News & Developments


Innocence

Mar 01, 2024

Death-sentenced Philadelphia Prisoner Daniel Gwynn Exonerated After Nearly 30 Years

On February 27, 2024, Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott approved a motion from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to dis­miss first-degree mur­der, arson, and aggra­vat­ed assault charges against 54-year-old death-sen­tenced pris­on­er Daniel Gwynn. Mr. Gwynn is the 197th per­son exon­er­at­ed after being sen­tenced to death since 1973, accord­ing to DPIC’s Innocence Database. Today is most­ly for us a day of tremen­dous relief and sad­ness, a guy like him, an inno­cent soul spent that amount of time wait­ing for his exe­cu­tion lan­guish­ing in jail,” said Mr. Gwynn’s defense attorney…

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Methods of Execution

Feb 29, 2024

Idaho Halts First Lethal Injection Execution in 12 Years After Failure to Establish I.V. Lines

Thomas Creech’s February 28 exe­cu­tion was halt­ed after the Idaho Department of Correction exe­cu­tion team was unable to set an intra­venous line after an hour of repeat­ed attempts. Mr. Creech remained strapped to the gur­ney and con­scious while unsuc­cess­ful attempts were made to access veins in both arms and legs. Officials did not dis­close why the exe­cu­tion team was unable to estab­lish an IV line, but the train­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tions of staff, as well as the acces­si­bil­i­ty and qual­i­ty of Mr. Creech’s veins, could have been fac­tors. Mr. Creech’s attorneys…

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Race

Feb 29, 2024

Black History Month Profile Series: Elaine Jones

This month, DPIC cel­e­brates Black History Month with week­ly pro­files of notable Black Americans whose work affect­ed the mod­ern death penal­ty era. The fourth and final entry in this series is lawyer and civ­il rights activist Elaine Jones, for­mer pres­i­dent and direc­tor-coun­sel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and coun­sel of record in Furman v. Georgia.

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Race

Feb 28, 2024

New Report from Texas Defender Service Examines Ongoing Racial Disparities in Harris County Death Penalty Practices and Recommends Reforms

A new report from the Texas Defender Service (TDS) titled Arbitrary and Capricious: Examining Racial Disparities in Harris County’s Pursuit of Death Sentences” was pub­lished on February 22, 2024 and is the lat­est in series of TDS reports on use of the death penal­ty in Texas. The report focus­es on Harris County’s out­lier death penal­ty prac­tices, both with­in the state and nation­al­ly. While more than half of the 254 coun­ties in Texas have nev­er imposed a death sen­tence, Harris County is respon­si­ble for most of the state’s cur­rent death row…

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Race

Feb 27, 2024

States’ Failure to Collect Juror Race Information Contributes to Whitewashed” Jury Box, Berkeley Law Report Finds

A new report from Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic finds that just 19 states col­lect race and eth­nic­i­ty infor­ma­tion from prospec­tive jurors, mean­ing that a major­i­ty of states can­not ensure that their juries are a rep­re­sen­ta­tive cross-sec­tion of the com­mu­ni­ty” as man­dat­ed by the Constitution. The report, Guess Who’s Coming to Jury Duty?, rec­om­mends that all states adopt a uni­form ques­tion­naire” to obtain prospec­tive jurors’ race or eth­nic­i­ty and that state courts annu­al­ly pub­lish aggre­gat­ed, anonymized race/​ethnicity data” for lit­i­gants and researchers inves­ti­gat­ing jury com­po­si­tion. The work builds on the…

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Race

Feb 26, 2024

North Carolina Trial Court Will Hear New Evidence of Racial Bias in Death Row Prisoner’s Racial Justice Act Claim

Beginning February 28, 2024, a Johnston County, North Carolina, tri­al court will hear death row pris­on­er Hasson Bacote’s claims that racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in jury selec­tion played a role in his cap­i­tal sen­tenc­ing. In 2009, North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act (RJA), which allowed death-sen­tenced pris­on­ers to chal­lenge their sen­tences if they could demon­strate that race played a role in their sen­tenc­ing and jury selec­tion. Sentenced to death in 2009 by a near­ly all-white jury, Mr. Bacote, and near­ly all oth­er death row pris­on­ers in the state, filed a claim…

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Innocence

Feb 23, 2024

Black History Month Profile Series: Craig Watkins

This month, DPIC cel­e­brates Black History Month with week­ly pro­files of notable Black Americans whose work affect­ed the mod­ern death penal­ty era. The third in this series is for­mer Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who died on December 122023

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Prosecutorial Accountability

Feb 22, 2024

Texas Prisoner Faces Execution Despite Doubts About His Guilt and Refusal of Courts to Assess New Evidence

Ivan Cantu is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed on February 28, 2024, although Texas courts have refused to con­sid­er new evi­dence in his case that may prove he was wrong­ful­ly con­vict­ed. Mr. Cantu was sen­tenced to death in Collin County for the mur­der of his cousin and his cousin’s fiancée in November 2000. Texas sched­uled an exe­cu­tion date for Mr. Cantu in April 2023, but a last-minute appeal describ­ing new evi­dence of false wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny pro­vid­ed grounds for a stay of exe­cu­tion. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) overturned…

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Innocence

Feb 21, 2024

City of Tampa Agrees to Pay Exoneree Robert DuBoise $14 Million in Wrongful Conviction Settlement

Florida death-row exoneree Robert DuBoise (pic­tured) will receive $14 mil­lion from the city of Tampa as com­pen­sa­tion for the 37 years he was incar­cer­at­ed for a rape and mur­der he did not com­mit. On February 15, 2024, the Tampa City Council unan­i­mous­ly vot­ed to approve the set­tle­ment. The set­tle­ment resolved a 2021 suit Mr. DuBoise filed against the City of Tampa, four Tampa police offi­cers, and the foren­sic odon­tol­o­gist who tes­ti­fied against him. The suit alleged that the offi­cers and odon­tol­o­gist con­spired to present fab­ri­cat­ed evi­dence against Mr. DuBoise and…

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Prosecutorial Accountability

Feb 20, 2024

Op-Ed: Law Professor Stephen Bright Encourages SCOTUS to Review Egregious Racial Discrimination” in Georgia Death Row Prisoner’s Case

In a February 14, 2024 op-ed pub­lished in the Washington Post, the long­time defense lawyer, for­mer direc­tor of the Southern Center for Human Rights, and law pro­fes­sor Stephen Bright high­lights the con­tin­ued ille­gal exclu­sion of Black jurors in vio­la­tion of Batson v. Kennedy (1986). The op-ed titled, Struck from a jury for being Black? It still hap­pens all too often,” uses the case of Georgia death-sen­tenced pris­on­er Warren King, whose peti­tion the U.S. Supreme Court is expect­ed to review on February 23, as the lat­est exam­ple of the per­sis­tent prac­tice. The…

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