PBS Program to Highlight Deficiencies in Death Penalty Defense PBS Broadcasting will explore the problem of inadequate represenation in death penalty cases in "Death Is Different" on September 7th as part of the investigative program EXPOSÉ. The show focuses on Stephen Henderson's (pictured) examination of the quality of representation in 80 death penalty cases in 4 states. Henderson, a McClatchy News reporter and author of an award-winning series entitled "No Defense: Shortcut to Death Row," found that poorly-funded defense lawyers are often failing their clients, including those who suffered from lifetimes of mental deficiency and abuse.
(EXPOSÉ, PBS Broadcasting, September 5, 2007). View the program online. See also Representation.
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Media Coverage Video Tour of North Carolina's Execution Process with Warden Marvin Polk
Video by Scott Langley, Langley Creations Documentaries
Media Coverage of DPIC's Latest Report,
A Crisis of Confidence
On June 9, 2007 the Death Penalty Information Center released its new report, “A Crisis of Confidence: Americans’ Doubts About the Death Penalty.” The report, based on results from DPIC’s national public opinion poll, received extensive national media coverage in major papers and electronic media. Among the news organizations that featured this story were the following:

"Even before Monday's decision, a significant minority of Americans were ineligible to serve as jurors in death penalty cases. According to a poll to be released today by the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit group in Washington that is critical of the death penalty as currently applied, 39 percent of Americans say they have a moral objection to the death penalty that would disqualify them from serving in a capital case. The poll's margin of sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points."

- New York Times, “Court Ruling Expected to Spur Convictions in
Capital Cases,” by Adam Liptak, Page 1A, June 9, 2007.

"Even though most Americans support the death penalty, there’s rising concern about how the state’s ultimate punishment is levied. A new poll by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that provides analysis on capital punishment, found that 58 percent want a national moratorium on executions. In 2006, there were fewer executions than in any year since the death penalty was reinstated over 30 years ago. NEWSWEEK’s Kurt Soller spoke with the director of the center, Richard Dieter, about the current state of capital punishment in America."

- Newsweek, “Poll: Americans Want Death Penalty Moratorium” by Kurt Soller, Web Exclusive, June 15, 2007.

"For a long time, the contentious issue of deterrence--whether the threat of capital punishment prevented homicides--was at the center of the debate, serving as a core justification for proponents. Meanwhile, the opposition cited a mounting body of evidence that debunked the claim. New data this week is not likely to do much to clear things up. A poll from the Death Penalty Information Center, a clearinghouse for data on executions and public opinion on capital punishment, found that only 38 percent of respondents believed that the death penalty deters would-be murderers. The poll, conducted in March, surveyed 1,000 adults and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points."

- U.S. News & World Report, “Mixed Views on the Death Penalty,”
by Chris Wilson, June 12, 2007.

"The poll also showed about 87 percent believe an innocent person has been executed in the last 15 years, and 58 percent think there should be a moratorium on executions while wrongful convictions and wrongful death sentences are investigated. 'This is ... a confirmation of how powerful these cases of innocence have been about using the death penalty presently and in the future. It shows a distancing by the American public from the death penalty,' said Dieter."

- Reuters News Service, “Majority of Americans Favor Death Penalty,”
by Deborah Charles, June 9, 2007.
Also distributed to thousands of
Reuters affiliates throughout the
nation and around the world.

"Prosecutors can now seek from jurors ever higher levels of commitment to executing convicts. Juries, over time, are likely to become less and less representative of the communities from which they are drawn. According to a poll conducted for the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center before the Supreme Court ruling, most African-Americans, and nearly half of women and Catholics, think their beliefs would exclude them from capital juries."

- The Boston Globe, “Stacking Juries Toward Death,” Editorial, June 10, 2007. For more information see: MEDIA COVERAGE REPORT

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The Trials of Darryl Hunt: Premiere Dates ***June 15 - 21 ATLANTA, GA With Special Guests Darryl & April Hunt Plaza Theatre 1049 Ponce De Leon Avenue
***June 15 - 21 HARTFORD, CT Real Art Ways 56 Arbor St 

***June 21 ST. LOUIS, MO Webster Film Series 

***June 22 - 28 PORTLAND, OR Hollywood Theatre 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard 

***July 13 - 19 SAN FRANCISCO, CA  Roxie Theatre 3117 16th Street

***July 27 - August 2 SEATTLE, WA NW Film Forum 1515 12th Ave

***August 3 - 9 CHICAGO, IL  Facets Multimedia 1517 W. Fullerton Ave

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 In 1984, Deborah Sykes, a young white newspaper reporter, was sexually assaulted and murdered just blocks from where she worked in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Though no physical evidence implicated him, Darryl Hunt, a 19-year-old black man, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Such a crime is often punishable by death.

Ten years later, DNA testing proved that Hunt did not rape Sykes, and cast serious doubts on his involvement in her murder, but he spent another decade behind bars before being exonerated. The eye-opening HBO documentary THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT tells his riveting story - and the story of those who fought to clear his name.

More than a decade in the making, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT examines the roles of race and fear in a community and in the criminal justice system.

THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT premiered on Thursday, April 26, 2011 on HBO.

View the trailer to the film.

Find out more about the film.

A special screening will be held in Washington, DC on April 24.
See Innocence.  

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MULTI-MEDIA: "Justice Talking" on National Public Radio Addresses Death Penalty Issues

"Justice Talking" on National Public Radio recently addressed current death penalty issues, including an examination of the controversy surrounding lethal injections. The program, which is available online, featured an overview of the U.S. death penalty by professor John Blume, founder and director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project at Cornell University, and an interview with Deborah Denno, a professor of law at Fordham University who is one of the nation's leading scholars on the death penalty and lethal injection. The program also included contrasting views about lethal injection and other issues with New York Law School professor Robert Blecker and Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Richard Dieter. Other guests included Bryan Stevenson, who heads the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, death row exoneree Harold Wilson, and Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston, who provided an overview of recent Court cases dealing with the death penalty. The program aired on March 26, 2007.

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NEW RESOURCE: "Sacco and Vanzetti" Film Examines Immigrants and the Death Penalty

"Sacco and Vanzetti" is an 80-minute-long documentary that tells the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants who were accused of a murder in 1920, and executed in Boston in 1927 after a controversial trial. It is the first major documentary film about this landmark story, which came to symbolize the bias against immigrants by some in America. At the time of their execution, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world protested on their behalf, and now - nearly eighty years later - the story continues to have great resonance.

"Sacco and Vanzetti" brings to life the personal, political, and legal aspects of this intriguing story. The powerful prison writings of Sacco and Vanzetti are read by actors John Turturro and Tony Shalhoub. Artwork, music, poetry, and feature film clips about the case are interwoven into the storytelling. Through this story, audiences can experience a universal – and very timely – tale of human resilience.

The film is scheduled to appear in select venues across the nation. View a schedule of upcoming screenings of the film.

("Sacco and Vanzetti," Willow Pond Films, posted Mar. 30, 2007). See Resources.

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DOCUMENTARIES: "Race to Execution"

The documentary film Race To Execution by Rachel Lyon will air nationally on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 10 p.m. Race to Execution offers a compelling and original investigation of America's death penalty, probing how race discrimination infects the capital punishment system. The film reveals the potential biases in the racial portrayal of victims and perpetrators in the media, particularly where potential jurors internalize these stereotypes and bring them into the courtroom.

Race to Execution enlarges the conversation of capital punishment by focusing attention on race of jury as well as race of victim. Filmed on the heels of key 2005 Supreme Court decisions overturning death sentences in Texas and California due to racial discrimination in jury selection, the movie provides a timely analysis of the subtle, yet persistent ways our culture casually overlooks matters of race in criminal justice.

The documentary also traces the fates of two Death Row inmates - Robert Tarver in Russell County, Alabama, and Madison Hobley in Chicago, Illinois. Their compelling personal stories are enriched through accounts offered by the attorneys who defended them, and by prosecutors, criminal justice scholars, and experts in the fields of law and the media who followed their cases. The film includes major segments on the impact of media, along with how race bias in jury selection influences who lives and who dies at the hands of the state. (PBS, Independent Lens, March 8, 2007).
Find out more about the film. See also, Race.

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