What's New

Four Executions in Texas and Georgia Stayed, Clemency Recommended for Foreign National in Oklahoma

Posted: December 11, 2003
Four stays were granted for executions that were scheduled to take place this week in Texas and Georgia, and Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board unanimously recommended clemency for a foreign national facing execution in January 2004. In Texas, courts ordered three stays of execution. Two of the cases involved challenges to the

PUBLIC OPINION: Polling Reveals Only a Minority of Americans Supports Execution of Juvenile Offenders

Posted: December 9, 2003
A series of public opinion polls reveals that only about a third of Americans support the death penalty as applied to those who are under the age of 18 at the time of their crime. Recent survey results include the following:
  • A fall 2001 National Opinion Research Center poll found that while 62% of respondents favored the death penalty in general, only 34% supported the execution of juvenile offenders. In a series of follow-up questions that further probed respondents about their positions, it was determined

    NEW VOICES: Author of Law Establishing Lethal Injection Reflects on Politicization of Death Penalty

    Posted: December 9, 2003
    Twenty-six years ago, Bill Wiseman drafted the first lethal-injection law in U.S. history, forever changing the way most death penalty states administer executions. He now says that guilt compelled him to draft the legislation after voting to reinstate the death penalty in Oklahoma despite the fact that he had always been an opponent of capital punishment. At the time, Wiseman was a first-term lawmaker in Oklahoma's assembly, and he knew opposing the state's 1976 measure to bring back capital punishment would be political suicide. Wiseman

    NEW VOICES: Former Supporter Will Oppose Any Measure to Restore Minnesota Death Penalty

    Posted: December 9, 2003
    Minnesota Senator Tom Neuville, the leading Republican committee member on the state's Senate Judiciary Committee, says he will oppose Governor Tim Pawlenty's efforts to reinstate death penalty. Neuville's basic opposition is moral: "If we solve violence by becoming violent ourselves, we become diminished." Neuville, a former death penalty supporter whose reexamination of his pro-life beliefs led him to change his mind on the issue, feels that many of his colleagues share his concerns. "Life is a gift from God. It isn't up to us to take

    PA Man Cleared by DNA Evidence--2003 Is Record-Tying Year for Exonerations

    Posted: December 9, 2003
    On December 9, 2003, Nicholas James Yarris of Pennsylvania became the 10th person to be exonerated from death row in 2003, equalling the most exonerations in a single year since the death penalty was reinstated. He is the nation's 112th death row exoneree. Yarris's conviction was initially overturned when three DNA tests of the forensic trial evidence excluded him. His exoneration became final when Delaware County prosecutors announced that they were dropping all charges against him. In July, attorneys for Yarris announced

    Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Banks v. Dretke

    Posted: December 5, 2003

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Banks v. Dretke on Monday, December 8, 2003. The Court will review the lower court's denial of relief despite evidence that Banks was poorly represented at his 1980 trial, that prosecutors withheld key information, and that testimony from two prosecution witnesses was unreliable. For more information about this case, please see DPIC's Banks v. Dretke page.


    Protess Wins Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship

    Posted: December 5, 2003
    David Protess, a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in Chicago, has been awarded the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Protess and his investigative journalism students exposed miscarriages of justice in a number of high-profile cases in Illinois, including the case of Anthony Porter, who was only 48 hours away from his execution until students found evidence of his innocence. Porter's case has often been cited by former Illinois Governor George

    NEW RESOURCE: "Legacy of Violence"

    Posted: December 4, 2003

    "Legacy of Violence: Lynch Mobs and Executions in Minnesota," a book by John D. Bessler, examines the history of illegal and state-sanctioned executions in Minnesota, one of twelve states that currently does not have the death penalty. The book is timely in that the current governor, Tim Pawlenty, has proposed reinstating the death penalty, which was abolished in 1911. The book includes detailed personal accounts from those who were involved in the events, as well as a history of Minnesota's anti-execution and anti-lynching movements, a review of historical wrongful


    Stephen Bright Named Newsmaker of the Year

    Posted: December 4, 2003
    Stephen Bright, Executive Director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), has been named Newsmaker of the Year by the Fulton County Daily Report for his "unrelenting efforts over the years to expose Georgia's shortfalls in indigent defense." Bright has worked in Georgia for more than 25 years. During that time, he has represented countless indigent defendants, many of whom have been on Georgia's death row, and he has led the Southern Center's fight to provide legal representation

    NEW VOICES: Nobel Laureates Oppose Death Penalty, Decry Execution of Juvenile Offenders

    Posted: December 3, 2003
    A gathering of Nobel Laureates in Rome concluded with a common statement calling for abolition of the death penalty and specifically decrying the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The statement noted "the death penalty is a particularly cruel and unusual punishment that should be abolished. It is especially unconscionable when imposed on children." Among those in attendance at the summit were Mikhail Gorbachev, former Israel Prime Minister