What's New

NEW RESOURCE: CBS to Air Mini-series Based on Turow Death Penalty Novel

Posted: May 13, 2004
A television Mini-series based on the fiction novel “Reversible Errors,” a best-selling book by award-winning author and capital defense attorney Scott Turow, will air on CBS on Sunday May 23, and Tuesday May 25, 2004. The story is about a corporate lawyer whose world is turned upside-down when he is assigned to draft the final appeal of a potentially innocent inmate nearing his execution date. Although “Reversible Errors” is not about an actual capital case in the U.S., the novel and the CBS mini-series encapsulate many of the issues

NEW VOICES: Supreme Court Justice Stevens Says U.S. “Better Off “ Without Capital Punishment

Posted: May 12, 2004
During a “fireside chat” with fellow Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and hundreds of lawyers and judges who practice in federal courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated, “I think this country would be much better off if we did not have capital punishment.” Stevens noted that he believes the death penalty is constitutional, adding, “But I really think it’s a very unfortunate part of our judicial system and I would feel much, much better if more

NEW VOICES: Scientific Experts Say DNA Evidence Not “Infallible”

Posted: May 12, 2004
Scientists who are skeptical of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s claim that DNA is “infallible” evidence in a death penalty case have voiced concern about the assumption, noting that there is no way to avoid all possible instances of human error and that the evidence does not always prove a person’s guilt or innocence. Theodore D. Kessis is the founder of Applied DNA Resources, based in Columbus, Ohio, and a faculty member at the John Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore. He provides expert testimony and analysis

NEW VOICES: New York Religious Leaders Unite Against Death Penalty, Call for Moratorium

Posted: May 12, 2004
New York religious leaders representing a range of faiths and regions recently united to voice their opposition to the death penalty and to encourage a moratorium on executions so that issues of fairness and accuracy may be addressed. A statement issued by the group noted:

“[O]ur nation’s continued reliance on the death penalty is extremely costly, ineffective in fighting crime, unequally applied, and handed out with alarming frequency to defendants who are later proved to be innocent.

Abolition of the Death Penalty Gaining Ground in Africa

Posted: May 12, 2004
During the past 10 years, most Commonwealth African countries have moved toward abolishing the death penalty and today almost half of these countries have abandoned the practice according to Amnesty International. Government leaders from around the continent recently met in Entebbe, Uganda, for a two-day summit to discuss capital punishment. Five Southern African Development Countries have abolished capital punishment, and the number of countries ending the death penalty in the Economic Community of West Aftican States region

Oklahoma Board Recommends Clemency for Mexican National

Posted: May 7, 2004
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has voted to recommend clemency for death row inmate Osbaldo Torres, a Mexican foreign national who is scheduled to be executed on May 18. The Board made its decision after an hour-long hearing that included testimony from Carlos de Icaza, Mexican Ambassador to the United States. Icaza told the board that Mexico opposes capital punishment in all cases, and that this case was particularly troublesome because no proof was presented that Torres was the shooter in the crime. A recent ruling by the U.N.

NEW RESOURCE - America’s Death Penalty: Beyond Repair?

Posted: May 6, 2004
“America’s Death Penalty: Beyond Repair?” examines capital punishment in the U.S. since 1976 through a variety of scholarly essays that look at critical issues such as innocence, race, arbitrariness, and international human rights law. Reknown death penalty expert and law professor Tony Amsterdam notes, “In these essays, some of our most knowledgeable students of capital punishment take a hard, no-nonsense look at how it actually operates and what drives America’s passionate refusal either to come to peace with the death

Investigation Reveals Cases of Innocence in Massachusetts

Posted: May 6, 2004
As Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seeks to reinstate capital punishment with a "foolproof" system(see earlier What’s New item), a news investigation has revealed that 22 state men have served lengthy prison terms over the last two decades for rapes and murders that they did not commit. Most of the wrongly convicted inmates were black. Experts say that Boston’s Suffolk County prosecutors have wrongly convicted the second highest number of innocent people in the nation, falling closely behind

North Carolina Lawyers’ Group Recommends Overhaul of Death Penalty

Posted: May 6, 2004
After a review of North Carolina’s death penalty, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers has issued a series of 11 recommendations that aim to address issues of fairness and accuracy in the state’s capital punishment statutes. In addition to recommendations addressing hidden evidence, mistaken eyewitness identifications, discrimination, and unreliable confessions, the group urged North Carolina lawmakers to enact a moratorium on executions while they consider implementing reforms to make the system more

Alabama's Death Penalty Problems Continue

Posted: May 5, 2004
Questions about the accuracy and fairness of Alabama’s death penalty continue to surface as illustrated by a series of recent federal court rulings granting two new trials and one new sentencing hearing. All of the rulings were based on inadequate representation provided to the defendants. "Counsel simply provided no defense to the death penalty," Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham wrote March 31 in giving one of the inmates a new trial. The man has been on death row 22 years.