Showing posts from September, 2022


U.S. | Execution by nitrogen hypoxia doesn’t seem headed for widespread adoption as bills fall short and nitrogen producers object

The day after Alabama carried out the first-known US execution using nitrogen gas, its attorney general sent a clear message to death penalty states that might want to follow suit: “Alabama has done it, and now so can you.” Indeed, in the weeks immediately following the January execution of Kenneth Smith, it appeared a handful of states were listening, introducing bills that would adopt the method known as nitrogen hypoxia or a similar one. Officials behind each framed the legislation as an alternative method that could help resume executions where they had long been stalled.

Florida | Prosecutors for Parkland school shooter begin rebuttal case as they push for death penalty

The Parkland school shooter carved a swastika into his rifle's magazine, commented that he wanted to rape and kill and likely exaggerated his mental illness, according to testimony today. The prosecution in the penalty phase of the shooter's death penalty trial started their rebuttal case Tuesday. This stage comes after the defense unexpectedly rested their case early and allows for the state to respond to claims made by defense during their case. Prosecutors are arguing that the shooter had antisocial personality disorder. If he suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder instead, like his lawyers argued, it would have interfered with his ability to plan ahead. This is a crucial difference the jury could use to decide if he gets the death penalty. RELATED |  Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves The day started with quick testimonies from Broward Sheriff's Office deputies who identified the shooter's rifle and boots. Both had swa

New York | Months after Buffalo massacre, families still split on death penalty

Top Justice Dept. official visits to launch an anti-hate crime initiative as community weighs punishment for alleged Tops market shooter Months after his mother, Geraldine, and 9 other Black people died in a Buffalo grocery store at the hands of a White gunman, Mark Talley still wrestles with a question that haunts the victims’ families: What is the appropriate punishment for the perpetrator of such a heinous, racist crime? “Some days, I want him killed in the most painful way — take it back to Genghis Khan’s time, give him as much pain as possible,” Talley said in a telephone interview this week. But in other moments of reflection, Talley, who recently launched a nonprofit community organization called “Agents for Advocacy,” has another view: “I don’t want death. I want him to suffer in jail” for the rest of his life. Talley and others whose lives were upended after the mass shooting at the Tops supermarket in May have shared their views with senior Justice Department officials, who a

Oklahoma Lawmaker Calls for Investigation of Prosecutor for Deliberately Withholding Evidence of Innocence in Richard Glossip Retrial

An Oklahoma state representative has called for an investigation into the practices of the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office following additional revelations that county prosecutors deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence and manufactured false testimony to secure a conviction and death sentence against Richard Glossip in his 2004 retrial. At a news conference on September 22, 2022, the fourth date Oklahoma had set to execute Glossip, State Representative Justin Humphrey called the prosecution’s conduct in the case “extremely unethical.” “This is unacceptable,” Humphrey said. “You’re looking at taking a person’s life, which makes you no better than a murderer. … I want to call for an investigation.” Humphrey, who describes himself as “a strong proponent” of capital punishment, said that he initially “was very reluctant” to become involved in Glossip’s case. “Now I’m at the point we’re investigating the wrong people,” Humphrey said. “I don’t think that we should just let thi

Texas | Conveyor Belt to Lethal Injection Keeps Rolling

Ramirez will be prayed over as he dies The Texas death penalty is often likened to a machine, an impersonal device conducting individuals along a conveyor belt to death. The machine is composed of a surprisingly large number of judges and prosecutors and the rules they write to make it run. Six sets of judges – three from the state and three more at the federal level – must deny the appeals of the condemned before an execution can proceed. There's also the Attor­ney General's Office, whose assistant attorneys general and their staffs argue for death. And, as we see in the case of John Henry Ramir­ez, district attorneys are important parts of the machine. Once an inmate's appeals have been exhausted, the D.A.'s office of the county that prosecuted him must ask a judge to set an execution date, called a death warrant, to initiate an execution. In other words, district attorneys have the power to spare certain inmates from death. Some, particularly in larger cities, have d

Denial of clemency to death row inmate disappoints Oklahoma archbishop, catholics

One day after a parole board denied clemency to death row inmate Benjamin Cole, the Archbishop of Oklahoma City registered his disappointment in the decision. “The denial of clemency by the Pardon and Parole Board is disappointing as there is hardly any justice to be seen in taking the life of a man who is hardly able to speak and lacks the basic understanding of why the state is seeking his execution,” Archbishop Paul Coakley said Sept. 28. “While it is too late to provide Benjamin Cole with any care or treatment that might have prevented his crime almost 20 years ago, we still have an obligation to recognize the dignity bestowed upon him by God, and the effects of his debilitating mental illness.” Cole, the archbishop said, “should be allowed to live out what remains of his life in the hope that he receives the mental health care he should have received decades ago. Pray for the victims of violence and their families that God brings them comfort and peace. Pray for the soul of the co

China | Official gets death for corruption involving 3b yuan

Li Jianping, a former senior Party official in the economic and technological development zone in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, was sentenced to death for multiple crimes on Tuesday. An intermediate people's court in the region's Hinggan League sentenced Li, who once served as the head of the zone's Communist Party of China working committee, to death for corruption, with a suspended death sentence for bribery, life imprisonment for embezzlement and a five-year prison term for indulging organized crimes. In combination, the court decided to give Li the death penalty. It also stripped Li of his political rights and confiscated all of his personal assets. Additionally, the interest gained from his corruption and embezzlement was recovered and returned to the zone, and the interest obtained from his bribery was turned over to the State treasury. From 2016 to 2018, Li took advantage of his position in the zone with others to misappropriate more than 1.44 billion yua

Oregon | The story of one US governor’s historic use of clemency: ‘We are a nation of 2nd chances’

Kate Brown has granted more commutations or pardons than all of Oregon’s governor from the last 50 years combined Last October, Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, signed an executive order granting clemency to 73 people who had committed crimes as juveniles, clearing a path for them to apply for parole. The move marked the high point in a remarkable arc: as Brown approaches the end of her 2nd term in January, she has granted commutations or pardons to 1,147 people – more than all of Oregon’s governors from the last 50 years combined. The story of clemency in Oregon is one of major societal developments colliding: the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic put on the prison system and growing momentum for criminal justice reform. It’s also a story of a governor’s personal convictions and how she came to embrace clemency as a tool for criminal justice reform and as an act of grace, exercising the belief that compassionate mercy and ensuring public safety are not mutually exclusive. “If you are

Alabama | Calls for a Moratorium on Executions Grow

In the wake of Alabama’s failed attempt to execute Alan Miller last week, calls to suspend executions in the state are growing. Alabama scheduled Alan Miller’s execution for Thursday, September 22, at 6 pm. Earlier that day, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction barring the State from executing Mr. Miller by lethal injection because it found it substantially likely that Mr. Miller had elected nitrogen hypoxia. The State then filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to vacate the injunction and allow the lethal injection to proceed. Shortly after 9 pm, the Court granted the State’s motion without explanation over the dissenting votes of 4 justices. At 9:20 pm, officials at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama, said that Alabama’s Attorney General had instructed them to begin the execution. Media, family members, and attorneys expected to be transported to the death chamber to witness the execution. But that did not happen. No witnesses or attorney