Publications & Testimony

Items: 71 — 80

Nov 13, 2023

Alabama Schedules A Second Execution for Kenneth Smith, Using Nitrogen Gas for the First Time in U.S. History

On November 8, 2023, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey sched­uled an exe­cu­tion date for Kenneth Smith, mark­ing the first attempt by a U.S. state to use nitro­gen gas in an exe­cu­tion. Mr. Smith was con­vict­ed of the 1988 mur­der-for-hire death of Elizabeth Sennett in Jefferson County, Alabama and has been on death row for near­ly 34 years. Following the state Supreme Court’s 6 – 2 deci­sion green­light­ing Attorney General Steve Marshall’s request for an exe­cu­tion war­rant, Gov. Ivey set a 32-hour exe­cu­tion date time­frame begin­ning on January 25, 2024. Alabama pre­vi­ous­ly attempt­ed to…

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Nov 10, 2023

A Veterans Day Review: Uneven Progress Understanding the Role of Military Service in Capital Crimes

In 2015, DPIC’s Battle Scars report brought world­wide atten­tion to the issue of mil­i­tary vet­er­ans on death row. DPIC found approx­i­mate­ly 300 vet­er­ans incar­cer­at­ed under a sen­tence of death, rep­re­sent­ing at least 10% of death row, and many more who had been exe­cut­ed. Since that report, research and under­stand­ing about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), trau­mat­ic brain injury (TBI), sub­stance use dis­or­ders, and men­tal ill­ness among vet­er­ans has only grown. A 2023 sur­vey of mem­bers of the Wounded Warrior Project found that 76% of ser­vice­mem­bers who incurred a men­tal or physical…

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Nov 09, 2023

Tennessean Op-Ed Discusses DPIC Report on Race and Tennessee’s Death Penalty

On November 2, 2023, Demetrius Minor, the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and Davis Turner, a retired attor­ney whose broth­er was mur­dered in Nashville in 2009 and a board mem­ber of Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, co-authored an op-ed in The Tennessean dis­cussing a recent report by the Death Penalty Information Center. Doomed to Repeat: The Legacy of Race in Tennessee’s Contemporary Death Penalty” details the his­to­ry of racial vio­lence and use of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in Tennessee. Mr. Minor and Mr. Turner note that…

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Nov 08, 2023

Utah Judge Hears Argument in Prisoners’ Lawsuit Against Execution Protocol

On October 26, 2023, Judge Coral Sanchez of Utah’s Third Circuit Court heard argu­ments in a law­suit filed by five death-sen­tenced pris­on­ers against the State in April. Ralph Menzies, Troy Kell, Michael Archuleta, Douglas Carter, and Taberon Honie seek an order vacat­ing Utah’s cur­rent exe­cu­tion pro­to­col and enjoin­ing its use. The law­suit argues that the State’s two-pronged pro­to­col, with lethal injec­tion as the default method of exe­cu­tion and fir­ing squad as a back­up, con­sti­tutes cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment in both meth­ods and is there­fore uncon­sti­tu­tion­al under the Eighth Amendment. At…

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Nov 07, 2023

Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Death Penalty Repeal Bill

A bill to repeal the death penal­ty in Pennsylvania has passed a com­mit­tee in the commonwealth’s House of Representatives. The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee vot­ed 15 – 10 in favor of HB 999 on October 31, 2023. That vote is the first step toward abol­ish­ing the death penal­ty in Pennsylvania, which has had a for­mal mora­to­ri­um on exe­cu­tions since 2015 and has not exe­cut­ed any­one since 1999.

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Nov 06, 2023

POLL: For the First Time, More Americans Believe the Death Penalty Is Applied Unfairly in the United States

The Gallup Crime Survey has asked about the fair­ness of death penal­ty appli­ca­tion in the United States since 2000. For the first time, the October 2023 sur­vey reports that more Americans believe the death penal­ty is applied unfair­ly (50%) than fair­ly (47%). Between 2000 and 2015, 51%-61% of Americans said they thought cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment was applied fair­ly in the U.S., but this num­ber has been drop­ping since 2016. This year’s num­ber of 47% rep­re­sents a his­toric low in the his­to­ry of Gallup’s polling.

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Nov 03, 2023

Discussions with DPIC Podcast: How a British Charity Works to Support U.S. Capital Defenders

In this month’s Discussions with DPIC, Managing Director Anne Holsinger speaks with Margot Ravenscroft (pic­tured), Director of AMICUS UK, a British char­i­ty whose vol­un­teers sup­port the cap­i­tal defense effort in the United States. Ms. Ravenscroft describes how AMICUS was found­ed by a British woman who became a pen friend to a Louisiana death row pris­on­er Andrew Lee Jones. Jane Officer, a retired school­teacher, spent many years exchang­ing let­ters with Mr. Jones and returned to the UK after his exe­cu­tion deter­mined to help those still on death row. Ms. Ravenscroft explains…

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Nov 02, 2023

Under Recent State Legislation, Courts in Ohio and Kentucky Rule Four Men Ineligible for Execution Due to Serious Mental Illness

Though the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution for­bids the death penal­ty for a per­son who is insane” at the time of exe­cu­tion, it has nev­er held that the exe­cu­tion of peo­ple with seri­ous men­tal ill­ness is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. Experts have found that two in five peo­ple exe­cut­ed between 2000 and 2015 had a men­tal ill­ness diag­no­sis such as bipo­lar dis­or­der, schiz­o­phre­nia, or PTSD. Since 2017, at least eleven states have attempt­ed to strength­en pro­tec­tions for vul­ner­a­ble pris­on­ers by intro­duc­ing bills bar­ring the exe­cu­tion of those with seri­ous men­tal illness…

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Nov 01, 2023

Worldwide Wednesday International Roundup: Algeria, Belarus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam

On October 23, 2023, 38 indi­vid­u­als were sen­tenced to death for the mob killing of Jamal Ben Ismail, who had been mis­tak­en­ly iden­ti­fied as the arson­ist respon­si­ble for the August 2021 fires that killed 90 peo­ple in the north­west region. Despite the death sen­tences, all pris­on­ers will be resen­tenced to life impris­on­ment due to the nation­wide mora­to­ri­um in place since 1993 when the last exe­cu­tions occurred. 

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