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Showing posts from January, 2021

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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 | Federal Government Executes Corey Johnson, Who was Likely Intellectually Disabled, Without Any Judicial Review of His Eligibility for the Death Penalty

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For the second time in less than five weeks, the federal government has executed a death-row prisoner who likely was intellectually disabled, without affording him judicial review to determine his eligibility for the death penalty. Corey Johnson (pictured) was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 11:34 p.m. on January 14, 2021, the 12th federal prisoner executed in six months and the fifth in the transition period between Donald Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 presidential election and the scheduled inauguration of Joseph R. Biden on January 20, 2021. The only other time in U.S. history that as many as five transition-period executions took place was in 1884-1885 during the transition between Chester A. Arthur and the first presidency of Grover Cleveland. In an order issued at 10:00 p.m., four hours after Johnson was scheduled to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Johnson’s emergency application for a stay of execution to permit him to present evidence that the constitu

Iran | Two Brothers Executed in Ardebil

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); January 14, 2021: Two brothers who were sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for “premeditated murder” during a group fight, have been executed at Ardebil Central Prison. According to Iran Human Rights, two male prisoners were executed in the early hours of Wednesday, January 13.  In the same case, the two brothers had been arrested and convicted of “premeditated murder” during a group fight and sentenced to death around five years ago. Their identities have been established as Mehdi Feyzi and Moharam Feyzi, who were both around 40 years of age. At the time of writing, their executions have not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report, at least 225 of the 280 of those executed in 2019 were charged with "premeditated murder." As there are no legal distinctions made between murder and manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary in Iran.  Those charged under the umbrella term of “premedita

USA | D.C. judges order Maryland man’s federal execution to go forward on Friday; Supreme Court rejects first of his two appeals

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A back-and-forth legal battle continued into the final hours before Dustin Higgs, 48, convicted in a triple murder in Prince George’s County in 1996, is scheduled to be executed Friday, which would make him the last federal inmate to be put to death under President Donald Trump as he leaves office. Higgs’ fate now lies with the U.S. Supreme Court, which Thursday night rejected one of two pending appeals to spare his life. The high court lifted a delay granted by a federal judge in Washington earlier in the week to Higgs and another federal inmate, Corey Johnson, 52, due to their diagnoses of COVID-19. Johnson, convicted of murdering seven people in Virginia, was executed at 11:34 p.m. Thursday , according to The Associated Press.  Higgs has another case remaining before the Supreme Court. RELATED |  Dustin Higgs, The Last Man To Be Executed In Terre Haute, Maintains His Innocence As with previous death penalty cases, the three liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena

Belarus | First death sentence passed in 2021

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The following article has been Google translated from Uktainian. In Belarus, for the first time in 2021, the death penalty was handed down. Viktor Skrundzyk was sentenced to death in Slutsk. This was reported by the human rights organization " Viasna ". The decision was made by the Minsk Regional Court of Slutsk on January 15.  Skrundzik and three of his accomplices were found guilty of killing two retirees and attempting to kill an 85-year-old woman.  Two accomplices received 22 and 18 years of strict regime colonies, another - a year of work with the payment of 10% of wages. Skrundzik was first sentenced to death last year. However, in the fall, the Supreme Court overturned the decision and remanded the case for retrial. At the same time, human rights activists noted that in Belarus the death penalty is rarely imposed if the panel of the Supreme Court overturns the previous sentence. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has previously declared that the death penalty can b

USA | Federal government executes Corey Johnson following prolonged legal fight

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Corey Johnson was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. ET on Thursday. Johnson was sentenced to die after he was convicted of killing 7 people in 1992 as a part of the drug trade in Virginia. The weeks preceding his execution were defined by a tense legal battle after he contracted Covid-19 while on death row.  In his final statement, Johnson apologized for his crimes and told the families of the victims that he hoped they would find peace. He also thanked the staff at the prison, the prison's chaplain, his minister and his legal team.  "I would have said I was sorry before, but I didn't know how. I hope you will find peace," he said, according to a statement released by his lawyers. "To my family, I have always loved you, and your love has made me real. On the streets, I was looking for shortcuts, I had some good role models, I was side tracking, I was blind and stupid. I

A $6,300 bus. A $33 last meal. What New Documents Tell Us About Trump's Execution Spree

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Feds spent millions to restart the death penalty and in the process revealed much about how they do it. When Scott Mueller drove to Indiana in July to see Daniel Lewis Lee die, he stayed at a Holiday Inn. The hotel was nice enough, and only a 10-minute drive from the federal execution chamber in Terre Haute where the man who killed Mueller’s father would take his last breath. The two-night hotel stay cost around $200, and the tab was picked up by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It amounted to a small fraction of the more than $107,000 the agency spent on hotels for the witnesses and staff who flocked to western Indiana last summer for the federal government’s first executions in nearly two decades. A review of the expenses for five executions in July and August—including at least $9,376 for plane tickets and rental vans, more than $25,000 for kosher food and roughly $6,590 for tents—paints a stark and intimate picture of the practicalities of death, shedding light on a secretive process

Editorial | The Guardian view on Trump's executions: vicious to the end

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The federal execution of a woman who was mentally ill was the act of a morally bankrupt administration In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Lisa Montgomery became the first woman to be put to death by the United States government for almost seven decades. At the Indiana penitentiary where she was executed by lethal injection, there are no facilities for female prisoners. So during prolonged legal wrangling over her fate, Montgomery was cruelly placed in a holding cell in the execution-chamber building itself. Her crime was horrific. In 2004, Montgomery strangled a young woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant. She then cut a baby girl from her womb, and attempted to pass her off as her own. The pain and suffering of Ms Stinnett’s family can barely be imagined. But the political context of this week’s execution, and overwhelming evidence of Montgomery’s longstanding mental illness, suggests a gross miscarriage of justice has taken place. Issuing a stay of execution

Virginia lawmakers introduce bill to abolish death penalty

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The state has executed 113 people since 1976. Virginia state lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would abolish the state's death penalty. Virginia House of Delegates member Mike Mullin and state Sen. Scott Surovell introduced bills to their respective houses that would abolish the death penalty and convert existing capital sentences to sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mullin said in a statement that the use of capital punishment "is flawed with wrongful convictions, inadequate representation, geographic disparity, and racial bias." "It is not a crime deterrent, but instead perpetuates a culture of violence that does not belong in the Commonwealth," he said in a statement. As of October 2020, Virginia had executed 113 people since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks death row inmates. Only Texas has had more executions during that period, with 570, according to the

USA | Dustin Higgs, The Last Man To Be Executed In Terre Haute, Maintains His Innocence

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Higgs was sentenced to death for his role in a triple murder. A key witness later said the government’s case was “bullshit.” ON THE NIGHT Lisa Montgomery was executed by the Trump administration, Alexa Cave Wingate arrived at the Springhill Suites in Terre Haute, Indiana, at 9 p.m. The hotel sits at the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and Interstate 70. The interstate leads all the way to Baltimore, where Wingate’s brother, Dustin Higgs, had been sentenced to die more than 20 years earlier. Some 3 miles in the opposite direction, in a brick building on the banks of the Wabash River, is the federal death chamber. Montgomery, the only woman under a federal death sentence, was being held in a small room adjacent to it. The execution chamber was constructed just after the passage of the 1994 crime bill, but the surrounding penitentiary predates even the interstate. When the prison first opened more than 75 years ago, the meeting of Highway 41 and Old State Road 40 made Terre Haute the “Cro

USA | Innocent Black Man Exonerated From Death Row After 26 Years

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Eddie Lee Howard was exonerated on Friday, January 8, 2021, marking the end of his 26-year fight for innocence. Mr. Howard, a Black man, was sentenced to death in 1994 after being wrongfully convicted of murdering an elderly white woman in Columbus, Mississippi, based almost entirely on now discredited bite mark evidence. New forensic opinion regarding bite marks and powerful alibi witnesses, along with DNA testing of crime scene evidence, including blood and DNA from the murder weapon, excluded Mr. Howard, proving his innocence. He was released from Mississippi’s death row in early December 2020 ahead of today’s ruling. In a landmark decision on August 31, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated Mr. Howard’s conviction and death sentence, recognizing that his case rested on the debunked technique of bite mark comparison. As the Court noted, an “individual perpetrator cannot be reliably identified through bite mark comparison,” yet bite mark comparison was “the State’s most important evi