Articles

NEW VOICES: Former Publisher of the Chicago Tribune Calls for End to Executions

In a recent op-ed, Jack Fuller, former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, called for an end to capital punishment.  Citing a series of mistakes by eyewitnesses, police and forensic experts, he stated that the criminal justice system is too deeply flawed to entrust with carrying out executions. Pointing to the likely innocence of Carlos DeLuna, a Texas man who was executed in 1989, Fuller concluded that the death penalty should be abolished because "no goverment is good enough to entrust with the absolute power that capital punishment entails." His article was entitled NOT IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE:

Death-penalty opponents advance various arguments for abolition, but the most powerful of them all finds embodiment in the person of Carlos De Luna.

Texas executed De Luna in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez in a gas station knife attack. Something went terribly wrong at the execution by lethal injection. De Luna did not slip quickly into unconsciousness as he was supposed to. Instead, he reared up on the gurney against the restraints and seemed to try to say something.

Perhaps it was to cry out in pain as the killing medications began to course into his veins before the anesthetic took hold. The possibility that lethal injection subjects its recipients to excruciating physical agony has become the focus of a great deal of attention lately among death-penalty opponents.

Anesthesiologists Advised to Avoid Lethal Injections

Dr. Orin Guidry, president of the 40,000-member American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), issued a public statement strongly urging members to "steer clear" of any participation in executions by lethal injection. In a four-page "Message from the President," Guidry noted that anesthesiologists have been "reluctantly thrust into the middle" of the legal controversy over lethal injections. In recent months, the procedures being used around the United States have been challenged because they may result in unnecessary and excruciating pain in violation of the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"For survivors' sake, abolish the death penalty" by Richard Pompelio

From the Star Ledger.

For survivors' sake, abolish the death penalty
Monday, June 12, 2006
BY RICHARD D. POMPELIO

When capital punishment was reinstated in New Jersey more than a quarter-century ago, it was applauded as a declaration by our elected officials that they were going to be tough on crime. It has evolved, however, into an ideological war between the courts and the Legislature. It is a war with many casualties, including crime victims who are constantly caught in its crossfire. It is time to end this war. The death penalty process in the courts of New Jersey revictimizes crime victims by keeping them in the criminal justice system for as many as 20 years, with the re sult being the same: a reversal of the trial jury's death penalty verdict. This judicial process is an insult to survivors of murder and a disservice to the taxpayers who fund this travesty. It is time to bring some sanity to a law that by virtue of its implementation by those in power has no sanity.

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Chicago Tribune: EXECUTED TEXAS MAN WAS LIKELY INNOCENT

Read the full text of the three part series by Maurice Possley and Steve Mills. 
 

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New York Times Article: Alternatives to Lethal Injection

Read the full text of the June 23, 2006 article by Denise Grady.

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American Judicature Journal



Judicature Journal Examines Impact of Death Penalty on Justice System
  The March-April 2006 edition of Judicature, the journal of the American Judicature Society, includes a series of articles about the effects of the death penalty on the administration of justice. The following quotations are from these articles: The Shadow of Death: The Effect of Capital Punishment on American Criminal Law and Policy

Does Killing Really Give Closure?

March 26, 2006

Does Killing Really Give Closure?

By Dahlia Lithwick

The past few weeks have been rife with the prospect of closure denied.

The families of Slobodan Milosevic's tens of thousands of victims were ostensibly denied closure when he died before the conclusion of his war crimes tribunal. The decision over where to try exiled Liberian ruler Charles Taylor turns largely on how to afford closure to his victims. And the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks despaired that government misconduct had ended not only the prosecution, but also their one chance at closure. "I felt like my heart had been ripped out," said Rosemary Dillard, whose husband died in the attack on the Pentagon. "I felt like my husband had been killed again."

The death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has been touted by the government as a way to bring resolution to bereft families. Hundreds watch the proceedings on remote, closed-circuit televisions. Dozens will testify about their losses. This will be their "day in court." Since as far back as 2002, when then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft announced he'd seek the death penalty for Moussaoui to "carry out justice," it's been assumed that this outcome would bring closure. Just as, in 2001, when Ashcroft decided that family members of the Oklahoma City bombing victims could witness the execution of Timothy McVeigh on closed-circuit television, he said it would "meet their need for closure."

NEW VOICES: Victims Do Not Necessarily Want Revenge

Victims of violence and terror are not necessarily well served by a system that promises "closure" in the form of the death penalty, according to a recent Washington Post column by Dahlia Lithwick. Among other cases, the author questions the assumptions in the federal government's case against Zacarias Moussaoui as it relates to the needs of the family members from the September 11th attack:

The death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has been touted by the government as a way to bring resolution to bereft families. Hundreds watch the proceedings on remote, closed-circuit televisions. Dozens will testify about their losses. This will be their "day in court." Since as far back as 2002, when then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft announced he'd seek the death penalty for Moussaoui to "carry out justice," it's been assumed that this outcome would bring closure. Just as, in 2001, when Ashcroft decided that family members of the Oklahoma City bombing victims could witness the execution of Timothy McVeigh on closed-circuit television, he said it would "meet their need for closure."

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