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Dallas Morning News Calls for Death Penalty Moratorium in Texas

Posted: March 3, 2004
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's recent reversal of Delma Banks' death sentence in Texas because of prosecutorial misconduct, the Dallas Morning News has called for a halt to executions while state officials review serious problems in the system:
It's hard to imagine a clearer message. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision lifting Texas inmate Delma Banks' death sentence paints as bright a line as jurists paint. The governor, Texas legislators and law enforcement officials should absorb the ruling and change the state's ways.
 

NEW RESOURCES: Arbitrariness and Racial Disparities in Death Sentencing

Posted: March 3, 2004
In a recent study examining death sentencing trends around the country, researchers reported significant differences between the rates at which black defendants who kill white victims are sentenced to death, as compared to the rate at which black defendants who kill black victims are sentenced to death. In every one of the seven states for which data was available, blacks who kill whites were far more likely to receive a death sentence than blacks who killed blacks. Because the study used sentencing rates
 

NEW VOICES: North Carolina Attorney General Urges Open-File Policy, Calls Gell Case a "Travesty"

Posted: March 2, 2004

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is calling on prosecutors to open their files to defense attorneys in first-degree murder cases to avoid wrongful convictions like that of former death row inmate Alan Gell, who was exonerated and freed in February. Cooper called Gell's first trial a "travesty" and stated that the prosecutors committed "inexcusable neglect" in their handling of the trial. "The original prosecutors in this case owe everyone an apology: the defendant, the victim's family, the community,

 

NEW RESOURCES: Experts Debate the Death Penalty

Posted: February 27, 2004
"Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment?," a new book edited by Hugo Bedau and Paul Cassell, brings together judges, lawyers, prosecutors and philosophers to debate the death penalty in a spirit of open inquiry and exchange. The book discusses issues such as deterrence, innocence, life in prison without parole, and race. In addition to the editors, those who have chapters in the book inlcude: Judge Alex Kozinski, Stephen Bright, Joshua Marquis, Bryan Stevenson, Professor Louis Pojman and former Governor George Ryan. (Oxford University
 

Wyoming Legislators Vote to Ban Juvenile Death Penalty

Posted: February 27, 2004
Wyoming legislators in both the House and Senate have passed a measure to ban the death penalty for those who are under 18 at the time of their crime, marking the second time in one week that a legislative body in the United States has passed a ban on capital punishment for juvenile offenders. The bill now goes to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal for his signature to become law. (Feb. 27, 2004). Earlier in the week, South Dakota's legislature voted to outlaw the practice (read
 

Oklahoma Adds to A Series of Execution Stays

Posted: February 27, 2004
Shortly before the scheduled 6 p.m. execution of Hung Thanh Le, a Vietnamese foreign national on Oklahoma's death row, Governor Brad Henry granted a stay of execution in deference to Vietnamese officials who requested more time to review Le's file. Le, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from fleeing Vietnam, was scheduled to be executed despite a unanimous recommendation for clemency from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. More than 1,700 members of Oklahoma City's Vietnamese community signed a petition calling for clemency.
 

NEW VOICES: Urban League President Says Death Penalty is "Cruel and Inhuman"

Posted: February 25, 2004
In a recent column, Marc H. Morial, the current President of the National Urban League and former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, praised recent efforts to halt executions while questions about innocence and fairness are addressed by legislators. Morial noted:
There are growing calls for moratoria on executions, a growing reluctance among juries to levy the death penalty, efforts to insure that defendants in capital cases, who are most often poor, are represented
 

South Dakota Legislators Vote to Ban Death Penalty for Juveniles

Posted: February 25, 2004
Legislation banning capital punishment for crimes committed by those younger than 18 has passed both the South Dakota House and Senate. The bill will now go to Governor Mike Rounds for signature into law. Republican Representative Hal Wick of Sioux Falls supported the bipartisan measure, stating, "I do have concerns about heinous crimes, but I don't think it's our place to destroy or forget the sanctity of life. Violent responses by the state beget more violence. The state must lead by example. Instead
 

South Dakota Legislators Vote to Ban Juvenile Death Penalty

Posted: February 25, 2004
Legislation banning capital punishment for crimes committed by those younger than 18 has passed both the South Dakota House and Senate. The bill will now go to Governor Mike Rounds for signature into law. Republican Representative Hal Wick of Sioux Falls supported the bipartisan measure, stating, "I do have concerns about heinous crimes, but I don't think it's our place to destroy or forget the sanctity of life. Violent responses by the state beget more violence. The state must lead by example. Instead
 

NEW VOICES: Connecticut Lags Behind in Death Penalty Reforms

Posted: February 24, 2004
The Chair of Connecticut's Judiciary Committee has called for enactment of death penalty reforms to protect against wrongful convictions. Of the six reforms recommended after a 13-month special commission on Connecticut's death penalty, only one has been enacted. Members of the commission noted, "Experiences in other states throughout the country suggest that Connecticut cannot be complacent and 'best practices' should be the watchword." Among the recommendations are video taping of interrogations, a blind and sequential
 

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