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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

South Africa: Thousands petition for death penalty after Sadia's murder

Sadia Petition
Durban - As 9-year-old Sadia Sukhraj was laid to rest on Tuesday after she was shot in a botched hijacking in Shallcross on Monday morning, an online petition calling for the return of the death penalty was gaining traction throughout the day.

With more than 54 000 signatures on the petition, Shailen Singh, the chairperson of the Jem Foundation, said he was driven by Sadia’s sudden death to start this petition.

Sadia was his cousin’s granddaughter.

Singh plans to take the petition to Parliament with the hope that Section 51 of South Africa’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1997 will be reconsidered in favour of the death penalty.

Section 51 reads: “The court convicting any person - (a) of an offence under section four may, instead of imposing sentence of death on that person, impose upon him any other punishment within the jurisdiction of that court.”

Singh said it was devastating for the shooting to have taken place at the start of Child Protection Week.

He expressed his sadness at Sadia’s death, but sounded hopeful that the petition would help make a change to the justice system.

“As an organisation, we champion for children’s rights and child protection especially when children are put in vulnerable situations.

“Sadia’s death has pushed us to start this petition so we can bring awareness to the issue and voice what we want,” he said.

Singh felt children were very important and should not be exposed to crime, which was why he felt the justice system should change.

The petition was shared on Facebook by scores of people who were appealing to the public to sign so that it could reach a million signatures.

Fear


“South Africans have to live in fear on a daily basis due to hijackings, armed robberies, murder, rape and other violent crimes. Innocent lives are lost on a daily basis with little justice. We, as South African citizens, are tired of laying loved ones to rest due to criminal activity,” the petition reads.

Comments streamed in from those who had been following the story of Sadia’s death.

Kieran Deolall wrote: “100% true. Every word! SAPS Chatsworth in my opinion should not be targeted. The problems we are facing starts from higher up.

“Yes, we have a handful of corrupt officers, no doubt. But not every officer is corrupt. If you have a corrupt government you will get laws and regulations passed down that’s not powerful enough to help this country progress. As a community we can harness this power and have our voices heard. Enough is enough.”

Noelle Pillay wrote: “I believe that people get away with murder in this country, South Africa has become so disappointing. Small children getting killed over hijacking and all the person gets for killing the innocent is a certain amount of years in jail. Pathetic. A life for a life.”

Shane Askew wrote that the highest level of value for human life needed to be reaffirmed.

“If someone commits murder, nothing less than their own life must be required of them,” he posted.

Anandh Akaloo wrote: “This country can change the president, but they cannot change the crime that occurs daily. On that note how many more crimes have been done? This is a continuous problem that cannot be solved.

“I strongly feel that the death penalty should be brought back.”

Source: iol.co.za, Nosipho Nyide, May 31, 2018


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

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