What's New

JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY: Psychiatrists Say Teen Brains Still Developing

Posted: June 4, 2004
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in Roper v. Simmons regarding the death penalty for juvenile offenders, researchers have found critical evidence that the brain continues to change dramatically during adolescence. This research may help explain the impulsive, often irrational behavior seen in some teenagers. “Kids may know the difference between right and wrong, but that does not stop them from doing dumb and dangerous things that they would never think of doing as adults,” stated David Fassler, a child psychiatrist and professor of

Arizona Prosecutor Disbarred for Eliciting False Testimony in Death Penalty Case

Posted: June 3, 2004
The Arizona Supreme Court has ordered that former Pima County prosecutor Kenneth Peasley be disbarred for knowingly eliciting false testimony in a capital murder case. After studying the results of a review conducted by its Disciplinary Commission, the Supreme Court noted that the use of false testimony in the trial of two men accused in a 1992 triple-murder case “could not have been more harmful to the justice system.” In their unanimous decision, the Justices stated, “A prosecutor who deliberately presents false testimony, especially in a capital case, has caused incalculable injury

Gallup Poll Finds Decreased Support for Death Penalty When Compared with Life Sentence

Posted: June 2, 2004
A May 2004 Gallup Poll found that a growing number of Americans support a sentence of life without parole rather than the death penalty for those convicted of murder. Gallup found that 46% of respondents favor life imprisonment over the death penalty, up from 44% in May 2003. During that same time frame, support for capital punishment as an alternative fell from 53% to 50%. The poll also revealed a growing skepticism that the death penalty deters crime, with 62% of those polled saying that it is not a deterrent.

Gordon Steidl Released After 17 Years

Posted: June 2, 2004

Gordon Steidl was freed from an Illinois prison May 28th, 2004, 17 years after he was wrongly convicted and sentenced to die for a 1986 dual murder.  Steidl was granted a new sentencing hearing in 1999, resulting in a sentence of life without parole.  Federal judge Michael McCuskey overturned Steidl’s conviction in 2003 and ordered a new trial. The state reinvestigated the case, testing DNA


Posted: May 27, 2004
Gordon “Randy” Steidl is scheduled to be freed from an Illinois prison today (May 28th), 17 years after he was wrongly convicted and sentenced to die for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads. He will be the nation’s 114th death row inmate to be exonerated and the 18th freed in Illinois. The case against Steidl has long drawn criticism from journalists such as Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, and investigators familiar with the facts of the crime. An Illinois State Police investigation in

NEW RESOURCE: “Death Penalty – Beyond Abolition”

Posted: May 27, 2004
“Death Penalty – Beyond Abolition” details the path to abolition of the death penalty in Europe, the only region in the world where capital punishment has been almost completely eradicated. The book also examines how this development has impacted other nations around the world. With articles focusing on issues such as working with murder victims’ families and finding appropriate alternatives to the death penalty, the book examines the pioneering role that the Council of Europe has played in eliminating the death penalty through a series of enacted protocols

Good Quality Representation Makes All the Difference in Death Penalty Cases

Posted: May 27, 2004
In the 11 years since the Defender Association of Philadelphia began to represent clients facing murder charges, it has compiled an enviable record: Not one of its 994 clients has been sent to death row. (During the same time, scores of defendants in Philadelphia represented by appointed private attorneys have been sentenced to death.) “It stands out as something that is not matched anywhere else,” said David J. Carroll of the National Legal Aid and Defender Service. The Defender Association of Philadelphia, a non-profit corporation financed by the

Texas Juvenile Pardoned After Faulty Lab Work Exposed

Posted: May 26, 2004
Texas Governor Rick Perry has issued a pardon on the basis of innocence to Josiah Sutton, a juvenile offender who had served four years of a 25-year prison term before new DNA tests proved his innocence. The faulty DNA results used to convict Sutton in 1998 were processed by the now thoroughly discredited Houston Police Department crime lab, the same facility that processed DNA and other forensic evidence used in cases that have resulted in death sentences. The lab was shut down in 2003 after questions about the quality and


Posted: May 26, 2004
Maryland prosecutors used the same DNA evidence that freed Kirk Bloodsworth (pictured) from Maryland’s death row to secure a life-in-prison sentence for Kimberly Shay Ruffner, the man who has now confessed to the 1984 murder of Dawn Hamilton. Bloodsworth spent years on death row for the rape and murder of Hamilton before DNA evidence conclusively showed that he could not have committed the crime. In 1993, he became the first death row inmate in the country to be freed on the basis of DNA testing. Despite the fact

Insistence on the Death Penalty May Interfere with Trial for Saddam Hussein

Posted: May 25, 2004
Great Britain may refuse to hand over evidence of Saddam Hussein’s crimes to Iraqi prosecutors or permit government staff to testify against the former dictator because of the nation’s opposition to the death penalty. Despite human rights objections from British officials who helped establish the special tribunal that will try Hussein and other senior members of his regime, Iraqis have insisted that capital punishment remain a sentencing option for some crimes. Coalition forces have suspended the