All about United States

465 element(s) found

Document(s)

Capital Punishment, 2019 – Statistical Tables

By U.S. Department of Justice Tracy L. Snell, on 10 August 2021


2021

Government body report

Death Row Conditions 

Drug Offenses

United States


More details See the document

This report presents statistics on persons who were under sentence of death or were executed in 2019

  • Document type Government body report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions  / Drug Offenses

Document(s)

Right Here, Right Now Life Stories from America’s Death Row

By Lynden Harris, on 10 August 2021


Book

Death Row Conditions 

United States


More details See the document

Upon receiving his execution date, one of the thousands of men living on death row in the United States had an epiphany: “All there ever is, is this moment. You, me, all of us, right here, right now, this minute, that’s love.”

Right Here, Right Now collects the powerful, first-person stories of dozens of men on death rows across the country. From childhood experiences living with poverty, hunger, and violence to mental illness and police misconduct to coming to terms with their executions, these men outline their struggle to maintain their connection to society and sustain the humanity that incarceration and its daily insults attempt to extinguish.

By offering their hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, failures, and wounds, the men challenge us to reconsider whether our current justice system offers actual justice or simply perpetuates the social injustices that obscure our shared humanity.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions 

Document(s)

The Phantom

By Patrick Forbes, on 10 August 2021


Multimedia content

Innocence

Public Opinion 

United States


More details See the document

THE PHANTOM tells the story of one of the darkest episodes in the long history of American justice. A story of how the State of Texas knowingly sent an innocent man to his death and left a serial killer at large. A case in which – for the first time – it can be conclusively proven that the US courts executed a blameless man.

This film uncovers the shocking truth behind a tale of murder, corruption and lies that unfolded in the dusty, desperate streets of a Texas oil town nearly thirty years ago.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence / Public Opinion 
Virginia USA

Article(s)

The Commonwealth of Virginia Abolishes the Death Penalty

By Louis Linel, on 25 March 2021

Virginia became the 23rd US State to formally ban capital punishment on 24 March 2021.

2021

United States

Document(s)

Let the Lord Sort Them. The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty

By Maurice Chammah, on 27 January 2021


2021

Book

Public Opinion 

United States


More details See the document

Maurice Chammah (The Marshall Project) explores the rise and fall of capital punishment in Texas where it appears to durably decline in spite of the state’s long use of the death penalty.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public Opinion 
DPIC’s Report on the 2020 Death Penalty Usage in the US

Article(s)

DPIC’s Report on the 2020 Death Penalty Usage in the US

By Louis Linel, on 6 January 2021

TheDeath Penalty Information Center’s 2020 annual report highlights the continuing trend toward abolition in the US and the resumption of federal executions in a challenging COVID-19 context.

2021

United States

Community of Sant’Egidio

Article(s)

Community of Sant’Egidio Calls for Universal Abolition with Cities for Life, Cities Against the Death Penalty

By Louis Linel, on 8 December 2020

The discussion was chaired by Mario Marazitti, who stood in front of broadcasted live images of the light-draped Colosseum in Rome, Italy, displaying the slogan of this international key event, “No Justice Without Life”.

2020

Italy

Malaysia

Public Opinion 

United States

US White House

Article(s)

Calling for an End to the Federal Executions of the Outgoing Trump Administration

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 8 December 2020

A few days after losing the national election to President-Elect Joe Biden, the Donald Trump administration in the United States of America has continued scheduling a spree of federal executions in an attempt to push its cruel, inhuman and degrading death penalty agenda forward. President Trump resumed federal executions in July 2020, breaking a 17-year […]

Moratorium

Public Opinion 

United States

Live Facebook

Article(s)

UPR 36th Session Debriefed on Facebook Live

By Louis Linel, on 17 November 2020

As the 36th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was being held under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council from 02 to 13 November, the Advocates for Human Rights, a member organization of the World Coalition, facilitated Facebook live debriefings to cover the review of States that have not yet abolished capital […]

2020

Belarus

Jamaica

Liberia

Libya

Malawi

Maldives

United States

Document(s)

Death Row USA – Spring 2020

By NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. / Deborah Fins, on 8 September 2020


2020

NGO report

United States


More details See the document

Spring 2020 edition of Death Row USA, on the situation of the death penalty in the USA as of April 2020

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Statistics,

Document(s)

Just Mercy film discussion – Florida International University College of Law (Webinar)

By Fiona Kidman, on 8 September 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details Download [ pdf - 232 Ko ]

Just Mercy film discussion and reflections on racism in the US criminal justice system, scheduled on 22 July 2020.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

DEATH ROW USA – Spring 2018

By NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details Download [ pdf - 1801 Ko ]

This report provides death row statistics and an update on executions in the US as of April 2018.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Penalty, Statistics,

Document(s)

Death Row – The Final Minutes

By Blink Publishing / Michelle Lyons, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

First as a reporter and then as a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Michelle was a frequent visitor to Huntsville’s Walls Unit, where she recorded and relayed the final moments of death row inmates’ lives before they were put to death by the state.Michelle was in the death chamber as some of the United States’ most notorious criminals, including serial killers, child murderers and rapists, spoke their last words on earth, while a cocktail of lethal drugs surged through their veins.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Right to life, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment, 2016 – Statistical Brief

By Bureau of Justice Statistics / Elizabeth Davis, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

Presents statistics on persons under sentence of death at year-end 2016, including summary trends in the population, admissions to and releases from death row, the number of persons executed, and an advance count of executions in 2017. Data are from BJS’s National Prisoner Statistics(NPS-8 series.Highlights:- At year-end 2016, a total of 32 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) held 2,814 prisoners under sentence of death, which was 58 (2%) fewer than at year-end 2015.- California (26%), Florida (14%), and Texas (9%) held nearly half (49%) of the nation’s prisoners under sentence of death at year-end 2016; in 2016, Texas executed seven prisoners, Florida executed one, and California did not execute any prisoners.- In 2016, the number of prisoners under sentence of death decreased for the sixteenth consecutive year.- Twelve states received a total of 32 prisoners under sentence of death in 2016.- Five states executed a total of 20 prisoners in 2016, with Georgia (9) and Texas (7) accounting for 80% of executions.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

Outliers and Outcomes: How 9 of 10 Death Cases End with a Life Sentence & Why That Matters

By Ohioans to Stop Executions, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

OTSE is a coalition of individuals and organizations working to reduce use of and ultimately end capital punishment in Ohio. The purpose of the report is to provide information and analysis to the media, members of the general public, legislators and state leaders.The death penalty in Ohio has become increasingly rare and is relegated to just a few high-use,outlier counties.Indeed, although Ohio has set an execution schedule unmatched by any state in the country up to the year 2023, it seems doubtful, based on its history of litigation and execution drug shortages, that Ohio will execute all those individuals.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Documentary: “In The Executioner’s Shadow; a Story of Justice, Injustice and the Death Penalty”

By Maggie Burnette Stogner / Rick Stack / In The Executioner's Shadow, on 8 September 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Video “It is the potential of this documentary to move us toward a more enlightened society that excites me about this work.” Benjamin Jealous, former NAACP PresidentAs wrongful convictions, botched executions, and a broken justice system inch further into the spotlight, we must consider: What is justice? What part should the death penalty play?

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Innocence, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

: The Right Way: More Republican lawmakers championing death penalty repeal

By Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

At a press conference in Washington, DC, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty released a new report that shows the surge in the number of Republican lawmakers who sponsored death penalty repeal legislation at the state level. The report – called The Right Way – looked at all death penalty repeal bills filed since 2000, using the increase in sponsorships as a measure for growing Republican leadership on the issue.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Mom of murdered son finds ‘only pain’ from death penalty

By Florida Today, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Politicians champion the death penalty while they campaign and are in office, and then they retire and move on, never having to deal with the reality of it.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

In the Executioner’s Shadow

By Maggie Burnette Stogner, on 8 September 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

What would you do if someone you love was raped, tortured, or murdered? How would you seek justice? The very thought evokes horror— we shudder to even consider it. But it is a reality faced by Vicki and Syl Scheiber after their daughter’s rape and murder; faced by Karen Brassard in the traumatic aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing; faced by former Virginia state executioner Jerry Givens after performing 62 executions.As wrongful convictions, botched executions, and a broken justice system inch further into the spotlight, we must consider: What is justice? What part should the death penalty play?In the Executioner’s Shadow allows a glimpse into Jerry’s rarely seen world of death row and execution. It explores Karen’s moral conflict as she attends the accused bomber’s trial, a young man the same age as her son. It defies our perception of justice as Vicki and Syl fight for the life of their daughter’s murderer.In the Executioner’s Shadow illuminates the oft hidden realities entangled in death row, the death penalty, and the U.S. Justice system at large.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Deterrence Podcast – Death Penalty Information Center

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 8 September 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence , Member organizations, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty in the USA

By Robert Dunham, on 8 September 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details Download [ pdf - 3888 Ko ]

Presentation of Robert Dunham, Death Penalty Information Center, for the plenary session on the death penalty in the USA which took place during the 2017 General Assembly of the World Coalition.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Death Penalty, Statistics, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Courting Death – The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment

By Carol S. Steiker / Jordan M. Steiker / Harvard University Press, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

While execution chambers remain active in several states in the United States, constitutional regulation has contributed to the death penalty’s new fragility. In the next decade or two, Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker argue, the fate of the American death penalty is likely to be sealed by this failed judicial experiment. Courting Death illuminates both the promise and pitfalls of constitutional regulation of contentious social issues.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Oregon’s death penalty disproportionately used against persons with significant mental impairments

By Fair Punishment Project, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

Although,by all functional measures, Oregonians have abandoned the death penalty, 35 condemned inmates remain on Oregon’s death row.What do we know about those people, and about the quality of justice that resulted in their death sentences? This report examines the cases of the condemned men and women in Oregon to see how they ended up there, and what patterns emerged.Here’s what we found: In Oregon, two-thirds of death row inmates possess signs of serious mental illness or intellectual impairment, endured devastatingly severe childhood trauma, or were not old enough to legally purchase alcohol at the time the offense occurred.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Death Row Phenomenon, Intellectual Disability, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Too Broken to Fix: Part II – An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties

By Fair Punishment Project, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

The trends are clear. In 2015, juries returned the fewest number of new death sentences—49—since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.Of the 3,143 county or county equivalents in the United States, only 16—or one half of one percent—imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015.This report takes a close look at how capital punishment operates on the ground in half of these active death-sentencing counties. In Part II, we highlight Dallas (TX), Jefferson(AL), San Bernardino (CA), Los Angeles (CA), Orange (CA), Miami-Dade (FL),Hillsborough (FL), and Pinellas (FL) counties.Our review of these counties, like the places profiled in Part I, reveals thatthese counties frequently share at least three systemic deficiencies: a history ofoverzealous prosecutions, inadequate defense lawyering, and a pattern of racialbias and exclusion. These structural failings regularly produce two types of unjustoutcomes which disproportionately impact people of color: the wrongful convictionof innocent people, and the excessive punishment of persons who are young or sufferfrom severe mental illnesses, brain damage, trauma, and intellectual disabilities.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Too Broken to Fix: Part I – An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties

By Fair Punishment Project, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

The trends are clear. In 2015, juries returned the fewest number of new death sentences—49—since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.Of the 3,143 county or county equivalents in the United States, only 16—or one half of one percent—imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015.This report takes a close look at how capital punishment operates on the ground in half of these active death-sentencing counties. In this first report, we dig deep into Caddo, Clark, Duval, Harris, Maricopa, Mobile, Kern, and Riverside counties. Our review reveals that these counties frequently share at least three systemic deficiencies: a history of overzealous prosecutions, inadequate defense lawyering, and a pattern of racial bias and exclusion. These structural failings regularly produce two types of unjust outcomes which disproportionately impact people of color: the wrongful conviction of innocent people, and the excessive punishment of persons who are young or suffer from severe mental illnesses, brain damage, trauma, and intellectual disabilities.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

The True Legacy of Atkins and Roper: The Unreliability Principle, Mentally Ill Defendants, and the Death Penalty’s Unraveling

By Scott E. Sundby / University of Miami School of Law, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

In striking down the death penalty for intellectually disabled and juvenile defendants, Atkins v. Virginia and Roper v. Simmons have been understandably heralded as important holdings under the Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence that has found the death penalty “disproportional” for certain types of defendants and crimes. This Article argues, however, that the cases have a far more revolutionary reach than their conventional understanding. In both cases the Court went one step beyond its usual two-step analysis of assessing whether imposing the death penalty violated “evolving standards of decency.” This extra step looked at why even though intellectual disability and youth were powerful mitigators, juries were not able to reliably use them in their decision making. The Court thus articulated expressly for the first time what this Article calls the “unreliability principle:” if too great a risk exists that constitutionally protected mitigation cannot be reliably assessed, the unreliability means that the death penalty cannot be constitutionally imposed. In recognizing the unreliability principle, the Court has called into serious question the death penalty for other offenders to whom the principle applies, such as mentally ill defendants. And, unlike with the “evolving standards” analysis, the unreliability principle does not depend on whether a national consensus exists against the practice. This Article identifies the six Atkins-Roper factors that bring the unreliability principle into play and shows why they make application of the death penalty to mentally ill defendants unconstitutional. The principle, which finds its constitutional home in the cases of Woodson v. North Carolina and Lockett v. Ohio, has profound implications for the death penalty, and if taken to its logical endpoint calls into question the Court’s core premise since Furman v. Georgia, that by providing individualized consideration of a defendant and his crime, the death penalty decision will be free of arbitrariness.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial, Intellectual Disability,

Document(s)

A Tale of Two (and Possibly Three) Atkins: Intellectual Disability and Capital Punishment Twelve Years after The Supreme Court’s Creation of a Categorical Bar

By John H. Blume / Sheri Lynn Johnson / William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

The article, with three co-authors, examines empirically the capital cases decided by the lower courts since the United States Supreme Court created the categorical ban against the execution of persons with intellectual disability twelve years ago in the Atkins decision.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty and Intellectual Disability: A Guide

By Edward Polloway / AAIDD- American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

In the 2002 landmark decision Atkins v. Virginia 536 U.S. 304, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that executing a person with intellectual disability is a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” but left states to determine their own criteria for intellectual disability. AAIDD has always advocated against the death penalty for people with intellectual disability and has long provided amicus curiae briefs in Supreme Court cases. Thus, in this comprehensive new book published by AAIDD, notable authors in the field of intellectual disability discuss all aspects of the issues, with a particular focus on foundational considerations, assessment factors and issues, and professional concerns in Atkins assessments.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Intellectual Disability,

Document(s)

Film “Kill Troy Killing Me”

By Garry A. Boast / Cerebral Motion Productions, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

A death penalty abolitionist (Martina Correia) must sound the alarms of our criminal justice system in time to save her brother from lethal injection.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Article: “Viedo Darryll Stallworth, Former Prosecutor supports SAFE California”

By SAFE California, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Short video of Darryl Stallworth, a former California Deputy DA who once sought the death penalty as a prosecutor — and now wants to replace the death penalty with life without parole. Darryl believes Prop. 34 is right step for California, and I wanted to share his story with you, too

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public debate, Trend Towards Abolition,

Document(s)

Film “THE ROAD TO LIVINGSTON”

By The Austin Film Society / Chelsea Hernandez, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Delia Perez-Meyer, an elementary school teacher, has taken a weeklyjourney from the classroom to death row for the past 12 years. She tells of her personal voyage, beginning from a place of frustration to acceptanceand hopeful activism.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women, Innocence,

Document(s)

Article: “Troy Davis: Why Poster Boys Don’t Matter”

By David R. Dow / Guerinca, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Is the Troy Davis case the tipping point on the capital punishment debate? Unfortunately, not until the majority of Americans believes that killing—even an unquestionably guilty murderer—is wrong.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Killer Art: Florida’s Death Row Artists

By Chris Dahl / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

Art and letters from the men who await death in the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Death Row Conditions, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Circumstances of Offense: Robert “Saint” Bailey on Death Row

By Chris Dahl / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

This book is a first-hand account of the life of Simon City Royals gangster Robert “Saint” Bailey who is currently on Death Row in Raiford, Florida. He killed a law enforcement officer in 2005.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Peter Jackson talks about his innocence project: ‘West of Memphis’

By Chris Nashawaty / Entertainment Weekly, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

For the past seven years, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have quietly financed investigations to help free Jason Baldwin, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols, known as the the West Memphis Three, who were wrongly convicted in 1994 of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis , Arkansas. This piece provides and in-depth look into Peter and Fran’s involvement with the investigattion, the creation of ‘West of Memphis’ as a way to expose key developments in the infamous murder case and Jackson’s main goal, to exonerate the West Memphis Three and help find the real killer.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Portuguese : História de uma execução

By Fabian Biasio / Swissinfo, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Reportagem de Fabian Biasio sobre a execução de um assassino esquizofrênico no Texas. Em 2003, o fotógrafo acompanhou Tina Morris durante a semana que precedia a execução do seu irmão, James Colburn.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families, Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

The Executioner’s Song

By Norman Mailer / Vintage , on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

Norman Mailer tells Gary Gilmore’s story, and those of the men and women caught up in his procession toward the firing squad, with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gilmore’s Utah.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Execution Watch: Mitt Romney’s ‘Foolproof’ Death Penalty Act and the Politics of Capital Punishment

By Russell G. Murphy / Suffolk University Law Review, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article presents a legal and political analysis of the 2003 – 2005 effort of Governor Mitt Romney to make the death penalty available as a sentencing option in Massachusetts.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public debate,

Document(s)

Victim’s son objects as Texas sets execution in hate crime death

By Karen Brooks / Reuters, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

As Texas prepares to execute one of his father’s killers, Ross Byrd hopes the state shows the man the mercy his father, James Byrd Jr., never got when he was dragged behind a truck to his

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Death penalty’s unlikely opponents

By Death Penalty Information Center / Eliott C. McLaughlin, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

This article reviews several cases where the families of victim’s speak out against the death penalty.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Executing the will of the voters: a roadmap to mend or end the California Legislature’s Milti-billion-dollar death penalty debacle

By Judge Arthur L. Alarcón / Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review / Paula M. Mitchell, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

This Article uncovers the true costs of administering the death penalty in California by tracing how much taxpayers are spending for death penalty trials versus non–death penalty trials and for costs incurred due to the delay from the initial sentence of death to the execution.The article makes recomendations.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Sentencing Alternatives, Financial cost,

Document(s)

Remedies for California’s Death Row Deadlock

By Judge Arthur Alarcon / Southern California Law review, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

This Article identifies the woeful inefficiencies of the current procedures that have led to inexcusable delays in arriving at just results in death penalty cases and describes how California came to find itself in this untenable condition. The article makes recomendations.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial,

Document(s)

A victim of 9/11 hate crime now fights for his attacker’s life

By Kari Huus / MSNBC, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Immigrant badly wounded by ‘Arab Slayer’ mounts long-shot bid to halt execution.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Retribution, Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Elmer ‘Geronimo’ Pratt dies at 63; former Black Panther whose murder conviction was overturned

By Robert J. Lopez / Los Angeles Times, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Elmer G. “Geronimo” Pratt, a former Los Angeles Black Panther Party leader whose 1972 murder conviction was overturned after he spent 27 years in prison for a crime he said he did not commit, has died. He was 63.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

America’s Death Penalty: Between Past and Present

By David Garland / Jonathan Simon / Douglas Hay / Michael Meranze / Randall McGowen / New York University (NYU) / Rebecca Mc Lennan, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

This volume represents an effort to restore the sense of capital punishment as a question caught up in history. Edited by leading scholars of crime and justice, these original essays pursue different strategies for unsettling the usual terms of the debate. In particular, the authors use comparative and historical investigations of both Europe and America in order to cast fresh light on familiar questions about the meaning of capital punishment.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition

By David Garland / Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

This book offers a fresh perspective on why the death penalty endures in the United States when so many other countries in the Western world have already abolished it. The book seeks to understand the persistence of the death penalty in the U.S. as a social fact, using sociological, historical and legal analyses to explain the unique and peculiar manner in which the death penalty is applied. Garland concludes that the death penalty has survived in the United States because it is deeply connected to the fundamentally American institutions of local autonomy and popular democracy.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Report to the Committee on Defender Services Judicial Conference of the United States – Update on the Cost and Quality of Defense Representation in Federal Death Penalty Cases

By Lisa Greenman / Jon B. Gould / Office of Defender Services of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

Part I of this report offers an introduction and overview of the research. Part II examines the way prosecution policies and practices have developed from 1989, the beginning of the modern federal death penalty era, through the end of 2009. Parts III, IV, and V of this report discuss the costs associated with defending a federal capital case. Section VI describes qualitative data obtained through interviews of federal judges who had presided over a federal death penalty case and experienced federal capital defense counsel on topics such as the quality of defense representation, case budgeting and case management practices, the role of experts, and the death penalty authorization process. Finally, in Sections VII and VIII, the Recommendations of the 1998 Spencer Report are reaffirmed, and the Commentary associated with those recommendations is updated to reflect the past 12 years of experience with federal capital litigation.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Financial cost,

Document(s)

Death In Decline ’09: Los Angeles Holds California Back as Nation Shifts to Permanent Imprisonment

By American Civil Liberties Union / Northern California, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

The tide is turning in the United States from death sentences to permanent imprisonment. A growing number of states are choosing permanent imprisonment over the death penalty, fueled by growing concerns about the wrongful conviction of innocent people and the high costs of the death penalty in comparison to permanent imprisonment. In 2009, the number of new death sentences nationwide reached the lowest level since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. California lags behind in this national trend. The Golden State sent more people to death row last year than in the seven preceding years. By the close of 2009, California’s death row was the largest and most costly in the United States.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Sentencing Alternatives, Networks,

Document(s)

SLAMMING THE COURTHOUSE DOORS – Denial of Access to Justice and Remedy in America

By American Civil Liberties Union / Washington, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

According to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) entitled, “Slamming the Courthouse Doors: Denial of Access to Justice and Remedy in America,” many states severely restrict access to justice for capital defendants and limit the availability of remedies to correct errors. The problem of inadequate counsel continues to pervade death penalty systems across the country: “Few states provide adequate funds to compensate lawyers for their work or to investigate cases properly. In addition to inadequate funding, the majority of death-penalty states lack adequate competency standards. Many states require only minimal training and experience for attorneys handling death penalty cases, and in some cases capital defense attorneys fail to meet the minimum guidelines for capital defense set by the American Bar Association (ABA),” according to the ACLU. The report also states that the absence of a right to counsel in post-conviction appeals leaves capital defendants with few options to address serious errors during their trial.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

German : Unschuldige und ihre Fälle in Kürze

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Unschuldige und ihre Fälle in Kürze, mit fälschlichen Identifizierung sowie erzwungener Geständnisse.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Unstacking the Deck – A Handbook for Capital Defense Attorneys on Challenging the State’s Case in Aggravation

By John H. Blume / Death Penalty Resource & Defense Center, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

When the state decides to seek the death penalty against a criminal defendant, the cards are heavily stacked against him before the trial even starts. First, the defendant must face a jury that already assumes he is guilty simply because he has been charged with a crime. They will assume this all the more given that it is a capital case. Moreover, the jury selection process itself will produce a jury that is predisposed to vote both for guilt and for death.The purpose of this handbook is to provide some suggestions for ways to “unstack the deck” for capital defendants by challenging the state’s case in aggravation.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment, 2009 – Statistics Tables

By Bureau of Justice Statistics / US Department of Justice, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

At yearend 2009, 36 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons held 3,173 inmates under sentence of death, which was 37 fewer inmates than at yearend 2008. This represents the ninth consecutive year that the population has decreased. California, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania held half of all inmates on death row as of December 31, 2009. The Federal Bureau of Prisons held 55 inmates.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks, Statistics,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty: America’s Experience with Capital Punishment

By Ray Paternoster / Robert Brame / Oxford University Press / Sarah Bacon, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

This book addresses one of the most controversial issues in the criminal justice system today—the death penalty. Paternoster et al. present a balanced perspective that focuses on both the arguments for and against capital punishment. Coverage draws on legal, historical, philosophical, economic, sociological, and religious points of view.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Public opinion, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Not “Waiving” But Drowning: The Anatomy of Death Row Syndrome and Volunteering for Execution

By Amy Smith / Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

Within the international community, other countries have recognized the potential for harm caused by our current system, and as a result have refused to extradite back to the United States individuals who might face the death penalty. These countries cite not only the possibility of execution as reason for refusal, but the waiting process which attends that death as a separate, independent violation of human rights. If we remain unpersuaded by the international community, the behavioral trends of those individuals awaiting execution are telling as well. Within one week in 2008, two individuals awaiting death in Texas committed suicide, reflecting the heightened suicide rates on death row, estimated at ten times greater than those in society at large and several times greater than those in a general prison population. In addition, the widely-recognized practice of “volunteering” for execution permits condemned inmates to waive their state and federally mandated rights to appeal in order to speed up the execution process, in essence “volunteering” to be executed.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Phenomenon, Extradition,

Document(s)

Film: “The Execution of Wanda Jean”

By Liz Garbus / New Video Group, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

In THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN, award-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus continues her investigations into the American criminal justice system with the compelling story of convicted murderess Wanda Jean Allen

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition,

Document(s)

Where is the justice for me?’ The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia

By Amnesty International / Amnesty International - USA, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Troy Anthony Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 15 years for the murder of a police officer he maintains he did not commit. Given that all but three of the witnesses who testified against Troy Davis at his trial have since recanted or contradicted their testimony amidst allegations that some of it had been made under police duress, there are serious and as yet unanswered questions surrounding the reliability of his conviction and the state’s conduct in obtaining it. As the case currently stands, the government’s pursuit of the death penalty contravenes international safeguards which prohibit the execution of anyone whose guilt is not based on “clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts”. Amnesty International does not know if Troy Davis is guilty or innocent of the crime for which he is facing execution. As an abolitionist organization, it opposes his death sentence either way. It nevertheless believes that this is one in a long line of cases in the USA that should give even ardent supporters of the death penalty pause for thought. For it provides further evidence of the danger, inherent in the death penalty, of irrevocable error. As the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court wrote in 1993, “It is an unalterable fact that our judicial system, like the human beings who administer it, is fallible. Or as a US federal judge said in 2006, “The assessment of the death penalty, however well designed the system for doing so, remains a human endeavour with a consequent risk of error that may not be remediable.”

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

A Crisis of Confidence: Americans’ Doubts About the Death Penalty

By Death Penalty Information Center / Richard C. Dieter, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

According to a national public opinion poll conducted in 2007, the public is losing confidence in the death penalty. People are deeply concerned about the risk of executing the innocent, about the fairness of the process, and about the inability of capital punishment to accomplish its basic purposes. Most Americans believe that innocent people have already been executed, that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, and that a moratorium should be placed on all executions.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion,

Document(s)

USA: Breaking a lethal habit – A look back at the death penalty in 2007

By Amnesty International, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States

es
More details See the document

This document looks back at the death penalty in 2007 beginning with the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission releasing its final report recommending abolition and concluding with the UN General Assembly passing a landmark resolution calling for a global moratorium. It includes death by electrocution; abolition; execution, commutation and stay of execution; mental illness; child rape as well as geographical and colour bias.

Document(s)

A Life in the Balance: The Billy Wayne Sinclair Story, A Journey from Murder to Redemption Inside America’s Worst Prison System

By Jodie Sinclair / Billy Wayne Sinclair / Arcade Publishing, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

Life in the Balance: a book on the Billy Wayne Sinclair Story, A Journey from Murder to Redemption Inside America’s Worst Prison System. The New York Times Book Review called it a “numbing tale of crime, punishment, and redemption.”

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Death Penalty – Mistake (Leonel Herrera)

By Amnesty International / YouTube, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States

es
More details See the document

This video explores the story of Leonel Herrera who was sentenced to death for the murder of a police man. A statement from his nephew came many years later that shed light on Leonels innocence.

Document(s)

USA: Blind faith: An appeal to President George W. Bush to admit that the USA’s 30-year experiment with the death penalty has failed

By Amnesty International, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

In the context of the “war on terror”, US officials have authorized and condoned interrogation techniques and detention conditions that violate the international prohibition on torture. Yet officials have at the same time claimed to be committed to treating detainees humanely. Amnesty International now urges President Bush, in addition to reconsideration of his administration’s approach to the treatment of detainees in US custody at home and abroad, to reconsider his support for the death penalty.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes, January 1, 1973 – February 28, 2005

By Victor Streib / Ohio Northern University, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

This is Issue #77, the final issue of these periodic reports, having first been launched on June 15, 1984. On that date, the death penalty for juvenile offenders (defined as those under age 18 at the time of their crimes) was an obscure issue in law as well as in political and social arenas. During the last twenty-one years, these reports have been with us (1) through the intense litigation of the late 1980s, (2) through our society’s near hysteria about violent juvenile crime in the 1990s, (3) into the era of the international pressure on the United States to abandon this practice, and (4) now at the end of this practice. The validity and influence of these reports is indicated by thecitations to them in the opinions of leading courts, including the United States Supreme Court: Roper v. Simmons, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 1192, 1193, 1210, 1211, 1221 (2005); In re Stanford, 537 U.S. 968, 971 (2002); and Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361, 373 (1989). In the litigation leading up to the final juvenile death penalty case before the United States Supreme Court (Roper v. Simmons, 125 S.Ct. 1183 (2005)), the Missouri Supreme Court majority opinion included 12 citations to these reports: See Simmons v. Roper, 112 S.W.3d 397, 408, 409, 411 (Mo. 2003). This final issue of this periodic report is intended to document the status of the death penalty for juvenile offenders as ofthe day before the United States Supreme Court held this practice to be unconstitutional. These reports sketch the characteristics of the juvenile offenders and their crimes who have been sentenced to death, who have been executed, and who are currently under death sentences. —- See bottom left hand corner of web page.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Juveniles,

Document(s)

Killing the Willing: “Volunteers,” Suicide and Competency

By John H. Blume / Michigan Law Review, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

Every death-row volunteer inevitably presents us with the following question: Should a death-row inmate who wishes to waive his appeals be viewed as a client making a legal decision to accept the justness of his punishment, or as a person seeking the aid of the state in committing suicide?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Explaining Death Row’s Population and Racial Composition

By Theodore Eisenberg / John Blume / Journal of Empirical Legal Studies / Martin T. Wells, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

Twenty-three years of murder and death sentence data show how murder demographics help explain death row populations. Nevada and Oklahoma are the most death-prone states; Texas’s death sentence rate is below the national mean. Accounting for the race of murderers establishes that black representation on death row is lower than black representation in the population of murder offenders. This disproportion results from reluctance to seek or impose death in black defendant-black victim cases, which more than offsets eagerness to seek and impose death in black defendant-white victim cases. Death sentence rates in black defendant-white victim cases far exceed those in either black defendant-black victim cases or white defendant-white victim cases. The disproportion survives because there are many more black defendant-black victim murders, which are underrepresented on death row, than there are black defendant-white victim murders, which are overrepresented on death row.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Courtroom Contortions: How America’s application of the death penalty erodes the principle of equal justice under law

By Anthony G. Amsterdam / American Prospect, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

One cost this country pays for the death penalty is that its courts are constantly compelled to corrupt the law in order to uphold death sentences. That corruption soils the character of the United States as a nation dedicated to equal justice under law.This is not the only price we pay for being one of the very few democracies in the world that retains capital punishment in the 21st century. But it is a significant item on the cost side of the cost-benefit ledger, something that each thinking person ought to balance in deciding whether he or she supports capital punishment. And it warrants discussion because this cost is little understood. I have spent much of my time for the past 40 years representing death-sentenced inmates in appeals at every level of the state and federal judicial systems, and I am only lately coming to realize how large a tax the death penalty imposes on the quality of justice in those systems.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Legal Lynching: The Death Penalty and America’s Future

By Bruce Shapiro / Rev. Jesse L. Jackson / Anchor , on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

In this collaborative work, the Jacksons, father (former presidential candidate and founder of the Rainbow Coalition) and son (a congressional representative) with Salon.com editor Shapiro, pursue a nationwide conversation on the issues surrounding the death penalty one that begins with the proposal of a moratorium and could lead to the eventual cessation of capital punishment. This book describes a bureaucratic nightmare involving defense lawyers asleep at trial, vengeance-hungry politicos and a problematic, imperfect justice system in which the handing out of death sentences is skewed, both racially and economically. An objective examination of this penal system would be beneficial to all, say the authors: since the Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976, one in every eight prisoners on death row has been found innocent and released. There are undoubtedly cases, the authors argue, where the proof of innocence didn’t see the light of day in time. Navigating the historical precedents of the death penalty and the reasons why federally mandated executions were restored following a 10-year moratorium imposed in 1967, the authors thoroughly detail legitimate questions regarding what they view as erroneous deterrence theories, scriptural misrepresentation and simple vengeance.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty

By Scott Turow / Picador, on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

Turow bases his opinions on his experiences as a prosecutor and, in his post-prosecutorial years, working on behalf of death-row inmates, as well as his two years on Illinois’s Commission on Capital Punishment, charged by the former Gov. George Ryan.Turow presents both sides of the death penalty debate and seems himself to flip sides depending on the argument.Turow’s reflections include: * Thoughts on victims’ rights vs. community rights * Whether execution is a deterrent * The possible execution of an innocent person * If not the death penalty, what to do with the worst offenders

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

America’s Experiment With Capital Punishment: Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of the Ultimate Penal Sanction

By Carol S. Steiker / James R. Acker / Jordan M. Steiker / Richard J. Wilson / Robert Blecker / Stephen B. Bright / Charles S. Lanier / Robert M. Bohm / Carolina Academic Press / Ernest van den Haag / Ruth D. Peterson / William C. Bailey / Jon Sorensen / James Marquart / Victor L., on 8 September 2020


Book

United States


More details See the document

The second edition of America’s Experiment with Capital Punishment is an updated and expanded version of the comprehensive first edition. Chapters, authored by the country’s leading legal and social science scholars, have been revised to include a host of important developments since the 1998 edition. Thus, new evidence and information is presented concerning racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty, wrongful convictions, deterrence, the prediction of future dangerousness, jury decision-making, public opinion about the death penalty, the effects of the capital punishment process on murder victims’ and offenders’ relatives, death row incarceration, the costs of capital punishment, execution methods, and many other issues.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

I don’t want another kid to die: Families of Victims Murdered by Juveniles Oppose Juvenile Executions

By Robert Renny Cushing / Susannah Sheffer / Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

“I don’t want another kid to die” is a report about the juvenile death penalty from the perspective of family members of victims killed by juvenile offenders and parents of juvenile offenders who have been executed.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Juveniles, Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Striving to Eliminate Unjust Executions: Why the ABA’s Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section Has Issued Protocols on Unfair Implementation of Capital Punishment

By Ronald J. Tabak / Ohio State Law Journal, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

The ABA concluded in 1997 that pervasive unfairness in capital punishment regimes warranted a halt to executions unless all of the systemic problems the ABA identified were corrected. Four years later, with those problems still pervasive, the ABA’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities issued protocols designed to facilitate the evaluation of the fairness—or lack thereof—of a jurisdiction’s capital punishment system. The protocols are particularly timely because many state legislative bodies are authorizing, or considering authorizing, studies of death penalty implementation. The protocols provide an overview, a list of questions to consider, and recommendations with regard to each topic area they cover. While these are not exhaustive, and are not fully applicable in every death penalty jurisdiction, they should prove invaluable to any group seeking to seriously evaluate the manner in which capital punishment is actually administered today.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Dignity Denied: The Experience of Murder Victims’ Family Members Who Oppose the Death Penalty

By Robert Renny Cushing / Susannah Sheffer / Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

This report, which includes policy recommendations, is the culmination of a long effort to identify and document the bias on the part of some prosecutors, judges, and members of the victims’ services community against victims’ family members who oppose the death penalty.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

THE JURY IN THE TWENTY – FIRST CENTURY: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY CONFERENCE

By William J. Bowers / Ursula Bentele / Brooklyn Law Review, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

The first section below describes how, for many jurors, the decision about guilt appears to be so overwhelming that it prevents truly separate decision making about punishment. The second section focuses on the degree to which jurors feel constrained by what they view as a requirement to impose death if certain aggravating factors are present in the case. And finally, the third section explores the way in which mitigating evidence, even when it appears to have been extensive and credible, is ignored, devalued, or discredited.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No return to execution – The US death penalty as a barrier to extradition

By Amnesty International, on 8 September 2020


NGO report

United States

ares
More details See the document

This document examines the issue of extradition and the death penalty in the United States. It looks at the emergence of death penalty clauses in extradition treaties and laws and gives examples of specific cases in the US where extradition has either prevented the application of the death penalty or been circumvented to allow individuals to be sentenced to death.

Document(s)

Still Unfair, Still Arbitrary — But Do We Care?

By Samuel L. Gross / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

My assignment is to try to give an overview of the status of the death penalty in America at the beginning of the twenty-first century. I will try to put that in the context of how the death penalty was viewed thirty years ago, or more, and maybe that will tell us something about how the death penalty will be viewed thirty or forty years from now.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,

Document(s)

Abortion, Capital Punishment, and the Politics of “God’s” Will

By Kimberly J. Cook / William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, on 8 September 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

In her paper, Professor Kimberly J. Cook uses statistics to illustrate the role the Christian Right plays in the public discourse over two issues permeated with religious overtones: abortion and the death penalty. She shows how the Christian Right’s approach to these issues is based on an ideological notion of ‘Justice ” that is primarily focused on vengeance and punishment, to the exclusion of forgiveness. Professor Cook’s exploration of the modern roots of this ideology leads to a movement dating from the 1960s known as Christian Reconstructionism, which advocates using state action to enforce its unique interpretation of “God’s Will.” This interpretation not only advocates an expansive view of the death penalty, but also patriarchal gender roles backed by force of law, religious intolerance, and the manifest goal of establishing a global Christian theocracy. Though it has been publicly disavowed by mainstream Christian Fundamentalists, Professor Cook argues that Reconstructionism has become the cornerstone of the Christian Right. To support this assertion, she compares current Christian Right socio-political goals with Reconstructionist theology. Professor Cook concludes with a warning that the Christian Right’s political power, coupled with its Reconstructionist influenced ideology, places our constitutional protections at risk.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

Witness to Innocence – from death row to freedom

By Witness to Innocence, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Errors have been made repeatedly in death penalty cases because of: poor legal representation, racial prejudice, prosecutorial misconduct, the presentation of erroneous evidence, false confession, junk science, eyewitness error. Once convicted, a death row prisoner faces enormous obstacles in convincing any court that he or she is innocent.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Death Penalty Can Prolong the Suffering of a Vicitm’s Family

By Death Penalty Focus, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Many family members who have lost loved ones to murder feel that the death penalty will not heal their wounds nor will it end their pain. This webpage provides resources for those looking to connect with murder victims’ families organisations.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Japanese : 人権のための殺人被害者遺族の会

By Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States

esfrenen
More details See the document

人権のための殺人被害者遺族の会(MVFHR)は、2004年の国際人権デーに、死刑に反対し、米国および世界中で幅広く講演活動を行っている被害者遺族のグループによって設立されました。私たちのメンバーが死刑に反対する理由は様々ですが、死刑はあらゆる法的・倫理的基準に違反しているという確信において一致しています。「いかなる場合であっても死刑には反対する」という方であれば、どのような遺族の方であれ~殺人事件、死刑執行、超法規 的な殺害行為そして「失踪」の被害者家族~、MVFHRの会員に なることができます

Document(s)

Italian : Famiglie Delle Vittime Di Omicidio Per I Diritti Umani

By Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, on 8 September 2020


Academic report

United States

esfrenen
More details See the document

In tutto il mondo, coloro che sopravvivono alle vittime di omicidi sono in genere considerati a favore della pena capitale. Si presume che le esecuzioni vadano incontro al bisogno dei superstiti di giustizia, e di porre fine ad una vicenda. Opporsi alla pena di morte, è spesso visto come un andare contro alla vittima. Attraverso le loro dichiarazioni, le testimonianze e il materiale educativo, i membri dell’associazione fanno sapere ai responsabili della vita politica, e al grande pubblico, che è possibile essere sia a favore delle vittime che contro la pena di morte.

Article(s)

Recent US Federal Executions Raise Ethical and Political Issues

By Louis Linel, on 2 September 2020

Two more federal executions were carried out at the end of August in the United States of America. The abolitionist movement in the United States denounces human rights violations, challenges the cost of the death penalty in this time of crisis and even opposes its disrespect for tribal sovereignity.

2020

Fair Trial

Intellectual Disability

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Expanded Ban on Death Penalty for Intellectually Disabled People in California

By Louis Linel, on 1 September 2020

The California State Legislature extended the ban on capital punishment for intellectually disabled people

2020

Intellectual Disability

United States

Article(s)

US Federal Executions Resume

By Louis Linel, on 28 July 2020

It has been 17 years since the United States decided on a de facto moratorium on federal executions, which can be carried out only for certain federal criminal offences. This moratorium, however, ended in July.

2020

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

How Colorado became the 22nd abolitionist State in the USA

By Aurélie Plaçais, on 30 March 2020

On March 23 2020, the Governor of the State of Colorado, Jared Polis, signed legislation abolishing the death penalty. The bill SB20-100 had passed the Senate by a 19-13 vote on January 30 and the House by a 38-27 vote on February 26. He also commuted the sentences of the three people on death row […]

2020

United States

Document(s)

Whom the State Kills

By Harvard Law Review / Scott Phillips / Justin Marceau, on 1 January 2020


2020

Article

United States


More details See the document

An unexpected feature of the modern death penalty is the fact that most persons sentenced to death are not executed […]. Death sentences are remarkably poor predictors of who will ultimately be executed. An even more salient feature of the death penalty is the fat that race matters […]. Rarity and race, then, stand as hallmarks of the American death penalty. But until now the interaction of these two phenomena has not been studied. This Article examines whether race is relevant for understanding the fate of the unfortunate few […]. By combining Baldus’s sentencing data whith original execution data, we demonstrate that the overall execution is susbsentially greater for defendants convicted of killing a white victim than for those convicted of killing a Black victim.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

Death Row Stories

By CNN, on 1 January 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

This docu-series investigate the fallibility of the death penalty in the United States.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Penalty,

Document(s)

The Innocence Files

By Netflix, on 1 January 2020


Multimedia content

United States

fr
More details See the document

This mini-series sheds light on 8 true stories of wrongful convictions overturned thanks to the work of the Innocence Project and several organizations from the Innocence Network. One of its episode feature the case of Texas death-row exoneree Alfred Dewayne Brown.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Legal Representation, Death Penalty,
  • Available languages Preuves d'innocence

Document(s)

Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Courts Keeping “Junk Science” Out of the Courtroom?

By Tess M. S. Neal / Psychological Science in the Public Interest, on 1 January 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article reports the results of a two-part investigation of psychological assessments proposed as expert evidence in legal context.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

My Life As a Death Row Executioner

By YouTube / Real Stories, on 1 January 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Published on Real Stories YouTube channel, this documentary casts a penetrating look at the consequences of the death penalty through three powerful stories – the rare perspective of a former state executioner who comes within days of executing an innocent person; a Boston Marathon bombing victim who struggles to decide what justice really means; and the parents of a murder victim who choose to fight for the life of their daughter’s killer. As the battle to overturn capital punishment comes to a head in the U.S., this provocative film challenges viewers to question their deepest beliefs about justice.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public debate, Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Black Deaths Matter: The Race-of-Victim Effect and Capital Punishment

By Daniel Medwed / Northeastern, on 1 January 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

The racial dimensions of the death penalty are well-documented. Many observers assume this state of affairs derives from bias—often implicit and occasionally explicit—against black defendants in particular. Research points to an even more alarming factor. The race of the victim, not the defendant, steers cases in the direction of death. Regardless of the perpetrator’s race, those who kill whites are more likely to face capital charges, receive a death sentence, and die by execution than those who murder blacks. This short Essay adds a contemporary gloss to the race-of-victim effect literature, placing it in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and showing how it relates to the broader, systemic devaluation of African-American lives.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of the Death Penalty in the United States

By Carol S. Steiker / Annual Review of Law and Social Science, on 1 January 2020


Article

United States


More details See the document

This review addresses four key issues in the modern (post-1976) era of capital punishment in the United States. First, why has the United States retained the death penalty when all its peer countries (all other developed Western democracies) have abolished it? Second, how should we understand the role of race in shaping the distinctive path of capital punishment in the United States, given our country’s history of race-based slavery and slavery’s intractable legacy of discrimination? Third, what is the significance of the sudden and profound withering of the practice of capital punishment in the past two decades? And, finally, what would abolition of the death penalty in the United States (should it ever occur) mean for the larger criminal justice system?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Enduring Injustice. The Peristence of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Death Penalty

By Death Penalty Information Center / Ngozi Ndulue, on 1 January 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

The Death Penalty in 2020: Year-End Report

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 1 January 2020


NGO report

United States


More details See the document

2020 was abnormal in almost every way, and that was clearly the case when it came to capital punishment in the United States. The interplay of four forces shaped the U.S. death penalty landscape in 2020: the nation’s long-term trend away from capital punishment; the worst global pandemic in more than a century; nationwide protests for racial justice; and the historically aberrant conduct of the federal administration. At the end of the year, more states had abolished the death penalty or gone ten years without an execution, more counties had elected reform prosecutors who pledged never to seek the death penalty or to use it more sparingly; fewer new death sentences were imposed than in any prior year since the Supreme Court struck down U.S. death penalty laws in 1972; and despite a six-month spree of federal executions without parallel in the 20th or 21st centuries, fewer executions were carried out than in any year in nearly three decades.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

I Spent A Day With Death Row Survivors

By Anthony Padilla, on 1 January 2020


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Anthony Padilla interviewed 4 death row survivors to shed light on sentencing innocent people to death for a crime they did not commit. Derrick Jamison, Nick Yarris, Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs spent between 15 and 23 years awaiting executions, before being finally released from death row.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States

Article(s)

DPIC Report on the 2019 Death Penalty Usage in the US

By Dinda Royhan, on 20 December 2019

A year-end report by the Death Penalty Information Center highlights the continuing trend towards abolition with New Hampshire’s latest abolition, California’s moratorium, and the near-record low numbers of executions.

2019

United States

Article(s)

Statement on executions in the USA

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 21 June 2019

As the worldwide trend towards abolition of the death penalty grows, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty notes with concerns that the USA has reached a total of 1500 executions since 1977.

2019

United States

Article(s)

New Hampshire: 21st State to Abolish the Death Penalty in the USA

By Aurelie Placais, on 12 June 2019

On 30 May 2019, the NH state Senate voted to override the governor’s veto. The death penalty repeal took effect immediately.

2019

United States

Article(s)

The World Coalition welcomes the moratorium on executions in California

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 14 March 2019

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty welcomes the moratorium on executions announced by the Governor of the US State of California, Gavin Newsom. California has 737 prisoners on death row, about 25% of all US death row prisoners, and the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere. Fewer than 30% of nations still use […]

2019

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

2018 confirms a long-term decline of the death penalty in the US

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 28 January 2019

The Death Penalty Information Center’s 2018 End-of-Year report confirms decline despite strong lasting inequalities.

2019

United States

Document(s)

Darlie Lynn (song)

By YouTube / Indie Pirate Shop, on 1 January 2019


2019

Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Darlie was convicted and sentenced to death for a crime she did not commit. Ever since that conviction, new attorneys have been working to obtain a new trial and establish her innocence.This story is a tragic one, but it is not finished yet.Song performed and recorded by Indie Pirate Shop.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women,

Document(s)

Clemency

By Chinonye Chukwu, on 1 January 2019


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Bernadine Williams, a prison guard, still has to drive an inmate through Death Row. Little by little, his work becomes unbearable.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

Just Mercy

By Destin Daniel Cretton / Gil Netter / Asher Goldstein / Michael B. Jordan, on 1 January 2019


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

A powerful and thought-provoking true story, “Just Mercy” follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson). Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds—and the system—stacked against them.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Penalty,

Document(s)

A Stolen Life: The Debra Milke Story

By Jana Bommersbach, on 1 January 2019


Book

United States


More details See the document

Arizona said Debra Milke was a baby killer. Phoenix Homicide Detective Armando Saldate testified she “confessed” to having her four-year-old son murdered when he thought he was going to see Santa. In 1990, she ended up exactly where most thought she deserved–the only woman on Arizona’s death row. This compelling investigative work by one of Arizona’s most acclaimed journalists takes readers inside the case–inside the prison, inside the evidence, inside the breakdown of justice, inside the legal tenacity, inside the heart and mind of Debra Milke.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women, Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey

By Helen Prejean / Random House, on 1 January 2019


Book

United States


More details See the document

River of Fire is a book for anyone interested in journeys of faith and spirituality, doubt and belief, and “catching on fire” to purpose and passion. It is a book, written in accessible, luminous prose, about how to live a spiritual life that is wide awake to the sufferings and creative opportunities of our world.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Seven Dates With Death

By Mike Holland, on 1 January 2019


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

In Louisiana in the late 50s, Moreese Bickham, who was the oldest living survivor of death row, killed two members of the Ku Klux Klan to save his own life. He was sentenced to death and believes he was lucky enough to even have a trial as a black man in the south. Due to mental toughness, a timely supreme court decision, and a lot of hope, Bickham survived his death sentence. Whether he knew it or not, after that day, his life was not going to get any easier

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Minorities, Death Row Conditions, Electrocution,

Document(s)

Does the death penalty give victims closure? Science says no

By Linda Lewis Griffith / San Luis Obispo Tribune, on 1 January 2019


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article deals with one of the main arguments of defenders of the capital sentence: is the death penalty a source of relief for the victims?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public debate, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Trial by fire

By Edward Zwick, on 1 January 2019


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Trial by Fire is the true-life Texas story of the unlikely bond between an imprisoned death row inmate (Jack O’Connell) and a mother of two from Houston (Laura Dern) who, though facing staggering odds, fights mightily for his freedom. Cameron Todd Willingham, a poor, uneducated heavy metal devotee with a violent streak and a criminal record, is convicted of arson-related triple homicide in 1992. During his 12 years on death row, Elizabeth Gilbert, an improbable ally, uncovers questionable methods and illogical conclusions in his case, and battles with the state to expose suppressed evidence that could save him.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

The Deprived: Innocent On Death Row

By Steffen Hou / BookBaby, on 1 January 2019


Book

United States


More details See the document

The book describes how thousands of Americans are convicted of crimes they never committed. Many of them end up on death row where inmates have been executed despite their innocence. ‘The Deprived’ is based on interviews with 10 Americans who have all been affected by wrongful convictions and the death penalty. The book also describes what leads to wrongful convictions in America and who’s most likely to be convicted of a crime they never committed.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty,

Article(s)

Washington State Abolishes Death Penalty

By Nicolas Chua, on 26 October 2018

On 11 October 2018, Washington became the 20th US state to abolish the death penalty: the court ruling, written by Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, cited the “arbitrary and racially biased manner” in which the death penalty was applied as a violation of the state’s constitutional prohibition of “cruel punishment”.

2018

United States

Article(s)

Lindy Lou Juror #2

By Clémentine Etienne, on 31 July 2018

On the occasion of the screening of the movie Lindy Lou Juror number 2 on Monday 25 June 2018, abolitionist associations such as Amnesty International, ACAT France, Together Against The Death Penalty French Collectif Free Mumia! and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty met at the Centre Wallonie Bruxelles in Paris.

2018

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

U.S. sees second fewest death sentences and executions in 25 Years

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 22 March 2018

Public support for the death penalty drops to 45-Year low as four More death-row prisoners Exonerated in 2017. “The Death Penalty in 2017: Year End Report” is now available.

2018

United States

Document(s)

Public support for the death penalty ticks up

By Pew Research Center / J. Baxter Oliphant, on 1 January 2018


2018

Article

United States


More details See the document

Public support for the death penalty, which reached a four-decade low in 2016, has increased somewhat since then. Today, 54% of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39% are opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion,

Document(s)

Failed Justice: Innocent on Death Row

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 1 January 2018


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

This video tells the story of one prisoner, Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row in Alabama for a crime he did not commit.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Innocence, Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

Slavery and the Death Penalty

By Routledge / Bharat Malkani, on 1 January 2018


Book

United States


More details See the document

It has long been acknowledged that the death penalty in the United States of America has been shaped by the country’s history of slavery and racial violence, but this book considers the lesser-explored relationship between the two practices’ respective abolitionist movements. The book explains how the historical and conceptual links between slavery and capital punishment have both helped and hindered efforts to end capital punishment. The comparative study also sheds light on the nature of such efforts, and offers lessons for how death penalty abolitionism should proceed in future. Using the history of slavery and abolition, it is argued that anti-death penalty efforts should be premised on the ideologies of the radical slavery abolitionists.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

3 questions to Ndume Olatushani, former death row prisoner

By Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM), on 1 January 2018


Academic report

United States


More details See the document

Ndume, 56 years old, spent 28 years in prison in the US, 20 of which on death row, for a crime he did not commit. Today, he is human rights activist, and fight with us for the abolition of the death penalty. He is also a very gifted painter.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

The Punishment

By Andres Segura, on 1 January 2018


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

“The Punishment” is a short film that takes place in 1978 at a Texas State Penitentiary. The story follows inmate Randle Kohler’s last hours on Death Row leading up to his execution. The only human being he’s able to communicate with is the Prison Guard assigned to bring him his last meal. As their conversation develops we begin to see more and more layers of Kohler’s past and the events that led him to the prison cell.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Electrocution, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Surviving Execution: A Miscarriage of Justice and the Fight to End the Death Penalty

By Ian Woods / Atlantic Books, on 1 January 2018


Book

United States


More details See the document

Imagine being condemned to death for murder, when even the prosecutors admit that you didn’t actually kill anyone. This is what happened to Richard Glossip.Despite being convicted on the word of the actual self-confessed killer, the state of Oklahoma is still intent on executing him.Ian Woods, a reporter for Sky News in the UK, came across the case, and has tirelessly campaigned ever since to bring the injustices Glossip has faced to the world’s attention.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Lethal Rejection: An Empirical Analysis of the Astonishing Plunge in Death Sentences in the United States from Their Post-Furman Peak

By Talia Roitberg Harmon / David McCord / Albany Law Review, on 1 January 2018


Article

United States


More details See the document

The authors gathered information on 1665 death-eligible cases nationwide for three years at decade intervals: 1994, 2004, and 2014. In 517 cases death sentences were imposed; in 311 cases sentences spared the defendants from death sentences, and in 837 cases prosecutors spared defendants from death sentences.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Penalty, Statistics, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

FREE MEN

By Anne-Frédérique Widmann / International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, on 1 January 2018


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

How can a human being stand up, under conditions of unjust imprisonment on death row, alone and without hope of being released? In this documentary film, Anne-Frédérique Widmann draws the portrait of Kenneth Reams, who wakes up every day with an unwavering desire to live, and succeeds in writing, testifying, painting and loving a woman. A film about the art, resistance and dignity of every human life.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

By Amazon Digital Services / Lara Love Hardin / Anthony Ray Hinton, on 1 January 2018


Book

United States


More details See the document

Autobiography of Anthony Ray Hinton, the 152nd death row exoneree in the USA. In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama.With no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution.With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Electrocution, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul

By Anthony Graves / Beacon Press, on 1 January 2018


Book

United States


More details See the document

Autobiography of Anthony Graves, an innocent exonerated from death row in the USA. In the summer of 1992, a family was beaten and stabbed to death in Somerville, Texas. The perpetrator set the house on fire to cover his tracks, deepening the heinousness of the crime and rocking the tiny community to its core. Authorities were eager to make an arrest. Five days later, Anthony Graves was in custody.Graves was indicted, convicted of capital murder, sentenced to death, and, over the course of twelve years on death row, given two execution dates. He was not freed for eighteen years, two months, four days.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty,

Article(s)

A mission of the International Commission against the Death Penalty to the United States

By International Commission against the Death Penalty and Emmanuel Trépied, on 21 July 2017

A delegation of the International Commission against the Death Penalty met US Governors and Attorney Generals to discuss the situation of the death penalty in their respective states and issues related to possible steps towards ending the practice of capital punishment in the United States.

2017

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

World Coalition Conference to celebrate 15th anniversary in Washington D.C.

By Aurelie Placais & Jessica Corredor, on 9 June 2017

At the invitation of its American members, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty is holding its 15th general meeting at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., USA on 22-24 June 2017.

2017

United States

Article(s)

Federal Justice orders the prison administration to immediately provide African-American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal with treatment

By French Collective "Free Mumia", on 18 January 2017

On the 3rd January of this year, a Federal judge ordered Pennsylvania’s prison administration to immediately provide Mumia Abu-Jamal with medication to treat his hepatitis C infection, justifying his decision in these terms: “budgetary constraints cannot outweigh the Eighth Amendment’s constitutional guarantee of adequate medical care.”

2017

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Article(s)

A new decline in the use of the death penalty in the US in 2016

By Elise Guillot, on 17 January 2017

With 30 death sentences pronounced and 20 executions carried out, the use of the death penalty in the USA saw a new record decline in 2016, as reported in the Death Penalty Information Center’s year-end report. Nevertheless, the abolitionists are worried that 2017 may not be so successful.

2017

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Public Opinion 

United States

Document(s)

Life After the Death Penalty: Implications for Retentionnist States

By American Bar Association / Death Penalty Information Center, on 1 January 2017


2017

Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Moratorium , Public debate, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

End of its Robe: How Killing the Death Penalty can Revive Criminal Justice

By Brandon L. Garrett , on 1 January 2017


Book

United States


More details See the document

Brandon Garrett hand-collected and analyzed national data, looking for causes and implications of this turnaround. End of Its Rope explains what he found, and why the story of who killed the death penalty, and how, can be the catalyst for criminal justice reform.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Public debate, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

DPIC Study Finds No Evidence that Death Penalty Deters Murder or Protects Police

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 1 January 2017


Article

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence , Member organizations, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Exonerated: A History of the Innocence Movement

By New York University (NYU) / Robert J. Norris, on 1 January 2017


Book

United States


More details See the document

In response to recent exonerations, federal and state governments have passed laws to prevent such injustices; lawyers and police have changed their practices; and advocacy organizations have multiplied across the country. Together, these activities are often referred to as the “innocence movement.” Exonerated provides the first in-depth look at the history of this movement through interviews with key leaders such as Barry Scheck and Rob Warden as well as archival and field research into the major cases that brought awareness to wrongful convictions in the United States.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

Innocence Case: Matt Ruskin

By Death Penalty Focus, on 1 January 2017


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

The inevitability of error: experiences from former death row exonerees

By Witness to Innocence, on 1 January 2017


Multimedia content

United States


More details Download [ pdf - 302 Ko ]

Death row exonerees bios

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Right to life, Death Row Conditions, Death Row Phenomenon, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

The Penalty

By Will Francome / Mark Pizzey, on 1 January 2017


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

The penalty follows three people caught in the crosshairs of capital punishment, and the political landscape thatcould decide their fate. Going behind the scenes of some of the biggest headlines in the history of America’sdeath penalty, the film follows the lethal injection protocol crisis that resulted in a botched execution, therehabilitation of a man who spent 15 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, and the family of a youngwoman – brutally murdered – split by the state’s pursuit of the ultimate punishment.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial, Right to life, Murder Victims' Families, Death Row Phenomenon, Lethal Injection, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Grace and Justice on Death Row

By Brian W. Stolarz / Skyhorse Publishing, on 1 January 2016


2016

Book

United States


More details See the document

This book tells the story of Alfred Dewayne Brown, a man who spent over twelve years in prison (ten of them on Texas’ infamous Death Row) for a high-profile crime he did not commit, and his lawyer, Brian Stolarz, who dedicated his career and life to secure his freedom. The book chronicles Brown’s extraordinary journey to freedom against very long odds, overcoming unscrupulous prosecutors, corrupt police, inadequate defense counsel, and a broken criminal justice system. The book examines how a lawyer-client relationship turned into one of brotherhood.Grace And Justice On Death Row also addresses many issues facing the criminal justice system and the death penalty – race, class, adequate defense counsel, and intellectual disability, and proposes reforms.Told from Stolarz’s perspective, this raw, fast-paced look into what it took to save one man’s life will leave you questioning the criminal justice system in this country. It is a story of injustice and redemption that must be told.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Documentary: An eye for an eye

By Ilan Ziv, on 1 January 2016


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

The powerful documentary AN EYE FOR AN EYE, conveys message of forgiveness and healing. Directed by award winning filmmaker Ilan Ziv, AN EYE FOR AN EYE tells the story of death row inmate Mark Stroman, and the friendship he ultimately forges with one of his surviving victims Rais Bhuiyan, who sets about to save Stroman from death row.With unprecedented access and in-depth interviews, the film charts this riveting drama of revenge, change and forgiveness. A powerful human drama that carries a warning and a message of hope in our troubled times.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Capital offences, Murder Victims' Families, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

DPIC Year End Report: Death Sentences, Executions Drop to Historic Lows in 2016

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 1 January 2016


Article

United States


More details See the document

A press release on the DPIC Year End Report 2016: Use of the death penalty fell to historic lows across the United States in 2016. States imposed the fewest death sentences in the modern era of capital punishment, since states began re-enacting death penalty statutes in 1973. New death sentences are predicted to be down 39% from 2015’s 40-year low. Executions declined more than 25% to their lowest level in 25 years, and public opinion polls also measured support for capital punishment at a four-decade low.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Death Penalty, Statistics, Country/Regional profiles,

Article(s)

USA: showing the human face of the death penalty

By Tiziana Trotta, on 14 October 2015

A conference organized by Journey of Hope is just one among the many activities carried out around World Day against the Death Penalty in the U.S.

2015

Murder Victims' Families

United States

Article(s)

The United States Supreme Court’s End of Term Death Penalty Opinion is Against the US Trend Away from the Capital Punishment

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 14 July 2015

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty takes the opportunity to support the call of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Summary Executions and on Torture, for the establishment of a federal moratorium on the death penalty.

2015

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

Greater Caribbean for Life addresses Inter-American Commission on death penalty in their region

on 19 March 2015

On Monday, 16 March 2015, the Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL) addressed the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on issues relating to the death penalty in the Greater Caribbean, during a dedicated thematic hearing held at the Organisation of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington, D.C., USA.

2015

Antigua and Barbuda

Argentina

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Brazil

Canada

Chile

Colombia

Costa Rica

Cuba

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

El Salvador

Grenada

Guyana

Haiti

Honduras

Jamaica

Mexico

Nicaragua

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Suriname

Trinidad and Tobago

United States

Uruguay

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Article(s)

Applause for Pennsylvania’s death penalty moratorium

By Death Penalty Focus, "Free Mumia!" French Support Group, on 23 February 2015

Newly elected Governor Tom Wolf placed a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania on 13 February until concerns about the fairness of the state’s death penalty system are addressed.

2015

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

Fewest death sentences in 40 years in the US

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 12 January 2015

The number of executions in the United States was at its lowest in 20 years and seven death row prisoners were exonerated in 2014.

2015

Intellectual Disability

Mental Illness

United States

Document(s)

Confronting the Death Penalty. How Language Influences Jurors in Capital Cases

By Oxford University Press / Robin Conley, on 1 January 2015


2015

Book

United States


More details See the document

Confronting the Death Penalty: How Language Influences Jurors in Capital Cases probes how jurors make the ultimate decision about whether another human being should live or die. Drawing on ethnographic and qualitative linguistic methods, this book explores the means through which language helps to make death penalty decisions possible – how specific linguistic choices mediate and restrict jurors’, attorneys’, and judges’ actions and experiences while serving and reflecting on capital trials. By focusing on how language can both facilitate and stymie empathic encounters, the book addresses a conflict inherent to death penalty trials: jurors literally face defendants during trial and then must distort, diminish, or negate these face-to-face interactions in order to sentence those same defendants to death. The book reveals that jurors cite legal ideologies of rational, dispassionate decision-making – conveyed in the form of authoritative legal language – when negotiating these moral conflicts. By investigating the interface between experiential and linguistic aspects of legal decision-making, the book breaks new ground in studies of law and language, language and psychology, and the death penalty.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

MADP 2015 Annual Report: Infographics

By Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, on 1 January 2015


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Missouri has had a surge in executions since 2008. The following data shows just how arbitrary and discriminatory Missouri’s death penalty system is. Such disparities in race, geography, and gender, are causes for concern that this system is broken and applied capriciously.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty in the U.S. in 2015: infographic

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 1 January 2015


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Ethical Responsibilities of Physicians: Capital Punishment in the 21st Century

By Karen B. Rosenbaum / William Connor Darby / Robert Weinstock / Psychiatric Annals, on 1 January 2015


Article

United States


More details See the document

The American Medical Association is among many medical professional organizations that prohibit the participation of physicians in the physical act of execution. Despite these clear guidelines, debate remains regarding physician involvement in various aspects of death penalty cases. This article outlines different positions that physicians and specifically forensic psychiatrists have taken on this issue. Our position is that given the overwhelming secondary duty related to their physician role—specifically to do no harm—forensic psychiatrists should not use their expertise if they believe their involvement will be used for the primary purpose of obtaining a death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Intellectual Disability,

Document(s)

Executing the Insane Is Against the Law of the Land. So Why Do We Keep Doing It?

By Stephanie Mencimer / Mother Jones, on 1 January 2015


Article

United States


More details See the document

A recent article in Mother Jones examines lingering questions in the determination of which inmates are exempt from execution because of mental incompetency. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ford v. Wainwright that a person could not be executed if he or she was “unaware of the punishment they’re about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.” The 2007 ruling in Panetti v. Quarterman updated that decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing, “A prisoner’s awareness of the State’s rationale for an execution is not the same as a rational understanding of it.” Scott Panetti (pictured), the inmate involved in the 2007 case, knew that the state of Texas planned to execute him for the murder of his in-laws, but also sincerely believed that he was at the center of a struggle between God and Satan and was being executed to stop him from preaching the Gospel.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Intellectual Disability,

Document(s)

The American Death Penalty and the (In)Visibility of Race

By Death Penalty Information Center / Carol S. Steiker / Jordan M. Steiker, on 1 January 2015


Article

United States


More details See the document

In a new article for the University of Chicago Law Review, Professors Carol S. Steiker (left) of the University of Texas School of Law and Jordan M. Steiker (right) of Harvard Law School examine the racial history of the American death penalty and what they describe as the U.S. Supreme Court’s “deafening silence” on the subject of race and capital punishment. They assert that the story of the death penalty “cannot be told without detailed attention to race.” The Steikers’ article recounts the role of race in the death penalty since the early days of the United States, including the vastly disproportionate use of capital punishment against free and enslaved blacks in the antebellum South and describes the racial and civil rights context in which the constitutional challenges to the death penalty in the 1960s and 1970s were pursued. The authors contrast the “salience of race” in American capital punishment law and practice through the civil rights era with the “relative invisibility [of race] in the judicial opinions issued in the foundational cases of the modern era.”

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

What Caused The Crime Decline?

By Brennan Center for Justice / Oliver Roeder / Lauren-Brooke Eisen / Julia Bowling, on 1 January 2015


Article

United States


More details See the document

A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice examined several possible explanations for the dramatic drop in crime in the U.S. in the 1990s and 2000s. Among the theories studied was use of the death penalty, which the report found had no effect on the decline in crime.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence ,

Document(s)

Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer

By Jeanne Bishop / Westminster John Knox Press, on 1 January 2015


Book

United States


More details See the document

Jeanne Bishop has written a new book about her life and spiritual journey after her sister was murdered in Illinois in 1990. Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer tells Bishop’s personal story of grief, loss, and of her eventual efforts to confront and reconcile with her sister’s killer. She also addresses larger issues of capital punishment, life sentences for juvenile offenders, and restorative justice. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan said of the book, “When I commuted the death sentences of everyone on Illinois’s death row, I expressed the hope that we could open our hearts and provide something for victims’ families other than the hope of revenge. I quoted Abraham Lincoln: ‘I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.’ Jeanne Bishop’s compelling book tells the story of how devotion to her faith took her face-to-face with her sister’s killer …. She reminds us of a core truth: that our criminal justice system cannot be just without mercy.”

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Imprisoned by the Past: Warren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty

By Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier / Oxford University Press, on 1 January 2015


Book

United States


More details See the document

Imprisoned by the Past: Warren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty examines the long history of the American death penalty and its connection to the case of Warren McCleskey, revealing how that case marked a turning point for the history of the death penalty. In this book, Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier explores one of the most important Supreme Court cases in history, a case that raised important questions about race and punishment, and ultimately changed the way we understand the death penalty today.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial,

Article(s)

French youth event emboldens next abolitionist generation

By Bronwyn Dudley, on 22 October 2014

The testimony of an exonerated death row prisoners helped international students overcome initial awkwardness and launch into passionate debates at the invitation of Paris-based organisations on World Day Against the Death Penalty.

2014

France

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Morocco

United States

Article(s)

Publishing the final words of the executed to restore their humanity

By Thomas Hubert, on 16 October 2014

Publisher Joshua Herman and photographer Marc Asnin want to issue thousands of American schools with a book presenting the final statements of executed prisoners in an attempt to remind supporters and opponents of the death penalty alike that it targets human beings.

2014

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Death penalty systems disregard mental health – experts

By Thomas Hubert, on 25 September 2014

Despite international and national standards banning the use of capital punishment against mental ill or intellectually disabled people, health professionals familiar with death row say it is full of prisoners who should instead be receiving treatment.

2014

Intellectual Disability

Mental Illness

United States

Article(s)

Civil society instrumental in UN monitoring of progress towards abolition

By Thomas Hubert, on 22 September 2014

The World Coalition and its members are present at every step in the international human rights law process – from the signature of human rights treaties to the verification of their implementation. Their contribution is yielding more and more concrete results.

2014

Indonesia

United States

Article(s)

California ruling paves way for abolition of one of the world’s largest death rows

By Elizabeth Zitrin, on 18 July 2014

United States Federal District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, a strong supporter of the death penalty, ruled on 16 July that California’s death penalty system violates the US Constitution.

2014

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Article(s)

World Coalition supports international calls for American moratorium

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 6 May 2014

Following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on 29 April, the United Nations called on the United States to suspend executions in the face of potential international law violations. The World Coalition supports this appeal.

2014

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

New Hampshire one vote short of abolition

By Emile Carreau, on 25 April 2014

A bill to repeal the death penalty in the US state of New Hampshire was blocked in the Senate on 22 April with votes for and against the bill deadlocked at 12-12. Despite the disappointment, Renny Cushing, Executive Director of World Coalition member organisation Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, sees some positives.

2014

United States

Article(s)

Top UN representatives take stance on death penalty at Human Rights Council

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 14 March 2014

From UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to abolitionist and retentionist government ministers and World Coalition members, participants to a recent discussion on the death penalty placed the issue high on the international agenda.

2014

Afghanistan

Benin

Brazil

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Mongolia

Morocco

Myanmar

Namibia

Pakistan

Saudi Arabia

Sierra Leone

Singapore

Sudan

United States

Article(s)

New conservative voices crucial in New Hampshire repeal campaign

By Thomas Hubert, on 26 February 2014

After a House committee passed a bill abolishing capital punishment on 11 February, State representative Renny Cushing explains the next steps as the World Coalition’s Steering Committee prepares to meet in New Hampshire in April.

2014

United States

Article(s)

Mexico fights on after Texas illegally executes one of its nationals

By Thomas Hubert, on 23 January 2014

The execution of Edgar Tamayo in violation of an international court order spurs Mexico to pursue its efforts in favour of consular rights in the US, a diplomat says.

2014

Mexico

United States

Document(s)

Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald Part 2

By YouTube, on 1 January 2014


2014

Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Row Phenomenon, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald Part 1

By YouTube, on 1 January 2014


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document
  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Row Phenomenon, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Pictures at an execution: The condemned in art

By BBC / Jason Farago, on 1 January 2014


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article discusses a new art exhibition in Los Angeles which aims to humanise condemned prisoners. It continues to situate the exhibition in the greater context of the depiction of the death penalty in art history. The conversation this article raises is the link the death penalty in art history has with creating a public discussion. From the sword to the electric chair, the death penalty has inspired challenging art, writes Jason Farago.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public debate,

Document(s)

Filling The Void

By CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / Bill Leonard / Maggie Smart, on 1 January 2014


Book

United States


More details See the document

‘Filling The Void’ is a brutal record of Bill Leonard’s troubled childhood and youth.The memoir provides a shocking insight into the neglect and abuse that he suffered as a child at the hands of his parents and stepfather and gives a frank account of the murders that led to his incarceration. It reveals the horrendous conditions in which Bill is held in Ely State Prison, Nevada and gives a graphic description of the barbarous treatment that he has received at the hands of his prison guards. It also details and examines the flawed process that earned him the death penalty and describes his struggle for self-rehabilitation through a process called neuroplasticity. This is the life story of a man who has suffered a great deal, who has passions that aren’t always under control. A man who loves order and truth but hasn’t always been able to engage in them. Someone who is hugely motivated to learn and develop his abilities. Someone who ought to be alive for a long time. This is Bill Leonard – and this is his story.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

By Bryan Stevenson / Spiegel & Grau, on 1 January 2014


Book

United States


More details See the document

Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, has written a new book, Just Mercy, about his experiences defending the poor and the wrongfully convicted throughout the south. It includes the story of one of Stevenson’s first cases as a young lawyer, that of Walter McMillian, who was eventually exonerated and freed from death row. McMillian, a black man, had been convicted of the murder of a white woman in Monroeville, Alabama. His trial lasted just a day and a half, prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence, and the judge imposed a death sentence over the jury’s recommendation for life. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of the book, “Bryan Stevenson is America’s young Nelson Mandela, a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all. Just Mercy should be read by people of conscience in every civilized country in the world to discover what happens when revenge and retribution replace justice and mercy. It is as gripping to read as any legal thriller, and what hangs in the balance is nothing less than the soul of a great nation.”

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Fair Trial, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

The Failure of Mitigation?

By Robert J. Smith / Hastings Law Journal, on 1 January 2014


Article

United States


More details See the document

A vast literature details the crimes that condemned inmates commit, but very little is known about the social histories of these capital offenders. For example, how many offenders possessed mitigating characteristics that demonstrate intellectual or psychological deficits comparable to those shared by classes of offenders categorically excluded from capital punishment? Did these executed offenders suffer from intellectual disability, youthfulness, mental illness, or childhood trauma? The problem with this state of affairs is that the personal characteristics of the defendant can render the death penalty an excessive punishment regardless of the characteristics of the crime. This Article begins to fill the mitigation knowledge gap by describing the social histories of the last hundred offenders executed in America. Scouring state and federal court records, this Article documents the presence of significant mitigation evidence for eighty-seven percent of executed offenders. Though only a first step, our findings suggest the failure of the Supreme Court’s mitigation project to ensure the only offenders subjected to a death sentence are those with “a consciousness materially more depraved” than that of the typical murderer. Indeed, the inverse appears to be true: the vast majority of executed offenders possess significant functional deficits that rival — and perhaps outpace — those associated with intellectual impairment and juvenile status; defendants that the Court has categorically excluded from death eligibility.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Arbitrariness, Intellectual Disability,

Article(s)

US executions drop below 40 in 2013

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 20 December 2013

According to the Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report, the number of death sentences in the United States has remained near record lows, a new State repealed capital punishment and public support for the death penalty fell to a 40-year low.

2013

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Justice ministers meet on the eve of Cities Against the Death Penalty

By Elizabeth Zitrin (World Coalition vice-president), in Rome, on 1 December 2013

More than 20 ministers of justice met in Rome for the annual conference on the abolition of the death penalty organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio and heard harrowing testimonies from courageous activists.

2013

Afghanistan

Belarus

Costa Rica

El Salvador

Italy

Philippines

Senegal

Switzerland

United States

Article(s)

United Nations panel hears from innocent sentenced to death

By Maria Donatelli, on 4 July 2013

World Coalition members and a man who spent 18 years on death row for murders he did not commit joined UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for a debate on capital punishment.

2013

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Texas maintains distance from abolitionist trend after 500th execution

By Léa Macarez, on 4 July 2013

52 year-old black woman Kimberly McCarthy was executed on 26 June and became the 500th prisoner put to death since Texas restored the death penalty in 1982.

United States

Women

Article(s)

Shedding light on judicial blunders can help achieve abolition

By Tiziana Trotta, on 14 June 2013

Several organizations are condemning executions of innocent people because of wrongful convictions.

2013

Innocence

Spain

Taiwan

Tunisia

United States

Article(s)

Two perspectives on assistance to foreign nationals facing the death penalty

By Thomas Hubert, on 13 June 2013

World Coalition member Reprieve and the Mexican government share their experience of helping those facing a capital case overseas.

2013

Legal Representation

Mexico

United States

Article(s)

Study explores variety of national paths to abolition

By Thomas Hubert, on 3 May 2013

From courageous political leaders to traditional African values, the International Commission against the Death Penalty’s analysis of the factors leading to the abolition of capital punishment in 13 countries offers advice to retentionist countries.

2013

Cambodia

Haiti

Mongolia

Norway

Public Opinion 

Rwanda

Senegal

South Africa

United States

Article(s)

Ten films to expose innocence on death row

By Laura Shacham - One for Ten, on 29 April 2013

One For Ten is a series of short documentary films telling the stories of innocent people who were on death row in the United States, with support from the World Coalition and several of its members.

2013

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Human Rights Council tackles death penalty

By Aurélie Plaçais, on 29 March 2013

The UN body in charge of defending and promoting human rights has devoted a large part of its 22nd session to discussing capital punishment and its abolition, and vowed to continue at its next meetings.

2013

Algeria

Belgium

Benin

Costa Rica

Egypt

France

Moldova

Mongolia

Rwanda

Switzerland

United States

Article(s)

Organisation of American States considers moratorium

By Tiziana Trotta, on 15 March 2013

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights warns that litigation is insufficient to combat the death penalty.

2013

Argentina

Brazil

Costa Rica

Cuba

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Guatemala

Mexico

Moratorium

Panama

Suriname

Trinidad and Tobago

United States

Article(s)

World Coalition members hail abolition in Maryland

By Thomas Hubert, on 15 March 2013

The House of Delegates has passed a bill replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole. The governor of the US state has been supporting the bill and promised to sign it into law.

Indonesia

United States

Article(s)

Abolitionist Challenges for 2013 in Puerto Rico

By Puerto Rican Coalition against the Death Penalty, on 7 March 2013

This annual report covers the situation of death penalty cases involving Puerto Ricans who face death penalty proceedings in the federal jurisdiction, as well as in those states of the US where such punishment is strictly upheld, and one case of petition for extradition.

2013

United States

Document(s)

Perspectives on Capital Punishment in America

By CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / Charles E. MacLean, on 1 January 2013


2013

Book

United States


More details See the document

Searching inquiry into the contours of capital punishment in America. Containing over 1300 footnotes, the chapters by ten young scholars explore the sometimes-ignored fine details of the death penalty. Topics include the impropriety of applying the death penalty to felony murder, the implications of death row exonerations and their impact on access to post-conviction DNA testing, media impacts on capital cases, death qualification of capital juries and its impact on the right of prospective capital jurors to enjoy First Amendment protection of the free exercise of their religions, the fiscal conservative and social conservative argument favoring abolition of the death penalty, the need for a heightened standard of proof – greater than beyond a reasonable doubt – at the penalty phase of capital trials, federal habeas corpus protections for state-sentenced capital offenders and the constitutionality of limits on “actual innocence” equitable tolling, tips and techniques for capital defense counsel representing defendants who were acutely substance-impaired at the time of the crime or have a history of chronic substance abuse or chemical dependency, the impropriety of allowing counsel to argue fiscal matters to the jury, such as that either execution or life imprisonment is the “cheapest” option for society, and the role the death penalty should and does play within the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process ,

Document(s)

Exile and Embrace: Contemporary Religious Discourse on the Death Penalty

By Northeastern / Anthony Santoro, on 1 January 2013


Book

United States


More details See the document

With passion and precision, Exile and Embrace examines the key elements of the religious debates over capital punishment and shows how they reflect the values and self-understandings of contemporary Americans. Santoro demonstrates that capital punishment has relatively little to do with the perpetrators and much more to do with those who would impose the punishment. Because of this, he convincingly argues, we should focus our attention not on the perpetrators and victims, as is typically the case in debates pro and con about the death penalty, but on ourselves and on the mechanisms that we use to impose or oppose the death penalty.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America

By Evan J. Mandery / W. W. Norton & Company, on 1 January 2013


Book

United States


More details See the document

For two hundred years, the constitutionality of capital punishment had been axiomatic. But in 1962, Justice Arthur Goldberg and his clerk Alan Dershowitz dared to suggest otherwise, launching an underfunded band of civil rights attorneys on a quixotic crusade. In 1972, in a most unlikely victory, the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s death penalty law in Furman v. Georgia. Though the decision had sharply divided the justices, nearly everyone, including the justices themselves, believed Furman would mean the end of executions in America.Instead, states responded with a swift and decisive showing of support for capital punishment. As anxiety about crime rose and public approval of the Supreme Court declined, the stage was set in 1976 for Gregg v. Georgia, in which the Court dramatically reversed direction.A Wild Justice is an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the Court, the justices, and the political complexities of one of the most racially charged and morally vexing issues of our time.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Trial and Errors : The Texas Death Penalty

By Lisa Maxwell / AMITI, on 1 January 2013


Book

United States


More details See the document

TRIAL & ERROR takes a thorough look at the most controversial issues of the Texas Death Penalty that have raised questions of fairness and equality. Read words of inmates on death row in interviews conducted by the Amiti Organization, then judge for yourself whether the Death Penalty is administering justice or injustice.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Foreign Nationals and the Death Penalty in the US

By Death Penalty Information Center / Mark Warren, on 1 January 2013


Article

United States


More details See the document

New information on foreign nationals facing the death penalty in the U.S. is now available through Mark Warren of Human Rights Research. This DPIC page includes information on 143 foreign citizens from 37 countries on state and federal death rows.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Country/Regional profiles,

Article(s)

American death penalty area shrank further in 2012

By Thomas Hubert, on 20 December 2012

Only nine US states carried out executions this year, the lowest number in 20 years, according to a new report released by the independent organisation Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).

2012

United States

Article(s)

Justice ministers meet as Colosseum lights up to say yes to life

By Community of Sant'Egidio, on 10 December 2012

The Community of Sant’Egidio conducted a crucial political networking exercise in favour of abolition in Rome at the end of November before 1,600 cities lit up their monuments against the death penalty.

2012

Benin

Burundi

Central African Republic

France

Gabon

Italy

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Mongolia

Public Opinion 

Switzerland

Togo

United States

Uzbekistan

Zimbabwe

Article(s)

California narrowly rejects abolition

By Thomas Hubert, on 8 November 2012

Citizens of the largest US state have voted against an initiative to replace the death penalty with life sentences, but the results show abolitionist views have gained significant ground through the referendum campaign.

2012

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Jury Rejects Federal Death Penalty in Puerto Rico

By Kevin Miguel Rivera-Medina, President of the Puerto Rico Bar Association Committee on Death Penalty, on 2 October 2012

San Juan, Puerto Rico – On September 27, 2012, a jury declined the United States Government petition to impose capital punishment in a murder trial on the Federal District Court. The Puerto Rico Bar Association and the Puerto Rico Coalition Against the Death Penalty were among the organizations who led a series of vigils, press releases, radio and television appearances, along many other events to raise the voice of abolitionism and justice.

2012

United States

Article(s)

A Moratorium acts as a “truce” for the death penalty

on 23 August 2012

Hands Off Cain published its annual report in August. President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma wrote the introduction and the book has been dedicated to Rwanda.

2012

Benin

Burundi

Ethiopia

Ghana

Guinea

Latvia

Maldives

Mauritania

Mongolia

Moratorium

Morocco

Myanmar

Nigeria

Rwanda

Sierra Leone

South Africa

Suriname

Uganda

United States

Zambia

Article(s)

From restrictions to abolition

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 17 August 2012

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has published a new report and called for abolition of the death penalty.

2012

Antigua and Barbuda

Argentina

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Brazil

Canada

Chile

Colombia

Costa Rica

Cuba

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

El Salvador

Grenada

Guatemala

Guyana

Haiti

Honduras

Jamaica

Mexico

Nicaragua

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Trinidad and Tobago

United States

Uruguay

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Article(s)

One in nine exonerations in new database is a capital case

By World Coalition, on 26 May 2012

A new online project listing 891 exonerated wrongful convictions in the US includes 101 death sentences.

2012

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Connecticut increases momentum for abolition

By Elizabeth Zitrin, on 13 April 2012

Lawmakers in the US State of Connecticut have abolished capital punishment and the State’s governor has said that he would sign the bill into law. Elizabeth Zitrin of the US NGO Death Penalty Focus chairs the World Coalition’s working group on the United States. She writes on the significance of this news for the wider abolitionist movement.

2012

Murder Victims' Families

United States

Article(s)

European Union tightens rules on export of death drug

By Emile Carreau, on 20 January 2012

On 20 December 2011 the European Commission added sodium thiopental to the list of goods that are subject to tight export controls to ensure they do not find their way into overseas death chambers.

2012

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Denmark

United States

Document(s)

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

By TED / Bryan Stevenson, on 1 January 2012


2012

Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America’s unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.Speaker starts talking about the death penalty at the 8 minute mark.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

David R. Dow: Lessons from death row inmates

By David R. Dow / TED, on 1 January 2012


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

What happens before a murder? In looking for ways to reduce death penalty cases, David R. Dow realized that a surprising number of death row inmates had similar biographies. In this talk he proposes a bold plan, one that prevents murders in the first place.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process ,

Document(s)

Quest for Justice: Defending the Damned

By Richard Jaffe / New Horizon Press, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

In Quest For Justice, the author takes readers into the Bo Cochran and Eric Rudolph cases, along with those of Randall Padgett and Judge Jack Montgomery, in a conversational, story-driven narrative that offers personal insights and intimate views into these complex individuals and cases.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process ,

Document(s)

Evidence Does Not Support Death Penalty As Deterrent

By Sacramento Bee, on 1 January 2012


Article

United States


More details See the document

Ever since California added the death penalty to its penal code in the 1870s, supporters have argued that the threat of executions would make potential murderers think twice before committing heinous crimes.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row

By Dr. Betty Gilmore and Nanon M. Williams / Goodmedia press, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

The Darkest Hour: Stories and Interviews from Death Row by Nanon M. Williams emerged from a deep and dark despair in a place where the thought of suicide often holds more appeal than the thought of living

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

Entrenchment and/or Destabilization? Reflections on (Another) Two Decades of Constitutional Regulation of Capital Punishment

By Death Penalty Information Center / Carol S. Steiker / Jordan M. Steiker, on 1 January 2012


Article

United States


More details See the document

A recent law review article by Professors Carol and Jordan Steiker examines two decades of attempts to regulate capital punishment and concludes that this process may have paved the way to a finding that the death penalty is unconstitutional

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

DNA and the Death Penalty

By Brandon Garrett / Joshua Marquis / CATO Unbound / Jeffrey Kirchmeier / George H. Smith, on 1 January 2012


Article

United States


More details See the document

Essays on the theme of the issue of the DNA and the Death Penalty

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Life After Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity

By Kimberly J Cook / Saundra D Westervelt / Rutgers University Press, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

n Life After Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity, the authors focus on three central areas affecting those who had to begin a new life after leaving years of severe confinement: the seeming invisibility of these individuals after their release; the complicity of the justice system in allowing that invisibility; and the need for each of them to confront their personal trauma

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

Public Executions in Virginia

By Harry M. Ward / McFarland Publishing, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

A new book by Professor Harry M. Ward of the University of Richmond examines the death penalty in Virginia at a time when executions were carried out for all to see.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

The Death of the American Death Penalty

By L. Koch / Northeastern University Press / J. Galliher, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

A new book by Larry Koch, Colin Wark and John Galliher discusses the status of the death penalty in the U.S. in light of recent legislative activity and court decisions. In The Death of the American Death Penalty, the authors examine the impact of factors such as economic conditions, public sentiment, the role of elites, the media, and population diversity on the death penalty debate.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,

Document(s)

Survivor on Death Row

By Amazon Digital Services / Clare Nonhebel, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

Survivor on Death Row, a new e-book co-authored by death row inmate Romell Broom and Clare Nonhebel, tells the story of Ohio’s botched attempt to execute Broom by lethal injection in 2009. In September of that year, Broom was readied for execution and placed on the gurney, but the procedure was terminated after corrections officials spent over two hours attempting to find a suitable vein for the lethal injection.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment,

Document(s)

Early Supreme Court Cases on the Death Penalty

By Robert Bohm / Carolina Academic Press, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

A new book by Professor Robert Bohm of the University of Central Florida looks at death-penalty decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court prior to the modern era of capital punishment that began in 1968. In The Past As Prologue, Bohm examines 39 Court decisions, covering issues such as clemency, jury selection, coerced confessions, and effective representation.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list International law, Trend Towards Abolition,

Document(s)

Cruel and Unusual: The American Death Penalty and the Founders’ Eighth Amendment

By John D. Bessler / Northeastern University Press, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

Bessler examines the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment case law and concludes that the death penalty may well be declared unconstitutional in time. Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, called the book, “A searing indictment of capital punishment, this pioneering history of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause is destined to reframe America’s death penalty debate.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list International law, Public debate,

Document(s)

Most Deserving of Death? An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Death Penalty Jurisprudence

By Kenneth Williams / Ashgate Publishing, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

The book looks at issues such as jury selection, ineffective assistance of counsel, innocence, and race, and how these issues reflect on who is sentenced to death. Prof. Williams concludes that that application of the death penalty is inconsistent and incoherent, partly because of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, and this leads to a lack of public confidence in the system.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Fair Trial, Capital offences,

Document(s)

The Inferno: A Southern Morality Tale

By Joseph Ingle / Westview Publishing, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

chronicles the compelling story of Philip Workman, who was executed in Tennessee in 2007. The author, a minister of the United Church of Christ who has spent decades working with those on death row, served as Mr. Workman’s pastor and tells the story from his own viewpoint, as well as those of others familiar with the case.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty Failed Experiment: From Gary Graham to Troy Davis in Context

By Diann Rust-Tierney / McKinney & Associates, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

A new book published in electronic format, The Death Penalty Failed Experiment: From Gary Graham to Troy Davis in Context by Diann Rust-Tierney, examines the problem of arbitrariness in the death penalty since its reinstatement in 1976. Through an analysis of the cases of Gary Graham and Troy Davis, the author argues that race, wealth and geography play a more significant role in determining who faces capital punishment than the facts of the crime itself.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Arbitrariness,

Document(s)

Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America

By Clive Stafford Smith / Harvill Secker, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

A new book by Clive Stafford Smith, a British lawyer who has defended death row inmates in the U.S., offers an in-depth view of capital punishment in America. In Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America, Stafford Smith examines the case of Kris Maharaj, a British citizen who was sentenced to death in Florida for a double murder, to expose problems in the justice system.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Innocence,

Document(s)

Die Free: A True Story of Murder, Betrayal and Miscarried Justice

By K. Cantrell / Amazon Digital Services, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

A new electronic book by former journalist Peter Rooney offers an in-depth look at the case of Joseph Burrows, who was exonerated from Illinois’s death row in 1996. In Die Free: A True Story of Murder, Betrayal and Miscarried Justice, Rooney explains how Burrows was sentenced to death for the murder of William Dulin based on snitch testimony.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America

By Univerity if North Carolina / Diane Christian, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

In this comprehensive, well-crafted book, published in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, SUNY-Buffalo professors Jackson and Christian build upon the photographs and interviews from death row in Texas that yielded their 1979 book and documentary Death Row

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Death Row Phenomenon,

Document(s)

The Second Execution of Romell Broom

By Michael Verhoeven / Michael Verhoeven, on 1 January 2012


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

On September 15, 2009, the State of Ohio tried to execute Romell Broom and failed. Ohio claims it has a right to try again. This film explores the legal and moral questions surrounding this unique case.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Death Row Conditions, Lethal Injection,

Document(s)

Death Watch Diary

By Robert Towery / Amazon Digital Services, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

Robert Towery was denied clemency by the state of Arizona on Friday March 2, 2012 and was executed on Thursday March 8th in Florence, Arizona. He was 47 years old. The last 35 days of his life, Robert was placed on “Death Watch” where his every move was recorded and chronicled by prison officials. Robert kept a diary and he sent his writings to his attorneys. Robert authorized his lawyers to release his diary after his execution.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong

By Raymond Bonner / Stated First Edition, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

The book that helped free an innocent man who had spent twenty-seven years on death row. In January 1982, an elderly white widow was found brutally murdered in the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina. Police immediately arrested Edward Lee Elmore, a semiliterate, mentally retarded black man with no previous felony record. His only connection to the victim was having cleaned her gutters and windows, but barely ninety days after the victim’s body was found, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

Criminology: racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty: the experience of the united states armed forces (1984–2005)

By David C. Baldus / Catherine M. Grosso / Northwestern University School of Law / Richard Newell, on 1 January 2012


Article

United States


More details See the document

This Article presents evidence of racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty in the United States Armed Forces from 1984 through 2005.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Minorities, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Cruel and Unusual: The American Death Penalty and the Founders’ Eighth Amendment

By John D. Bessler / Northeastern, on 1 January 2012


Book

United States


More details See the document

While shedding important new light on the U.S. Constitution’s “cruel and unusual punishments” clause, Bessler explores the influence of Cesare Beccaria’s essay, on Crimes and Punishments, on the Founders’ views, and the transformative properties of the Fourteenth Amendment, which made the Bill of Rights applicable to the states.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States

Article(s)

A challenge to the abolitionist movement

By Sandra Babcock, on 16 December 2011

Over the last few decades, we have made great strides toward the universal abolition of the death penalty.  Nevertheless, despite the progress we have made, the death penalty remains entrenched in a significant number of states.  And even in those nations that have refrained from carrying out executions in a sort of de facto moratorium, […]

2011

Intellectual Disability

Malawi

Mental Illness

Mexico

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

Puerto Rico pressures Obama to abolish unwanted federal death penalty

on 25 June 2011

In a letter addressed to President Obama, World Coalition member, the Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty (PRCADP), has requested that the President abolish the application of the federal death penalty in Puerto Rico. The letter , signed by PRCADP’s General Coordinator Edgardo Roman-Espada, was sent to the White House before the President’s visit to the island on 14 June 2011.

2011

Fair Trial

Puerto Rico

United States

Article(s)

Former death row warden turns frontline abolitionist

on 6 June 2011

Jeanne Woodford, who used to oversee excutions in California, has become the executive director of the prominent anti-capital punishment organisation Death Penalty Focus.

2011

Death Row Conditions 

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Pressured Indian firm stops exporting lethal drugs

on 8 April 2011

The decision of Kayem to stop supplying the US with execution drugs may well have been influenced by a campaign organized by World Coalition member Reprieve.

2011

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

India

United States

Article(s)

Amnesty 2010 stats: retentionist countries increasingly isolated

on 28 March 2011

Countries which continue to use the death penalty are being left increasingly isolated following a decade of progress towards abolition, Amnesty International has said in its new report Death Sentences and Executions in 2010.

2011

China

Drug Offenses

Egypt

Fair Trial

Indonesia

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Juveniles

Lao People's Democratic Republic

Libya

Malaysia

Moratorium

Pakistan

Sudan

Thailand

United Arab Emirates

United States

Yemen

Article(s)

The future of the death penalty in the United States

on 27 March 2011

Governor Pat Quinn’s signing abolition into law last week in Illinois has reopened the debate on the death penalty throughout the country. Several states are currently considering abolition.

2011

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

An uncertain future for the infamous San Quentin prison

on 26 March 2011

The death row facility of California at San Quentin finds itself at the center of a fierce debate over the future of a hugely expensive and increasingly unpopular death penalty system.

2011

Death Row Conditions 

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Illinois embraces “a culture of life” and outlaws the death penalty

on 11 March 2011

After nearly two months of fierce lobbying on both sides, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn abolishes the death penalty in the state and commutes all current death sentences to life in prison.

2011

United States

Article(s)

Puerto Rico hosts a week of World Coalition events

on 16 February 2011

International abolitionists gathered on the Caribbean territory to promote their message and to show solidarity with the local authorities against capital punishment.

2011

Murder Victims' Families

Public Opinion 

Puerto Rico

United States

Article(s)

Preventing exports of lethal drugs from Europe to the US

on 22 January 2011

High-profile civil society organizations have signed a submission appealing to the European Commission to control the exportation, from Europe, of the drugs that are used in US executions.

2011

United States

Article(s)

Beating the death penalty in Illinois

on 22 January 2011

In a video interview at the NCADP conference in Chicago, leading Illinois abolitionist Jeremy Schroeder explains how grassroots activism and political lobbying combined to get the abolition bill passed.

United States

Document(s)

Forensic Mental Health: Assessments in Death Penalty Cases

By Oxford University Press / David DeMatteo / Daniel C. Murrie / Natalie M. Anumba / Michael E. Keesler, on 1 January 2011


2011

Book

United States


More details See the document

Forensic mental health assessments in death penalty cases are on the rise due in part to the continuing growth of forensic psychology and psychiatry as professions, combined with several recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Forensic mental health professionals are now conducting assessments at every stage of death penalty proceedings, ranging from pre-trial evaluations to determine eligibility for the death penalty to evaluations conducted post-sentencing and closer to the date of execution.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Intellectual Disability,

Document(s)

Paradise Lost: Purgatory

By Bruce Sinofsky / Joe Berlinger / HBO documentaries, on 1 January 2011


Multimedia content

United States


More details See the document

Joe Berlinger’s third film about the West Memphis 3, Paradise Lost: Purgatory

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Witness to Murder

By Tony Medina / Lulu PRESS, on 1 January 2011


Book

United States


More details See the document

Tony Medina was accused of shooting into a crowd of young people with a semi-automatic weapon from a dark colored car. Two children were fatally wounded during the shooting. Nevertheless, he is innocent according to the furnished evidence and the testimony of witnesses.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Dead Reckoning: Executions in America

By Greg Mitchell / Sinclair Books , on 1 January 2011


Book

United States


More details See the document

The fast-paced new book, “Dead Reckoning,” offers a critical overview of capital punishment in America, along with a vivid discussion of current issues central in today’s debate, based on many interviews. Along the way, Mitchell turns to a wide cast of notable abolitionists, from Charles Dickens and Mark Twain to Albert Camus and Christopher Hitchensو and Steve Earle.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States

Document(s)

Death and Harmless Error: A Rhetorical Response to Judging Innocence

By Colin P. Starger / Columbia School of Law, on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

The ‘Garret Study’ analyses the first 200 post conviction DNA exonerations in the United States. This article wheights the impact of the study and how it will depend on how jurists, politicians, and scholars extrapolate the explanatory power of the data.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Make Me Believe

By Dax-Devlon Ross / Outside the Box Publishing, on 1 January 2011


Book

United States


More details See the document

A Crime Novel Based on Real Events, follows the discoveries and dangerous encounters of a fictional author investigating the case of Toronto Patterson, the last juvenile defendant executed in Texas.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Juveniles,

Document(s)

In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance

By Wilbert Rideau / Knopf, on 1 January 2011


Book

United States


More details See the document

A death row inmate finds redemption as a prison journalist in this uplifting memoir. In 1961, after a bungled bank robbery, Rideau was convicted of murder at the age of 19 and received a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Death Row Conditions,

Document(s)

Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong

By Brandon L. Garrett / Harvard University Press, on 1 January 2011


Book

United States


More details See the document

Very few crimes committed in the United States involve biological evidence that can be tested using DNA. Convicting the Innocent makes a powerful case for systemic reforms to improve the accuracy of all criminal cases.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Executing Those Who Do Not Kill

By Tracy Casadio / Joseph Trigilio / American Criminal Law Review, on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article explores the constitutionality of the death penalty for those convicted of felony murder, i.e., those who participated in a serious crime in which a death occurred, but were not directly responsible for the death.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

The Execution of Cameron Todd Willingham: Junk Science, an Innocent Man, and the Politics of Death

By Paul C. Giannelli / Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-18 , on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

The case of Cameron Todd Willingham has become infamous and was enmeshed in the death penalty debate and the reelection of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who refused to grant a stay of execution. The governor has since attempted to derail an investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Minority Practice, Majority’s Burden: The Death Penalty Today

By James S. Liebman / Peter Clarke / Columbia School of Law, on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article explores how, capital punishment in the United States is a minority practice. This feature of American capital punishment has become more pronounced recently, and is especially clear when death sentences, which are merely infrequent, are distinguished from executions, which are exceedingly rare.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Minorities,

Document(s)

Remedying Wrongful Execution

By Meghan J. Ryan / University of Michigan, on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

The Article highlights that statutory compensation schemes overlook the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in 2004, of wrongful execution and the greater injustice it entails and urges that the statutes be amended in light of this grievous wrong that has come to the fore of American criminal justice systems.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Chivalry is Not Dead: Murder, Gender, and the Death Penalty

By Naomi R. Shatz / Steven F. Shatz / University of San Francisco, on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

Chivalry – that set of values and code of conduct for the medieval knightly class – has long influenced American law, from Supreme Court decisions to substantive criminal law doctrines and the administration of criminal justice. The chivalrous knight was enjoined to seek honor and defend it through violence and, in a society which enforced strict gender roles, to show gallantry toward “ladies” of the same class, except for the women of the knight’s own household, over whom he exercised complete authority. This article explores, for the first time, whether these chivalric values might explain sentencing outcomes in capital cases. The data for the article comes from our original study of 1299 first degree murder cases in California, whose death penalty scheme accords prosecutors and juries virtually unlimited discretion in making the death-selection decision. We examine sentencing outcomes for three particular types of murder where a “chivalry effect” might be expected – gang murders, rape murders and domestic violence murders. In cases involving single victims, the results were striking. In gang murders, the death sentence rate was less than one-tenth the overall death sentence rate. By contrast, in rape murder cases, the death sentence rate was nine times the overall death sentence rate. The death sentence rate for single-victim domestic violence murders was roughly 25% lower than the overall death sentence rate. We also examined, through this study and earlier California studies, more general data on gender disparities in death sentencing and found substantial gender-of-defendant and gender-of-victim disparities. Women guilty of capital murder are far less likely than men to be sentenced to death, and defendants who kill women are far more likely to be sentenced to death than defendants who kill men. We argue that all of these findings are consistent with chivalric norms, and we conclude that, in the prosecutors’ decisions to seek death and juries’ decisions to impose it, chivalry appears to be alive and well.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women,

Document(s)

A Heavy Thumb on the Scale: The Effect of Victim Iimpact Evidence On Capital Decision Making

By Ray Paternoster / Criminology / Jerome Deise, on 1 January 2011


Article

United States


More details See the document

The past several decades have seen the emergence of a movement in the criminal justice system that has called for a greater consideration for the rights of victims. One manifestation of this movement has been the “right” of victims or victims’ families to speak to the sentencing body through what are called victim impact statements about the value of the victim and the full harm that the offender has created. Although victim impact statements have been a relatively noncontroversial part of regular criminal trials, their presence in capital cases has had a more contentious history. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned previous decisions and explicitly permitted victim impact testimony in capital cases in Payne v. Tennessee (1991). The dissenters in that case argued that such evidence only would arouse the emotions of jurors and bias them in favor of imposing death. A body of research in behavioral economics on the “identifiable victim effect” and the “identifiable wrongdoer effect” would have supported such a view. Using a randomized controlled experiment with a death-eligible sample of potential jurors and the videotape of an actual penalty trial in which victim impact evidence (VIE) was used, we found that these concerns about VIE are perhaps well placed. Subjects who viewed VIE testimony in the penalty phase were more likely to feel negative emotions like anger, hostility, and vengeance; were more likely to feel sympathy and empathy toward the victim; and were more likely to have favorable perceptions of the victim and victim’s family as well as unfavorable perceptions of the offender. We found that these positive feelings toward the victim and family were in turn related to a heightened risk of them imposing the death penalty. We found evidence that part of the effect of VIE on the decision to impose death was mediated by emotions of sympathy and empathy. We think our findings open the door for future work to put together better the causal story that links VIE to an increased inclination to impose death as well as explore possible remedies.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Article(s)

10.10.10 Looking back on the World Day in Asia

on 3 December 2010

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network rounds up reports from the main events organised across the Asia-Pacific region for World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10.

2010

Australia

Bangladesh

India

Indonesia

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Italy

Japan

Pakistan

Singapore

Terrorism

United States

Article(s)

From death row to elusive freedom

By Ron Keine, on 26 October 2010

Ron Keine, an exonerated former prisoner turned activist, shares his story so that the United States may one day join the rest of the civilized world in abolishing the death penalty.

2010

Death Row Conditions 

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

“Irreversible trend towards abolition” – OSCE

on 12 October 2010

The Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Report entitled “The Death Penalty in the OSCE Area: Background Paper 2010” was published and discussed during the “Exchange of views on abolition of capital punishment”.

2010

Belarus

Kazakhstan

Latvia

Russian Federation

Tajikistan

United States

Article(s)

Strong support for US abolitionists on World Day

on 11 October 2010

On 10.10.10, the 8th World Day against the Death Penalty focused on ending the use of the death penalty in the United States of America. Since 2003, abolitionists have taken actions all over the world every 10 October to raise awareness and opposition to the death penalty.

2010

Juveniles

Mental Illness

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

California’s moratorium holds

on 11 October 2010

A few days out from the World Day Against the Death Penalty, California has decided not to resume executions. A shortage of one of the drugs used for lethal injections gives death row inmates and abolitionists more time to continue the legal battle.

Clemency

Mental Illness

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

10.10.10 World Day Against the Death Penalty – USA special

on 6 August 2010

On 10 October 2010, the World Day Against the Death Penalty will focus on the USA. There are two months left to prepare and promote the events planned around the world on the big day.

2010

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Article(s)

World Coalition AGM encourages US to join the abolitionist majority

on 22 June 2010

On June 12 and 13, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty convened in San Francisco, marking the first international abolition meeting on US soil.

2010

United States

Article(s)

San Francisco hosts World Coalition AGM

on 31 May 2010

For the first time, a major international abolitionist event will take place on US soil on June 12 when World Coalition members converge on California for their general meeting and a public conference. Register now for access!

2010

United States

Article(s)

California Democratic Party endorses abolition of the death penalty

on 12 May 2010

One of the two main political parties in the largest US State has taken a formal stance against capital punishment – with help from local abolitionist organisations.

2010

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

8th World Day Against the Death Penalty: USA

By Aurélie Plaçais, on 10 May 2010

On 10 October 2010, the 8th World Day Against the Death Penalty is dedicated to the USA which executed 52 people and handed down 106 death sentences in 2009.

2010

United States

Article(s)

2009 Amnesty statistics: at least 714 executions… excluding China

on 30 March 2010

Amnesty International has released its report on the death penalty in the world in 2009. The organisation has decided to exclude China from its calculation due to the lack of transparency on capital punishment in that country.

2010

Belarus

Burundi

China

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Fair Trial

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Iraq

Saudi Arabia

Togo

United States

Article(s)

Hank Skinner’s execution stayed amid international action

on 25 March 2010

The American death row inmate heard the news less than one hour before he was scheduled to die. From Huntsville to Paris, activists demand that new evidence be examined.

2010

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Universal abolition will happen when four key countries change sides

on 28 February 2010

The US, Iran, China and Japan hold a strategic cultural or geographic position, but the road to abolition remains blocked in those countries.

2010

China

Death Row Conditions 

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Japan

Juveniles

Switzerland

United States

Article(s)

“We are the future” – Kids Against the Death Penalty

on 28 February 2010

The teenage nephews of an American death row inmate started an anti-death penalty organization that has grown into a pillar of the Texas abolitionist community.

Innocence

Switzerland

United States

Article(s)

Abolition as seen by police and justice practicioners

on 28 February 2010

You can devote your life to crime reduction in retentionist countries and affirm your opposition to the death penalty. James Abbott is a member of this growing category.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Portraits of the death penalty

on 26 February 2010

Since 2006, US-based French photographer Caroline Planque has been working on a series of portraits of indirect victims of the death penalty in the US State with the highest number of executions – Texas.

2010

United States

Article(s)

Live from death row

on 25 February 2010

The 180 members of the public who had gathered to view the film Manners of dying had an opportunity to witness a discussion between Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lawyer Robert Bryan.

2010

Switzerland

United States

Article(s)

Campaigning through forgiving

on 24 February 2010

A former death row inmate and the grandson of a murder victim explain why compassion – not the death penalty – is the way to heal wounds.

2010

Murder Victims' Families

Public Opinion 

Switzerland

United States

Article(s)

Mumia’s supporters fight back after legal setback and turn to Obama

on 29 January 2010

After the US Supreme Court restored Mumia Abu Jamal’s death sentence, the campaigners working to save his life have started an international petition addressing the president of the United States.

2010

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

US abolitionists are training for the long run

on 24 January 2010

The Annual Conference of the US National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty gathered more than 400 abolitionists from around the country around the theme: Training for the long run.”

2010

United States

Article(s)

US death sentences hit new low in 2009

By Death Penalty Information Center, on 7 January 2010

As legal efforts and economic woes weighed in against the death penalty, fewer Americans were sent to death row in 2009 than any other year since the restoration of capital punishment in the US in 1976.

2010

Mental Illness

United States

Document(s)

Ultimate Sanction: Understanding the Death Penalty Through Its Many Voices and Many Sides

By Robert M. Bohm / Kaplan Trade, on 1 January 2010


2010

Book

United States


More details See the document

The book looks at the death penalty through interviews with people affected by the system in different ways. He uses interviews to explore issues of deterrence, retribution, and fairness, while taking a unique look at how the death penalty affects those who participate in the system.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial, Deterrence , Retribution,

Document(s)

Death Penalty Cases: Leading U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Capital Punishment

By David McCord / Barry Latzer / Butterworth-Heinemann, on 1 January 2010


Book

United States


More details See the document

This brand new edition of Death Penalty Cases makes the most manageable comprehensive resource on the death penalty even better. It includes the most recent cases, including Kennedy v. Louisiana, prohibiting the death penalty for child rapists, and Baze v. Rees, upholding execution by lethal injection. In addition, all of the cases are now topically organized into five sections: * The Foundational Cases * Death-Eligibility: Which persons/crimes are fit for the death penalty? * The Death Penalty Trial * Post-conviction Review * Execution Issues The introductory essays on the history, administration, and controversies surrounding capital punishment have been thoroughly revised. The statistical appendix has been brought up-to-date, and the statutory appendix has been restructured. For clarity, accuracy, complete impartiality and comprehensiveness, there simply is no better resource on capital punishment available.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Innocence Unmodified

By Emily Hughes / North Carolina Law Review , on 1 January 2010


Article

United States


More details See the document

The Article proceeds in three parts. Part I explains the pivotal role that “actual” innocence has played in the Innocence Movement. It shows that even though the Innocence Movement has begun to broaden its DNA-based focus to include non-DNA-based claims, its goal has remained constant: achieving justice for “actually” innocent people. Part I then shows how the Innocence Movement has prioritized the cases of “actually” innocent people who were convicted through trial over “actually” innocent people who pleaded guilty. The prioritization of wrongful convictions derived from trials over wrongful convictions from pleas underscores how the Innocence Movement has overlooked the claims of people who have pleaded guilty and are not “actually” innocent, but who may still have strong wrongful conviction claims based on fundamental constitutional violations. Part II examines innocence unmodified in the context of trials and postconviction appeals. It asserts that one reason to protect innocence unmodified is because under the Court‟s existing jurisprudence, “actual” innocence alone is not enough to reverse a wrongful conviction. This is because the Supreme Court has not yet decided whether the Constitution forbids the execution of an “actually” innocent person who was convicted through a “full and fair” trial. Because the Court has not recognized a freestanding “actual” innocence claim, the “actual” innocence of a wrongly convicted person only matters as a door through which to allow a court to reach underlying constitutional claims. Part II uses the example of a recent Supreme Court decision, In Re Troy Davis, to highlight how an isolated prioritization of “actual” innocence does not achieve justice for wrongly convicted people. Part III examines innocence unmodified in the context of pleas. It reveals the degree to which the Court has itself polarized innocence in the context of pleas—prioritizing “actual” innocence over fundamental constitutional protections for all people.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

THE RACIAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY

By Robert J. Smith / Ben Cohen / Washington Law Review, on 1 January 2010


Article

United States


More details See the document

Scholars have devoted substantial attention to both the overrepresentation of black defendants on federal death row and the disproportionate number of federal defendants charged capitally for the murder of white victims. This attention has not explained (much less resolved) these disquieting racial disparities. Little research has addressed the unusual geography of the federal death penalty, in which a small number of jurisdictions are responsible for the vast majority of federal death sentences. By addressing the unique geography, we identify a possible explanation for the racial distortions in the federal death penalty: that federal death sentences are sought disproportionately where the expansion of the venire from the county to the district level has a dramatic demographic impact on the racial make-up of the jury. This inquiry demonstrates that the conversation concerning who should make up the jury of twelve neighbors and peers—a discussion begun well before the founding of our Constitution—continues to have relevance today. Louisiana, Missouri, Virginia and Maryland referred to.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Waiver and Withdrawal of Death Penalty Appeals as “Extreme Communicative Acts”

By Avi Brisman / Western Criminology Review, on 1 January 2010


Article

United States


More details See the document

This paper explores the power struggle between the State and the condemned over the timing and conditions under which an inmate is executed. It begins with a discussion of current public opinion about the death penalty and the ways in which the death penalty has been resisted. Next, it describes capital defendants who elect execution over life imprisonment and considers some of the reasons proffered for waiver and withdrawal. This paper then contemplates whether some instances of “volunteering” should be regarded as “extreme communicative acts” (Wee 2004, 2007)—nonlinguistic communicative acts that are usually associated with protest, especially in the context of a lengthy political struggle (such as hunger strikes, self-immolation, and the chopping off of one’s fingers). In so doing, this paper weighs in on the larger questions of who ultimately controls the body of the condemned and what governmental opposition to waiver and withdrawal may reveal about the motives and rationale for the death penalty. This paper also furthers research on how the prison industrial complex is resisted and how State power more generally is negotiated.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Failure to Apply the Flynn Correction in Death Penalty Litigation: Standard Practice of Today Maybe, but Certainly Malpractice of Tomorrow

By John E. Wright / John Niland / Cecil R. Reynolds / Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment / Michal Rosenn, on 1 January 2010


Article

United States


More details See the document

The Flynn Effect is a well documented phenomenon demonstrating score increases on IQ measures over time that average about 0.3 points per year. Normative adjustments to scores derived from IQ measures normed more than a year or so prior to the time of testing an individual have become controversial in several settings but especially so in matters of death penalty litigation. Here we make the argument that if the Flynn Effect is real, then a Flynn Correction should be applied to obtained IQs in order to obtain the most accurate estimate of IQ possible. To fail to provide the most accurate estimate possible in matters that are truly life and death decisions seems wholly indefensible.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Article(s)

Flurry of educational events on World Day Against the Death Penalty

on 6 November 2009

An abolitionist wave of marches, cultural happenings, petition signings and educational events swept across the world for the 7th World Day on October 10.

2009

Australia

Clemency

Democratic Republic of the Congo

India

Indonesia

Innocence

Public Opinion 

Taiwan

United States

Article(s)

Sweden and Amnesty International raise death penalty issue in New York

on 7 October 2009

Upcoming United Nations resolutions for a moratorium on executions and progress towards abolition across Africa were among the subjects discussed on the fringe of the UN General Assembly in New York.

2009

Moratorium

Sweden

United States

Article(s)

US activists turn spotlight on executed innocent man

on 28 September 2009

An official report and a feature in the New Yorker have confirmed that Todd Willingham was not guilty of the arson for which he was executed. Abolitionist campaigners are now targeting his case.

2009

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Paris activists lie down against US federal executions

on 10 July 2009

ACAT-France and Amnesty International France staged their 9th “die-in” against the death penalty in the United States.

2009

Death Row Conditions 

France

France

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Death penalty and mental illness: “Double Tragedies”

on 7 July 2009

Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights and the National Alliance on Mental Illness slam the use of capital punishment against mentally ill people in the United States.

2009

Mental Illness

Murder Victims' Families

United States

Article(s)

Debate on California executions turned into abolitionist rally

on 4 July 2009

Hundreds of activists descended on Sacramento for a public review of the state’s lethal injection protocol, arguing that «the death penalty is killing California’s budget».

2009

Death Row Conditions 

United States

Article(s)

Every voice counts to oppose the death penalty in California

on 24 June 2009

Abolitionists are given a unique opportunity to voice their position as Californian authorities seek comments from the public on the review of the lethal injection process.

2009

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Article(s)

200 executions in Texas under Rick Perry

on 8 June 2009

On June 2, 2009, the 200th execution authorized by governor Rick Perry took place in Texas. Protests were scheduled from Huntsville to Paris to denounce the death penalty situation in the southern US state.

2009

Clemency

Innocence

Mental Illness

United States

Article(s)

Amnesty charts death penalty world map and vows to remove Belarus from it

on 25 March 2009

World Coalition member Amnesty International has released its annual statistics on the death penalty and launched a campaign against capital punishment in Belarus.

2009

Belarus

Belarus

China

Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Pakistan

Saudi Arabia

United States

Article(s)

Abolition in New Mexico hailed around the world

on 19 March 2009

New Mexico’s governor Bill Richardson signed the repeal of the death penalty in to law on March 18, 2009, attracting praise from the global abolitionist community.

2009

United States

Article(s)

World Coalition calls on Canada to keep up its efforts against the death penalty

on 10 March 2009

The World Coalition has sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to “protect its nationals sentenced to death abroad, whether it is in a democratic country or not”.

2009

Canada

Canada

Clemency

United States

Article(s)

Can the US move towards abolition under Obama?

on 20 January 2009

The new president’s nominee for the post of attorney general opposes the death penalty and the number of executions and sentences is falling in the US.

2009

United States

Document(s)

Death Penalty for Female Offenders

By Victor Streib / Ohio Northern University, on 1 January 2009


2009

Article

United States


More details See the document

The data herein are updated as often and as quickly as possible, with the last date of entry noted on the cover page. However, given the difficulty of gathering complete information from all jurisdictions and as soon as cases develop, these reports may under-report the number of female offenders under death sentences. The subjects of these reports are female offenders sentenced to death. They are not all referred to as women, since some were as young as age fifteen at the time of their crimes. However, no such very young female offenders are currently under death sentences. —- See bottom left hand corner of web page.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women,

Article(s)

EU diplomats team up with US activists to co-ordinate efforts against the death penalty

on 18 December 2008

The French presidency of the European Union organised a meeting between EU diplomats and US abolitionists in November to strengthen a discreet but long-standing partnership.

2008

Innocence

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Support grows for Davis as his execution is stayed

on 26 October 2008

Troy Davis’s execution was stayed on October 23, four days before he was scheduled to die, as activists took action on his behalf all over the world.

2008

United States

Article(s)

Mexican executed in Texas

on 5 August 2008

Jose Medellin, a Mexican sentenced to death in Texas, was executed on August 5 despite serious flaws in his trial. The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty denounces an “irrevocable breach of international law”.

2008

Legal Representation

Mexico

United States

Article(s)

State-sponsored report finds California’s death penalty is “dysfunctional”

on 9 July 2008

A recent report from a far-reaching commission established by the Californian senate on the administration of capital punishment in the state concluded that “the system is broken”.

2008

Innocence

United States

Article(s)

Mental illness and the death penalty: a painful intersection

on 28 May 2008

Two leading American grassroots organisations have come together to raise awareness about the execution of mentally ill defendants.

2008

Mental Illness

Murder Victims' Families

United States

Article(s)

Welcome to the United States of torture

on 2 May 2008

After the Supreme Court re-opened the possibility of lethal injections, executions are scheduled to resume in the US on May 6, starting with William E. Lynd (photo) in Georgia. TCADP International chairperson Sandrine Ageorges denounces an “inhumane” process.

2008

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Article(s)

What now for Mumia?

on 28 April 2008

On 27 March, a US federal appeals court overturned Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, but not his conviction for murder. His lead counsel Robert R. Bryan gives his reaction to the ruling and the next steps in America’s most high-profile capital case.

2008

Fair Trial

United States

Article(s)

US Supreme Court revives “failed” death penalty

on 17 April 2008

The World Coalition condemns the April 16th decision of the United States Supreme Court upholding the lethal injection as a humane method of executing a human being.

2008

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

From Italian prisons to Texas death row

on 27 March 2008

A conference held near Naples, Italy last month helped around 200 attendees, most of them secondary school students, understand the death penalty situation in the US and relate it to prison issues in their own country.

2008

Death Row Conditions 

Italy

United States

Article(s)

1,700-mile “Walk4Life” across the US

on 13 March 2008

American hip-hop artist Andre Latallade, also known as Capital-“X”, will walk 1,700 miles from New Jersey to Texas from March 31 to campaign against the death penalty.

2008

Drug Offenses

United States

Article(s)

Puerto Rican abolitionists gain support from their government

on 5 March 2008

The Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the Puerto Rican secretary of justice are joining forces to resist death sentences imposed by US federal courts.

2008

United States

Article(s)

Talk: activists at the heart of action

on 12 February 2008

Italy’s Angeli Flegri association is organising a conference on Februay 22 about the role of prison activists in the struggle against the death penalty.

2008

Italy

United States

Article(s)

Abolition in the US: what role for overseas activists?

on 3 February 2008

As part of its 2008 annual conference, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) organised a brainstorming session to explore the question: “How can the international community support us in our efforts to abolish the death penalty in the US?”

2008

Clemency

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Four World Coalition members among NCADP award winners

on 3 February 2008

Each year, the US National Coalition Against the Death Penalty honours those individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the struggle against the death penalty. This year’s award winners included a number of World Coalition members.

United States

Article(s)

USA: reaching for the dream

on 3 February 2008

For once, the annual conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty opened on an optimistic note.

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

While we wait for the Supreme Court

on 17 January 2008

After the Supreme Court held a hearing much awaited by the abolitionist community on January 7th, we all need to reassess our strategy for abolition in America, writes Sandrine Ageorges.

2008

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

New Jersey sets an example for US states

on 8 January 2008

The abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey on December 17 could pave the way for other US states. Death Penalty Focus’s Speedy Rice explains how some of them may make the move.

2008

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

Video: watch and think

on 7 January 2008

As the debate about lethal injections and the presidential election campaign are raging in the United States, a short film by two young directors establishes a link between the two.

2008

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Document(s)

The Grass Beneath His Feet: The Charles Victor Thompson Story

By Roger Rodriguez / AuthorHouse, on 1 January 2008


2008

Book

United States

fr
More details See the document

Nothing produced a glow in his eyes like the wonders of nature provoking his every curiosity. Everything about nature appealed to his meticulous character and his childhood was invested at Medina Lake, chasing down fireflies, and fishing. There was nothing he liked better than fried perch and eggs for breakfast. So how does such an innocent boy end up on death row in what most agree is the most relentless state for executing murders? The Grass Beneath His Feet recounts the life of Charles Victor Thompson, who after falling in love; found himself in a disturbing chain of events that would change his life forever. This re-telling of his story is extracted directly from the journals of Charles Victor Thompson himself where his childhood, his true love, and his ultimate escape from death row are revealed. For this first time, readers can enjoy the intimate details of the escape that shocked the entire nation. America?s Most Wanted, CNN, The World News all wanted to know the same question: How did this man manage to escape from the most notorious death row system in the country? The Grass Beneath His Feet also introduces Charles to the people, not as a murderer, but as a man fighting to prove that there were many flaws in his legal process that kept him from proving that he does not meet criteria for capital punishment. Prepare to embark on a journey into a life at death row through the eyes of Charles Victor Thompson and run next to him as a child and an escapee as he took in the beauty of nature and the South Texas sun with the grass beneath his feet.

Document(s)

The Court of Life and Death: The Two Tracks of Constitutional Sentencing Law and the Case for Uniformity.

By Rachel E. Barkow / New York University (NYU), on 1 January 2008


Article

United States


More details See the document

This Article argues for the abandonment of the two-track approach to sentencing by the Supreme Court. It finds no support in the Constitution’s text, history, or structure, and the functional arguments given by the Court to support its capital decisions apply with equal force to all other criminal punishments.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Arbitrariness,

Document(s)

Myth of the hanging tree: stories of crime and punishment in territorial New Mexico

By Robert J. Torrez / University of New Mexico Press, on 1 January 2008


Book

United States


More details See the document

The haunting specter of hanging trees holds a powerful sway on the American imagination, conjuring images of rough-and-tumble frontier towns struggling to impose law and order in a land where violence was endemic. In this thoughtful study, former New Mexico State Historian Robert Torrez examines several fascinating criminal cases that reveal the harsh and often gruesome realities of the role hangings, legal or otherwise, played in the administration of frontier justice. At first glance, the topic may seem downright morbid, and in a sense it is, but these violent attempts at justice are embedded in our perception of America’s western experience. In tracing territorial New Mexico’s efforts to enforce law, Torrez challenges the myths and popular perceptions about hangings and lynching in this corner of the Wild West.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Hanging,

Document(s)

Officials’ Estimates of the Incidence of ‘Actual Innocence’ Convictions

By Angie Kiger / Brad Smith / Marvin Zalman / Justice Quarterly, on 1 January 2008


Article

United States


More details See the document

Evidence indicates that the conviction and imprisonment of factually innocent persons occur with some regularity. Most research focuses on causes, but the incidence of wrongful convictions is an important scientific and policy issue, especially as no official body gathers data on miscarriages of justice. Two methods are available for discovering the incidence of wrongful conviction: (1) enumerating specific cases and (2) having criminal justice experts estimate its incidence. Counts or catalogues of wrongful conviction necessarily undercount its incidence and are subject to accuracy challenges. We surveyed Michigan criminal justice officials, replicating a recent Ohio survey, to obtain an expert estimate of the incidence of wrongful conviction. All groups combined estimated that wrongful convictions occurred at a rate of less than 1/2 percent in their own jurisdiction and at a rate of 1-3 percent in the United States. Defense lawyers estimate higher rates of wrongful conviction than judges, who estimate higher rates than police officials and prosecutors. These differences may be explained by professional socialization. An overall wrongful conviction estimate of 1/2 percent extrapolates to about 5,000 wrongful felony convictions and the imprisonment of more than 2,000 innocent persons in the United States every year.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Gall, Gallantry, and the Gallows: Capital Punishment and the Social Construction of Gender, 1840-1920

By Gender and Society / Alana van Gundy-Yoder, on 1 January 2008


Article

United States


More details See the document

In this article, the authors examine how the debate over women’s executions during the nineteenth and early twentieth century funneled and in various ways processed the contrary demands of gender and capital justice. They show how encounters with capital punishment both reflected and reinforced dominant interpretations of womanhood and as such contributed to the intricate web of normative strictures that affected all women at the time. At the same time, however, the often heated debates that accompanied such cases pried open some of the contradictions inherent in the dominant interpretations and, as a result, came to challenge the boundaries that separated not only women from men but also women from each other. Rather than viewing gender as a unidirectional influence on capital punishment, the authors argue that gender is best approached as an evolving social category that gets reconstructed, modified, and transformed whenever it is implicated in social practices and public debates.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women,

Document(s)

Convicting the Innocent

By Samuel R. Gross / Annual Review of Law and Social Science, on 1 January 2008


Article

United States


More details See the document

Almost everything we know about false convictions is based on exonerations in rape and murder cases, which together account for only 2% of felony convictions. Within that important but limited sphere we have learned a lot in the past 30 years; outside it, our ignorance is nearly complete. This review describes what we now know about convicting the innocent: estimates of the rate of false convictions among death sentences; common causes of false conviction for rape or murder; demographic and procedural predictors of such errors. It also explores some of the types of false convictions that almost never come to light—innocent defendants who plead guilty rather than go to trial, who receive comparatively light sentences, who are convicted of crimes that did not occur (as opposed to crimes committed by other people), who are sentenced in juvenile court—in fact, almost all innocent defendants who are convicted of any crimes other than rape or murder. Judging from what we can piece together, the vast majority of false convictions fall in these categories. They are commonplace events, inconspicuous mistakes in ordinary criminal investigations that never get anything close to the level of attention that sometimes leads to exoneration.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

COMPETENT CAPITAL REPRESENTATION: THE NECESSITY OF KNOWING AND HEEDING WHAT JURORS TELL US ABOUT MITIGATION

By John H. Blume / Sheri Lynn Johnson / Scott E. Sundby / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2008


Article

United States


More details See the document

While there are antecedent factual determinations jurors must make, including the existence of a statutory aggravating circumstance, the final decision the jurors must make is not factual in nature. As the courts have noted, this is an “awesome responsibility,” and the jury must make a “reasoned moral” decision whether life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty is the appropriate punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Judging Innocence

By Brandon Garrett / Columbia School of Law, on 1 January 2008


Article

United States


More details See the document

This empirical study examines for the first time how the criminal system in the United States handled the cases of people who were subsequently found innocent through postconviction DNA testing. The data collected tell the story of this unique group of exonerees, starting with their criminal trials, moving through levels of direct appeals and habeas corpus review, and ending with their eventual exonerations. Beginning with the trials of these exonerees, this study examines the leading types of evidence supporting their wrongful convictions, which were erroneous eyewitness identifications, forensic evidence, informant testimony, and false confessions. Yet our system of criminal appeals and postconviction review poorly addressed factual deficiencies in these trials. Few exonerees brought claims regarding those facts or claims alleging their innocence. For those who did, hardly any claims were granted by courts. Far from recognizing innocence, courts often denied relief by finding errors to be harmless.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Article(s)

Texas report released on 25th anniversary of lethal injections

on 12 December 2007

The Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty released its report on the death penalty in the state in 2007 exactly 25 years after the first death American row inmate received a lethal injection.

2007

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

United States

Article(s)

Opportunity to end US lethal injections

on 15 November 2007

Executions are currently on hold in the US pending a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of lethal injections. This is an opportunity for action from abolitionists, especially among the medical professions.

2007

Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

Moratorium

United States

Article(s)

World Day: everybody stands up against the death penalty!

on 27 September 2007

The 5th World Day Against the Death Penalty takes place on Wednesday, 10 October 2007. Organised by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, it is marked by thousands of citizens and hundreds of organisations across the world who together, through hundreds of local initiatives, say ‘NO’ to capital punishment.

2007

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Germany

Morocco

Peru

Portugal

Puerto Rico

United States

Yemen

Article(s)

Behind the scenes with those who support Foster

on 31 August 2007

Kenneth Foster, who was sentenced to death in Texas for having driven a murderer in his car, saw his sentence commuted on August 30 – thanks to unprecedented mobilisation.

2007

United States

Article(s)

Outrage at Texas’s 400th execution

on 27 August 2007

The execution of Johnny Ray Conner, the 400th inmate put to death in Texas since the US reinstated capital punishment 31 years ago, has attracted heavy criticism from abolitionist activists and political institutions.

2007

Public Opinion 

United States

Article(s)

“Die-in” against the death penalty in the US

on 4 July 2007

For the seventh consecutive year, 200 people showed their support for American death-row prisoners and their opposition to capital punishment in an event in Paris organised by ACAT France and Amnesty International France.

2007

France

United States

Article(s)

Mobilisation for Mumia Abu Jamal

on 19 June 2007

Last May 17, the Philadelphia Federal Court of Appeal held a hearing that could seal the fate of Mumia Abu Jamal. On the occasion of this new hearing, the Collectif unitaire de soutien à Mumia Abu Jamal, and all his supporters, organized public mobilization and information initiatives on all continents.

2007

Fair Trial

United States

Document(s)

The lethal injection quandary: how medicine has dismantled the death penalty

By Deborah W. Denno, on 1 January 2007


2007

Article

United States


More details See the document

On February 20, 2006, Michael Morales was hours away from execution in California when two anesthesiologists declined to participate in his lethal injection procedure, thereby halting all state executions. The events brought to the surface the long-running schism between law and medicine, raising the question of whether any beneficial connection between the professions ever existed in the execution context. History shows it seldom did. Decades of botched executions prove it. This Article examines how states ended up with such constitutionally vulnerable lethal injection procedures, suggesting that physician participation in executions, though looked upon with disdain, is more prevalent— and perhaps more necessary —than many would like to believe. The Article also reports the results of this author’s unique nationwide study of lethal injection protocols and medical participation. The study demonstrates that states have continued to produce grossly inadequate protocols that severely restrict sufficient understanding of how executions are performed and heighten the likelihood of unconstitutionality. The analysis emphasizes in particular the utter lack of medical or scientific testing of lethal injection despite the early and continuous involvement of doctors but ongoing detachment of medical societies. Lastly, the Article discusses the legal developments that led up to the current rush of lethal injection lawsuits as well as the strong and rapid reverberations that followed, particularly with respect to medical involvement. This Article concludes with two recommendations. First, much like what occurred in this country when the first state switched to electrocution, there should be a nationwide study of proper lethal injection protocols. An independent commission consisting of a diverse group of qualified individuals, including medical personnel, should conduct a thorough assessment of lethal injection, especially the extent of physician participation. Second, this Article recommends that states take their execution procedures out of hiding. Such visibility would increase public scrutiny, thereby enhancing the likelihood of constitutional executions. By clarifying the standards used for determining what is constitutional in Baze v. Rees, the U.S. Supreme Court can then provide the kind of Eighth Amendment guidance states need to conduct humane lethal injections.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Methods of Execution, Lethal Injection,

Document(s)

In the Shadow of Death: Restorative Justice and Death Row Families

By Elizabeth Beck / Oxford University Press / Sarah Britto / Arlene Andrews, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


More details See the document

The stories of parents, siblings, children, and cousins chronicled in this book-vividly illustrate the precarious position family members of capital offenders occupy in the criminal justice system. They live in the shadow of death, crushed by trauma, grief, and helplessness. In this penetrating account of guilt and innocence, shame and triumph, devastating loss and ultimate redemption, the voices of these family members add a new dimension to debates about capital punishment and how communities can prevent and address crime.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Innocents Convicted: An Empirically Justified Factual Wrongful Conviction Rate

By D. Michael Risinger / Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


More details See the document

The news about the astounding accuracy of felony convictions in the United States, delivered by Justice Scalia and Joshua Marquis in the passage set out epigrammatically above, would be cause for rejoicing if it were true. Imagine. Only 27 factually wrong felony convictions out of every 100,000! Unfortunately, it is not true, as the empirical data analyzed in this article demonstrates. To a great extent, those who believe that our criminal justice system rarely convicts the factually innocent and those who believe such miscarriages are rife have generally talked past each other for want of any empirically-justified factual innocence wrongful conviction rate. This article remedies at least a part of this problem by establishing the first such empirically justified wrongful conviction rate ever for a significant universe of real world serious crimes: capital rape-murders in the 1980’s. Using DNA exonerations for capital rape-murders from 1982 through 1989 as a numerator, and a 406-member sample of the 2235 capital sentences imposed during this period, this article shows that 21.45%, or around 479 of those, were cases of capital rape murder. Data supplied by the Innocence Project of Cardozo Law School and newly developed for this article show that only 67% of those cases would be expected to yield usable DNA for analysis. Combining these figures and dividing the numerator by the resulting denominator, a minimum factually wrongful conviction rate for capital rape-murder in the 1980’s emerges: 3.3%. The article goes on to consider the likely ceiling accompanying this 3.3% floor, arriving at a slightly softer number for the maximum factual error rate of around 5%. The article then goes on to analyze the implications of a factual error rate of 3.3%-5% for both those who currently claim errors are extremely rare, and those who claim they are extremely common. Extension of the 3.3%-5% to other capital and non-capital categories of crime is discussed, and standards of moral duty to support system reform in the light of such error rates is considered at length.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Executing the Mentally Ill: When Is someone Sane Enough to Die?

By Michael Mello / Criminal Justice, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


More details See the document

Mental illness is a phenomenon that knifes across the entire corpus of our criminal justice system. From interrogations and waivers of Miranda rights, to consent to searches and seizures, to plea negotiations and the capacity to stand trial, to calculating sentences and participating in appellate and postconviction proceedings, mental illness warps the machinery of our criminal law and challenges its most cherished assumptions about free will, decisional competence, and culpability. This is so regardless of whether or not life hangs in the balance. But when the stakes are life and death, the structural distortions caused by mental illness become magnified, and the contradictions can rise to constitutional magnitude.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness,

Document(s)

Deciding Death

By Corinna Barrett Lain / Duke Law Journal, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


More details See the document

When the Supreme Court is deciding death, how much does law matter? Scholars long have lamented the majoritarian nature of the Court’s Eighth Amendment “evolving standards of decency” doctrine, but their criticism misses the mark. Majoritarian doctrine does not drive the Court’s decisions in this area; majoritarian forces elsewhere do. To make my point, I first examine three sets of “evolving standards” death penalty decisions in which the Court implicitly or explicitly reversed itself, attacking the legal justification for the Court’s change of position and offering an extralegal explanation for why those cases came out the way they did. I then use political science models of Supreme Court decisionmaking to explain how broader social and political forces push the Court toward majoritarian death penalty rulings for reasons wholly independent of majoritarian death penalty doctrine. Finally, I bring the analysis full [*pg 2] circle, showing how broader sociopolitical forces even led to the development of the “evolving standards” doctrine. In the realm of death penalty decisionmaking, problematic doctrine is not to blame for majoritarian influences; rather, majoritarian influences are to blame for problematic doctrine. The real obstacle to countermajoritarian decisionmaking is not doctrine, but the inherently majoritarian tendencies of the Supreme Court itself.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Furman Fundamentals

By Corinna Barrett Lain / Washington Law Review, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


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For the first time in a long time, the Supreme Court’s most important death penalty decisions all have gone the defendant’s way. Is the Court’s new found willingness to protect capital defendants here to stay? Or is it a passing fancy that will dissipate in less hospitable times? At first glance, history allows for optimism. Furman v. Georgia, the 1972 landmark that invalidated the death penalty, provides a seemingly perfect example of the Court’s ability and inclination to protect capital defendants when no one else will. Furman looks countermajoritarian, scholars have claimed it was countermajoritarian, and even the Justices saw themselves as playing a heroic, countermajoritarian role in the case. But the lessons of Furman are not what they seem. Rather than proving the Supreme Court’s ability to withstand majoritarian influences, Furman teaches the opposite – that even in its more countermajoritarian moments, the Court never strays far from dominant public opinion, tending instead to reflect the social and political movements of its time. This Article examines the historical context of Furman v. Georgia and its 1976 counterpart, Gregg v. Georgia, to highlight a fundamental flaw in the Supreme Court’s role as protector of minority rights: its inherently limited inclination and ability to render countermajoritarian change. In theory, the Court might protect unpopular minorities, but in practice it is unlikely to do so unless a substantial (and growing) segment of society supports that protection. Even then, Furman reminds us that the Court’s “help” may do more harm than good. If the past truly is a prologue, Furman portends that the Court’s current interest in restricting the death penalty will not last forever. Like the fair-weather friend, the Court’s protection will likely be there in good times but gone when needed the most.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Frequency and Predictors of False Conviction: Why We Know So Little, and New Data on Capital Cases

By Barbara O'Brien / Samuel R. Gross / Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


More details See the document

In the first part of this paper we address the problems inherent in studying wrongful convictions: our pervasive ignorance and the extreme difficulty of obtaining the data that we need to answer even basic questions. The main reason that we know so little about false convictions is that, by definition, they are hidden from view. As a result, it is nearly impossible to gather reliable data on the characteristics or even the frequency of false convictions. In addition, we have very limited data on criminal investigations and prosecutions in general, so even if we could somehow obtain data on cases of wrongful conviction, we would have inadequate data on true convictions to compare them to. In the second part we dispel some of that ignorance by considering data on false convictions in a small but important subset of criminal cases about which we have unusually detailed information: death sentences. From 1973 on we know basic facts about all defendants who were sentenced to death in the United States, and we know which of them were exonerated. From these data we estimate that the frequency of wrongful death sentences in the United States is at least 2.3%. In addition, we compare post-1973 capital exonerations in the United States to a random sample of cases of defendants who were sentenced in the same time period and ultimately executed. Based on these comparisons we present a handful of findings on features of the investigations of capital cases, and on background facts about capital defendants, that are modest predictors of false convictions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Raise the Proof: A Default Rule for Indigent Defense

By Adam M. Gershowitz / Connecticut Law Review, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


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Almost everyone agrees that indigent defense in America is underfunded, but workable solutions have been hard to come by. For the most part, courts have been unwilling to inject themselves into legislative budget decisions. And, when courts have become involved and issued favorable decisions, the benefits have been only temporary because once the pressure of litigation disappears so does a legislature’s desire to appropriate more funding. This Article proposes that if an indigent defense system is under-funded, the state supreme court should impose a default rule raising the standard of proof to “beyond all doubt” to convict indigent defendants. The legislature would then have the opportunity to opt out of this higher standard of proof by providing enough funding to bring defense lawyers’ caseloads within well-recognized standards or by providing funding parity with prosecutors’ offices. Such an approach will create an incentive for legislatures to adequately fund indigent defense without miring courts in detailed supervision of legislative budget decisions. At the same time, because courts can check once per year to determine whether there is funding parity with prosecutors’ offices or compliance with caseload guidelines, there will be constant pressure on legislatures to maintain adequate funding in order to avoid the higher standard of proof.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Imposing a Cap on Capital Punishment

By Adam M. Gershowitz / Missouri Law Review 72(1), 73-124., on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


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This article argues that because prosecutors have discretion to seek the death penalty in too many cases, they lack the incentive to police themselvesand choose carefully. Put simply, because there are few legal constraints — and virtually no political constraints — on the sheer number of cases in which prosecutors can pursue the death penalty, the Government is not under sufficient pressure to limit its use of capital punishment to only the most heinous cases. As a result, two things happen. First, the death penalty is sought and meted out in some cases, which though terrible, are no worse than the thousands of other murder cases in which prosecutors pursue only life imprisonment. Second, because prosecutors file too many capital cases, the criminal justice system lacks the resources to focus sufficient attention on each one.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Arbitrariness, Most Serious Crimes,

Document(s)

The Global Debate on the Death Penalty

By Sandra Babcock / Human Rights Magazine, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


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Many human rights organizations and intergovernmental organizations, such as the European Union, see the death penalty as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time and have taken an active role in persuading countries to halt executions. The debate over capital punishment in the United States—be it in the courts, in state legislatures, or on nationally televised talk shows—is always fraught with emotion. The themes have changed little over the last two or three hundred years. Does it deter crime? If not, is it necessary to satisfy society’s desire for retribution against those who commit unspeakably violent crimes? Is it worth the cost? Are murderers capable of redemption? Should states take the lives of their own citizens? Are current methods of execution humane? Is there too great a risk of executing the innocent?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence ,

Document(s)

Innocents Convicted: An Empirically Justified Factual Wrongful Conviction Rate

By D. Michael Risinger / Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


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To a great extent, those who believe that our criminal justice system rarely convicts the factually innocent and those who believe such miscarriages are rife have generally talked past each other for want of any empirically-justified factual innocence wrongful conviction rate. This article remedies at least a part of this problem by establishing the first such empirically justified wrongful conviction rate ever for a significant universe of real world serious crimes: capital rape-murders in the 1980’s. Using DNA exonerations for capital rape-murders from 1982 through 1989 as a numerator, and a 406-member sample of the 2235 capital sentences imposed during this period, this article shows that 21.45%, or around 479 of those, were cases of capital rape murder. Data supplied by the Innocence Project of Cardozo Law School and newly developed for this article show that only 67% of those cases would be expected to yield usable DNA for analysis. Combining these figures and dividing the numerator by the resulting denominator, a minimum factually wrongful conviction rate for capital rape-murder in the 1980’s emerges: 3.3%. The article goes on to consider the likely ceiling accompanying this 3.3% floor, arriving at a slightly softer number for the maximum factual error rate of around 5%. The article then goes on to analyze the implications of a factual error rate of 3.3%-5% for both those who currently claim errors are extremely rare, and those who claim they are extremely common. Extension of the 3.3%-5% to other capital and non-capital categories of crime is discussed, and standards of moral duty to support system reform in the light of such error rates is considered at length.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

The Pros and Cons of Life Without Parole

By Bent Grover / Catherine Appleton / British Journal of Criminology, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


More details See the document

The question of how societies should respond to their most serious crimes if not with the death penalty is ‘perhaps the oldest of all the issues raised by the two-century struggle in western civilization to end the death penalty’ ( Bedau, 1990: 481 ). In this article we draw attention to the rapid and extraordinary increase in the use of ‘life imprisonment without parole’ in the United States. We aim to critically assess the main arguments put forward by supporters of whole life imprisonment as a punishment provided by law to replace the death penalty and argue against life-long detention as the ultimate sanction.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Sentencing Alternatives,

Document(s)

The Peculiar Forms of American Capital Punishment

By David Garland / Social Research: An International Quarterly, on 1 January 2007


Article

United States


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There are two puzzles that confront observers of American capital punishment at the start of the 21st century. One concerns the legal and administrative arrangements through which it is enacted, which strike many commentators as irrational, or at least poorly adapted to the traditional ends of criminal justice. The other concerns the persistence of capital punishment in the USA in a period when comparable nations have decisively abandoned its use. In this essay, I will address both of these two questions, beginning with the first and offering conclusions that bear upon the second.The historical struggles around issues of capital punishment, structured as they have been by the American polity with its distinctive mix of federalism, sectionalism, and democratic populism, form the necessary basis for understanding the American present and for comparing America’s current practices with those of other western nations. Any explanation of American capital punishment ought to begin by focusing attention on these structures and these struggles.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Wounds That Do Not Bind: Victim-based Perspectives on the Death Penalty

By James R. Acker / David R. Karp / Carolina Academic Press, on 1 January 2006


2006

Book

United States


More details See the document

This book examines how family members and advocates for victims address the impact of capital punishment. The book presents the personal stories of victims’ family members and their interactions with the criminal justice system. It also examines the relevant areas of legal research, including the use of victim impact evidence in capital trials, how capital punishment affects victims’ family members, and what is known about addressing the needs of the survivors after a murder.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

The Effect of Race, Gender, and Location on Prosecutioral Decisions to Seek the Death Penalty in South Carolina

By Isaac Unah / Michael J. Songer / South Carolina Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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This Article analyzes the factors that influence the decisions of South Carolina prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Professor Unah and Mr. Songer employ statistical methods to examine the legal and nonlegal factors that shape this decision-making process. Controlling for political factors, this Article finds that the race of the victim, gender, and rural crime locations are significant considerations in the decision to seek the death penalty. Further, Professor Unah and Mr. Songer argue that these nonlegal factors undermine the legal guidelines that are intended to channel and steer the decision-making process. This Article highlights the arbitrary nature of the decisions that result from these considerations, and it concludes by challenging the legitimacy of a process influenced by these factors.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Anatomy of a Miscarriage of Justice: The Wrongful Conviction of Peter J. Rose

By Susan Rutberg / Golden Gate University Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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This Article examines one case in which students and lawyers from Golden Gate University’s Innocence Project won the exoneration of Peter J. Rose, a man who served nearly ten years of a twenty-seven year State Prison sentence for the rape and kidnap of a child before DNA proved his innocence. The analysis of this case focuses on how the conduct of two police detectives, the prosecutor and the defense attorney contributed to this miscarriage of justice.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Beyond Unreliable: How Snitches Contribute to Wrongful Convictions

By Alexandra Natapoff / Golden Gate University Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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This Comment briefly surveys in Part I some of the data on snitch-generated wrongful convictions. In Part II, it describes in more detail the institutional relationships among snitches, police, and prosecutors that make snitch falsehoods so pervasive and difficult to discern using the traditional tools of the adversarial process. Part III concludes with a litigation suggestion for a judicial check on the use of informant witnesses, namely, a Daubert-style12 pre-trial reliability hearing.The Appendix in Part IV contains a sample motion requesting and justifying such a hearing.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Innocence Lost … and Found: An Introduction to The Faces of Wrongful Conviction Symposium Issue

By Daniel S. Medwed / Golden Gate University Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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Each wrongful conviction signifies an acute failure of the criminal justice system, a loss of innocence for those of us who want to believe in its merits, each exoneration constitutes an affirmation of the system’s potential value – not so much in the sense that the post-conviction system “works” (given that it often does not) but that learning about the uniquely human details of individual exonerations serves as a powerful motivating force to revamp the process through which guilt or innocence is adjudicated. Our criminal justice system is changeable, its flaws possibly remediable, and it is this prospect of a revised, superior method of charging and trying those accused of crimes.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Innocence,

Document(s)

Litigating in the Shadow of Death

By Lawrence C. Marshall / University of Pittsburgh Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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One gets the strong sense that Professor White believed that the key to changing or abolishing the death penalty in the United States was to educate policymakers and the public about its practical operation. This, of course, was Justice Thurgood Marshall’s hypothesis in Furman v. Georgia: that the widespread support that the death penalty enjoys in the country is a product of mass ignorance about how it is applied. Professor White did not simply posit the theory, he dedicated much of his life to the mission of educating the public about the inequities of the American death penalty. This final book does that in an extraordinarily effective way by combing together studies of illustrative cases, analysis of the lawyers’ roles and dilemmas, and cogent explanations of the state of the law.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Bringing Reliability Back In: False Confessions and Legal Safeguards in the 21st Century

By Steven A. Drizen / Bradley R. Hall / Peter J. Neufeld / Richard A. Leo / Wisconsin Law Review / Amy Vatner, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


More details See the document

In this Article, we point out the failures of the legal tests governing admissibility of confessions, tracing the historical development of these flawed standards. We propose a new standard that we believe reinvigorates the largely forgotten purpose of the rules—reliability of confession evidence—in part by requiring the electronic recording of custodial interrogations.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Dead Innocent: The Death Penalty Abolitionist Search for a Wrongful Execution.

By Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier / Tulsa Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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This article examines the debate about whether or not an innocent person has been executed in the United States. The article begins by discussing several famous historical claims of wrongful execution, including Sacco & Vanzetti, the Rosenbergs, and Bruno Hauptmann. Then, the article addresses some recent claims of wrongful executions, including the case of Larry Griffin and the impact of a 2006 DNA test in the Roger Coleman case. The article evaluates why some innocence claims attract more attention than others. By recognizing two obstacles in wrongful execution claims and by establishing five lessons for gaining media attention, the article uses its historical analysis to extract strategy lessons for death penalty abolitionists. Finally, the article weighs arguments regarding the pros and cons of an abolitionist strategy that focuses on proving the innocence of executed individuals. The article concludes that wrongful execution claims provide an important argument for abolitionists, but such claims should not be presented as the main or only problem with the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Exoneration and Wrongful Condemnations: Expanding the Zone of Perceived Injustice in Death Penalty Cases

By Craig Haney / Golden Gate University Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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In this article I argue that despite the very serious nature and surprisingly large number of these kinds of exonerations revelations about factually innocent death-sentenced prisoners represent only the most dramatic, visible tip of a much larger problem that is submerged throughout our nation’s system of death sentencing. That is, many of the very same flaws and factors that have given rise to these highly publicized wrongful convictions also produce a more common kind of miscarriage of justice in capital cases. I refer to death sentences that are meted out to defendants who, although they may be factually guilty of the crimes for which they were placed on trial, are not “death worthy” or “deserving” of the death penalty. This includes the many who, if their cases had been handled properly by competent counsel at the time of trial and adjudicated in a fairer and more just system, would have been sentenced to life instead.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

When Law and Ethics Collide — Why Physicians Participate in Executions

By Atul Gawande / New England Journal of Medecine 354(12), 1-13., on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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Evidence from execution logs showed that six of the last eight prisoners executed in California had not stopped breathing before technicians gave the paralytic agent, raising a serious possibility that prisoners experienced suffocation from the paralytic, a feeling much like being buried alive, and felt intense pain from the potassium bolus. This experience would be unacceptable under the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. So the judge ordered the state to have an anesthesiologist present in the death chamber to determine when the prisoner was unconscious enough for the second and third injections to be given — or to perform the execution with sodium thiopental alone.The California Medical Association, the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) immediately and loudly opposed such physician participation as a clear violation of medical ethics codes. “Physicians are healers, not executioners,” the ASA’s president told reporters. Nonetheless, in just two days, prison officials announced that they had found two willing anesthesiologists. The court agreed to maintain their anonymity and to allow them to shield their identities from witnesses. Both withdrew the day before the execution, however, after the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit added a further stipulation requiring them personally to administer additional medication if the prisoner remained conscious or was in pain. This they would not accept. The execution was then postponed until at least May, but the court has continued to require that medical professionals assist with the administration of any lethal injection given to Morales. This turn of events is the culmination of a steady evolution in methods of execution in the United States.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Lethal Injection,

Document(s)

The Prevalence and Potential Causes of Wrongful Conviction by Fingerprint Evidence.

By Simon A. Cole / Golden Gate University Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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As the number of post-conviction DNA exonerations mounted and the Innocence Project undertook to treat these exonerations as a data set indicating the principal causes of wrongful conviction, the absence of fingerprint cases in that data set could have been interpreted as soft evidence that latent print evidence was unlikely to contribute to wrongful convictions. That situation changed in 2004 when Stephan Cowans became the first – and thus far the only – person to be exonerated by DNA evidence for a wrongful conviction in which fingerprint evidence was a contributing factor. Cowans’s wrongful conviction in Boston in 1997 for the attempted murder of a police officer was based almost solely on eyewitness identification and latent print evidence. The Cowans case not only provided dramatic additional support for the already established proposition that wrongful conviction by fingerprint was possible, it also demonstrated why the exposure of such cases, when they do occur, is exceedingly unlikely. These points have already been made in a comprehensive 2005 study of exposed cases of latent print misattributions. In this article, I discuss some additional things that we have learned about the prevalence and potential causes of wrongful conviction by fingerprint in the short time since the publication of that study.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

WHEN THE FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY IS “CRUEL AND UNUSUAL”

By Michael J. Zydney Mannheimer / The University of Cincinnati Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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Recent changes to the way the U.S. Department of Justice decides whether to pursue capital charges have made it more likely that the federal death penalty will be sought in cases in which the criminal conduct occurred within States that do not authorize capital punishment for any crime. As a result, since 2002, five people have been sentenced to death in federal court for conduct that occurred in States that do not authorize the death penalty. This state of affairs is in serious tension with the Eighth Amendment’s proscription against “cruel and unusual punishments.”

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment,

Document(s)

Is it Time to Kill the Death Penalty?: A View from the Bench and the Bar

By Lupe S. Salinas / American Journal of Criminal Law, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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Has the imposition of death improved our stance in this battle for security of our fellow man? Does it have a “sting” in the sense of deterring man from killing men, women and children? Has society been victorious in preventing the killing? The simple answer is that the death penalty in America has done little to deter or prevent those inclined to kill from killing. Another concern is whether our system has terminated the lives of innocent individuals. 3 Under these circumstances, what should we as a society do insofar as our criminal justice system is concerned? In this article I seek to address those questions and ultimately recommend an overhaul in our death penalty approach. Is it time to …

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Death and Deterrence Redux: Science, Law and Causal Reasoning on Capital Punishment

By Jeffrey Fagan / Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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A recent cohort of studies report deterrent effects of capital punishment that substantially exceed almost all previous estimates of lives saved by execution. Some of the new studies go further to claim that pardons, commutations, and exonerations cause murders to increase, as does trial delay. This putative life-life tradeoff is the basis for claims by legal academics and advocates of a moral imperative to aggressively prosecute capital crimes, brushing off evidentiary doubts as unreasonable cautions that place potential beneficiaries at risk of severe harm. Challenges to this “new deterrence” literature find that the evidence is too unstable and unreliable to support policy choices on capital punishment. This article identifies numerous technical and conceptual errors in the “new deterrence” studies that further erode their reliability: inappropriate methods of statistical analysis, failures to consider several factors such as drug epidemics that drive murder rates, missing data on key variables in key states, the tyranny of a few outlier states and years, weak to non-existent tests of concurrent effects of incarceration, inadequate instruments to disentangle statistical confounding of murder rates with death sentences and other punishments, failure to consider the general performance of the criminal justice system as a competing deterrent, artifactual results from truncated time frames, and the absence of any direct test of the components of contemporary theoretical constructions of deterrence. Re-analysis of one of the data sets shows that even simple adjustments to the data produce contradictory results, while alternate statistical methods produce contrary estimates. But the central mistake in this enterprise is one of causal reasoning: the attempt to draw causal inferences from a flawed and limited set of observational data, the absence of direct tests of the moving parts of the deterrence story, and the failure to address important competing influences on murder. There is no reliable, scientifically sound evidence that pits execution against a robust set of competing explanations to identify whether it exerts a deterrent effect that is uniquely and sufficiently powerful to overwhelm the recurring epidemic cycles of murder. This and other rebukes remind us to invoke tough, neutral social science standards and commonsense causal reasoning before expanding the use of execution with its attendant risks and costs.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence ,

Document(s)

A Matter of Life and Death: The Effect of Life Without-Parole Statutes on Capital Punishment

By Harvard Law Review, on 1 January 2006


Article

United States


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Activists have embraced the life-without-parole alternative because the availability of parole is often a key factor for jurors deciding whether of not to impose a sentence of life or death.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Sentencing Alternatives,

Document(s)

New claims about executions and general deterrence: déjà vu all over again?

By Richard Berk / Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, on 1 January 2005


2005

Article

United States


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A number of papers have recently appeared claiming to show that in the United States executions deter serious crime. There are many statistical problems with the data analyses reported. This article addresses the problem of “influence,” which occurs when a very small and atypical fraction of the data dominate the statistical results. The number of executions by state and year is the key explanatory variable, and most states in most years execute no one. A very few states in particular years execute more than five individuals. Such values represent about 1 percent of the available observations. Reanalyses of the existing data are presented showing that claims of deterrence are a statistical artifact of this anomalous 1 percent.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence , Statistics,

Document(s)

Mercy on Trial: What It Means to Stop an Execution

By Austin Sarat / Princeton University Press, on 1 January 2005


Book

United States


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In this compelling and timely work, Austin Sarat provides the first book-length work on executive clemency. He turns our focus from questions of guilt and innocence to the very meaning of mercy. Starting from Ryan’s controversial decision, Mercy on Trial uses the lens of executive clemency in capital cases to discuss the fraught condition of mercy in American political life. Most pointedly, Sarat argues that mercy itself is on trial. Although it has always had a problematic position as a form of “lawful lawlessness,” it has come under much more intense popular pressure and criticism in recent decades. This has yielded a radical decline in the use of the power of chief executives to stop executions.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Clemency,

Document(s)

The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions

By Helen Prejean / Vintage , on 1 January 2005


Book

United States


More details See the document

She tells the story of two inmates she came to know as a spiritual adviser. Dobie Williams, a poor black man with an IQ of 65 from rural Louisiana, was executed after being represented by incompetent counsel and found guilty by an all-white jury based mostly on conjecture and speculation. Joseph O’Dell was convicted of murder after the court heard from an inmate who later admitted to giving false testimony for his own benefit. O’Dell received neither an evidentiary hearing nor potentially exculpatory DNA testing and was executed, insisting on his innocence the whole while. Besides exploring the shaky cases against them, Prejean describes in vivid detail the thoughts and feelings of Williams and O’Dell as their bids for clemency fail and they are put to death. The second part of the book details “the machinery of death,” the legal process that Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, dismayed at the inequities of the death penalty, cited as his reason for resigning and that current justice Antonin Scalia has boasted of being a part of.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty

By Judith W. Kay / Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., on 1 January 2005


Book

United States


More details See the document

In Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty, Judith Kay goes beyond the hype and statistics to examine Americans’ deep-seated beliefs about crime and punishment. She argues that Americans share a counter-productive idea of justice–that punishment corrects bad behavior, suffering pays for wrong deeds, and victims’ desire for revenge is natural and inevitable. Drawing on interviews with both victims and inmates, Kay shows how this belief harms perpetrators, victims, and society and calls for a new narrative that recognizes the humanity in all of us.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Death by Design: Capital Punishment As a Social Psychological System

By Craig Haney / Oxford University Press, on 1 January 2005


Book

United States


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In Death by Design, research psychologist Craig Haney argues that capital punishment, and particularly the sequence of events that lead to death sentencing itself, is maintained through a complex and elaborate social psychological system that distance and disengage us from the true nature of the task. Relying heavily on his own research and that of other social scientists, Haney suggests that these social psychological forces enable persons to engage in behavior from which many of them otherwise would refrain. However, by facilitating death sentencing in these ways, this inter-related set of social psychological forces also undermines the reliability and authenticity of the process, and compromises the fairness of its outcomes. Because these social psychological forces are systemic in nature –built into the very system of death sentencing itself –Haney concludes by suggesting a number of inter-locking reforms, derived directly from empirical research on capital punishment, that are needed to increase the fairness and reliability of the process.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Executing The Innocent and Support for Capital Punishment: Implications for Public Policy

By Francis T. Cullen / James D. Unnver / Criminology and Public Policy, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


More details See the document

The issue of whether innocent people have been executed is now at the center of the debate concerning the legitimacy of capital punishment. The purpose of this research was to use data collected by the Gallup Organization in 2003 to investigate whether Americans who believed that an innocent person had been executed were less likely to support capital punishment. We also explored whether the association varied by race, given that African Americans are disproportionately affected by the death penalty. Our results indicated that three-quarters of Americans believed that an innocent person had been executed for a crime they did not commit within the last five years and that this belief was associated with lower levels of support for capital punishment, especially among those who thought this sanction was applied unfairly. In addition, our analyses revealed that believing an innocent person had been executed had a stronger association with altering African American than white support for the death penalty.A key claim of death penalty advocates is that a high proportion of the public supports capital punishment. In this context, scholars opposing this sanction have understood the importance of showing that the public’s support for executing offenders is contingent and shallower than portrayed by typical opinion polls. The current research joins this effort by arguing that the prospect of executing innocents potentially impacts public support for the death penalty and, in the least, creates ideological space for a reconsideration of the legitimacy of capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Innocence, Error, and the ‘New Abolitionism’: A Commentary

By Sarat Austin / Criminology & Public Policy, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Up the River Without a Procedure: Innocent Prisoners and Newly Discovered Non-DNA Evidence in State Courts.

By Daniel Medwed / Arizona Law Review, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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This Article aims to provide an examination: An analysis of the state procedures that prisoners may employ after trial to litigate innocence claims grounded on newly discovered non-DNA evidence. Ultimately, the result of this examination is far from sanguine. Little-altered in decades beyond the trend toward recognizing the benefits of DNA testing, the structure of most state procedures means that a prisoner’s quest for justice may turn on the fortuity that a biological sample was left at the crime scene and preserved over time. The fact that DNA testing provides a modicum of certainty to an innocence claim does not imply that claims lacking the possibility of such certainty are spurious; on the contrary, DNA has unearthed holes in the criminal justice system, holes that are likely also prevalent in cases without biological evidence.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Networks,

Document(s)

Rethinking the Study of Miscarriages of Justice: Developing a Criminology of Wrongful Conviction

By Richard A. Leo / Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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This article provides a brief history of the study of miscarriages of justice in America. It analyzes the field of wrongful conviction scholarship as three distinct genres: the big-picture studies, the specialized-causes literature, and the true-crime genre. It also analyzes what these literatures have contributed to knowledge about miscarriages as well as their limitations. This article attempts to rethink the study of miscarriages of justice to systematically develop a more sophisticated, insightful, and generalizable criminology of wrongful conviction.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Too Late for Luck: A Comparison of Post-Furman Exonerations and Executions of the Innocent

By Talia Roitberg Harmon / William S. Lofquist / Crime and Delinquency, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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This study is a quantitative analysis designed to compare two groups of factually innocent capital defendants: Those who were exonerated and those who were executed. There are a total of 97 cases in the sample, including 81 exonerations and 16 executions. The primary objective of the authors is to identify factors that may predict case outcomes among capital defendants with strong claims of factual innocence. Through the use of a logistic regression model, the following variables were significant predictors of case outcome (exoneration vs. execution): allegations of perjury, multiple types of evidence, prior felony record, type of attorney at trial, and race of the defendant. These results point toward significant problems with the administration of capital punishment deriving primarily from the quality of the case record created at trial.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Exonerations in the United States 1989 Through 2003

By Daniel J. Matheson / Kristin Jacoby / Samuel R. Gross / Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology / Nicholas Montgomery / Sujata Patil, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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In this paper we use reported exonerations as a window on false convictions generally. We can’t come close to estimating the number of false convictions that occur in the United States, but the accumulating mass of exonerations gives us a glimpse of what we’re missing. We located 340 individual exonerations from 1989 through 2003, not counting at least 135 innocent defendants in at least two mass exonerations, and not counting more than 70 defendants convicted in a series of childcare sex abuse prosecutions, most of whom were probably innocent. Almost all the individual exonerations that we know about are clustered in the two most serious common felonies: rape and murder. They are surrounded by widening circles of categories of cases that include false convictions that are rarely detected, if ever: rape convictions that have not been reexamined with DNA evidence; robberies, for which DNA identification is useless; murder cases that are ignored because the defendants were not sentenced to death; assault and drug convictions that are forgotten entirely; misdemeanor convictions that aren’t even part of the picture. Judging from our data, any plausible guess at the total number of miscarriages of justice in America in the last fifteen years must run to the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, in felony cases alone. We can, however, see some clear patterns in those false convictions that have come to light.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate

By John J. Donohue / Stanford Law Review / Justin Wolfers, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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Over much of the last half-century, the legal and political history of the death penalty in the United States has closely paralleled the debate within social science about its efficacy as a deterrent. The injection of Ehrlich’s conclusions into the legal and public policy arenas, coupled with the academic debate over Ehrlich’s methods, led the National Academy of Sciences to issue a 1978 report which argued that the existing evidence in support of a deterrent effect of capital punishment was unpersuasive. Over the next two decades, as a series of academic papers continued to debate the deterrence question, the number of executions gradually increased, albeit to levels much lower than those seen in the first half of the twentieth century

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence ,

Document(s)

New Claims about Executions and General Deterrence: Déjà Vu All Over Again?

By Richard Berk / Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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A number of papers have recently appeared claiming to show that in the United States executions deter serious crime. There are many statistical problems with the data analyses reported. This paper addresses the problem of “influence,” which occurs when a very small and atypical fraction of the data dominate the statistical results.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence ,

Document(s)

ON REDUCING WHITE SUPPORT FOR THE DEATH PENALTY: A PESSIMISTIC APPRAISAL

By Steven F. Cohn / Steven E. Barkan / Criminology and Public Policy, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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As Soss et al. (2003) point out, whites are the most influential racial groupand support the death penalty much more than blacks do. In the 2002GSS, 69.8% of whites favored the death penalty, compared with only42.1% of blacks. If white support for the death penalty was as low as blacksupport, it would be much more difficult for the Supreme Court to believethat “evolving standards of decency” had not evolved against capitalpunishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,

Document(s)

Capital punishment and American culture

By David Garland / Punishment & Society 7, 347-376, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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This is an essay about capital punishment and American culture. Its point of departure is the recent publication of several books and articles suggesting that the USA’s retention of the death penalty is an expansion of an underlying cultural tradition that creats an elective affinity between American society and the execution of criminal offenders. The implicit – and sometimes explicit claim – of this new literature is that today’s capital punishment system is an insurance of ‘American exceptionalism’, an expression of a deep and abiding condition that has shaped the American nation from its formative years to the present.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Racial Differences in Death Penalty Support and Opposition: A Preliminary Study of White and Black College Students

By Morris Jenkins / Eric G. Lambert / David N. Baker / Journal of Black Studies, on 1 January 2005


Article

United States


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Although the death penalty has a long history, it is not without debate and differing views. There appears to be a gap between Whites and Blacks in terms of their support of capital punishment. Students at a Midwestern university were surveyed to determine whether there were differences between the two groups of students in reasons to support or oppose the death penalty. In bivariate tests, there were significant differences between White and Black students on 15 of 16 measures for reasons for supporting or opposing capital punishment. These differences continued for 10 of the 16 measures even after multivariate analysis controlled for the effects of gender, age, and academic level. The results are discussed.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,

Document(s)

Killing as Punishment: Reflections on the Death Penalty in America

By Hugo Adam Bedau / Northeastern, on 1 January 2004


2004

Book

United States


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Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of the field, Bedau addresses topics such as strong public suppport for the death penalty, wrongful convictions, the disappearance of executive clemency, constitutional arguments surronding the Eight Amendment, and procedural reforms under consideration that move toward abolition.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Debating the death penalty: should America have capital punishment? : the experts on both sides make their case

By Hugo Adam Bedau / Stephen B. Bright / Joshua K. Marquis / Bryan Stevenson / Louis P. Pojman / Alex Kozinski / Paul G. Cassell / Oxford University Press / George Ryan, on 1 January 2004


Book

United States


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This book contains contributions from judges, attorneys, and academicians on both sides of the death penalty question. The grounds advanced for justification of capital punishment–including deterrence, retribution, and closure for victims’ families–are considered. Whether life imprisonment is adequate to address these concerns is also debated. Other issues include whether racial minorities or indigent defendants are disproportionately executed, whether the penalty is otherwise arbitrarily applied, and what risks exist regarding the execution of an innocent person.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Guided Jury Discretion in Capital Murder Cases: The Role of Declarative and Procedural Knowledge

By Richard L. Wiener / Psychology, Public Policy and Law / Melanie Rogers / Ryan Winter / Linda Hurt / Amy Hackney / Karen Kadela / Hope Seib / Shannon Rauch / Laura Warren / Ben Morasco, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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This article analyzes whether state-approved jury instructions adequately guide jury discretion in the penalty phase of first-degree murder trials. It examines Eighth Amendment jurisprudence regarding guided jury discretion, emphasizing the use of “empirical factors” to examine the quality of state-approved instructions. Psychological research and testimony on the topic of the comprehensibility of jury instructions are reviewed. Data from a recently completed simulation with 80 deliberating juries showed that current instructions do not adequately convey the concepts and processes essential to guiding penalty phase judgments. An additional simulation with 20 deliberating juries demonstrated that deliberation alone does not correct for jurors’ errors in comprehension. The article concludes with recommendations for policy and future research.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty in the United States: A Crisis of Conscience

By Richard L. Wiener / Craig Haney / Psychology, Public Policy and Law, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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The articles in this issue discuss many appellate court decisions that turned on due process problems in the guilt and penalty phases of capital murder trials and the troubling role of race in capital prosecutions. Governor Ryan of Illinois cited many of these issues when he declared a moratorium on the death penalty and appointed a blue-ribbon panel to study the prosecution of capital murder in 2000. Governor Ryan commuted the sentences of all Illinois death row inmates in January 2003, in part, because the legislature was unable to address these issues that again appeared in the panel’s report. These issues raise serious questions about the reliability of the capital murder system and recommend a continued public debate about its fairness.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Death Dissent and Diplomacy: The U.S. Death Penalty as an Obstacle to Foreign relations

By Mark Warren / William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Widely believed to be the innocent victims of an unfair trial, two foreign nationals facing execution in the United States had captured the attention of theworld. Rallies in their support attracted huge crowds in London and Paris, in Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Bombay and Tokyo. Petitions for mercy flooded the governor’s office, signed by half a million people worldwide. The Italian head of state, former Nobel prize winners, and the Vatican joined in the global appealfor clemency, all to no avail. The world watched as the final days ticked away, transfixed by the last-minute battle to obtain a new trial amid a mounting storm ofdomestic and international protest. Citing procedural default and deference to state law, the appellate courts refused to intervene.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Searching for Uniformity in Adjudication of the Accused’s Competence to Assist and Consult in Capital Cases

By John T. Philipsborn / Psychology, Public Policy and Law, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Based on the review of capital cases from various jurisdictions involoving issues of competence to stand trial, this article examines the standards, literature, and varying practices associated with competence assessments and adjudications. The author, who is an experienced criminal defense lawyer with capital trial and postconviction litigation experiece, examines the implications of disparities in the approaches and definitions used in dealing with competence assessments and suggests solutions to improve the standards of practice related to these important assessments.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Justice by Geography and Race: The Administration of the Death Penalty in Maryland 1978-1999

By Robert Brame / Raymond Paternoster / Margins Law Journal / Sarah Bacon / Andrew Ditchfield, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Since July 1978, when Maryland’s capital punishment statute took effect, the State has been plagued by charges that the imposition of the death penalty is influenced by the race of the defendant and the legal jurisdiction in which the homicide occurred. Most critics use the characteristics of condemned inmates on Maryland’s death row, which reveal possible racial motivations. However, the authors argue that simply relying on the characteristics of condemned inmates reveals little about the underlying mechanisms of the imposition of the death penalty. The recent history of capital punishment in Maryland is reviewed, followed by a brief description of the legal structure of capital punishment under Maryland law. In order to empirically measure whether the imposition of capital punishment in Maryland is discriminatory, the authors examined 1,311 death eligible cases in Maryland from July 1, 1978 to December 31, 1999. Death eligible cases were defined as those cases in which the State’s attorney filed a notice of intention to seek a death sentence, the facts established that first degree murder was committed, the defendant was the principle in the first degree murder, the murder included at least one statutory aggravating circumstance, and the defendant was eligible for capital punishment at the time of the offense. The statistical strategy focused on determining the influence of race of victim, race of defendant, and geography on the imposition of the death penalty. Findings suggest that race and geography indeed play an important role in the Maryland justice system. Race and geography exert their most influence at the death notification and death notice retraction stages of the process. Thus, it is prosecutorial discretion that is the most apparent in the possible discriminatory application of capital punishment in Maryland. The findings from this study are unsurprising and are in line with similar studies from other States. The author cautions that overt racism is not necessarily the reason beyond the disproportionate application of capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Exploring the Effects of Altitudes Toward the Death Penalty on Capital Sentencing Verdicts

By Kevin O’Neil / Psychology, Public Policy and Law / Marc W. Patry / Steven D. Penrod, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Attitudes toward the death penalty are multifaceted and strongly held, but little research outside of the death-qualification literature has focused on the role that such attitudes and beliefs play in jurors’ capital sentencing verdicts. A single item is insufficient to properly measure attitudes toward the death penalty; therefore, a new 15-item, 5-factor scale was constructed and validated. Use of this scale in 11 studies of capital jury decision making found a large effect of general support of the death penalty on sentencing verdicts as well as independent aggravating effects for the belief that the death penalty is a deterrent and the belief that a sentence of life without parole nonetheless allows parole. These effects generally were not completely mediated by, nor did attitudes moderate the effects of, aggravating and mitigating factors.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Stuck in the Dark Ages: Supreme Court Decision Making and Legal Developments

By James R.P. Ogloff / Psychology, Public Policy and Law / Sonia R. Chopra, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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In the latter quarter of the 20th century, the United States Supreme Court has generally refused to narrow the procedural and substantive conditions under which adults may be sentenced to death for capital murder. The current status of social science evidence is briefly reviewed to evaluate the Court’s treatment of 3 specific categories of evidence: The death-qualified jury, prejudicial capital sentencing, and juror comprehension of capital-sentencing instructions. The role of perceptions of public opinion in the perseverance of capital punishment statutes is considered. It appears that the Court, in general, does not place much weight on social science evidence. Suggestions are made for future areas of research and practice for social scientists interested in capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Prejudicial Nature of Victim Impact Statements: Implications for Capital Sentencing Policy

By Edith Greene / Bryan Myers / Psychology, Public Policy and Law, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Victim impact evidence is presented during sentencing hearings to convey the harm experienced by victims and victims’ relatives as a result of a crime. Its use in capital cases is highly controversial. Some argue that the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the admission of victim impact statements (VIS) during capital sentencing proceedings (Payne v. Tennessee, 1991) invites prejudice and judgments based on emotion rather than reason. Others reason that it provides an important voice for survivors and affords the jury an opportunity to learn about the victim. The authors outline the chief psychological issues that arise in the context of VIS, including their relevance to jurors’ judgments of blameworthiness, concerns that the social worth of the victim will influence jurors’ sentencing decisions, and issues related to the emotional appeal of VIS. Psycholegal research on the influence of VIS on mock jurors is reviewed, and implications of this work for capital sentencing policy and suggested directions for future research are discussed.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial, Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment, the Moratorium Movement, and Empirical Questions: Looking Beyond Innocence Race and Bad Lawyering in Death Penalty Cases

By James R. Acker / Charles A. Lanier / Psychology, Public Policy and Law, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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This article briefly explores the underpinnings of the contemporary capital punishment moratorium movement and examines executive and legislative responses to calls for a halt to executions, including suggestions for studying the death penalty process. Although most investigations focus on select issues like innocence, ineffective counsel, and race bias, this article suggests that a wide-ranging constellation of issues should be investigated in any legitimate attempt to evaluate the administration of the death penalty. The article canvasses this broader sweep of issues, discusses related research evidence, and then considers the policy implications of conducting such a thorough empirical assessment of the administration of capital punishment in this country.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Moratorium ,

Document(s)

Race for Your Life: An Analysis of the Role of Race in Erroneous Capital Conviction

By Talia Roitberg Harmon / Criminal Justice Review, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Prior research on the role of race in wrongful capital convictions has focused primarily on the race of the defendant. In contrast, this article begins with two case studies that illustrate the impact of the race of the defendant and also the race of the victim in contributing to erroneous convictions. The second section of this article identifies the race of the defendant and the victim in 82 cases where prisoners were released from death row because of doubts about their guilt and in a matched group of inmates who were executed. Through the use of three logistic regression models, the combination of the race of the defendant and the race of the victim is identified as a significant predictor of case outcome (exoneration vs. execution). The results also indicate that an indirect relationship may exist between the combination of the race of the defendant and the victim, the strength of the evidence, and case outcome.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence, Discrimination,

Document(s)

Death IS Different: An Editorial Introduction to the Theme Issue.

By Richard L. Wiener / Craig Haney / Psychology, Public Policy and Law, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Capital punishment has once again become the focus of intense national debate in the United States. There is increasingly widespread public concern over the propriety of state-sanctioned executions and the legal processes by which they are accomplished. Even in political arenas, where little more than a decade ago commentators could quip that “the electric chair has replaced the American flag as your all-purpose campaign symbol,” many elected officials are voicing second thoughts about capital punishment. The American Bar Association (ABA), among other prestigious groups, has called for a moratorium on executions until, at least, the procedural flaws in the legal process through which death sentencing takes place — what the ABA analysts characterized as a “haphazard maze of unfair practices” — have been identified and remedied. Recent assessments of the scope and seriousness of the problems that plague this process suggest that the task of reforming the system of capital punishment will prove to be a daunting one. For example, James Liebman and his colleagues have presented a sobering picture of what they termed a “broken system” in which the outcomes of capital trials — if judged by their fates in the appellate courts — are legally wrong more often than they are right. And at least one judge declared the federal death penalty unconstitutional because it failed to provide sufficient procedural protections to capital defendants.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,

Document(s)

Condemning the Other in Death Penalty Trials: Biographical Racism, Structural Mitigation, and the Empathic Divide

By Craig Haney / DePaul Law Review, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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This article analyses racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty – despite their importance to the critical debate over the fairness of capital punishment – are not able to address the effects of many of the most pernicious forms of racism in American society. In particular, they cannot examine “biographical racism” – the accumulation of race-based obstacles, indignities, and criminogenic influences that characterizes the life histories of so many African-American capital defendants. Second, I propose that recognizing the role of this especially pernicious form of racism in the lives of capital defendants has significant implications for the way we estimate fairness (as opposed to parity) in our analyses of death sentencing. Chronic exposure to race-based, life-altering experiences in the form of biographical racism represents a profoundly important kind of “structural mitigation.” Because of the way our capital sentencing laws are fashioned, and the requirement that jurors must engage in a “moral inquiry into the culpability” of anyone whom they might sentence to die, this kind of mitigation provides a built-in argument against imposing the death penalty on African-American capital defendants. It is structured into their social histories by the nature of the society into which they have been born.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

White Female Victims and Death Penalty Disparity Research

By Stephen Demuth / Marian R. Williams / Jefferson E. Holocomb / Justice Quarterly, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Empirical studies of the death penalty continue to find that the race and gender of homicide victims are associated with the severity of legal responses in homicide cases even after controlling for legally relevant factors. A limitation of this research, however, is that victim race and gender are examined as distinct and independent factors in statistical models. In this study, we explore whether the independent examination of victim race and gender masks important differences in legal responses to homicides. In particular, we empirically test the hypothesis that defendants convicted of killing white females are significantly more likely to receive death sentences than killers of victims with other race-gender characteristics. Findings indicate that homicides with white female victims were more likely to result in death sentences than other victim race-gender dyads. We posit that this response may be unique and result in differential sentencing outcomes.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

The Decline of Juvenile Death Penalty: Scientific Evidence of Evolving Norms

By Valerie West / Jeffrey Fagan / Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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In 2003, the Missouri Supreme Court set aside the death sentence of Christopher Simmons, who was 17 when he was arrested for the murder of Shirley Crook. The Simmons court held that the “evolving standards of decency” embodied in the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments barred execution of persons who committed capital crimes before their 18th birthday. This decision was based in part on the emerging legislative consensus in the states opposing execution of juvenile offenders and the infrequency with which the death penalty is imposed on juvenile offenders. The State sought a writ of certiorari, and the case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. This article presents results of analyses of empirical data on the use of the death penalty for adolescent homicide offenders in state courts in the U.S. since 1990. The data shows that, since 1994, when death sentences for juvenile offenders peaked, juvenile death sentences have declined significantly. In particular, the decline in juvenile death sentences since 1999 is statistically significant after controlling for the murder rate, the juvenile homicide arrest rate, and the rate of adult death sentences. This downward trend in juvenile death sentences signals that there is an evolving standard in state trial courts opposing the imposition of death sentences on minors who commit capital offenses.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Juveniles,

Document(s)

The Problem of False Confessions in the Post – DNA World

By Steven A. Drizen / Richard A. Leo / North Carolina Law Review 82(3), 894-1009, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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In recent years, numerous individuals who confessed to and were convicted of serious felony crimes have been released from prison— some after many years of incarceration—and declared factually innocent, often as a result of DNA tests that were not possible at the time of arrest, prosecution, and conviction. DNA testing has also exonerated numerous individuals who confessed to serious crimes before their cases went to trial. Numerous others have been released from prison and declared factually innocent in cases that did not involve DNA tests, but instead may have occurred because authorities discovered that the crime never occurred or that it was physically impossible for the (wrongly) convicted defendant to have committed the crime, or because the true perpetrator of the crime was identified, apprehended, and convicted. In this Article, we analyze 125 recent cases of proven interrogation-induced false confessions (i.e., cases in which indisputably innocent individuals confessed to crimes they did not commit) and how these cases were treated by officials in the criminal justice system.This Article has three goals. First, we provide and analyze basic demographic, legal, and case-specific descriptive data from these 125 cases. This is significant because this is the largest cohort of interrogation-induced false confession cases ever identified and studied in the research literature. Second, we analyze the role that (false) confession evidence played in these cases and how the defendants in these cases were treated by the criminal justice system. In particular, this Article focuses on how criminal justice officials and triers-of-fact respond to confession evidence, whether it biases their evaluations and overwhelms other evidence (particularly evidence of innocence), and how likely false confessions are to lead to the wrongful arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration of the innocent. Analysis of the aforementioned questions leads to the conclusion that the problem of interrogationinduced false confession in the American criminal justice system is far more significant than previously supposed. Furthermore, the problem of interrogation-induced false confessions has profound implications for the study of miscarriages of justice as well as the proper administration of justice. Third, and finally, this Article suggests that several promising policy reforms, particularly mandatory electronic recording of police interrogations, will minimize the number of false confessions and thereby inject a much needed dose of justice into the American criminal justice system.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Due Process , Networks,

Document(s)

Not to Decide is to Decide: The U.S. Supreme Courts Thirty-Year Struggle With One Case About Competency to Waive Death Penalty Appeals

By Phyllis L. Crocker / Wayne Law Review 49(4), 885-938, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Rees v. Peyton, Rees was a death penalty case in which the petitioner sought to withdraw his petition for writ of certiorari so that he could be executed. The Court stayed the proceedings after Rees was found incompetent to waive his appeal, but the Court did not dismiss the case until after Rees died of natural causes. Rees pended in the Court during the terms of three Chief Justices. Even though the Court underwent major changes in personnel and philosophy during those years, the Court’s treatment of Rees was essentially the same–to hold the case in abeyance. This article chronicles the extraordinary history of Rees in the U.S. Supreme Court for those thirty years.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Appointed but (Nearly) Prevented From Serving: My Experiences as a Grand Jury Foreperson

By Phyllis L. Crocker / Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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I begin this essay with basic information about grand juries, then tell what happened to our grand jury, and conclude by reflecting on what I learned from this experience. My theme is the tension between the grand jury’s independence and the prosecutor’s desire to control it. The lesson I learned, intellectually and emotionally, is the depth and tenacity of the prosecutor’s assumption that he does control, and has the right to control, the grand jury process. I also learned some lessons about being a client, and believing in oneself and one’s principles.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Dangerousness, Risk Assessment, and Capital Sentencing

By Aletha M. Claussen-Schulza / Psychology, Public Policy and Law / Marc W. Pearceb / Robert F. Schopp, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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Judges, jurors, police officers, and others are sometimes asked to make a variety of decisions based on judgments of dangerousness. Reliance on judgments of dangerousness in a variety of legal contexts has led to considerable debate and has been the focus of numerous publications. However, a substantial portion of the debate has centered on the accuracy and improvement of risk assessments rather than the issues concerning the use of dangerousness as a legal criterion. This article focuses on whether dangerousness judgments can play a useful role in capital sentencing decisions within the framework of “guided discretion” and “individualized assessment” set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States. It examines the relationship between these legal doctrines and contemporary approaches to risk assessment, and it discusses the potential tension between these approaches to risk assessment and these legal doctrines. The analysis suggests that expert testimony has the potential to undermine rather than assist the sentencer’s efforts to make capital sentencing decisions in a manner consistent with Supreme Court doctrine. This analysis includes a discussion of the advances and limitations of current approaches to risk assessment in the context of capital sentencing.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Does the Rest of the World Matter? Sovereignty, International Human Rights Law and the American Death Penalty

By Oko Elechi / Eric Lamber / Alan W. Clarke / Queen's Law Journal / Laurie Anne Whitt, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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American officials have indicated that extra efforts will be used to ensure that captured terrorist suspects face the death penalty. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has stated that the U.S. military will “try to prevent enemy leaders from falling into the hands of peacekeeping troops from allied nations that might oppose capital punishment.” Americans should be troubled to learn that the United States is out of step with an emerging worldwide consensus that the death penalty, even for the most heinous terrorist, “has no legitimate place in the penal systems of modern civilised societies.” As of July 2004, 117 nations were abolitionist in law or in practice, while only 80 retained the death penalty. The entire Council of Europe–45 nations ranging from Iceland to Russia–now constitutes a death penalty free zone.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Mentally Ill Prisoners on Death Row: Unsolved Puzzles for Courts and Legislatures

By Richard J. Bonnie / Catholic University Law Review, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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This paper focuses on the problems relating to mental illness or other mental disabilities that arise after sentencing, where the underlying values at stake are the dignity of the condemned prisoner and the integrity of the law.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Mental Illness, Intellectual Disability,

Document(s)

Race Discrimination and the Legitimacy of Capital Punishment: Reflections on the Interaction of Fact and Perception

By George Woodworth / David C. Baldus / DePaul Law Review, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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The authors analyze data concerning race discrimination in capital sentencing and data regarding how the public perceives this issue. They conclude that race discrimination is not an inevitable feature of all death penalty systems. Before Furman v. Georgia was decided in 1972, widespread discrimination against black defendants marred the practice of capital punishment in America. According to studies cited by the authors, race-of-defendant discrimination has lessened since Furman. However, race-of-victim discrimination remains a significant factor in sentencing; defendants with white victims are at a significantly higher risk of being sentenced to death and executed than are defendants whose victims are black, Asian, or Hispanic. From 1976 to 2002, the proportion of white-victim cases among all murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases has ranged between 51% and 56%. However, 81% of executed defendants had white victims. Polling data indicate that the general public perceives only one form of race discrimination in the use of the death penalty – race-of-defendant discrimination – and that the public and elected officials may see racial discrimination as inevitable in the criminal justice system. Race of victim discrimination is a pervasive problem in the death penalty system. However, race discrimination is not inevitable. If serious controls were enacted to address this problem (such as those imposed in a few states) a fairer system could result.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,

Document(s)

Examining Public Opinion about Crime and Justice: A Statewide Study

By Eric Johnston / Barbara Sims / Criminal Justice Policy Review, on 1 January 2004


Article

United States


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As noted by Flanagan (1996), public opinion polls about crime and justice can act as a social barometer providing important data to policy makers regarding what the public is willing, or is not willing, to accept when it comes to proposed legislation and/or intervention programming. This paper reports findings from the 2001 Penn State Poll, a random telephone survey of Pennsylvanians, 18 years of age or older, in which citizens were asked about their attitudes toward and perceptions of such issues as fear of crime, capital punishment, the most important goal of prison, and where they would most like to see their tax dollars spent (building more prisons vs. early intervention programs with troubled youth). Significant differences were found within certain demographic groups across these sets of questions, and in a predictive model, gender, race/ethnicity, and education had a greater impact on citizens’ support for capital punishment than did their fear of crime. Overall, findings suggest that the public is not as punitive as it is sometimes believed to be by legislators and policy makers.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty: An American History

By Stuart Banner / Harvard University Press, on 1 January 2003


2003

Book

United States


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Law professor Stuart Banner tells the story of how, over four centuries, dramatic changes have taken place in the ways capital punishment has been administered and experienced. Banner moves beyond the debates, to give us an unprecedented understanding of capital punishment’s many meanings. As nearly four thousand inmates are now on death row, and almost one hundred are currently being executed each year, the furious debate is unlikely to diminish. The Death Penalty is invaluable in understanding the American way of the ultimate punishment.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment

By Franklin E. Zimring / Oxford University Press, on 1 January 2003


Book

United States


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Why does the United States continue to employ the death penalty when fifty other developed democracies have abolished it? Why does capital punishment become more problematic each year? How can the death penalty conflict be resolved?In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly insoluble turmoil surrounding the death penalty reflects a deep and long-standing division in American values, a division that he predicts will soon bring about the end of capital punishment in our country. On the one hand, execution would seem to violate our nation’s highest legal principles of fairness and due process. It sets us increasingly apart from our allies and indeed is regarded by European nations as a barbaric and particularly egregious form of American exceptionalism. On the other hand, the death penalty represents a deeply held American belief in violent social justice that sees the hangman as an agent of local control and safeguard of community values.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

International Law Issues in Death Penalty Defense

By Richard J. Wilson / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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This short article will explore some additional issues regarding the relationship between international law and the death penalty. First, it will discuss some additional aspects of the representation of foreign nationals in capital cases. Second, it will discuss additional instances in which defense counsel can make international law arguments, regardless of the client’s nationality. Third, because international law issues are new to most lawyers in the United States, even those who are seasoned in capital litigation, it will suggest some alternative ways in which international law arguments can be made. The conclusion will put theUnited States experience with the death penalty into the broader context of world practice on the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Why an Independent Appointed Authority Is Necessary to Choose Counsel for Indigent People in Capital Punishment Cases

By Ronald J. Tabak / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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The revised ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases require that an agency “independent of the judiciary” be responsible for “ensuring that each capital defendant in the jurisdiction receives high quality legal representation.” This independent agency “and not the judiciary or elected officials should select lawyers for specific cases.” These mandates reflect two realities that have become overwhelmingly clear: (1) judges—whether initially elected, subject to retention elections, or appointed—are subject to political pressures in connection with capital punishment cases; and (2) lawyers whom judges have appointed in capital punishment cases have frequently been of far lower quality than could have been selected.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Commentary on Counsel’s Duty to Seek and Negotiate a Disposition in Capital cases (ABA Guideline 10.9.1)

By Russell Stetler / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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The ABA’s revised Guidelines have squarely addressed the importance of seeking and negotiating dispositions in capital cases as a core component of effective representation in matters of life and death. Pleas have been available in the overwhelming majority of capital cases in the post-Furman era, including the cases of hundreds of prisoners who have been executed. There are no precise empirical data on this question. Plea negotiations are typically confidential, with both parties maintaining a posture of plausible denial if negotiations fail. The prosecutor may find it harder to argue to jurors that justice in a particular case requires a sentence of death if they know that he had offered the defendant a life sentence only weeks before. Defense counsel may not want to advertise her willingness to plead to first-degree murder if the case proceeds to trial and she is arguing to the jurors that the proof supports only second-degree. In addition, there are cases where a plea was acceptable to both sides, but negotiation never began because each side waited for the other to initiate discussions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Why Do White Americans Support the Death Penalty?

By Journal of Politics / Alan R. Metelko / Laura Langbein, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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This article explores the roots of white support for capital punishment in the United States. Our analysis addresses individual-level and contextual factors, paying particular attention to how racial attitudes and racial composition influence white support for capital punishment. Our findings suggest that white support hinges on a range of attitudes wider than prior research has indicated, including social and governmental trust and individualist and authoritarian values. Extending individual-level analyses, we also find that white responses to capital punishment are sensitive to local context. Perhaps most important, our results clarify the impact of race in two ways. First, racial prejudice emerges here as a comparatively strong predictor of white support for the death penalty. Second, black residential proximity functions to polarize white opinion along lines of racial attitude. As the black percentage of county residents rises, so too does the impact of racial prejudice on white support for capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion,

Document(s)

The Defense Team in Capital Cases

By Jill Miller / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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Fairness for those defendants facing the ultimate punishment of death requires that they be afforded zealous advocacy by competent counsel, and that counsel be provided with the resources necessary to effectively represent their clients. Stating that “[o]ur capital system is haunted by the demon of error, error in determining guilt, and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die,” Governor Ryan cited many deficiencies in the justice system in Illinois, including poor lawyering and inadequate resources for defense counsel, in arriving at his decision to commute all death sentences. Over the years the imposition of the death penalty has too often been a function of unqualified counsel or counsel who lacked the resources, including time, funding, and provision of investigative, expert and supportive services, to competently represent their clients, rather than a reasoned decision based on the circumstances of the crime and the background and character of the defendant.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

The Guiding Hand of Counsel’ and the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases

By Robin M. Maher / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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The ABA has long been concerned with the provision of effective counsel for all criminal defendants, especially for those facing the death penalty. In 1989, the ABA first published its Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases, which detailed the kind of competent, effective legal representation that all capital defendants were entitled to receive. Earlier this year, after a two-year effort drawing upon the expertise of a broad group ofdistinguished and experienced judges, lawyers, and academics, the ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved revisions to those Guidelines to update and expand upon the obligations of death penalty jurisdictions to ensure due process of law and justice. “These Guidelines are not aspirational.” They articulate a national standard of care and the minimum that should be required in the defense of capital cases.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

A New Profession for an Old Need: Why a Mitigation Specialist Must be Included on the Capital Defense Team

By Pamela Blume Leonard / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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The fundamental task of the mitigation specialist is to conduct a comprehensive social history of the defendant and identify all relevant mitigation issues. The 2003 revised edition of the American Bar Association Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases recognizes the mitigation specialist as an “indispensable member of the defense team throughout all capital proceedings.” What are the particular responsibilities and contributions of a mitigation specialist and what makes them so essential to the capital defense team as to warrant this long overdue recognition by the ABA Guidelines?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Mercy By the Numbers: An Empirical Analysis of Clemency and Its Structure

By Michael Heise / Virginia Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


More details See the document

Clemency is an extrajudicial measure intended both to enhance fairness in the administration of justice, and allow for the correction of mistakes. Perhaps nowhere are these goals more important than in the death penalty context. The recent increased use of the death penalty and concurrent decline in the number of defendants removed from death row through clemency call for a better and deeper understanding of clemency authority and its application. Questions about whether clemency decisions are consistently and fairly distributed are particularly apt. This study uses 27 years of death penalty and clemency data to explore the influence of defendant characteristics, political factors, and clemency’s structure on clemency decisions. The results suggest that although a defendant’s race and ethnicity did not influence clemency, gender did play a role, as women were far more likely than their male counterparts to receive clemency. Analyses of political and structural factors point in different directions. Political factors such as the timing of gubernatorial and presidential elections and a governor’s lame-duck status did not systematically influence clemency. However, how states structure clemency authority did make a difference. Clemency grants were more likely in states that vest authority in administrative boards than in states that vest authority in the governor. Regionality and time were also important as clemency grants were less likely in southern states and declined after 1984. Overall, these mixed results contribute to a critique that clemency decisions are arbitrary and inconsistent. Thus, important questions regarding fairness that plague earlier aspects of the death penalty process persist to its final stage.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Clemency,

Document(s)

The Professional Obligation to Raise Frivolous Issues in Death Penalty Cases

By Monroe H. Freedman / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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Lawyers are generally familiar with the ethical rule forbidding frivolous arguments, principally because of sanctions imposed under rules of civil procedure for making such arguments. Not all lawyers are aware, however, of two ways in which the prohibitions of frivolous arguments are restricted in both the rules themselves and in their enforcement. First, the ethical rules have express limitations with respect to arguments made on behalf of criminal defendants, and courts are generally loath to sanction criminal defense lawyers. Second, the term “frivolous” is narrowed, even in civil cases, by the way it is defined and explained in the ethical rules and in court decisions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Add Resources and Apply Them Systemically: Governments’ Responsibilities Under the Revised ABA Capital Defense Representation Guidelines

By Eric M. Freedman / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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The mainstream legal community, including the ABA, has long understood the importance of system-building, but the revised Guidelines state the point especially forcefully. In articulating “the current consensus about what is required to provide effective defense representation in capital cases,” they set high performance standards not just for lawyers, but for death penalty jurisdictions. As the problems are systemic, it is “imperative” that the solutions be.The Guidelines accordingly not only call on governments to deliver capital defense resources that are sufficient in amount, but also furnish the states with a user-friendly blueprint for using those resources wisely to create structures that will function well in the present and evolve effectively over time. This mandate for institution-building is welcome, and the states should lead it. Indeed, they must do so if the Guidelines are to achieve their ameliorative purposes and avoid becoming just a collection of lofty aspirations “‘that palter with us in a double sense, that keep the word of promise to our ear, and break it to our hope”.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Making the Last Chance Meaningful: Predecessor Counsel’s Ethical Duty to the Capital Defendant

By Lawrence J. Fox / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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The thesis of this paper is that lawyers who have represented clients in capital murder cases at trial and appeal—not unlike all criminal trial and initial appeal counsel, but more urgently because of the circumstances—continue to owe important obligations to their former clients. These obligations have been just recently included in the latest version of the American Bar Association’s Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death PenaltyCases: In accordance with professional norms, all persons who are or have been members of the defense team have a continuing duty to safeguard the interests of the client and should cooperate fully with successor counsel. This duty includes, but is not limited to: A. maintaining the records of the case in a manner that will inform successor counsel of all significant developments relevant to the litigation; B. providing the client’s files, as well as information regarding all aspects of the representation, to successor counsel; C. sharing potential further areas of legal and factual research with successor counsel; and D. cooperating with such professionally appropriate legal strategies as may be chosen by successor counsel. It is my hope that this article will demonstrate that these Guidelines reflect not just best practice, but actual ethical mandates that trial counsel, like Bryan Saunders, owe their former clients as those clients negotiate the jurisprudential maze known as habeas corpus.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

The Failed Failsafe: The Politics of Executive Clemency

By Cathleen Burnett / Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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This article discusses the role of executive clemency in light of the current political environment. Attending to the political aspects of the capital litigation process gives insight into the trends in the use of executive clemency

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Clemency,

Document(s)

Explaining Spatial Variation in Support for Capital Punishment: A Multilevel Analysis

By Steven F. Messner / Eric P. Baumer / American Sociological Review / Richard Rosenfeld, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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This research examines the effects of social context on support for the death penalty using individual-level data from the 1974-98 General Social Survey (GSS) which have been linked with aggregate level data on homicide rates and sociodemographic, political and economic characteristics. This study finds that residents of areas with higher homicide rates, a larger proportion of blacks, and a more conservative political climate are significantly more likely to support the death penalty, net of compositional differences.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion,

Document(s)

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND ELITE POLITICS: DISSENSUS AND THE DEATH PENALTY IN AMERICA

By Judith Randle / Studies in Law, Politics and Society, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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Drawing from televised debates over capital punishment on CNN’s Crossfire from February 2000 to June 2002, I argue that Teles’s (1998) theory of “dissensus politics” is useful in understanding the U.S.’s preservation of capital punishment as well as current divisions in death penalty sentiment within the U.S. I pose the retention of capital punishment as the product of rival elites who are unwilling to forsake capital punishment’s moral character (and often the political benefits it offers), and who consequently ignore an American public that appears to have reached a measured consensus of doubt about the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,

Document(s)

Ten Years of Payne: Victim Impact Evidence in Capital Cases

By John H. Blume / Cornell Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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Part I of this Article will discuss the Court’s prior decisions in Booth and Gathers, and Parts II and III will briefly attempt to clarify the parameters of the Payne holding. Part IV of this Article will survey the current legal landscape of state and federal practice regarding the admissibility of VIE and argument. Finally, this Article will offer in conclusion some brief perspectives on several unresolved issues in this particularly thorny (and misguided) area of capital punishment jurisprudence.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Constitutional Implications of Crime Victims as Participants

By Douglas E. Beloof / Cornell Law Review, on 1 January 2003


Article

United States


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Part I of this Article examines the evolution of victims from interested parties to participants giving sentencing recommendations. Part II examines the constitutionality of victim sentencing participation laws and explains why crime victims’ sentencing recommendations in capital cases are constitutional. In Part III, this Article shows how existing judicial procedures provide adequate constitutional safeguards. Finally, Part IV demonstrates how victims of capital homicide are harmed when the law denies them the ability to recommend sentences

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

America Without the Death Penalty: States Leading the Way

By John F. Galliher / Larry W. Koch / Northeastern / Teresa J. Guess, on 1 January 2002


2002

Book

United States


More details See the document

Twelve states and the District of Columbia do not impose the death penalty. The authors, all sociology professors at American universities, use the case-study method to examine why this is so. The factors they consider include murder rates, the history of executions, economic circumstances, public opinion, mass media, population diversity, and each state’s abolition of the death penalty. They also examine the role of a state’s social, cultural, and economic leaders in public debate on capital punishment. The states studied are Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, and West Virginia, though there is also some discussion of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. Media reports and government documents were reviewed and legislators, civil servants, journalists, death-penalty activists, and others interviewed. Throughout, the authors express an abolitionist point of view, stating “We hope this book will provide practical information to those interested in furthering death penalty abolition in the United States and throughout the world.”

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment and the Bible

By Gardner C. Hanks / Herald Press, on 1 January 2002


Book

United States


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Capital Punishment and the Bible goes beyond proof-text arguments to examine biblical statements about capital punishment in their historical contexts and for present meaning. Does the use of capital punishment in the USA meet Old Testament standards for fairness? How did Jesus and the early church extend God’s love in restorative justice? Gardner C. Hanks convincingly shows that the use of the death penalty is not consistent with Jesus’ call for love and forgiveness.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

Ohio’s Death Penalty Statute: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Ohio State Law Journal / Kelly L. Culshaw, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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As of November 2001, 203 men sit on Ohio’s death row. With the executions of Wilford Berry on February 19, 1999, Jay D. Scott on June 14, 2001, and John Byrd, Jr. on February 19, 2002, the death penalty in Ohio is a reality. The capital defense practitioner representing a client at trial or on appeal must be prepared to defend his or her client against that reality. To that end, this article examines the statutory framework within which capital cases are prosecuted with the express purpose of aiding defense practitioners and improving the quality of capital representation in Ohio. This article analyzes both the positive and negative aspects of Ohio’s death penalty statute. To meet its twin objects, practical advice and suggested litigation strategies are intermingled with critical analysis of the law in Ohio.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary

By Victor L. Streib / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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American death penalty laws and procedures persistently minimize cases involving female capital offenders. Recognizing some benign explanations for this disparate impact, Professor Streib nonetheless sees the dearth of female death penalty trials, death sentences, and actual executions as signaling sex bias throughout the death penalty system. In this article, he provides data concerning death sentencing and execution patterns and then suggests both substantive and procedural means to address the apparent sex bias. Much more significant, however, is the unique lens for examining the death penalty that is provided by a sex bias analysis. Professor Streib concludes that this perspective unmasks the system’s crime-fighting rhetoric to reveal a macho refuge that masculinizes all who enter therein.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women,

Document(s)

The Politics of Fear and Death: Successive Problems in Capital Federal Habeas Corpus.”

By Bryan A. Stevenson / New York University (NYU), on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1996 was drafted, enacted, and signed in an atmosphere of anger and fear. The legislation, which includes substantial cutbacks in the federal habeas corpus remedy, was Congress’s response to the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombing. During the congressional hearings on the bills that culminated in AEDPA, the proponents of the legislation claimed that its habeas corpus restrictions and other provisions were necessary to fight domestic terrorism. The Senate bill was approved by the House on April 18, 1996, the day before the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. President Bill Clinton invoked the bombing in a statement he issued at the time of the Senate’s passage of the legislation and again when he signed the legislation into law. Even at the time of the debates, some courageous legislators were willing to denounce the fallacious connection that the bill’s proponents drew between the bombing and the broader issues of the scope and availability of habeas corpus review. Many of the habeas corpus restrictions ultimately built into AEDPA had been under consideration by Congress since 1990, though none had been adopted. The congressional proponents of these restrictions seized upon the Oklahoma City tragedy as a means of accomplishing their longstanding goal to scale back federal habeas corpus review.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Should Abolitionists Support Legislative “Reform” of the Death Penalty?

By Carol S. Steiker / Jordan M. Steiker / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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We assessed the Court’s reformist project on its own terms, asking whether the Court achieved the goals explicit or tolerated, if not invited, the inequalities and capriciousness characteristic of the pre-Furman era. We also argued that, apart from its failure on its own terms, the Supreme Court’s reformist regulation of capital punishment might well have carried an additional unanticipated cost. Whereas abolitionists initially sought judicial regulation of the death penalty as at least a first step towards abolition, judicial reform actually may have helped to stabilize the death penalty as a social practice. We argued that the appearance of intensive regulation of state death penalty practices, notwithstanding its virtual absence, played a role in legitimizing the practice of capital punishment in the eyes of actors both within and outside the criminal justice system, and we pointed to some objective indicators—such as the dramatic decline in the use of executive clemency in the post-Furman era[12] —as support for this thesis. Implicit in Furman and the 1976 foundational cases. Our assessment was not a positive one. Although the reformist approach spawned an extraordinarily intricate and detailed capital punishment jurisprudence, the resulting doctrines were in practical terms largely unresponsive to the underlying concerns for fairness and heightened reliability that had first led to the constitutional regulation of the death penalty. We described contemporary capital punishment law as the worst of all possible worlds. Its sheer complexity led to numerous reversals of death sentences and thus imposed substantial costs on state criminal justice systems. On closer inspection, however, the complexity concealed the minimalist nature of the Court’s reforms.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty in Ohio: Fairness, Reliability, and Justice at Risk—A Report on Reforms in Ohio’s Use of the Death Penalty Since the 1997 Ohio State Bar Association Recommendations

By S. Adele Shank / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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The report as presented to the Ohio State Bar Association Council of Delegates in 1997,the OSBA’s recommendations and, where there have been changes in the law since that time, updates reflecting those changes. New information is noted at the conclusion of each section of the report immediately following the OSBA recommendation for that section.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The “New Abolitionism” and the Possibilities of Legislative Action: The New Hampshire Experience

By Sarat Austin / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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Recently, the work of the abolitionist community has shifted from the courts to the legislatures. In this article, Professor Sarat examines the significance of what he calls the “new abolitionism” in the politics of legislation aimed at changing or ending the death penalty. The author describes the new abolitionism in detail and then examines its role in the May 2000 vote of the New Hampshire State Legislature to repeal the death penalty. The author concludes that the focus of the new abolitionism on the practical liabilities of our system of capital punishment makes it possible for legislators to oppose the death penalty whilepresenting themselves as guardians of widely shared values and the integrity and fairness of our legal institutions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Experimenting with Death: An Examination of Colorado’s Use of the Three-Judge Panel in Capital Sentencing

By Lutz, Robin / University of Colorado Law Review, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

Mr. Page committed an atrocious crime. He did not know his victim, Peyton Tuthill, a young woman who had recently graduated from college and moved to Denver. But he was in her house, looking for money and items to sell, when she returned from a job interview. Instead of leaving her home, Mr. Page stayed to beat Peyton Tuthill, tie her up, stab her, slit her throat, rape her repeatedly, and eventually, kill her. Clearly, Ms. Tuthill did not deserve to die such a tortured death. Clearly, her death resulted from an egregious crime. However, the answer to the question of whether Mr. Page should be executed for committing this murder is not as clear. Some would answer affirmatively, others negatively. An important question is: who should decide?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Putting Them There, Keeping Them There, and Killing Them: An Analysis of State-Level Variations in Death Penalty Intensity

By William S. Lofquist / Iowa Law Review, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

The landscape of the American death penalty is diverse. Though death penalty attitudes show a remarkable and increasing degree of homogeneity by region, race, gender, religion, and other factors, the actual practice of the death penalty varies substantially from region to region, and even from state to state. While these variations are widely recognized, they are not widely studied or understood. The lack of attention paid to the actual practice of the death penalty in different states and regions, the patterns that contribute to its use, and the factors associated with these patterns represents a substantial and troubling gap in our knowledge of an issue as widely studied as the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Opting for Real Death Penalty Reform

By James S. Liebman / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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The capital punishment system in the United States is broken. Studies reveal growing delays nationwide between death sentences and executions and inexcusably high rates of reversals and retrials of capital verdicts. The current system persistently malfunctions because it rewards trial actors, such as police, prosecutors, and trial judges, for imposing death sentences, but it does not force them either to avoid making mistakes or to bear the cost of mistakes that are made during the process. Nor is there any adversarial discipline imposed at the trial level because capital defendants usually receive appointed counsel who either do not have experience trying capital cases or who receive inadequate resources from the State to pay litigation expenses. Instead, the appellate system is forced to deal with large amounts of error, creating backlog and delays. This article proposes a radical trade-off for capital defendants in which they agree to give up existing post-conviction review rights in return for a real assurance of better qualified, higher quality trial counsel. This proposal will avoid the traps of window dressing reforms, save states a good bit of the expense of appellate review, and make the capital punishment system more fair, efficient, and effective.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Legal Representation,

Document(s)

The Proposed Innocence Protection Act Won’t—Unless It Also Curbs Mistaken Eyewitness Identifications

By Margery Malkin Koosed / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article contends that legislatures should adopt measures to assure greater reliability in the eyewitness testimony introduced in capital cases. Erroneous eyewitness identification is one of the most frequent causes of mistaken convictions and executions. Decades ago, the United States Supreme Court crafted due process and right to counsel constitutional doctrines to curb identification procedures that gratuitously enhanced the risk of mistake. While initial interpretations favored a greater judicial role in preventing such abuses, later rulings retreated. Present constitutional rules do not suffice due to the narrowness of their definition and the weakness of the remedial sanctions allotted. The proposed Innocence Protection Act and similar state legislation trust DNA testing to avert mistaken executions. But testing requires biological material that is often not available in capital prosecutions, and so DNA cannot detect all the innocents among those capitally prosecuted. To avert mistaken convictions and executions, legislative reforms need to go beyond DNA, and avert mistakes arising from erroneous eyewitness identifications. Studies show this is one of the most common sources of unjust conviction, and that suchmistakes may well be on the rise. Federal and state legislation should be adopted that provides a stronger curb on suggestive identification practices that gratuitously increase the risk of executing the innocent. The Recommendations for Lineups and Photospreads, developed by the American Psychology/Law Society (AP/LS) in 1998, are an appropriate starting point for legislatures (or state courts exercising their supervisory powers or interpreting state constitutional provisions). Adopting such guidelines will reduce the risk of error in capital cases, with little or no expense borne by the states. Further, to assure that these more reliable procedures will be used during capital case investigations and prosecutions, legislatures and courts should, minimally, adopt an exclusionary rule of the type first announced by the United States Supreme.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Another Place Beyond Here: The Death Penalty Moratorium Movement in the United States

By Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier / University of Colorado Law Review, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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Professor Kirchmeier examines the recent decline in support for the death penalty in the United States and the resulting emergence of a movement to impose a moratorium on executions. After discussing the history of the death penalty abolition movement in the United States, he identifies five major and seven minor events that have contributed to the growth of the Death Penalty Moratorium Movement. Then, he compares the current Moratorium Movement to other similar reform periods: the 1960s Death Penalty Abolitionist Movement; legislative abolition of the death penalty in several states during the mid-1800s and early 1900s; death penalty abolition in other countries; and the Anti-Lynching Movement of the early 1900s. Based on the history of these other movements, Professor Kirchmeier discovers various lessons for today’s Moratorium Movement, including lessons about strategy and the roles of public opinion and leadership. Finally, using these lessons from history and looking at recent events, he considers the future of the Moratorium Movement. Professor Kirchmeier concludes that for the Movement to continue to be successful: (1) there must be no major national distracting forces; (2) the Movement must continue to broaden its arguments and not be overly dependent upon one issue, one person, or one strategy; (3) the Movement must continue seek support from unexpected voices; and (4) the Movement must stay focused on the goals of achieving popular support and creating new leaders. Finally, Professor Kirchmeier predicts that the Moratorium Movement is strong enough to continue to have lasting effects.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Moratorium ,

Document(s)

The Political Sociology of the Death Penalty: A Pooled Time-Series Analysis

By Jason T. Carmichael / David Jacobs / American Sociological Review, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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Despite the interest in the death penalty, no statistical studies have isolated the social and political forces that account for the legality of this punishment. Racial or ethnic threat theories suggest that the death penalty will more likely be legal in jurisdictions with relatively large black or Hispanic populations. Economic threat explanations suggest that this punishment will be present in unequal areas. Jurisdictions with a more conservative public or a stronger law and order Republican party should be more likely to legalize the death penalty as well. After controlling for social disorganization, region, period, and voilent crime, panel analyses suggest that minority presence and economic inequality enhance the likelihood of a legal death penalty. Conservative values and Republican strength in the legislature have equivalent effects; A supplement time-to-event analysis supports these conclusions. The results suggest that a political approach has explanatory power because threat effects expressed through politics and effects that are directly political invariable account for decisions about the legality of capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

When Legislatures Delegate Death: The Troubling Paradox Behind State Uses of Electrocution and Lethal Injection and What It Says About Us

By Deborah W. Denno / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article discusses the paradoxical motivations and problems behind legislative changes from one method of execution to the next, and particularly moves from electrocution to lethal injection. Legislatures and courts insist that the primary reason states switch execution methods is to ensure greater humaneness for death row inmates. History shows, however, that such moves were prompted primarily because the death penalty itself became constitutionally jeopardized due to a state’s particular method. The result has been a warped legal “philosophy” of punishment, at times peculiarly aligning both friends and foes of the death penalty alike and wrongly enabling legislatures to delegate death to unknowledgeable prison personnel. This article first examines the constitutionality of electrocution, contending that a modern Eighth Amendment analysis of a range of factors, such as legislative trends toward lethal injection, indicates that electrocution is cruel and unusual. It then provides an Eighth Amendment review of lethal injection, demonstrating that injection also involves unnecessary pain, the risk of such pain, and a loss of dignity. These failures seem to be attributed to vague lethal injection statutes, uninformed prison personnel, and skeletal or inaccurate lethal injection protocols. The article next presents the author’s study of the most current protocols for lethal injection in all thirty-six states where anesthesia is used for a state execution. The study focuses on a number of criteria contained in many protocols that are key to applying an injection, including: the types and amounts of chemicals that are injected; the selection, training, preparation, and qualifications of the lethal injection team; the involvement of medical personnel; the presence of general witnesses and media witnesses; as well as details on how the procedure is conducted and how much of it witnesses can see. The study emphasizes that the criteria in many protocols are far too vague to assess adequately. When the protocols do offer details, such as the amount and type of chemicals that executioners inject, they oftentimes reveal striking errors and ignorance about the procedure. Suchinaccurate or missing information heightens the likelihood that a lethal injection will be botched and suggests that states are not capable of executing an inmate constitutionally. Even though executions have become increasingly hidden from the public, and therefore more politically palatable, they have not become more humane, only more difficult to monitor.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Lethal Injection, Electrocution,

Document(s)

Felony-Murder in Ohio: Felony-Murder or Murder-Felony?

By Dana K. Cole / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


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Ohio’s aggravated felony-murder rule and felony-murder death penalty specification provisions apply where a death occurs “while committing or attempting to commit” certain enumerated felonies. In a line of cases beginning in 1996, the Ohio Supreme Court broadly interpreted this statutory language to include situations where the intent to commit the underlying felony was formed subsequent to the death, as a complete afterthought. With these cases, the Ohio Supreme Court departed from the majority view that the intent to commit the underlying felony must precede or co-exist with the death. The author argues that this new statutory interpretation represents an unwarranted expansion of the felony-murder rule that disregards the statutory language, ignores the underlying purpose of the rule, and dispenses with traditional safeguards designed to ameliorate its harshness. The author further argues that applying this new statutory interpretation to the felony-murder death penalty specification potentially selects for death those who are not necessarily the most deserving of this ultimate punishment. The author suggests that the solution must be a legislative one.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Capital offences, Arbitrariness,

Document(s)

The Role of International Law in United States Death Penalty Cases

By Sandra Babcock / Leiden Journal of International Law, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

The United States has repeatedly failed to notify detained foreign nationals of their rights to consular notification and access under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. In capital cases, US non-compliance with this ratified Treaty has led to litigation by foreign governments and individual lawyers in domestic courts and international tribunals. While these efforts have had mixed results in individual cases, litigation by Mexico, Germany and other actors has led to increased compliance with Article 36, and a growing recognition of the significance of US treaty obligations.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Foreign Nationals,

Document(s)

The Death Penalty in the United States: An International Human Rights Perspective

By Anthony N. Bishop / Texas Law Review, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

On December 10, 1998, the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, former President William J. Clinton signed Executive Order No. 13107 stating, “It shall be the policy and practice of the Government of the United States, being committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, fully to respect and implement its obligations.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Addressing Capital Punishment Through Statutory Reform

By Douglas A. Berman / Ohio State Law Journal, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

State legislatures principally have been responsible for the acceptance and evolution (and even sometimes the abandonment) of capital punishment in the American criminal justice system from the colonial and founding eras, through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and now into the twenty-first century. A number of colonial legislative enactments, though influenced by England’s embrace of the punishment of death, uniquely defined and often significantly confined which crimes were to be subject to capital punishment.[1] State legislatures further narrowed the reach of the death penalty through the early nineteenth century as states, prodded often by vocal abolitionists and led by developments in Pennsylvania, divided the offense of murder into degrees and provided that only the most aggravated murderers would be subject to the punishment of death. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also saw states, as the product of legislative enactments, move away from mandating death as the punishment for certain crimes by giving juries discretion to choose which defendants would be sentenced to die. Throughout all these periods, statutory enactments have also played a fundamental role in the evolution of where and how executions are carried out.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment and American Exceptionalism

By Carol S. Steiker / Duke Law School, on 1 January 2002


Article

United States


More details See the document

At the same time, the countries that most vigorously employ the death penalty are generally ones that the United States has the least in common with politically, economically, or socially, and ones that the United States is wont to define itself against, as they are among the least democratic and the worst human rights abusers in the world. In recent years, the top five employers of capital punishment were China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.3 Moreover, in the past twelve years, only seven countries in the world are known to have executed prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of their crimes: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United States.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition

By Austin Sarat / Princeton University Press, on 1 January 2001


2001

Book

United States


More details See the document

Is capital punishment just? Does it deter people from murder? What is the risk that we will execute innocent people? These are the usual questions at the heart of the increasingly heated debate about capital punishment in America. In this bold and impassioned book, Austin Sarat seeks to change the terms of that debate. Capital punishment must be stopped, Sarat argues, because it undermines our democratic society.Sarat unflinchingly exposes us to the realities of state killing. He examines its foundations in ideas about revenge and retribution. He takes us inside the courtroom of a capital trial, interviews jurors and lawyers who make decisions about life and death, and assesses the arguments swirling around Timothy McVeigh and his trial for the bombing in Oklahoma City. Aided by a series of unsettling color photographs, he traces Americans’ evolving quest for new methods of execution, and explores the place of capital punishment in popular culture by examining such films as Dead Man Walking, The Last Dance, and The Green Mile.Sarat argues that state executions, once used by monarchs as symbolic displays of power, gained acceptance among Americans as a sign of the people’s sovereignty. Yet today when the state kills, it does so in a bureaucratic procedure hidden from view and for which no one in particular takes responsibility. He uncovers the forces that sustain America’s killing culture, including overheated political rhetoric, racial prejudice, and the desire for a world without moral ambiguity. Capital punishment, Sarat shows, ultimately leaves Americans more divided, hostile, indifferent to life’s complexities, and much further from solving the nation’s ills. In short, it leaves us with an impoverished democracy.The book’s powerful and sobering conclusions point to a new abolitionist politics, in which capital punishment should be banned not only on ethical grounds but also for what it does to Americans and what we cherish.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Congressional Power to Require DNA Testing

By Larry Yackle / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

Many states fail to conduct, or even to permit, DNA testing of biological materials in circumstances in which the results might exonerate convicts under sentence of death. Senator Patrick Leahy thinks that Congress should enact a statute requiring states to provide for testing when it promises to reveal the truth. Leahy’s idea is sensible as a matter of policy. I mean in this Article to argue that it is also constitutionally feasible.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Racial Disparity and Death Sentences in Ohio

By Marian R. Williams / Jefferson E. Holocomb / Journal of Criminal Justice, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

The use of the death penalty has resulted in a number of studies attempting to determine if its application is consistent with the guidelines established by the United States Supreme Court. In particular, many studies have assessed whether there are racial disparities in the imposition of death sentences. This study examined the imposition of death sentences in Ohio, a state largely ignored by previous research and that, until 1999, had not executed an inmate since 1963. Drawing from previous studies that have examined the issue in other states, this study assessed the likelihood that a particular homicide would result in a death sentence, controlling for race of defendant and victim and other relevant factors. Results indicated both legal and extralegal factors (including race of victim) were significant predictors of a death sentence, supporting many previous studies that concluded that race plays a role in the imposition of the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Errors and Ethics: Dilemmas in Death

By Penny J. White / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

In the last five years, the death penalty has become a frequent topic of discussion. While discussion of such an emotive topic is not unusual for any period in history, the tenor of the recent dialogue is unusual. For the most part, the discussion centers around the problems with capital punishment, particularly its inaccuracy and unfairness. This Article begins in Part II with a discussion of recent claims about the frequency of errors in capital cases. Part III enumerates and discusses the factors generally thought to be the cause of the errors. Part IV details new rules recently adopted in one jurisdiction in an effort to eliminate the errors. Part IV also suggests that these new rules, though worthwhile, are actually a reiteration of long-standing ethical obligations of judges and lawyers, the breach of which is responsible for many of the errors. Part V recommends additional remedies which the bench and the bar must take if there is a true commitment to providing a fair, just, and reliable system for determining who the government is entitled to kill.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Finality Without Fairness: Why We Are Moving Towards Moratoria on Executions, and the potential Abolition of Capital Punishment

By Ronald J. Tabak / Connecticut Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

In the past several years, there has been a marked change in the climate with regard to public discourse about the death penalty in the United States. This is partly due to advances in DNA technology. This Article, in Part II, will address the impact that DNA testing has had on public discourse on capital punishment. In Part III, it will discuss the overall context in which public discourse has changed, and its likely impact on judges, prosecutors and governors dealing with capital cases. Finally, in Part IV, it will consider the broader implications of this change in climate, in leading to a moratorium on executions in Illinois, consideration of moratoria elsewhere, and potentially to abolition of capital punishment in this country.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Moratorium ,

Document(s)

Staying Alive: Executive Clemency, Equal Protection, and the Politics of Gender in Women’s Capital Cases

By Elizabeth Rapaport / Buffalo Criminal Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

In this Article, I will review the matrix in which executive decisions in women’s capital clemency cases are made, a matrix supplied by modern equal protection law, the nature and scope of the clemency power, gender politics, and contemporary death row. I will then conduct two thought experiments. Each invented case tests the relevance of gender in legally and politically acceptable contemporary clemency decisions. The goal is to understand the politics and law of granting or denying that very rare boon-commutation of sentence – to a female death row prisoner. The exercise offers support for two conclusions. In the age of formal equality, women cannot be granted clemency simply because they are women. The rhetoric of chivalry is untenable for the contemporary executive. A governor who is courageous and rhetorically skillful, however, can sometimes successfully defend the commutation of the death sentence of a woman as a proper use of the power to grant mercy, done for her sake, the class she exemplifies, the conscience of the governor, and the public.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women, Clemency,

Document(s)

Preventing the Execution of the Innocent: Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee.

By Peter Neufeld / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

There have been at least sixty-seven postconviction DNA exonerations in the United States. Our Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law has either assisted or been the attorney of record in thirty-nine of those cases, including eight men who served time on death row. For all of these men, existing appellate remedies failed to catch the mistakes and correct the injustice. In one third of the exonerations, bad lawyering contributed to their convictions yet in only one case was ineffective assistance of counsel recognized by an appellate court. Mistaken eyewitness identification was a critical factor in almost 90% of the unjust convictions yet not a single trial or appellate court found the eyewitness testimony to be unreliable.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

The Truth About False Confessions and Advocacy Scholarship

By Richard A. Leo / Criminal Law Bulletin, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

In 1998 Richard A. Leo and Richard J. Ofshe published a study of false confession cases entitled, The Consequences of False Confessions: Deprivations of Liberty and Miscarriages of Justice in the Age of Psychological Interrogation, which drew a response from Paul Cassell (1999), The Guilty and the Innocent : An Examination of Alleged Cases of Wrongful Conviction from False Confessions. In this article, the authors demonstrate that Cassell s article misreports the research and analysis contained in Leo and Ofshes 1998 article, and that Cassell s attempt to challenge Leo and Ofshes classifications of nine out of sixty false confessions is erroneous because Cassell excludes or presents an incomplete picture of important facts in his case summaries, selectively ignores enormous inconsistencies, implausibilities and/or contradictions in the prosecution s cases, and fails to acknowledge the existence of substantial exculpatory, if not dispositive, evidence. To illustrate the problems and biases in Cassell s commentary, this article discusses at length one of Cassell s challenges, the Barry Lee Fairchild case, in the main body of the article and in a detailed appendix analyzes the eight other cases (Joseph Giarratano, Paul Ingram, Richard Lapointe, Jessie Misskelley, Bradley Page, James Harry Reyos, Linda Stangel, and Martin Tankleff). Leo and Ofshe provide a point by point refutation of Cassell s assertions in all nine cases, demonstrating that all nine individuals were, as originally classified, almost certainly innocent of the crimes to which they had confessed.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Innocence Protection Act of 2001

By Senator Patrick Leahy / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

The goal of our bill is simple, but profoundly important: to reduce the risk of mistaken executions. The Innocence Protection Act proposes basic, common-sense reforms to our criminal justice system that are designed to protect the innocent and to ensure that if the death penalty is imposed, it is the result of informed and reasoned deliberation, not politics, luck, bias, or guesswork. We have listened to a lot of good advice and made some refinements to the bill since the last Congress, but it is still structured around two principal reforms: improving the availability of DNA testing, and ensuring reasonable minimum standards and funding for court-appointed counsel.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Averting Mistaken Executions by Adopting the Model Penal Code’s Exclusion of Death in the Presence of Lingering Doubts

By Margery Malkin Koosed / Northern Illinois Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

This article considers community views on the risk of mistaken executions and how sentencing juries respond to such risks. It explores the present state of the law surrounding risk-taking regarding lingering or residual doubt, and finds the law in a state of denial. Though the risk may be there, and jurors may see it, this is not something they are directed, or even invited, to consider. Some jurors may deny effect to the risk they see, believing it is not a proper subject of their attention. Others will consider it, yet wonder whether they should. This inconsistent treatment, and dissonance from what the public wants and justifiably expects from its legal system, is largely a product of the United States Supreme Court’s 1988 decision in Franklin v. Lynaugh. Arguably misread, and at least misguided, the Court’s decision on considering lingering or residual doubts about guilt as a mitigating factor at the penalty phase has retarded development of meaningful ways to avert mistaken executions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Identifying and (Re)formulating Prophylactic Rules, Safe Harbors, and Incidental Rights in Constitutional Criminal Procedure

By Susan R. Klein / Michigan Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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The Miranda conundrum runs something like this: If the Miranda decision represents true constitutional interpretation, and all unwarned statements taken during custodial interrogation are compelled” within the meaning of the self-incrimination clause, the impeachment and “”fruits”” exceptions to Miranda should fall. If it is not true constitutional interpretation, than the Court has no business reversing state criminal convictions for its violation. I offer here what I hope is a satisfying answer to this conundrum, on both descriptive and normative levels, that justifies not only Miranda but a host of similar Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Court decisions as well. In Part I, I introduce and define the terms “”constitutional prophylactic rule,”” “”constitutional safe harbor rule,”” and “”constitutional incidental right,”” and attempt to legitimate their use. I further demonstrate that constitutional criminal procedure is so flush with such prophylactic and safe harbor rules and incidental rights that trying to eliminate them now, by either reversing a large number of criminal procedure cases or “”constitutionalizing”” all of those holdings, would do more harm than good. I propose that we accept the fact that these rules and rights are a fixed part of our constitutional landscape, and focus instead on minimizing their risks and maximizing their benefits”

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial,

Document(s)

Predictors of Miscarriages of Justice in Capital Cases

By Talia Roitberg Harmon / Justice Quarterly, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

Prior research on wrongful convictions in capital cases focused primarily on qualitative methods designed to provide in-depth descriptive analyses of these cases. In contrast, this study is a quantitative comparison between 76 documented cases from 1970 to 1998, in which prisoners were released from death row because of “doubts about their guilt,” and a matched group of inmates who were executed. Through the use of a logistic regression model, significant predictors of cases that result in a release from death row as opposed to an execution, are identified. The final section of this study focuses on policy implications that may decrease the risk of error in capital cases. Additional lines of research are suggested in an effort to increase understanding of miscarriages of justice in such cases.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: An Analysis of Post-Furman Capital Errors

By Talia Roitberg Harmon / Criminal Justice Policy Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

The issue of erroneous convictions in capital cases has recently gained considerable nationwide media attention. This article builds on prior research by examining 76 cases of inmates who were released from death rows between 1970 and 1998 because of doubts about their guilt. By using sources, or persons who have extensive insider knowledge about these cases, as well as published court opinions, it was possible to identify the causes of the wrongful convictions as well as the significant events that led to the discovery of the miscarriages of justice. The data indicate that prosecutorial misconduct, perjury of witnesses, police misconduct, and racial discrimination were influential factors that led to the wrongful convictions. In addition, continued investigation by the defense attorney, new witnesses coming forward, and/or a confession from another person were the factors most often leading to the discovery of errors. These findings suggest that there have not been any significant changes in causes of erroneous convictions since the implementation of contemporary safeguards. As a result, policy changes are suggested to decrease the chances of erroneous executions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Innocence,

Document(s)

A ‘Commonsense’ Theory of Deterrence and the ‘Ideology’ of Science: The New York State Death Penalty Debate

By John F. Galliher / James M. Galliher / Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


More details See the document

This research will consider the principal claims and counterclaims made by death penalty supporters and opponents, as well as document the manner in which these claims were advanced or refuted. The nineteen-year debate provides a natural laboratory that can assist our understanding of why the United States is the only Western industrialized democracy to retain capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Earl Washington’s Ordeal

By Eric M. Freedman / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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I offer an account of the ordeal of Earl Washington, who—having come within days of execution—was released from prison on February 12, 2001, after DNA evidence of his innocence finally proved conclusive to the Virginia authorities. I do so for two reasons. First, I believe, both as a member of his legal team and a scholar, that history deserves an accurate account of the events. Second, more broadly, I believe that the case exemplifies many of the phenomena that contribute to the injustice of the death penalty in America today.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Physicians Willingness to Participate in the Process of lethal Injection for Capital Punishment

By Joan Weiner / Brian M. Aboff / Neil J. / Farber / Annals of Internal Medecine 135(10), 884-888 / Elizabeth B. Davis / E. Gil Boyer / Peter A. Ubel, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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Occasionally, physicians’ personal values conflict with their perceived societal duties. One example is the case of lethal injection for the purpose of capital punishment. Some states require that such lethal injections be performed by physicians. At the same time, leading medical societies have concluded that physicians should avoid participating in capital punishment. Physicians’ attitudes toward involvement in capital punishment may depend on how they balance their responsibilities to individuals against their duties to society. Other factors may include a desire to provide a more painless death for the prisoner or concern over the competency of other health care personnel. In a previous survey, we found that a majority of physicians condoned involvement of their fellow physicians in capital punishment. For the current study, we conducted another survey to ascertain physicians’ attitudes about their own involvement in capital punishment, as well as factors associated with these attitudes.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Lethal Injection,

Document(s)

Is the Death Penalty Good for Women

By Phyllis L. Crocker / Buffalo Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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In this essay, I suggest a different and particularly feminist reason for reexamining, and rejecting, the death penalty. The death penalty perverts society’s response to the tragedy of a woman being raped and murdered by relying on a form of racism that is gendered in nature and by making the horrific nature of the crime of rape-murder a more important consideration in determining punishment than the individual characteristics of the person who committed it.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Death Sentencing in Black and White: An Empirical Analysis of the Role of Jurors’ Race and Jury Racial Composition

By William J. Bowers / Marla Sandys / Benjamin D. Steiner / University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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Do black jurors view a crime or its appropriate punishment differently than their white counterparts? Are their perspectives influenced by the race of the defendant or victim? Are blacks on white-dominated capital juries intimidated or coerced into voting for the death penalty?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

PROBING “LIFE QUALIFICATION” THROUGH EXPANDED VOIR DIRE

By John H. Blume / Sheri Lynn Johnson / Brian Threlkeld / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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It turns out that voir dire in capital cases is woefully ineffective at the most elementary task—weeding out unqualified jurors.Empirical evidence reveals that many capital jurors are in fact unqualified to serve. Moreover, the ineffectiveness of the process is far from even-handed. A juror is not “death-qualified” if she would always vote against a death sentence, regardless of the circumstances, and a handful of the jurors who actually serve in capital cases are in fact unqualified for this reason.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

JURY INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING DEADLOCK IN CAPITAL SENTENCING

By Laurie B. Berberich / Hofstra Law Review, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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Questions regarding the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous decision are often asked of judges and similar uninformative responses are generally given. Is ignoringjuror concerns the proper method for handling jury inquiries about the result of juror non-unanimity in capital sentencing? Or should courts inform capital juries up-front of the consequences of their failure to reach a unanimous verdict?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The Use of Peremptory Challenges in Capital Murder Trials: A Legal and Empirical Analysis

By George Woodworth / David C. Baldus / David Zuckerman / University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law / Neil Alan Weiner / Barbara Broffitt, on 1 January 2001


Article

United States


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One of the largely unique aspects of the American jury system is that it confers upon the parties the unilateral power – in the form of peremptory challenges – to remove prospective jurors for any non-racial or non-gender-based reason. This article presents an overview of the literature on peremptory challenges, and an empirical analysis of their use in Philadelphia capital cases in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial,

Document(s)

Punishment at all Costs: On Religion, Convicting the Innocent, and Supporting the Death Penalty

By Robert L. Young / William & Mary Bill of rights journal 9(1), 237-46., on 1 January 2000


2000

Article

United States


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This Paper explores the impact of the belief structure among white fundamentalist denominations on the support for the death penalty. Professor Robert L. Young observes that the tenets of fundamentalism, as well as the great extent thatfundamentalists conform to the positions oftheir clergy, support this link between fundamentalism anda punitive orientation toward wrongdoers. Professor Young explains that members in white fundamentalist churches, to a greater extent than others, are inclined toward a negative view of human nature, which in turn leads to the belief that letting the guilty go free is a more serious mistake than convicting the innocent. This relative tolerance for convicting the innocent has a direct impact on support for the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion,

Document(s)

Emerging Issues in Juvenile Death Penalty Law

By Victor L. Streib / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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As our society’s enduring marriage to the death penalty prepares to enter yet another century, it is a marriage that places the children in danger. Why is it that we continue to impose the death penalty for crimes committed by juvenile offenders? As questionable as the death penalty is in general, might we not at least place an “adults only” label on it? The rest of the world has already done so. Only in America need children fear execution by their own government.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Juveniles,

Document(s)

Transcript of Speech on Religion’s Role in the Administration of the Death Penalty

By Pat Robertson / William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 9(1), 215-222, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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About fifteen years ago, I was in the maximum-security prison in Raiford, Florida, and after I had spoken to the inmates, and had several interviews for our television program, I was permitted to go back into death row. It was a very sobering sight because the electric chair was just down the hall from where I was, and you could see that rather grim room. There were two men that they had asked me to talk to. One was a young man, in his mid-twenties who had been a contract killer for organized crime. He had dispatched at least twenty people to the next world as a cold-blooded killer. He was there on death row awaiting execution. The other man was a rather simple soul who had discovered his wife having an affair with another man, at least that’s my understanding, and in a fit of rage, he killed her. In the subsequent trial, he had received the death penalty for his action. Both of these men had had profound religious conversions. I know the difference between somejailhouse conversions-and there are plenty of them out there-and something that’s sincere from the heart. Both of these men, in my opinion, had been spiritually transformed.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

Retribution and Redemption in the Operation of Executive Clemency

By Elizabeth Rapaport / Chicago Kent Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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In this Article, my goal is to raise doubts about the adequacy of the neo-retributive theory of clemency and stimulate reappraisal and development of what I will call the “redemptive” perspective. To this end I will present an exposition and critique of neo-retributive theory of clemency.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Retribution, Clemency,

Document(s)

Equality of the Damned: The Execution of Women on the Cusp of the 21st Century

By Elizabeth Rapaport / Ohio Northern Law Review 26(3), 581-600, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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This article explores why women are rarely executed and examines the execution of four women in the Post-Furman Era, focusing on the execution of Karla Faye Tucker. The execution of Karla Faye Tucker in 1998, the second of the four women to be executed, occured in hte midst of relentless publicity. The Tucker execution revived interest in gender equity in the administration of capital punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Women,

Document(s)

Murderers’ Relatives: Managing Stigma, Negotiating Identity

By Hazel May / Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Drawing on in-depth interviews with the relatives of convicted murderers, this article interrogates the concept of stigma through an everyday notion of familial toxicity and commonsense understandings of murder. Identifying moments of stigmatizing strain, the article examines moments of opportunity for managing stigma through three metatactics: management of space, information, and self-presentation. However, due to the problems in carrying out sensitive research with a hidden population, there are limits to how far arguments made can be generalized. Therefore, the article concludes by raising questions for future research.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Murder Victims' Families,

Document(s)

Tessie Hutchinson and the American System of Capital Punishment

By Earl F. Martin / Maryland Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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The story focuses on Tessie Hutchinson, who was selected by the communal lottery for execution; her only sin was to live in a village that had the tradition of stoning one of its inhabitants each year. This paper suggests some ways that the life of America’s death penalty mirrors the art of “The Lottery.” The author comments on the “masking of evil,” the execution of the innocent, the arbitrariness in selecting those who die, the search for justification, and the brutality of the death penalty. In “The Lottery,” the tradition of the stoning was so embedded in tradition and its administration was so formal and precise that the ultimate outcome of the tradition, the killing of a fellow human being, was sanitized and unexamined. In America, the net effect of the bureaucratization of executions is to give those who implement them and those who receive reports of them a sense of sterility and mundaneness that should never accompany the state’s killing of its own. Although proponents of capital punishment in America argue that the chances that an innocent person will be executed are slim, history shows that it has occurred. It was no comfort to Tessie Hutchinson that she was to be the only member of her village to be stoned that year. So it is no comfort to the innocent who are executed that each is only one of a small number of innocent people who have been killed by the state. The arbitrariness of the lottery in selecting who will be executed may not be so obvious in the selection of those who will be killed by the state in America. Still, random and arbitrary circumstances impact who is selected to be executed, circumstances such as the race and wealth of the defendant, the race of the victim, the quality of the defense counsel, the particular trial judge, and the State in which the crime occurs. Although there is no unequivocal evidence that the death penalty achieves some monumentally positive benefit for American society, support for it by the community persists, along with its brutality and cruelty. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that a “thinly veiled cruelty keeps the custom alive.”

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

The ‘Shocking Truth’ About the Electric Chair: An Analysis of the Unconstitutionality of Electrocution

By Dawn Macready / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, encompasses punishment that amounts to torture and barbarity, cruel and degrading punishment not known to the common law, and punishment so disproportionate to the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community. Thus, contained in the Eighth Amendment is a fundamental respect for humanity. For the imposition of a death sentence, the trier is constitutionally mandated to take into account the character and record of the individual offender and the circumstances of the particular offense. What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment?

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Electrocution,

Document(s)

Discrimination and Instructional Comprehension: Guided Discretion, Racial Bias, and the Death Penalty

By Craig Haney / Mona Lynch / Law and Human Behavior, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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This study links two previously unrelated lines of research: The lack of comprehension of capital penalty-phase jury instructions and discriminatory death sentencing. Jury-eligible subjects were randomly assigned to view one of four versions of a simulated capital penalty trial in which the race of defendant (Black or White) and the race of victim (Black or White) were varied orthogonally. Dependent measures included a sentencing verdict (life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty), ratings of penalty phase evidence, and a test of instructional comprehension. Results indicated that instructional comprehension was poor overall and that, although Black defendants were treated only slightly more punitively than White defendants in general, discriminatory effects were concentrated among participants whose comprehension was poorest. In addition, the use of penalty phase evidence differed as a function of race of defendant and whether the participant sentenced the defendant to life or death. The study suggest that racially biased and capricious death sentencing may be in part caused or exacerbated by the inability to comprehend penalty phase instructions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Religious Neutrality and the Death Penalty

By Arnold H. Loewy / William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 9(1), 191-200, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Cases involving the Establishment of Religion Clause predominantly emphasize religious neutrality. Believing this to be normatively correct, Professor Loewy argues for religious neutrality in capital punishment cases. In accordance therewith, he would uphold religious peremptory challenges where a juror’s religious belief is related to her death penalty perspective. Professor Loewy agrees with the courts’general willingness to disallow religion as an aggravating factor while allowing it as a mitigating factor. This dichotomy comports with the neutralityp rinciple because aggravatingfa ctors, in general,a re limited whereas mitigating factors are unlimited.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

The Future of the Federal Death Penalty

By Rory K. Little / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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On May 16, 2001, the federal government carried out its first execution for a criminal offense in over 38 years (Timothy McVeigh). This article (part of a symposium issue) examines recent developments in the administration of the federal death penalty, in the legislative, judicial, and executive (Department of Justice) arenas. While not an abolitionist, the author expresses misgivings about federal capital punishment as it is currently administered, updating statistics regarding racial and geographic disparity from his 1999 article “The Federal Death Penalty: History and Some Thoughts About the Department of Justice’s Role,”. The article also explains “What the Supreme Court Got Wrong in Jones,” (1999). Finally, the international implications of the first execution by the federal government in two generations are explored. No longer can the United States shift its internationally isolated position regarding capital punishment onto its constituent states under a theory of independent federalism. Note: This is a description of the paper and not the actual abstract.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment and Religious Arguments: An Intermediate Approach

By Samuel J. Levine / William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 9(1), 179-190, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Determining the place and use of capital punishment in the American legal system is a challenging affair and one that is closely associated with and determined by religion’s role in American legal decision-making. Both capital punishment and religion are controversial issues, and tend to challenge legal scholars and practitioners about whether they should function together or alone as valid parts of the legal system in the United States. Professor Levine argues that religious arguments should be employed to interpret and explain American legal thought when the need or proper situation arises. He uses capital punishment as an example of how to properly reconcile a controversial legal issue with religious thought. Professor Levine suggests that religion acts as a comparative law model and provides another valid and instructive way of viewing capital punishment. Religious thought serves to provide explanation and insight into controversial American legal issues, and helps legal scholars and practitioners toward forming permanent solutions.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

Let’s Make a Deal: Waiving the Eighth Amendment by Selecting a Cruel and Unusual Punishment

By Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier / Connecticut Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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This Article addresses the issue of whether a criminal defendant may waive the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments by selecting an unconstitutional punishment over a constitutional punishment. The Article begins with a discussion of the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, followed by a discussion of areas where the Court has allowed defendants to waive Eighth Amendment protections in various contexts. Then, the Article discusses court decisions that have addressed whether one may waive Eighth Amendment protections by choosing a cruel and unusual punishment. Generally, this issue has arisen in three contexts: (1) where defendants are given the punishment option of banishment; (2) where sex offenders are given the punishment option of castration; and (3) where capital defendants are given an execution method option that violates the constitution. The Article explains that at least in the context of punishment type, a defendant’s choice should not waive Eighth Amendment protections. First, the ban on cruel and unusual punishments is a right that differs significantly from other constitutional criminal rights because it serves a broad societal purpose. Second, the waiver of this right differs from the waiver of other criminal rights because such waivers do not benefit the individual or society. Finally, to allow such waivers would strip the Eighth Amendment of meaning by permitting legislatures to create any punishment options it desired. Therefore, the Article concludes that the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishments cannot be waived by an individual.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment,

Document(s)

Capital Punishment As Human Sacrifice: A Societal Ritual as Depicted in George Elliot’s Adam Bede

By Roberta M. Harding / Buffalo Law Review 48, 175-248, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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The ritual slaughter of humans for sacrificial purposes has an ancient provenance. Few members of modern society would be inclined to believe that killing humans for sacrificial purposes continues. Of those, most probably envision it only being practiced by individuals who belong to “uncivilized,” or non-“First-World” cultures. Upon closer scrutiny, however, it becomes apparent that this is a misconception because the past and present practice of capital punishment includes a thinly disguised manifestation of the ritualized killing of people, otherwise known as human sacrifice. The purpose of this article is to identify, describe, and analyze the historic and contemporary connection between the practices of capital punishment and human sacrifice. After describing how human sacrifice constitutes an integral component of capital punishment, it will be argued that the institutionalization of this antiquated barbaric ritual, vis-a-vis the use of capital punishment, renders the present use of the death penalty in the United States incompatible with “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society”; and that consequently, this facet of capital punishment renders the penalty at odds with the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against the infliction of “cruel and unusual” punishments.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment,

Document(s)

Religious Organizations and the Death Penalty

By Robert F. Drinan / William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Over the past several years, many questions have been raised concerning the application and effectiveness of the death penalty. Ironically, the Catholic Church, a long-time supporter of the death penalty, has become one of the most vocal critics of the death penalty. In this Essay, Father Robert F. Drinan documents the Church’s new-found opposition to the death penalty, and discusses the influence the Church will have on the future of the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

God and the Executioner: The Influence of Western Religion on the Use of the Death Penalty

By Davison M. Douglas / William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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In this essay, Professor Douglas conducts an historical review of religious attitudes toward capital punishment and the influence of those attitudes on the state’s use of the death penalty. He surveys the Christian Church’s strong support for capital punishment throughout most of its history, along with recent expressions of opposition from many Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish groups. Despite this recent abolitionist sentiment from an array of religious institutions, Professor Douglas notes a divergence of opinion between the “pulpit and the pew” as the laity continues to support the death penalty in large numbers. Professor Douglas accounts for this divergence by noting the declining influence of religious organizations over the social policy choices of their members. He concludes that the fate of the death penalty in America will therefore “most likely be resolved in the realm of the secular rather than the sacred.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

Adieu to Electrocution

By Deborah W. Denno / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Much has been written about why electrocution has persisted so stubbornly over the course of the twentieth century. This Article focuses briefly on more recent developments concerning why electrocution should be abolished entirely. Part I of this Article describes the facts and circumstances surrounding Bryan as well as Bryan’s unusual world-wide notice due to the gruesome photos of the executed Allen Lee Davis posted on the Internet. Part II focuses on the sociological and legal history of electrocution, most particularly the inappropriate precedential impact of In re Kemmler. In Kemmler, the Court found the Eighth Amendment inapplicable to the states and deferred to the New York legislature’s determination that electrocution was not cruel and unusual. Regardless, Kemmler has been cited repeatedly as Eighth Amendment support for electrocution despite Kemmler’s lack of modern scientific and legal validity.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Electrocution,

Document(s)

Crossing the line: Rape-murder and the death penalty

By Phyllis L. Crocker / Ohio Northern Law Review 26(3), 689-723., on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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When a woman is raped and then murdered, it is among the most horrifying of crimes. It is also, often, among the most sensational, notorious, and galvanizing of cases. In 1964, Kitty Genovese was raped and murdered in Queens, New York. Her murder sparked soul-searching across the country because her neighbors heard her cries for help and did not respond: it made us question whether we had become an uncaring people. During the 1970s and 80s a number of serial killers raped and murdered their victims: including Ted Bundy in Florida and William George Bonin, the “Freeway Killer,” in Southern California. In the 1990s, the sexual assault-murder of seven- year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey contributed to a firestorm of states passing sex offender notification statutes. Rolando Cruz was released from Illinois death row in 1995, after serving eleven years for a crime he did not commit: the rape and murder of ten-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. The crime itself sent shock waves through the Chicago metropolitan area and pressure to quickly solve it contributed to Cruz’s arrest and conviction. In each instance the rape- murder terrified us and made us want to impose the severest of punishments. This explores the crime and punishment of those convicted of committed rape .murder

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Don’t Take His Eye, Don’t Take His Tooth, and Don’t Cast the First Stone: Limiting Religious Arguments in Capital Cases

By John Blume / Sheri Lynn Johnson / William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Religious arguments in the course of particular capital sentencing proceedings are very common. This may be in part because capital punishment jurisprudence, unlike the jurisprudence of reproductive rights or segregation, has itself mandated individualized decision-making. Public discussion of whether religious principles or authority compel (or preclude) the imposition of the death penalty for all police killings (or, more broadly, all killings) has been largely mooted by the Supreme Court’s determination that mandatory death penalty statutes violate the Eighth Amendment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

The Unusualness of Capital Punishment

By Louis D. Bilionis / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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The order struck during the regulatory years following Furman v. Georgia and Gregg v. Georgia has been inverted. Executions once were rarities of newsworthy moment; now, they are nearly twice-a-week occurrences that often pass with nary a notice. Skeptical scrutiny of death penalty cases once was the professed and practiced mission of the federal judiciary; now, words like weariness, ennui, and resentment seem better choices to capture the spirit of the federal courts when confronted with complaints from death row. As we will see, the various lines of objection join to form a sophisticated and comprehensive critique.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Rewriting History: the Use of Feminist Narrative to Deconstruct the Myth of the Capital Defendant

By Francine Banner / New York University (NYU), on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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In the past thirty years, American attitudes towards those convicted of crimes have followed a devastating progression toward the dehumanization of criminal defendants. The evolution of law and policy has mirrored these changing attitudes. The philosophies behind incarceration have shifted from “facilitat[ing inmates’] productive re-entry back into the free world” to “using imprisonment merely to punish criminal offenders by … “containing’ them behind bars … for as long as possible.” 4 Rather than preventing crime or rehabilitating offenders, incarceration has become a means to satisfy society’s desire for vengeance and retribution. Responding to this push to punish, prosecutors in their haste to obtain a conviction are more likely to stress the heinousness of crimes rather than questioning the circumstances surrounding …

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,

Document(s)

Executing the Innocent: the Next Step in the Marshall Hypotheses

By Eric G. Lambert / Alen W. Clarke / New York University (NYU) / Laurie Anne Whitt, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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The study results indicate that when test subjects, many of whom are likely retributivists, are presented with information about the problem of innocence, the drop in support for capital punishment spans all points on the Likert scale. Our study suggests that more rigorous testing may demonstrate that an individual’s knowledge of the “innocence problem” can generate more profond changes in attitudes toward the death penalty than indicted by previous studies of the marshall Hypotheses.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public opinion, Innocence,

Document(s)

When the Wall has Fallen: Decades of Failure in the Supervision of Capital Juries

By Jose Felipe Anderson / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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Although there is no constitutional requirement that a jury participate in the death penalty process, most states do provide, through their capital punishment statutes, that a jury will participate in the decision. The preference for jury sentencing in these circumstances reflects a reluctance to leave power over life solely in the hands of one judge. Still, some scholars have long criticized juries for administering punishment.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Fair Trial,

Document(s)

Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty

By Thomas C. Berg / William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 9(1), 31-60, on 1 January 2000


Article

United States


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In this Essay, Professor Thomas C. Berg examines how religious conservatives, especially Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants, have dealt with the recent concerns over the death penalty. Part I of the Essay documents how Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants traditionally approach the death penalty.Part II analyzes the particular theological arguments and practical concerns that will be most effective in persuading religious conservatives to oppose the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Religion ,

Document(s)

Against Capital Punishment: The Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972-1994

By Oxford University Press / Herbert H. Haines, on 8 September 1999


1999

Book

United States


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While most western democracies have renounced the death penalty, capital punishment enjoys vast and growing support in the United States. A significant and vocal minority, however, continues to oppose it. Against Capital Punishment is the first full account of anti-death penalty activism in America during the years since the ten-year moratorium on executions ended.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition,

Document(s)

Politics and The Death Penalty: Can Rational Discourse and Due Process Survive the Perceived Political Pressure?

By Norman Redlich / Fordham Urban Law Journal, on 1 January 1994


1994

Article

United States


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This article is a transcript from a program sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities entitled, “Politics and the Death Penalty: Can Rational Discourse and Due Process Survive the Perceived Political Pressure?” In it, Norman Redlich discusses his experience litigating organizing the New York State Justice-PAC, a political action committee which promoted anti-death penalty candidates for the New York State legislature, and challenges the notion that there is overwhelming public support in the United States of America for the death penalty.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Public debate, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,