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Life Sentences Given in Four States

Posted: August 25, 2004
Death sentences have declined across the country. The following four cases are recent illustrations of this trend:

  • In Cook County, Illinois, a judge sentenced Ronald Hinton to life without parole, citing abuse in the defendant’s background and his remorse for the crimes. Hinton admitted to three murders. (Chicago Tribune, August 25, 2004).
  • In Butler County, Ohio, a three-judge panel sentenced Tom West to life without parole for a shooting spree at a trucking company in which

Prosecutors Offer a Variety of Reasons for Foregoing Death Penalty

Posted: August 24, 2004
The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office reflected on a number of factors in deciding to forego seeking a death sentence for Seti Christopher Scanlan, whose first trial ended in a mistrial after he took the stand and begged jurors to sentence him to death. Prosecutors are now seeking a sentence of life in prison for Scanlan after concluding that "it was not reasonably likely that we would get a jury that would deliver the death penalty." The case has already cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars and that number would have doubled if

NEW RESOURCE: Scientific American Looks at Crime Rates

Posted: August 23, 2004
In his Scientific American magazine article entitled, "The Case of the Unsolved Crime Decline," criminologist Richard Rosenfeld examines why U.S. crime rates dropped more than 40% in the 1990's and what lessons current policy-makers can learn from this decline. Rosenfeld provides an overview and evaluation of previous research showing a link in the crime rate decline and factors such as changes in demographics, law-enforcement practices, economic conditions, incarceration rates,

Broad Spectrum of Citizens Seeks Clemency in Upcoming Texas Execution

Posted: August 20, 2004
A broad spectrum of the public is seeking clemency for Texas death row inmate James Allridge, who is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, August 26th. Among those pointing to Allridge's rehabilitation as the basis for mercy are four of the original jurors in his trial, two former death row prison guards, a retired prison system administrator, a Fort Worth city councilman, one of Allridge's former employers, and murder victims' family members. The supporters state that since Aldridge arrived on

NEW RESOURCE: Law Review Examines Race and the Death Penalty

Posted: August 19, 2004
The Summer 2004 DePaul Law Review contains presentations and articles from the University's two-day "Race to Execution" Symposium, an event that featured remarks and presentations from some of the nation's most renowned death penalty experts. This law review examines the role that race has historically had and continues to play in our nation's death penalty debate. Among the articles are presentations examining the racial bias in capital sentencing, how implicit racial attitudes of

NEW RESOURCE: Law, Psychology, and Death Penalty Litigation

Posted: August 18, 2004
Professor James R. Eisenberg's new book, "Law, Psychology, and Death Penalty Litigation," provides a thorough introduction to the role that forensic psychology plays in capital trials. Using a step-by-step approach that covers the historical and current legal context of capital punishment, Eisenberg describes the various tasks that might confront the forensic psychologist in a death penalty trial, including issues of competency to be executed, mental retardation, risk assessment, and related ethical dilemmas. Eisenberg, an award-winning Professor of Psychology

Editorial Urges New York Legislators to Abandon Death Penalty

Posted: August 17, 2004
A recent Albany Times Union editorial called on state legislators to abandon attempts to reinstate New York's death penalty, which the state's highest court found unconstitutional because the statute's jury instructions could be coercive. The June 24th New York Court of Appeals ruling in People v. Stephen LaValle spurred proposed legislation to remedy the statute. Some legal critics who have examined the new bill say that it may also be unconstitutional. The editorial echoed this sentiment, noting:


Ryan Matthews is Latest Exonoree

Posted: August 13, 2004

On Monday, August 9, 2004, Ryan Matthews became the latest death row inmate to be freed, and the 14th exonerated with the help of DNA evidence. Matthews was sentenced to die in 1999 and spent nearly five years on death row before being cleared of a murder that occurred just two weeks after his 17th birthday.

Matthews' appellate attorneys had physical evidence from his trial

NEW RESOURCE: Jurors' Stories of Death

Posted: August 12, 2004
In his new book "Jurors' Stories of Death: How America's Death Penalty Invests in Inequality," author Benjamin Fleury-Steiner draws on real-life accounts of white and black jurors in capital trials to discuss the effect of race on the sentencing process. Through his survey of the jurors' experiences, he reveals that race is often a factor in sentencing and that the U.S. justice system can foster an "us versus them" mentality among jurors serving in capital trials. Fleury-Steiner finds that the the jurors, who frequently view

NEW VOICES: Maryland Families Urge Prosecutor to End Death Penalty Bid

Posted: August 10, 2004
Expressing their desire to end emotionally straining court proceedings, the families of Maryland murder victims Betina "Kristi" Gentry and Cynthia V. Allen recently urged Anne Arundel County's top prosecutor to end his 3rd attempt to get a death sentence for the man accused of killing the two women 10 years ago. "They've been through so much. I can't look them in the eye and say, 'Nah, you have to relive it again.' I can't do that," said State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee after agreeing to seek a sentence of life without parole instead of a capital