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If only it were as easy to end the death penalty as it was for Texas to end last meals for those about to be executed.
Texas inmates who are set to be executed will no longer get their choice of last meals, after a prominent state senator voiced concern over a request from a man condemned for a notorious race killing.
...It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege," Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, wrote in a letter to Brad Livingston, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Livingston agreed and with one fell swoop of his pen, ended the practice. [More...]
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The ACLU tweeted last nightt:
In case it wasn't obvious: the only way to avoid executing the innocent is end the deathpenalty.
Back in 2009, I wrote this post about Justice Anton Scalia's view of the Troy Davis case, the presumption of innocence, which back in 1895 in a case called Coffin v. U.S, the Supreme Court called a "bedrock" of our criminal justice system, and on why those who "did it" may be just as at risk of a miscarriage of justice as those who are innocent. From the Coffin case: [More...]
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Troy Davis was executed at 11:08 pm ET.
This execution was a grievous wrong. Rest in Peace, Troy Davis.
Let the dialogue continue. America needs to end state-sanctioned killings.[More...]
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Troy Davis is scheduled for execution at 7:00 pm ET. Here are some continuous updates:
10:20 pm: Supreme Court rejects stay. No dissenting opinions. The order reads simply:
The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.
9:00 ET: Georgia State Patrol now out in force at prison, triples in size. Video here. Amnesty Int'l says family is being prepared for news. Doesn't sound good. [More...]
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The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has rejected clemency for Troy Davis.
His legal appeals are exhausted, so his latest last-ditch effort before the parole board appears to be his last chance to be spared execution.
No appeal to the Supreme Court allowed?
Good read: Andrew Cohen's The Death Penalty: Why We Fight for Equal Justice.
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After a full day of clemency hearings for Troy Davis, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has delayed its decision on his execution, now set for Weds. at 7pm. More than 1 million signatures have been collected asking for clemency. [More...]
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300 protest rallies around the world are being held today over the planned execution of Troy Davis.
The petition delivered to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had 638,000 signatures and support is growing daily.
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Texas was set to execute Duane Buck last night. Texas held off until the last appeals had been decided.
Today, the Supreme Court has intervened, and granted a stay.
At Buck's sentencing hearing, the jury that set his punishment was informed by a psychologist that black people had a higher rate of violent behaviour, a statement used by the prosecution as its key argument against giving him an alternative penalty of life imprisonment.
The victim's surviving relative asked for clemency.
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There have been 234 executions in Texas under Gov. Rick Perry (database here.) Four more are imminent, scheduled over the next 8 days. One is Duane Buck. At Buck's sentencing, prosecutors argued in part he should be sentenced to death because he is black and therefore a threat to public safety.
Duane Buck is one of four men scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas, where Perry is governor, over the next eight days – an exceptional rate even in this execution-happy state. At Buck's sentencing hearing, the jury that set his punishment was informed by a psychologist that black people had a higher rate of violent behaviour, a statement used by the prosecution as its key argument against giving him an alternative penalty of life imprisonment.
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McClatchy has a report today on the flaws in the military's death penalty system:
Of the 16 men sentenced to death since the military overhauled its system in 1984, 10 have been taken off death row. The military's appeals courts have overturned most of the sentences, not because of a change in heart about the death penalty or questions about the men's guilt, but because of mistakes made at every level of the military's judicial system.
The problems included defense attorneys who bungled representation, judges who didn't know how to properly instruct a jury and prosecutors who mishandled evidence....At almost every level - from trial to appeals - young, inexperienced lawyers routinely have been appointed to represent capital defendants.
McClatchy contrasts these cases with those of the 9/11 defendants: [More...]
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Ohio today executed Daniel Bedford with pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals, that may or may not be effective in blocking pain.
Bedford's attorneys say because of dementia and mental disability, he has no memory of the crime and may not understand he is being put to death.
There apparently were problems finding a vein, requiring him to be "stuck" several times. [More...]
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Executions may be on hold for a while in Georgia. The DEA has seized the state's supply of drugs used to execute inmates, after allegations were made that Georgia imported thiopental in circumvention of federal law.
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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed the bill abolishing the death penalty passed by the legislature in January. He also commuted the sentences of the 15 inmates now on death row to life in prison without parole. The law goes into effect July 1.
Illinois is now the 16th state to abolish the death penalty.
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Christian Longo is one of 35 men on death row in Oregon. He and about half of the others want to donate their organs after they are executed, to help save the lives of others who need organ transplants. There's no law preventing it, but prisons across the country won't accept their requests. Here is his op-ed in today's New York Times.
Christian is not seeking a sentence reduction or special treatment. He's abandoned his appeals.
I spend 22 hours a day locked in a 6 foot by 8 foot box on Oregon’s death row. There is no way to atone for my crimes, but I believe that a profound benefit to society can come from my circumstances. I have asked to end my remaining appeals, and then donate my organs after my execution to those who need them. But my request has been rejected by the prison authorities.
He has started an organization called GAVE, Gifts of
Anatomical Value from Everyone.
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There are 720 inmates awaiting execution on San Quentin's death row. U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who placed executions on hold in 2006 due to concerns that the chamber was antiquated and did not ensure a humane death, toured the new $900,000 death chamber today.
Judge Fogel didn't indicate whether his concerns have been satisfied, and will issue rulings later. He toured the old facility in 2006. Here's how the old procedure worked, according to San Quentin Operational Procedure No. 770. The 2007 revised protocol is here, but that too was declared invalid Then the state enacted Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15 3349 et seq. Here is Judge Fogel's September, 2010 ruling after the 9th Circuit remanded his decision on that.
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