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Showing posts from September, 2021

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USA | Biden needs to act on growing anti-death penalty sentiments

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The flattening of public discourse — political, social, moral and ethical — into a simplistic left-right binary is a disturbing trend that too few of us push back against. People are encouraged to live in their echo chambers through news outlets tailored to confirm their worldviews and social media feeds custom-designed to reinforce their biases. This polarized discourse has created a false narrative around the death penalty that relies on simplistic and overgeneralized notions of our country’s partisan divide. It is a narrative that, while easy to communicate, ignores the diversity of voices expressing serious concerns about how the death penalty operates in America. For instance, the authors of this op-ed belie that simplicity. One of us is a former Democratic U.S. senator from Wisconsin, a state that has not had the death penalty since 1853, and who has worked tirelessly throughout his public life to end the death penalty. The other is the former Republican-appointed United States a

Federal court dismisses lawsuit in Willie B. Smith death penalty case, execution to move forward

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit by death row inmate Willie B. Smith that was set for trial in 2022. RELATED | Alabama Attorney General’s office reprimanded for ‘misrepresentation’ in Willie B. Smith III’s death penalty case  Smith’s suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds in a ruling issued Friday by Judge Emily Marks. It claimed that Smith’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated when prison officials did not provide him with an accommodation that facilitated his understanding of a form asking the death row inmate whether he wished to opt into execution via nitrogen hypoxia. Smith’s IQ, according to experts, is around 70. “A full-scale IQ score of around 70 to 75 indicates a significant limitation in intellectual functioning,” according to the American Psychological Association. In a 2002 case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing those with such disabilities constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” forbidden by t

20 years after 9/11, men charged with attacks still awaiting trial — here’s why

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Delays are the inevitable result of an irreconcilable conflict: US government’s desire to convict and execute the men and the fact that defendants are also victims of CIA torture THE CONVERSATION — As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 passed, the five men accused of responsibility for the attacks were still awaiting trial in the Guantanamo military commission. This case is the largest criminal prosecution in United States history in terms of number of victims. The charge sheet lists the names of 2,976 people who were direct casualties of two hijacked commercial airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center and caused the twin towers to collapse, another that crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth, probably aiming for the US Capitol building, that was brought down in a field in western Pennsylvania when several passengers overpowered their hijackers. Yet two decades after the US‘s worst terrorist attack, the 9/11 case remains mired in the pretrial phase with no start date for the tria

Appeals court declines to take up Dylann Roof's death sentence challenge

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A federal appeals court has declined to take up Dylann Roof’s challenge to a three-judge panel’s decision to uphold his conviction and death sentence in the 2015 killings of nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals filed a one-page order Friday declining Roof’s petition for a panel rehearing after his legal team argued earlier this month that the matter should go before the full appeals court. Roof’s attorneys had argued that they believe their client’s death sentence was issued in part due to prosecutors' efforts to portray the victims in a positive light, which the Supreme Court has previously said is only permitted in certain circumstances. The lawyers wrote in their court filing, "The Panel’s decision conflicts with this precedent, opening the door to death sentences based on victims’ goodness and worth.” "Especially troubling, it sanctions reliance on victims’ religiosity as evidence of that heightened worth,”

Oklahoma’s Death Penalty History: Botched Executions, Wrong Drugs, Exonerations

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With a parole board recommending Julius Jones’ commutation from death to life in prison with the possibility of parole, Oklahoma’s history of executions has come to light. The state that was the first to allow more than one way to execute someone has a storied and complicated history, including last-minute exonerations and botched deaths.  Oklahoma legalized the current death penalty law in 1976, and since then has executed the largest number of prisoners per capita. Oklahoma has several ways to kill prisoners With a population of 4 million, Oklahoma is only the 28th most populated state. Just Texas and Virginia have executed more people by sheer numbers than Oklahoma. In fact, Oklahoma was the first state to allow lethal injection as a form of execution. Nitrogen hypoxia, electrocution, and firing squad are all acceptable means of taking a person’s life in the state. Oklahoma also has the distinction of being the first state to use phenobarbital in an execution, in 2010. However, Okla

USA | The state of the death penalty in the South a decade after a controversial execution

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Ten years ago this week, the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis despite substantial questions about his guilt and calls to spare his life from prominent world leaders including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Though other controversial executions have been carried out since then, this was one of the first cases in the 21st century to get widespread attention over doubt about the conviction. Davis was convicted of murder in 1991 for the killing of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, who while working as a security guard at a Burger King restaurant was shot when he tried to defend a man being assaulted in a nearby parking lot. Seven of the nine witnesses who identified Davis as the shooter recanted their testimony, and Davis maintained his innocence to his last breath. His execution on Sept. 21, 2011, came after three previous scheduled executions that ended in stays, one just 90 minutes before the deadline

Singapore | Apex court orders retrial for 2 men on death row for alleged drug trafficking

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The apex court said the charges against the men have also been amended. The Court of Appeal has ordered a retrial for 2 men currently on death row for alleged drug trafficking. In written grounds issued on Thursday (Sept 23), the apex court said the charges against Imran Mohd Arip and Tamilselvam Yagasvranan have also been amended. The duo are among 3 men sentenced to death by the High Court in 2019 for their involvement in a 2017 transaction of 19.42g of diamorphine, otherwise known as heroin. The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty when the amount of heroin trafficked exceeds 15g. Imran, Tamilselvam and another man, Mr Pragas Krissamy, had met on Feb 8 that year in the fourth-storey corridor of Block 518 Jurong West Street 52. Mr Pragas allegedly took out a white plastic bag containing the heroin from his backpack and handed it to Imran before leaving with Tamilselvam. The 3 men were arrested shortly after the transaction took place. Following the High Court trial, Imr

USA | Biden needs to act on growing anti-death penalty sentiments

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The flattening of public discourse — political, social, moral and ethical — into a simplistic left-right binary is a disturbing trend that too few of us push back against. People are encouraged to live in their echo chambers through news outlets tailored to confirm their worldviews and social media feeds custom-designed to reinforce their biases. This polarized discourse has created a false narrative around the death penalty that relies on simplistic and overgeneralized notions of our country’s partisan divide. It is a narrative that, while easy to communicate, ignores the diversity of voices expressing serious concerns about how the death penalty operates in America. For instance, the authors of this op-ed belie that simplicity. One of us is a former Democratic U.S. senator from Wisconsin, a state that has not had the death penalty since 1853, and who has worked tirelessly throughout his public life to end the death penalty. The other is the former Republican-appointed United States a

Florida Supreme Court upholds James Dailey’s death sentence

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Dailey claims he’s innocent in a 1985 Pinellas County murder. Justice Jorge Labarga dissented from the majority opinion. The Florida Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court’s decision upholding the conviction and death sentence of James Dailey, whose lawyers have argued that he is innocent of a 1985 murder of a teenage girl in Indian Rocks Beach. In an opinion Thursday, the state’s highest court rejected several claims from Dailey’s defense, including arguments that his conviction should be overturned based on a 2019 affidavit signed by his codefendant, Jack Pearcy, that included a statement in which Pearcy took sole credit for the crime. Pearcy later claimed the statement in the document was untrue and refused to testify when called to court in March 2020. Six of the court’s seven justices concurred with the ruling. Justice Jorge Labraga dissented. In his own opinion, Labarga noted that there is no forensic evidence linking Dailey to the murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio, and that

Ohio House lawmakers hear arguments for banning death penalty

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Ohio’s governor continues to issue reprieves of execution for inmates on death row in the state as lawmakers reconvene in Columbus to consider banning the punishment in the future. Earlier this month, Gov. Mike DeWine pushed back the dates of four executions scheduled to take place in the first half of 2022. He previously issued reprieves for all executions scheduled in 2021. No inmates have been put to death during his tenure as governor. DeWine halted the use of lethal injection, the only legal execution method in the state, due to concerns that the drugs used in the process could cause “severe pain and needless suffering.” Lawmakers in the Senate introduced a bipartisan bill earlier this year to outlaw the practice, led by Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). A nearly identical bill was also introduced in the House. State senators heard testimony in favor of banning the death penalty earlier this year. Now, back from their summer break, lawmakers in the House hear

Oklahoma | More Than 35 Lawmakers Urge Governor To Review Richard Glossip's Death Row Case

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Dozens of Oklahoma state lawmakers are calling on Governor Kevin Stitt to order an independent investigation into the case of a death row prisoner. The lawmakers are even taking Richard Glossip's case to national TV. A documentary about Glossip a few years ago titled “Killing Richard Glossip” continues to get international attention. Now, there is a petition for an independent investigation, as Glossip could be scheduled for execution next year. Oklahoma state representative Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, and Pushmataha County resident Justin Jackson said they interviewed with Dr. Phil in Los Angeles on Sept. 22 on this case because they are passionate about it. The interview’s air date has not been scheduled. "I'm convinced, 100 percent, we've got an innocent man sitting on death row now, and so I'm going on national TV to catch the ear of the attorney general, the governor, whoever else will listen," said Rep. McDugle. Glossip was found guilty of the 1997 mu