NEW RESOURCES: Spanish Language Podcast Now Available

The Death Penalty Information Center is pleased to present its first podcast in Spanish.  This podcast is part of our series, DPIC On The Issues, and is now available for listening and downloading. Our podcast in Spanish is the 18th in the series of podcasts, and it discusses general death penalty topics, with a focus on public opinion among Hispanics, the population of minorities on death row, and the use of the death penalty in Spanish-speaking countries. Click here to listen to this latest podcast. DPIC also offers information in Spanish on our "en Español" page and our frequently-updated Spanish-language Fact Sheet.

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Sentence Near Under Maryland's New Death Penalty Law

Richard DieterIn 2009, Maryland changed its capital punishment law, sharply limiting when the death penalty could be sought. Prosecutors can only pursue the death penalty in cases of first degree murder when there is DNA or other biological evidence linking the defendant to a murder, a video-taped confession by the defendant, or a video linking the defendant to the murder. As the first case testing this statute nears completion, DPIC’s Executive Director, Richard Dieter (pictured), was interviewed on Maryland Morning with Sheila Kast about the new statute.  Listen to full interview here.  Dieter noted, “There’s certainly a danger that it doesn’t do what the death penalty is most designed to do, which is to get the 'worst of the worst' - the most heinous crimes committed by the most dangerous criminal. [The Maryland law] only requires the coincidence that there be DNA or that there be a camera rolling … It still doesn’t deal with the problems of bias and geographical disparities. It tries to deal with the innocence question and in doing so discards the usual rationale for the death penalty of … the worst get the worst punishment.”  The current case involves a prison inmate accused of killing a correctional officer.  Blood drops from the officer were found on the defendant's clothing, though defense attorneys maintain their client was merely present at the scene along with other inmates and did not kill the guard.  Maryland legislators are currently considering a bill to repeal the death penalty.  Interview.

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RACE: New Video Highlights Stories of Jurors Excluded from Death Penalty Cases

A new video produced by the American Civil Liberties Union features three North Carolina citizens who believe they were excluded from serving on juries in capital cases because of their race. The video was released in conjunction with the first court challenge brought under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act. The defendant, Marcus Robinson, is asking his death sentence be commuted to life without parole because potential African-American jurors were struck from his jury at a rate 3.5 times higher than other potential jurors. Laverne Keys (pictured), who was excluded from a capital jury in 1999, believes she was removed because of her race: “It made me feel like I was back in 1960, that racism is still very much alive. It makes you wonder whether all these people are being given a fair trial or given a fair consequence so far as the death penalty,” she said in the video.  Denny LeBoeuf, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, said, “The stories presented in this video make clear that the death penalty system in North Carolina and across the nation is plagued by discrimination. The Racial Justice Act is a crucial means of ensuring that no one is wrongfully executed because of racial bias.” Watch the video.

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MULTIMEDIA: New HBO Documentary on Freed Death Row Inmate--"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"

PL3bOn January 12, HBO cable TV will air a new documentary, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, the final installment of a trilogy that recounts the story of three wrongfully convicted teenagers in Arkansas--Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley--known as the "West Memphis Three." The young men were convicted of the 1993 rape and murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences, and Echols was sentenced to death. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory shows the conclusion of their case in 2011, when Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley entered special guilty pleas in which they continued to assert their innocence but admitted the state could likely convict them again in a new trial. The pleas allowed Baldwin and Misskelley to be released from prison and Echols to be spared the death penalty, and also freed. The first two films, released in 1996 and 2000 respectively, raised awareness of the case and helped spur an international movement to free the men. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory will debut on Thursday, January 12, at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.  See below for a trailer to the film.

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