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DOCUMENTARIES: "Race to Execution"

Posted: March 8, 2007

The documentary film Race To Execution by Rachel Lyon will air nationally on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 10 p.m. Race to Execution offers a compelling and original investigation of America's death penalty, probing how race discrimination infects the capital punishment system. The film reveals the potential biases in the racial portrayal of victims and perpetrators in the media, particularly where potential jurors internalize these stereotypes and bring them into the courtroom.


BOOKS - Litigating in the Shadow of Death: Defense Attorneys in Capital Cases

Posted: March 8, 2007

Litigating in the Shadow of Death by the late Welsh White is an absorbing account of the ways in which defense attorneys represent capital defendants.  The author brings to light the paramount role these attorneys have played in shaping the modern system of capital punishment,  showing how highly skilled defense lawyers are sometimes able to avoid death sentences for their clients even in very difficult cases.  In other cases, attorneys have demonstrated to the public that some


BOOKS - Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South

Posted: March 7, 2007
In her book, "Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South," University of Memphis professor Margaret Vandiver explores the complex relationship between these two forms of punishment and challenges the assumption that executions consistently grew out of - and replaced - lynchings. Vandiver's book examines lynchings and legal executions in three culturally and geographically distinct southern regions.

Maryland Poll Shows Broad Support for Life Without Parole

Posted: February 28, 2007

According to a recent Maryland poll, a large majority of voters in the state support replacing the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., found that 61% of those surveyed believe that the sentence of life without the possibility of parole is "an acceptable substitute for the death penalty." Only 27% of respondents disagreed. Support for life without parole in Maryland has jumped nearly 20 percentage points in less than a decade.


France Amends Constitution to Ban the Death Penalty

Posted: February 28, 2007

The French parliament voted to amend the country's Constitution to include an explicit ban on the death penalty. In a special joint session held at the Palace of Versailles (pictured), France's National Assembly and Senate passed the amendment by a vote of 828-26. The death penalty has been outlawed in France since 1981, but the recently passed amendment officially inscribes the prohibition into the constitution.  "We are accomplishing the wish of Victor Hugo in 1848, the pure, simple, irreversible abolition" of the death penalty, former Justice Minister Robert Badinter told lawmakers.


BOOKS: "Last Words From Death Row" Examines Herrera Case

Posted: February 28, 2007

In "Last Words From Death Row: The Walls Unit," Norma Herrera recounts the tribulations she and her family suffered as they worked to free her brother, Leonel, from death row in Texas. The book documents court events and press coverage of the case and captures the family's efforts to assist Leonel prior to his execution in 1993, four months after the U.S. Supreme Court held in Herrera v. Collins that, in the absence of other constitutional violations, new evidence of innocence is no reason for federal courts to order a new trial.


Montana Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty

Posted: February 26, 2007
The Montana Senate has voted to abolish the state's death penalty law. Supporters of the measure noted that the death penalty does not deter crime, is expensive, increases the suffering of victims' families who must endure a lengthy mandatory appeals process, and is not applied fairly or accurately. "It's not right. You can't do it fairly, you can't do it with equity, you can't do it with justice," said Democratic Senator Steve Gallus. Among the Republican Senators who supported abolition was Sen. Roy Brown, R-Billings, who said his

Indiana ABA Assessment Team Calls For Halt to Executions, Issues Recommmendations

Posted: February 26, 2007
The Indiana Death Penalty Assessment Team, under the auspices of the American Bar Association, has called for a halt to executions in the state because of concerns about the arbitrariness of the state's death penalty. "The seemingly random process of charging decisions, plea agreements, and jury recommendations is just part of a death penalty system that has aptly been called Indiana's 'other lottery'," the group noted in its report. The seven-member Indiana panel was organized by the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium