“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. …

Rajasthan court hands out death penalty to man for rape and murder of five-year-old girl

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Jaipur: A court in Rajasthan's Alwar district on Wednesday awarded death penalty to a man for raping and killing a five-year-old girl in 2015 by smashing her face with a stone and mutilating her private parts, terming the crime "rarest of rare".

Special judge of POCSO court, Ajay Kumar Sharma, convicted the accused, Rajkumar alias Dharmendra Yadav, a resident of Rewali in Behror town, for raping and brutally killing the minor girl, special public prosecutor Vinod Kumar Sharma told PTI.

The court convicted Rajkumar under Section 302 (murder) and 363 (kidnapping) and also sentenced him to imprisonment till last breath under Section 376 (rape), he said.

The court termed the case a "rarest of rare" crime that deserved maximum punishment, he added.

In February 2015, Rajkumar had lured the girl to an abandoned building on the pretext of for giving her a candy and raped her, Sharma said.

He then smashed her face with a heavy stone and cut her private parts using a sharp-edged tool. A case was registered against Rajkumar at Behror police station, he said.

Source: PTI, Staff, June 12, 2019

Acid attack: HC upholds man's conviction, but commutes death penalty

The Bombay High Court Wednesday upheld the conviction of a 25-year-old man in the 2013 Preeti Rathi acid attack case, but commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment.

A division bench of justices B P Dharmadhikari and P D Naik partly allowed the appeal filed by convict Ankur Panwar, challenging the death penalty awarded to him by a special court in 2015.

This was the first instance of death penalty being awarded by a court in the country in a case of acid attack.

"The conviction under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 326 (b) (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid) is upheld. The death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment," the bench said.

Rathi, a 23-year-old nurse, who was to join the Navy hospital in Mumbai, died after an acid attack in May 2013 by her stalker Panwar.

On May 2, 2013, as Rathi got off the train from Delhi at the Bandra Terminus here, Panwar threw acid on her face.

Rathi lost her vision and received major injuries. She spent a month in hospitals, and on June 1 that year, she died of multiple organ failure at Bombay Hospital here.

Source: PTI, Staff, June 12, 2019

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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