Publications & Testimony

Testimony and Statements on the Death Penalty



For testimony by former Executive Director Robert Dunham and former Executive Director Richard C. Dieter, please visit our page DPIC Testimony.







Oct 03, 2023

Analysis Shows Supreme Court’s Changing View of Death Penalty Cases

A recent analy­sis by Bloomberg Law con­clud­ed that death-sen­tenced pris­on­ers have few­er avenues to relief at the Supreme Court than ever before. Bloomberg iden­ti­fied 270 emer­gency requests to stay exe­cu­tions since 2013 and found that the Court agreed to block an exe­cu­tion just 11 times. Since 2020, when the Court shift­ed to a 6 – 3 con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty fol­low­ing the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the appoint­ment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Court has grant­ed just two stays of exe­cu­tion. One, for John Henry Ramirez, chal­lenged not the execution…

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Sep 29, 2023

Federal District Court Finds Scott Panetti Not Competent for Execution

On September 28, 2023, the Western District Court of Texas ruled that the state can­not exe­cute Scott Panetti (pic­tured), a death row pris­on­er with a decades-long his­to­ry of seri­ous men­tal health issues and a diag­no­sis of schiz­o­phre­nia. Despite a state expert con­ced­ing Mr. Panetti’s seri­ous men­tal ill­ness, Texas argued that he is com­pe­tent to face exe­cu­tion because he has some degree” of ratio­nal under­stand­ing. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled, how­ev­er, that “[Mr.] Panetti is not sane enough to be exe­cut­ed” and that he lack[s] a ratio­nal under­stand­ing of the…

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Sep 28, 2023

Guantanamo Bay Judge Rules 9/​11 Capital Defendant Mentally Incompetent to Stand Trial

On September 21, 2023, a mil­i­tary judge in Guantanamo Bay ruled that Ramzi Bin al Shibh, one of five defen­dants in the 9/​11 case for whom the death penal­ty is being sought, is men­tal­ly incom­pe­tent to stand tri­al. Mr. Bin al Shibh, who has been detained for 21 years, will remain in cus­tody at Guantanamo as author­i­ties attempt to treat the post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der caused when he was forced to under­go enhanced inter­ro­ga­tions” by the U.S. government.

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Sep 27, 2023

Former Texas Death Row Prisoner Clinton Young Sues Prosecutor for Misconduct

On September 18, 2023, for­mer Texas death-sen­tenced pris­on­er Clinton Young filed a fed­er­al civ­il rights law­suit in the Western District of Texas, accus­ing two Midland County dis­trict attor­neys, the pros­e­cu­tor on his case, and Midland County itself, for vio­lat­ing his con­sti­tu­tion­al right to a fair tri­al. Just four months after his 18th birth­day in 2001, Mr. Young and two oth­ers, David Page and Darnell McCoy, went on a drug-induced spree that result­ed in the deaths of two indi­vid­u­als. In 2003, Mr. Young was sen­tenced to death for these mur­ders. He…

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Sep 26, 2023

New DPIC Podcast: Evangelical Pastor Rich Nathan Discusses How a Culture of Life” Informs His Opposition to the Death Penalty

In the September 2023 episode of Discussions with DPIC, Anne Holsinger, Managing Director of DPIC, speaks with Pastor Rich Nathan (pic­tured), found­ing pas­tor of Vineyard Columbus, an evan­gel­i­cal Christian church based in Ohio. Mr. Nathan shares how reli­gious teach­ings inform his posi­tion on the death penal­ty. For me, the oppo­si­tion to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment has just been a nat­ur­al exten­sion of our pro-life posi­tion of build­ing an inclu­sive soci­ety, a soci­ety that wel­comes every­one into the human fam­i­ly and says. Listen, your worth is not depen­dent on whether some­body wants you or…

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Sep 25, 2023

The Metropolitan Opera Premieres Dead Man Walking” Based on the Book by Sister Helen Prejean

On September 26, 2023, the New York Metropolitan Opera will pre­miere Dead Man Walking” cre­at­ed by American com­pos­er Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally and fea­tur­ing a new stag­ing by Ivo van Hove. The opera is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s 1993 mem­oir which details her jour­ney as a pen pal and spir­i­tu­al advis­er to a death-sen­tenced pris­on­er at Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. It is the most per­formed con­tem­po­rary opera in the world. I can only think that some­how we told this human dra­ma very well,” Mr. Heggie said. It is an…

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Sep 21, 2023

South Carolina Ready to Resume Executions by Lethal Injection After Acquiring Drugs

On September 19th, 2023, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Department of Corrections issued a joint state­ment inform­ing the pub­lic that the state is now pre­pared” to car­ry out lethal injec­tion exe­cu­tions, as they have retained the drug need­ed to do so. Gov. McMaster and Department of Corrections offi­cials filed a brief with the South Carolina Supreme Court, noti­fy­ing the courts of their pro­cure­ment of pen­to­bar­bi­tal, a seda­tive that can be lethal in high dos­es, and ask­ing for a resump­tion of exe­cu­tions. In his press release, Gov.…

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Sep 20, 2023

Glynn Simmons Exonerated 48 Years After He Was Sentenced to Death in Oklahoma

Glynn Simmons, who was con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death in Oklahoma in 1975, has been exon­er­at­ed after Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna dropped charges against him. Mr. Simmons told The Black Wall Street Times, I’m hap­py, and I’m free. It’s a long, long strug­gle. … We need to reimag­ine jus­tice and how we do it.” DA Behenna said of the case, One of the things that I stand by very strong­ly is a defen­dan­t’s right to a fair tri­al, where he has all the evi­dence to defend him­self. That did­n’t happen…

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Sep 19, 2023

ABA Death Penalty Representation Project Honors Longtime Capital Defender Mark Olive and Volunteer Law Firm Venable LLP

On September 14th, 2023, the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project held its annu­al Volunteer Recognition & Awards Program, hon­or­ing Venable LLP for its pro bono rep­re­sen­ta­tion of death row pris­on­ers, and cap­i­tal defense attor­ney and Florida State University College of Law pro­fes­sor Mark E. Olive, for his life­time com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing those on death row with qual­i­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Director of the ABA’s Death Penalty Representation Project Emily Olson-Gault not­ed that there is a shrink­ing world of rights for death penal­ty lit­i­gants in the wake of dev­ast­ing U.S. Supreme…

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