FEATURED POST

Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

Image
"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

ABA launches clemency information clearinghouse for death penalty cases

Stay of execution
In 2015, ABA attorneys noticed a major gap in resources for lawyers who defend capital cases: clemency information. Defendants who have exhausted their direct appeals and habeas petition rights often ask governors for mercy—but there wasn’t a lot of information available about how to do that effectively.

“In every state that we studied, there were insignificant resources for and attention paid to clemency, leaving it … too hollow to be comfortable for our profession,” says Misty Thomas, chief counsel for the Death Penalty Due Process Project. Thomas notes that the ABA has no position on the death penalty—but “if we’re going to have the death penalty, every single stage should be robust and meaningful.”

Thomas and her colleagues created a resource to make the clemency stage more robust. The Capital Clemency Resource Initiative, a project of the ABA’s Death Penalty Due Process Project, the Death Penalty Representation Project and the Commission on Disability Rights, launched last week. It offers state-specific information about clemency in death penalty states, plus past petitions, court decisions, academic papers and ABA policy on the subject.

It also offers training materials, including a book written for the project, Representing Death-Sentenced Prisoners in Clemency: A Guide for Practitioners. Laura Schaefer, an author of the book and a staff attorney for the Death Penalty Representation Project, says it’s a manual for lawyers who handle capital cases—including pro bono lawyers that the project recruits and trains. Access must be approved by the ABA staff because it’s only available to death penalty defense lawyers. However, Schaefer says another goal of the website is to educate.

“One part of what we are trying to do is increase public understanding of the clemency process in capital cases … and how it’s supposed to catch wrongful sentences,” she says.

Clemency is a catchall term for pardons, commutations and other acts of mercy from state executive branches. Thomas says most death penalty prisoners ask for their sentences to be commuted to life sentences. These requests—which in some states are automatic—often go through governors, state parole boards or both, and one hurdle for practitioners is knowing what the process is. Another, she says, is that lawyers must adjust their strategies for an audience that may not have a strong legal background.

Thomas says there are good reasons to consider those requests. In some cases, prisoners with intellectual disabilities or mental illness were convicted before advances in brain science cast doubt on their culpability. For prisoners who have been on death row for decades, age-related disability can also be an issue, as it is in an Alabama case the U.S. Supreme Court took up in February. The heavy involvement of disability issues in these cases is one reason the Commission on Disability Rights was part of the project.

And Schaefer says the rate of clemency grants for death-penalty defendants seems to have grown in the past few years. Clemency-related matters put the brakes on about five executions in 2017, she says. And in February, NBC says Texas granted clemency to inmate Thomas Whitaker on the eve of his execution—which Schaefer says is “almost unheard of.”

“I think we’re starting to see an upward trend in capital clemency grants, which means that being prepared to represent someone zealously in that process is all the more important now,” she says.

Source: ABA Journal, Lorelei Laird, April 2, 2018


⚑ | 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!



"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Malaysia: Minimum 30-years imprisonment to replace death penalty

Tennessee prepares electric chair, execution date unconfirmed

Botswana using fellow prisoners as hangmen for death row inmates - Official

Tennessee: Zagorski Execution Explained: If, When And How He Could Be Executed

Pakistan: Zainab's killer Imran Ali to be hanged in Lahore on Wednesday

Arizona: Aussie mum who could face death penalty fronts court

Letters from inmates on death row: An overview of why South Korea needs to abolish capital punishment

Texas: "It's wrong for an imperfect system to impose an irreversible punishment."

Death penalty: How many countries still have it?

Indonesia: Busting the myths of the death penalty