Texas | A Dangerous Man. At 18, Billy Joe Wardlow took a man’s life. Nearly 30 years later, the state still wants his.

Like any place humans gather, death row has a culture. Billy Wardlow says it's different in many ways from general population. One is in how new inmates are treated. "In [general population], the guys around you would try to find some way to exploit you," Wardlow said. "Death row, with a few exceptions, will often extend a hand of friendship to the 'new boot' so they can get on their feet ... Most of us get together and let each other know what we can send to the new guy."
One of the cherished myths of those who support the death penalty is that it is reserved for the “worst of the worst,” those beyond redemption.
Wardlow typically sends writing materials, food, clothes, and hygiene products. Recently, after receiving some of these items, a new inmate asked Wardlow what he owed him. "I told him to remember how guys helped him when he saw someone else new," Wardlow said. "Pay it forward, as the saying goes."
Sending gifts is one thin…

Tunisia | Despite moratorium, 47 death sentences in 2019, 100 inmates on death row

Tunis, Tunisia
In its 2019 annual report, the Organization Against Torture in Tunisia (Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie, OCTT) denounced the death penalty and identified it as the most cruel form of torture.

The OCTT notes with high regret the weakness of the de facto moratorium that has been observed in the country for almost 30 years, while a conservative line in favour of capital punishment gains popularity among the public. 

The death penalty – the most serious infringement on the right to life, the first of every human right – is now under a moratorium that has been observed in practice since 1991. However, the Tunisian government has not enshrined this into law yet.

The Constitution of Tunisia entitles exemptions to the right to life (albeit sanctified by its own provisions) in “extreme cases”, which could leave the door open to the retention of the death penalty. 

As such, the moratorium observed in Tunisia does not stop courts from imposing capital sentences, the number of which continues to increase. 47 people were sentenced to death in 2019, while 95 to 110 people are known to be on death row, including 3 women. 

At the political level, the context has also remained particularly strained ever since the Parliament adopted in July 2015, by a large majority, a reform of the anti-terrorist law, which led to the establishment of new capital offenses. 

There are now 54 legal dispositions allowing the imposition of the death penalty, but some contravene the “most serious crime” definition as enshrined in international standards. 

The high frequency of death sentences and the ensuing violations of the right to life have recently resulted in very serious consequences, including the imposition of two death sentences on a single person.

The OCTT also called attention to the great physical, psychological and emotional distress endured by death row inmates in Tunisia, who bear the brunt of the reduction in public spending on prisons, as well the lack of follow-up procedures after being released.

In its section dedicated to the death penalty, the OCTT called for major legislative, health and humanitarian reforms that would allow for the immediate and definitive abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of human rights in the country.

Source: worldcoalition.org, Organization Against Torture in Tunisia, June 18, 2020

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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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