Feb 19, 2021

National Geographic Publishes Feature Story on Innocence and the Death Penalty

For the first time in its his­to­ry, National Geographic mag­a­zine has tack­led the sub­ject of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. Sentenced to death, but inno­cent, a fea­ture sto­ry in the March 2021 issue of the mag­a­zine, chron­i­cles the sto­ries of fif­teen death-row exonerees and illu­mi­nates the per­va­sive issue of inno­cence and the death penal­ty in the United States. The arti­cle, released on the same day as the Death Penalty Information Center’s new report The Innocence Epidemic, uses DPIC data and com­pelling nar­ra­tive sto­ry­telling to show how the U.S. legal sys­tem fails inno­cent people,…

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Aug 12, 2020

New Resources: Capital Punishment and the State of Criminal Justice 2020

The American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section has released The State of Criminal Justice 2020, its annu­al report on issues, trends, and sig­nif­i­cant changes in America’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. The ABA book includes a chap­ter on sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment devel­op­ments over the past year, authored by Ronald J. Tabak, chair of the Death Penalty Committee of the ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. Tabak’s analy­sis high­lights the con­tin­u­ing long-term down­ward trend in death sen­tences and exe­cu­tions; geo­graph­ic, racial, and eco­nom­ic fac­tors that, he says, con­tribute to its arbitrary…

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Feb 04, 2020

New Scholarship: Born in the Legacy of Discrimination, What Comes After Capital Punishment Goes?

As the death penal­ty con­tin­ues to wilt across the coun­try, what­ev­er peno­log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion it once pur­port­ed­ly served is dying as well, say cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment schol­ars Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker (pic­tured). In their new arti­cle The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of the Death Penalty in the United States in the January 2020 Annual Review of Criminology, the Steikers exam­ine four cen­tral issues in the rise and fall of the death penal­ty in the United States and explore what an American crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem might look like after the punishment’s demise.

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Jan 23, 2019

Bill to Abolish Wyoming’s Death Penalty Introduced with Bipartisan Support

A bipar­ti­san coali­tion of Wyoming leg­is­la­tors has intro­duced a bill to abol­ish the state’s death penal­ty. On January 15, 2019, Cheyenne Republican State Representative Jared Olsen (pic­tured, left) and Republican State Senator Brian Boner (pic­tured, right), intro­duced HB145, which would repeal the death penal­ty and replace it with a judi­cial­ly imposed sen­tence of life with­out parole or life impris­on­ment. The bill, co-spon­sored by six­teen oth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tors, has the back­ing of sev­er­al leg­isla­tive lead­ers, includ­ing Speaker of the House Steve Harshman, R‑Casper, and Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss, D‑Laramie.…

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Jan 14, 2019

With Backing of New Governor, Florida Clemency Board Posthumously Pardons the Groveland Four”

On January 11, 2019, the Florida Clemency Board unan­i­mous­ly grant­ed posthu­mous par­dons to the Groveland Four,” four young African-American men false­ly accused of rap­ing a young white woman in Lake County, Florida in 1949. During the racist hys­te­ria fol­low­ing the accu­sa­tion, white mobs burned down black res­i­dences, a mas­sive white posse lynched a black sus­pect, all-white juries con­demned two inno­cent men to death and an inno­cent teen to a life sen­tence, and a racist sher­iff mur­dered one of the men and attempt­ed to kill anoth­er. Gov. Ron DeSantis, con­ven­ing the…

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Jun 01, 2018

ANALYSIS: Research Supports Assertion that U.S. Death Penalty Devalues Black Lives”

The Movement for Black Lives has called for abol­ish­ing the death penal­ty in the United States, assert­ing that cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment is a racist lega­cy of slav­ery, lynch­ing, and Jim Crow that deval­ues Black lives.” A Spring 2018 arti­cle in the University of Chicago’s phi­los­o­phy jour­nal Ethics, co-authored by Michael Cholbi, Professor of Philosophy at California State Polytechnic University and Alex Madva, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Cal Poly Pomona, exam­ines the philo­soph­i­cal under­pin­nings of those asser­tions and con­cludes that they are correct.

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May 15, 2018

Illinois Governor Uses Gun-Control Veto to Attempt to Re-Enact Death Penalty

llli­nois Governor Bruce Rauner has con­di­tion­al­ly vetoed a gun-con­trol ini­tia­tive unless the leg­is­la­ture agrees to rein­state cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in the state. Exercising an amenda­to­ry veto — a pow­er some gov­er­nors are grant­ed that per­mits them to amend leg­is­la­tion in lieu of an out­right veto — Rauner called for mak­ing the killing of a police offi­cer or any mur­der in which more than one per­son was killed a new crime of death penal­ty mur­der.” In a May 14, 2018 news con­fer­ence at the Illinois State Police foren­sic lab­o­ra­to­ry in Chicago, Rauner said indi­vid­u­als who commit…

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May 01, 2018

Los Angeles Times Editorial: Exoneration Shows Why Death Penalty Needs to End

The April 2018 exon­er­a­tion of Vicente Benavides Figueroa, wrong­ful­ly con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death on charges of rap­ing, sodom­iz­ing, and mur­der­ing his girl­friend’s 21-month-old daugh­ter, illus­trates why the death penal­ty should be abol­ished, the Los Angeles Times said in an April 27, 2018 edi­to­r­i­al. Benavides — an intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled Mexican nation­al who was work­ing as a sea­son­al farm work­er — was sen­tenced to death after med­ical wit­ness­es had been pro­vid­ed incom­plete hos­pi­tal records and erro­neous­ly tes­ti­fied that the child had been sex­u­al­ly assault­ed. His con­vic­tion, the paper wrote, was an…

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Aug 24, 2017

Florida Death-Penalty Practices, Mark Asay Execution Draw Criticism From Human Rights Groups, Johnson & Johnson

As Florida pre­pared to exe­cute Mark Asay (pic­tured) on August 24, the state’s death-penal­ty prac­tices came under fire from human rights groups, crim­i­nal jus­tice reform­ers, and one of the world’s largest phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Asay was exe­cut­ed despite the Florida Supreme Court’s recog­ni­tion that his death sen­tence — imposed by a judge after three jurors had vot­ed for life — was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly imposed and that the court mis­tak­en­ly believed both of Asay’s vic­tims were black when it upheld his death sen­tence for what it believed to have been two racial­ly moti­vat­ed killings. Asay’s exe­cu­tion also…

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