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Chicago Tribune Investigation Concludes Texas May Have Executed Innocent Man

Posted: December 9, 2004
After examining evidence from the capital prosecution of Cameron Willingham (pictured), four national arson experts have concluded that the original investigation of Willingham's case was flawed and it is possible the fire was accidental. The independent investigation, reported by the Chicago Tribune, found that prosecutors and arson investigators used arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances. Willingham was executed earlier this year in Texas despite his consistent claims of innocence. He was convicted of murdering his three

Texas Cases Draw Supreme Court Scrutiny

Posted: December 8, 2004
Three Texas death row appeals considered during the past year by the U.S. Supreme Court have resulted in sharp reversals, perhaps indicating an increasing impatience with two of the courts that handle death penalty cases from Texas: the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In one of the Supreme Court opinions, the Court concluded that the Fifth Circuit was only "paying lip service to principles" of appellate law in issuing rulings with "no

NEW VOICES: New Jersey Governor Calls for Death Penalty Moratorium

Posted: December 7, 2004
New Jersey Governor Richard Codey (pictured) proposed a moratorium on executions until a study commission could determine whether the state's death penalty system is fair and cost effective. The governor announced his moratorium proposal as the legislature began considering a bill to initiate the study. "The governor does not think it makes sense to do a study without a moratorium. So he does support a moratorium right now, and he supports it for 18 months to two years," Codey's spokeswoman, Kelley Heck, stated. Codey, who is

Last Six Executions for 2004 Given Stays

Posted: December 2, 2004
The last six executions scheduled for 2004 have all been granted stays by various courts and governors. Executions slated in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Texas, Maryland and North Carolina were halted for review of claims regarding possible innocence, mental disabilities, execution procedures, and other issues. The last execution occurred on November 17 in Texas. No other state has an execution scheduled for 2004. See Executions.

NEW RESOURCE: DPIC's Summary of the Innocence Protection Act of 2004

Posted: December 2, 2004
DPIC has prepared a summary of the Innocence Protection Act of 2004, which became law on October 30, 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. The law provides rules and procedures for federal inmates applying for DNA testing, creates the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program for state inmates applying for testing, and authorizes $25 million over five years to help states pay the cost of post-conviction DNA testing. Read DPIC's

NEW RESOURCE: The Biblical Truth About America's Death Penalty

Posted: December 1, 2004
A new book by Dale Recinella, The Biblical Truth About America's Death Penalty, analyzes capital punishment through an examination of religious texts and teachings. Using sources such as the Torah, the Talmud, and the Bible, Recinella outlines what biblical texts say regarding who is deserving of the death penalty and who is granted the authority to impose such a sentence. While exploring issues such as innocence, race, mental capacity, and prosecutorial misconduct, Recinella weaves biblical texts with current case examples to conclude that: "People of

NEW RESOURCES: Groups Issue Report on Women Facing Execution

Posted: November 30, 2004
(Note: Dec. 1 execution of Frances Newton has been stayed by the governor.) As Texas plans to carry out the scheduled execution of Frances Newton on December 1, a new report documenting the results of a national survey of women currently on death row found that many women have been subjected to harsh living conditions and that most were sentenced for the murder of someone they knew. The report, The Forgotten Population: A Look at Death

Louisiana's Death Penalty Record Comparable to Illinois's: Moratorium Called For

Posted: November 30, 2004
A review of Louisiana's death penalty in recent years revealed that twice as many condemned inmates have walked free from death row than have been executed. Since 1999, of the 22 people whose cases were finally resolved, 12 had their death sentences reversed and were ordered to serve lesser sentences, 6 were freed after courts ordered their charges dismissed, 1 died of natural causes, and 3 were executed. Of the three who were executed, two were represented by attorneys no longer allowed to practice law. One of the disbarred

NEW VOICES: Former FBI Chief and Texas Judge Call for Halt to Texas Executions

Posted: November 29, 2004
William S. Sessions, who served as director of the FBI from 1987 to 1993, and Charles F. Baird, a former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge from 1990 to 1998, have called for a halt to executions in Texas because of the risk of executing an innocent person. Sessions and Baird, both of whom are native Texans, cited the problems at the Houston Crime Lab as a principal reason for their doubts about the reliability of the death penalty system:

Since November 2002, when its police department's crime lab problems first surfaced, Houston citizens have

PUBLIC OPINION: Gallup Poll Finds Decline in Support for the Death Penalty

Posted: November 23, 2004
A recent Gallup Poll measuring public opinion regarding the death penalty revealed a decline in support for capital punishment. The poll found that 66% of Americans support the death penalty for those convicted of murder, down 5% from an earlier 2004 poll and significantly lower than the high of 80% in 1994. In an analysis of Gallup polls on this question from 2001 to 2004, women were more likely to oppose the death penalty than men. Among African-American respondents, 49% opposed the death penalty