visit, says death penalty not Christian

Image
Rome: Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 prison inmates, including two Muslims and a Buddhist, in a Holy Thursday ritual and said the death penalty should be abolished because it is neither Christian nor humane.
For the sixth year running, the pope held the ritual in an institution rather than in the splendours of the Vatican or a Rome basilica, as his predecessors did. Conservatives have criticised him for including women and non-Christians in the rite in the past.
He visited Rome's Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) jail in the centre of city, to perform the rite recalling Jesus' gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he died.
The 12 male inmates were from Italy, the Philippines, Morocco, Moldavia, Colombia and Sierra Leone. Eight were Catholic, two were Muslim, one was an Orthodox Christian and one a Buddhist.
Francis wove the sermon of a Mass around the theme of service, saying many wars could have been avoided in history if more leaders ha…

Torture investigator orders new Bahrain death penalty hearing

Image
Acting on recommendations from UK-trained torture investigators, Bahrain’s Attorney General has requested that the country’s highest court reconsider the death sentences handed to two men convicted on the basis of forced confessions obtained through torture.
Mohamed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa were sentenced in December 2014 for supposed involvement in a bombing that killed a police officer in Bahrain. Bahrain’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), a UK-trained body set up to investigate allegations of misconduct and torture, recommended the case was referred to the Court of Cassation after new medical evidence emerged.
The Attorney General of Bahrain, Dr Ali bin Fadhl Al-Buainain, said in a statement posted on social media on Wednesday that the cases were being referred “in accordance with the requirements of justice.”
This comes at a time when there are other facing imminent execution, Including Maher Abbas who has had his death sentence confirmed despite Bahrain’s highest court accept…