“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Donald Trump calls for "quick" death penalty for anyone convicted of killing a police officer

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump has called for any person convicted of killing a police officer to be “quickly” executed.

Donald Trump has called for the death penalty for those convicted of killing a police officer.

Speaking at a ceremony for fallen law enforcement officers at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington on Wednesday, the US President said he wanted “quick” capital punishment for anyone found guilty of the crime.

“The ambushes and attacks on our police must end, and they must end right now,” Mr Trump said to applause.

“We believe that criminals who murder police officers should immediately, but with trial, get the death penalty. But quickly. The trial should go fast. It’s got to be fair, but it’s got to go fast.”

The death penalty is a punishment in 30 US states. A total of 25 death-row inmates were executed in America in 2018. Lethal injection is the main method of execution. However, some states, including Virginia, South Carolina and Arkansas, can still use the electric chair to kill a prisoner if they elect that method over lethal injection.

Tennessee is the only state that can legally sentence an inmate to die by electric chair without the prisoner’s consent; two people were executed in this way in 2018.

Mr Trump also criticised big-city prosecutors he asserted didn’t go after criminals who posed a severe threat to public safety. He pledged to the families of fallen officers the country would “never, ever leave your side, never disappoint you” but went beyond memorialising for much of the annual event.

He singled out prosecutors in Philadelphia and Chicago as being part of a “dangerous trend” by deciding not to prosecute “many criminals who pose a severe threat to public safety and community well being”.

He provided scant context for the claim, and prosecutors in those cities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The President also renewed his calls for changes to the nation’s immigration laws, citing the shooting death last December of a Northern California police officer, Cpl Ronil Singh.

Mr Trump said the suspect in Officer Singh’s killing could have been kept out with “border security, with the wall, with whatever the hell it takes”.

Paulo Virgen Mendoza, suspected of being in the country illegally, has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Mr Trump also made an apparent reference to the case of actor Jussie Smollett, saying “those who file false police reports should face full legal consequences”.

The Empire star was charged with felony disorderly conduct and accused of making a false police report after claiming he was attacked by two masked men who shouted slurs at him and put a noose around his neck. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the charges in March.

The White House did not comment on whether Mr Trump was specifically citing the Smollett case.

The 38th annual memorial service honoured 228 peace officers who died in the line of duty last year.

Source: news.com.au, Associated Press, Staff, May 16, 2019

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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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