"Life on Death Row" is a first-person account of living under a death sentence in Arizona. Written by Arizona death row inmate Robert W. Murray, the book explores how inmates cope with execution warrants, lethal injection, prison politics, and day-to-day life in a supermax prison facility. Find more information about this book. (www.1stbooks.com) ( Albert Publishing Co. in association with 1st Books Library, 2003) See Resources.
On October 3, 2003, the Alabama Supreme Court unanimously reversed Phillip Tomlin's death sentence and ordered him resentenced to life in prison without parole, marking the Court's first ruling to create a standard of review for judicial override in the state. Tomlin had been on death row for more than 25 years despite the fact that four juries have recommended that he receive a life sentence for his alleged role in a Mobile, Alabama, revenge killing. In each of those cases, the trial judge overrode the jury
In "Kiss of Death: America's Love Affair with the Death Penalty," attorney John Bessler presents arguments against capital punishment based on his work as a pro bono attorney for death row inmates in Texas. Woven into Bessler's personal account is an examination of U.S. capital punishment practices in contrast to the absence of the death penalty in other nations. The book also addresses the toll executions take on those who participate in the process. (Northeastern University Press, 2003) See Resources.
The October 2003 edition of the Foreign Service Journal contains a series of articles examining world opinion on the death penalty and its effect on U.S. policies. The articles, including one by DPIC Executive Director Richard Dieter, feature information on international treaties, the experiences of former U.S. foreign diplomats, and the effect of the international movement away from the death penalty on the U.S.'s position as a leader in human rights. Among the other contributing writers are Harold Hongju
In a decision vacating the death penalty for Nebraska death row inmate Charles Jess Palmer, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon declared that electrocution is unconstitutional. Bataillon wrote, "In light of evidence and evolving standards of decency, the court would find that a death penalty sentence imposed on a defendant in a state that provides electrocution as its only method of execution is an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Nebraska is the only state that maintains electrocution
The most recent edition of The Angolite, a bimonthly magazine produced by inmates at Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary, focuses on the Texas death penalty. The publication's feature article, "If Not For Texas," is an overview of capital punishment in Texas compared to other states and to national death penalty developments. The high number of executions in Texas, inadequate representation, innocence, juveniles, race, victims' families, the mentally retarded, and women on death row are among the topics discussed.
Amnesty International members around the world are observing the organization's inaugural World Day Against the Death Penalty. The October 10, 2003, observance includes activities sponsored in conjunction with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. In addition to an Internet demonstration for all countries that still practice the death penalty demanding the immediate end to all executions, the day's events will include debates, lectures, and demonstrations to raise public awareness and promote change.
A growing number of medical and legal experts are warning that the chemical pancuronium bromide, a commonly used lethal injection drug, could leave a wide-awake inmate unable to speak or cry out as he slowly suffocates. Advances in medicine have found that the drug, used by executioners to paralyze the skeletal muscles while not affecting the body's brain or nerves, can mask severe suffering.
When New Jersey enacted its death penalty law in 1982, it established a special unit of lawyers and experts for defendants facing capital charges. After two decades, the state has 14 individuals on death row. In contrast, when Pennsylvania enacted its death penalty law, the state failed to establish a similar system for assistance. For Pennsylvania, a state of comparable population to New Jersey, the result of this decision has been a death row population of 237 and a capital punishment system that is plagued by evidence of inadequate representation.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pima County, Arizona have been the main jurisdictions in their respective states for death sentences in the past. Now they are sending considerably fewer people to death row or seeking the death penalty less. Philadelphia prosecutors have sought the death penalty 24 times since last September, but jurors from the city have not sent anyone to death row in more than a year. In fact, the city has only secured death sentences against 4 people since 2000.