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Showing posts from December, 2020

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Trump's last days in office marred by disregard for human life. Death penalty just another example.

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Trump reinstated federal executions after nearly 20 years, with two slated for this week. When will the U.S. drop the practice and join other Western nations? If there's one thing that has defined the final days of the Trump administration, it's the lack of regard for human life. We saw that play out Wednesday after President Donald Trump incited rioters to bust through the U.S. Capitol and hunt down members of Congress.  Inciting a violent assault on the Capitol also displayed a disregard for democracy and the rule of law. This was the tragic finale of four years of failed federal leadership, and far from the only instance where the president’s disdain for human life has been demonstrated. His abject failure to provide the leadership necessary to deal effectively with the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond dispute, with the consequence being that the daily death count from COVID-19 has now surpassed that of 9/11. In the face of these unfolding tragedies, and at a time when the Trump

USA | People Are Not Paying Attention To The Trump Administration’s Execution Spree

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The government has executed 10 people in the past five months, but only 13% of registered voters say they’ve heard a lot about it, a HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. The Trump administration has executed 10 people over the last five months — the first federal executions in nearly two decades. The government is trying to execute three more people before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who now opposes the death penalty. An outgoing administration has not carried out an execution after losing reelection since 1889 . And this has already been the most federal executions conducted in one year since 1896. But most voters have barely noticed the unusual federal execution spree, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey . Only 13% of voters say they’ve heard a lot about the news that President Donald Trump resumed the practice of federal executions this year. Four in 10 say they’d heard nothing about the executions at all.  The Trump administration resumed federal executions in Ju

Virginia advocates set to try again on death penalty repeal

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Death penalty opponents hope they have enough bipartisan support from lawmakers to get a bill passed next year ending executions in Virginia, a state that has put more people to death in its long history than any other. Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, is again sponsoring a measure that would abolish the death penalty, and Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, said he will sign on this year as a chief co-patron. The measure would commute the sentences of the only two inmates on Virginia’s death row to life in prison without parole. Surovell said he has always opposed the death penalty but knew passing it was politically impossible with a GOP majority in either chamber. Now, with Democrats holding slim majorities in the House and Senate for a second year, he thinks there’s an opening. So do advocacy groups working to build support for the bill. “I think we’ve got a real shot,” Surovell said. “I don’t have the support of my entire caucus, but I think with Senator Stanley, we’ve got a shot

USA | Covid-19 Complicates Trump Administration’s January Executions

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The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the Trump administration’s plan to carry out three more executions before Inauguration Day. A federal judge last week vacated Lisa Montgomery’s Jan. 12 scheduled execution date because the judge had a stay pending when the Justice Department set it. The judge put the stay in place after Montgomery’s lawyers contracted Covid-19 and asked for more time to work on her clemency efforts. Meanwhile, two other federal inmates scheduled for execution the same week have cited their Covid-19 diagnoses in challenges to their executions. “It would be a remarkable turn of events if getting infected with the virus literally kept these defendants alive,” said William Jay, co-chair of Goodwin’s appellate litigation practice who worked on capital cases at the Justice Department. So far, the Justice Department, which has carried out 10 executions since July, including three since Election Day, has signaled no plans to change course. Dustin Higgs and Corey Johnson, t

Iran | Juvenile Offender Hassan Rezaei Executed on the Last Day of 2020

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); December 31, 2020:  Juvenile convict Hassan Rezaei has been executed at Rasht Central Prison.  Iran Human Rights condemns his execution in the strongest terms. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR director said: “The international community and European states in particular, must respond to this execution appropriately. Tens of other juvenile convicts are currently on death row in Iranian prisons, the only way to save them from the death penalty is to change the law through sustained international pressure. That child offenders are still being executed in 2020, is not only shameful for the Islamic Republic of Iran but also for the international community.” In 2020, Iran was the only country to carry out the death penalty on juvenile offenders.  According to data collected by IHR and international human rights organisations, the Islamic Republic is responsible for more than 70% of all executions of juvenile offenders in the last 30 years. According to Iran Human Rights,

Texas | Joe Franco Garza, Jr., sentenced to death for 1998 murder, found dead in cell

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LIVINGSTON, Texas (KCBD) - An inmate sentenced to death for a 1998 murder was found dead in his cell on Tuesday. Joe Franco Garza, Jr. was charged in the strangulation death of 71-year-old Silbiano Rangel.  Police say Garza also stole Rangel’s truck, and then forged checks on his account. Rangel’s body was found in a field in the 7300 block of King Avenue.  Garza was arrested and charged with the murder less than a month later. He was convicted of capital murder in 2000 and sentenced to death, but his death sentence was reversed in 2006.  Garza claimed he was a troubled teen and that his legal team at the time did not do a good enough job using that evidence in his defense. He lost his appeal in 2008 and was set to die in September of 2015. This execution date was withdrawn to allow for DNA testing of evidence. Garza was being held on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, TX.  Garza did not comply when a guard ordered him to come to his cell door and was found unresponsive insi

In a Year Marked By Death, the Trump Administration Cements a Legacy of Unprecedented Executions

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Alfred Bourgeois was put to death by the Trump administration on Dec. 11. Like nine other prisoners who came before him this year, Bourgeois was killed with a legal injection of the drug pentobarbital while strapped to a gurney in an execution chamber at the Federal Corrections Complex in Terre Haute, Ind., where he’d effectively lived in solitary confinement for 16 years. His was the second federal execution in less than 24 hours. Since July, when federal executions resumed after a 17-year hiatus, the Department of Justice has executed more civilians than in any year since 1896, when President Grover Cleveland, himself a former executioner, was in office. In the past five months the federal government had executed 10 prisoners: Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey, Dustin Lee Honken, Lezmond Charles Mitchell, Keith Dwayne Nelson, William Emmett Lecroy, Jr., Christopher Andre Vialva, Orlando Cordia Hall, Brandon Bernard and Bourgeois. In November, the Department of Justice carried out t

The decline and fall of the American death penalty

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The number of death sentences and executions in the US has fallen off a cliff since the 1990s. 2020 continued that trend. Fewer people were executed in 2020 than in any year for nearly three decades, and fewer people were sentenced to die than at any point since the Supreme Court created the modern legal framework governing the death penalty in 1976. Those are two of the striking findings in the Death Penalty Information Center’s (DPIC) annual report , which was released on December 16. One significant reason so few people were executed in 2020 is the Covid-19 pandemic — which has slowed court proceedings and turned gathering prison officials and witnesses for an execution into a dangerous event for everyone involved. But even if 2020 is an outlier year due to the pandemic, DPIC’s data shows a sharp and consistent trend away from the death penalty since the number of capital sentences peaked in the 1990s. In total, only 17 people were executed in 2020, a number that would be much lower

USA | Department of Justice moves to vacate judge's decision to stay Montgomery execution

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A lawyer for the only woman on federal death row is sounding alarms about executions during a pandemic. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is appealing a judge's decision to halt the execution of Lisa Montgomery. TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A lawyer for the only woman on federal death row is sounding alarms about executions during a pandemic. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is appealing a judge's decision to halt the execution of Lisa Montgomery. Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2004 for killing a pregnant woman and cutting out her baby. The baby survived. Montgomery's execution was scheduled for December 8th but a judge granted a stay of execution, effective through the end of the year after members of Montgomery’s legal team became sick with COVID-19.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons rescheduled the execution for January 12th. Last week, a judge ruled the government acted unlawfully when it rescheduled the execution while the stay was still in place.  The governme

USA | Death row inmate who survived execution attempt dies in prison

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An Ohio death row inmate who survived an attempt to execute him by lethal injection in 2009 has died of possible complications of Covid-19, the state prisons system said. Romell Broom, 64, has been placed on the “Covid probable list” maintained by the department of rehabilitation and correction, spokeswoman Sara French said on Tuesday.  Inmates on that list are suspected to have died of Covid-19, pending a death certificate, she said.  The state says 124 inmates have died from confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus. Ohio unsuccessfully tried to put Broom, then aged 53, to death by lethal injection on 15 September 2009. The execution was called off after two hours when technicians could not find a suitable vein, and Broom cried in pain while receiving 18 needle sticks. At the time, Broom was only the second inmate nationally to survive an execution after they began in modern times. RELATED |  Death-row inmate Romell Broom who survived execution attempt dies; COVID suspected Bro

Malaysia | Mother charged with murdering newborn denied bail for second time

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GEORGE TOWN: The High Court has denied bail for an 18-year-old college student who allegedly tossed her baby out of a 13th-floor apartment unit in July. M. Santhea, who was charged with the offence, pleaded not guilty to killing her newborn daughter at 8.25am on July 10 at the Sri Ivory Apartment in Bandar Baru, Ayer Itam. The offence under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder carries the death penalty upon conviction. Her lawyer RSN Rayer requested bail for Santhea until the case is completed but was declined by Judge Amirudin Abd Rahman. Amirudin then fixed Jan 11 for hearing of the case while the court studies the affidavits submitted by Rayer earlier this month. "Now that the case has been transferred to the High Court, we come back to request if bail can be granted. "We have filed and served the affidavit on Dec 23 to request for bail until the end of the case. "The court needs 14 days to respond to it," Rayer told reporters outside the courtroom on Wednesd