Entries tagged with “Coronavirus

Policy Issues

Costs

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Federal Death Penalty

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Aug 24, 2020

ACLU Lawsuit Seeks Information on Cost and Public Health Risks of Federal Executions

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and American Civil Liberties Foundation have filed a law­suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) seek­ing a court order requir­ing the BOP to dis­close how much the fed­er­al government’s resump­tion of fed­er­al exe­cu­tions is cost­ing tax­pay­ers and what steps the gov­ern­ment has under­tak­en to assess and address the COVID-19 pub­lic health risks cre­at­ed by the exe­cu­tions. As the nation faces both dire pub­lic health and eco­nom­ic crises,” the law­suit says, the fed­er­al government’s actions pri­or­i­tiz­ing the use of American tax dol­lars on executions…

Executions

Executions Overview

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Federal Death Penalty

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Sep 22, 2020

ACLU: Documents Show Federal Executions Likely Caused Prison COVID-19 Outbreak

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act show that the fed­er­al government’s choice to bring hun­dreds of peo­ple to the fed­er­al prison com­plex in Terre Haute, Indiana to car­ry out five exe­cu­tions in July and August in the midst of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic like­ly caused a COVID-19 out­break that has already killed three and hos­pi­tal­ized others.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Mental Illness

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Representation

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Apr 12, 2021

Arizona AG Asks Court to Set Execution Dates, Sparking Broad Backlash

Nearly sev­en years after the botched exe­cu­tion of Joseph Wood put the death penal­ty on hold in Arizona, state offi­cials are seek­ing to resume exe­cu­tions. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced on April 6, 2021 that he is ask­ing the Arizona Supreme Court to set a brief­ing sched­ule and issue exe­cu­tion war­rants for death-row pris­on­ers Clarence Dixon and Frank Atwood. At present, no state but Texas has any pend­ing exe­cu­tions sched­uled for 2021.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Upcoming Executions

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May 15, 2020

As Blood Spatter Evidence Causes Jurors to Question His Guilt, Missouri Prepares to Execute Walter Barton

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has vacat­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion for Missouri death-row pris­on­er Walter Barton (pic­tured) who is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. The court’s unsigned opin­ion, issued on Sunday, May 17, lift­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion that had been issued May 15 by a fed­er­al dis­trict court judge. The dis­trict court said a stay was nec­es­sary to afford it time to address a peti­tion Barton had filed that chal­lenged his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence based upon new foren­sic evidence…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Representation

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Upcoming Executions

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Jun 05, 2020

As Federal Litigation Continues, Ruben Gutierrez Seeks Stay of Execution, Citing Concerns About Pandemic

Texas death-row pris­on­er Ruben Gutierrez (pic­tured) has asked the Texas state courts to stay his exe­cu­tion because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic as fed­er­al lit­i­ga­tion con­tin­ues on his efforts to obtain DNA test­ing and to require Texas to per­mit him to have a chap­lain present in the exe­cu­tion cham­ber if his exe­cu­tion proceeds.

State & Federal Info

Federal Death Penalty

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Feb 15, 2021

Associated Press Finds Federal Executions Were Likely COVID Superspreader Events

Inadequate test­ing, resis­tance to con­tact trac­ing, and poor social dis­tanc­ing prac­tices like­ly made the thir­teen fed­er­al exe­cu­tions in 2020 – 2021 COVID-19 super­spread­er events, the Associated Press has con­clud­ed. In the ten days after the December 10, 2020 exe­cu­tion of Brandon Bernard, 70% of pris­on­ers on fed­er­al death row and hun­dreds of oth­ers incar­cer­at­ed in the Terre Haute Correctional Complex where the exe­cu­tions took place test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19. At least a dozen oth­ers who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the exe­cu­tions, includ­ing media wit­ness­es, a spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, and cor­rec­tion­al staff who trav­eled from across…

Policy Issues

Representation

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United States Supreme Court

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Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jun 19, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of June 152020

NEWS (6/​19/​20) — California: In one of the few cap­i­tal tri­als to move for­ward dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, a San Jose jury acquit­ted Manuel Anthony Lopez of charges that he had raped and mur­dered his girlfriend’s two-year-old son. Lopez, who had been jailed four years await­ing tri­al, had con­sis­tent­ly pro­fessed his inno­cence, and news reports said his lead defense coun­sel, Santa Clara County deputy pub­lic defend­er Michael Ogul, believed so strong­ly in Lopez’s inno­cence that he post­poned his retire­ment two years to be able to see the case to its…

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Representation

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Federal Death Penalty

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Mar 22, 2021

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of March 152021

NEWS (3/​18/​21) — Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the con­vic­tion and death sen­tence imposed on Alton Nolen in the September 2014 mur­der of a co-work­er after Nolen had been sus­pend­ed for threat­en­ing anoth­er co-worker.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Federal Death Penalty

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May 18, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of May 182020

NEWS (5/​22/​2020) — Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has stayed the issuance of its man­date in the fed­er­al exe­cu­tion-pro­to­col law­suit until June 8, 2020, to allow the fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court. On November 21, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion bar­ring the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment from imple­ment­ing the chal­lenged pro­to­col. A split pan­el of the appeals court lift­ed the injunc­tion on April 7. The order assures that federal…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Race

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Upcoming Executions

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Nov 09, 2020

Citing COVID-19, Governor Grants Reprieve to Tennessee Death-Row Prisoner Pervis Payne

Citing the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has grant­ed a tem­po­rary reprieve to death-row pris­on­er Pervis Payne, halt­ing his sched­uled December 3, 2020 exe­cu­tion. The exe­cu­tion was the last sched­uled by any state in 2020, assur­ing that states will car­ry out few­er exe­cu­tions in 2020 than in any oth­er year since 1983.

Death Row

Conditions on Death Row

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Aug 31, 2020

Coronavirus Prison Fatalities Surpass Two Decades of Executions; COVID-19 Has Killed More California Death Row Prisoners Than the State Has Executed in 27 Years

More pris­on­ers in the United States have died in the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic than have been exe­cut­ed in the coun­try in past two decades, new prison data shows, and more California death-row pris­on­ers have been killed by the virus than have been exe­cut­ed in the state since 1993.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Federal Death Penalty

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Dec 28, 2020

District Court Voids Lisa Montgomery Execution Date; Federal Prosecutors Appeal

Saying the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) act­ed unlaw­ful­ly in reset­ting Lisa Montgomerys exe­cu­tion for January 12, 2021, a fed­er­al judge in Washington has for a sec­ond time blocked efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to put to death the only woman on fed­er­al death row. In an order issued late in the day on December 24, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss agreed with Montgomery’s lawyers that the BOP lacked legal author­i­ty to resched­ule Montgomery’s exe­cu­tion while a pre-exist­ing stay of exe­cu­tion is still in place,…

State & Federal Info

Federal Death Penalty

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Dec 10, 2020

Federal Execution Team Members Test Positive for COVID-19 After Orlando Hall Execution

Eight mem­bers of the fed­er­al Bureau of Prisons (BOP) exe­cu­tion team and a reli­gious advi­sor have test­ed pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus after par­tic­i­pat­ing in the November 19 exe­cu­tion of Orlando Hall (pic­tured). The COVID-19 infec­tions, which fed­er­al author­i­ties had not pre­vi­ous­ly revealed, came to light in doc­u­ments pro­duced in a law­suit two pris­on­ers have filed to halt the remain­ing fed­er­al executions.

Facts & Research

Clemency

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Upcoming Executions

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Federal Death Penalty

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Dec 21, 2020

Federal Prisoners Facing Execution Contract COVID-19 in Outbreak Spread by Prior Executions

Two men sched­uled for exe­cu­tion by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in January 2021 are among the fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers who have test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lawyers for Corey Johnson (pic­tured, left) and Dustin Higgs (pic­tured, below), announced that they had been noti­fied by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that their clients had con­tract­ed the coro­n­avirus, amidst an out­break of the dis­ease at the prison in the wake of the fed­er­al exe­cu­tions per­formed there in November and December 2020. The New York…

Facts & Research

New Voices

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Apr 20, 2020

Jerry Givens, Former Executioner Who Became Outspoken Critic of Death Penalty, Dies at 67

Jerry Givens (pic­tured), who per­formed 62 exe­cu­tions dur­ing his time as a Virginia cor­rec­tions offi­cer, but lat­er became an activist against the death penal­ty, died April 13, 2020 of COVID-19. He was 67 years old. During his 17 years (1982 – 1999) as a mem­ber of Virginia’s exe­cu­tion team, the com­mon­wealth per­formed more exe­cu­tions than any oth­er state except Texas.

Policy Issues

Representation

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Clemency

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Upcoming Executions

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Women

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Federal Death Penalty

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Nov 13, 2020

Lawyers for Lisa Montgomery Contract COVID-19 During Prison Visits, Seek Stay of Execution

Lawyers for fed­er­al death-row pris­on­er Lisa Montgomery filed suit in fed­er­al dis­trict court in Washington, D.C. on November 12, seek­ing to stay her December 8 exe­cu­tion because the lead coun­sel in her case have con­tract­ed the coronavirus.

Facts & Research

New Voices

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Lethal Injection

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Apr 13, 2020

Medical Professionals Ask Death-Penalty States to Turn Over Execution Drugs Needed for Coronavirus Treatment

As hos­pi­tals through­out the coun­try face short­ages of cru­cial med­ica­tions need­ed to treat patients with COVID-19, a group of lead­ing anes­the­si­ol­o­gists, phar­ma­cists and med­ical aca­d­e­mics is ask­ing cor­rec­tions offi­cials in death-penal­ty states to turn over stock­piles of their exe­cu­tion drugs to hos­pi­tals so they can be used for ther­a­peu­tic purposes.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Aug 16, 2021

NBC’s Dateline’ Investigates the Wrongful Capital Conviction of Death-Row Exoneree Walter Ogrod

NBC’s true crime series, Dateline, fea­tured an episode on August 13, 2021 on the wrong­ful con­vic­tion and even­tu­al exon­er­a­tion of for­mer Philadelphia death-row pris­on­er Walter Ogrod (pic­tured). The episode, enti­tled The Investigation,” is part of an NBC News series called Justice for All” that reports on wrong­ful con­vic­tions and the U.S. crim­i­nal legal system.

Death Row

Conditions on Death Row

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Jul 20, 2020

New Podcast: ACLU National Prison Project Director David Fathi Discusses Death-Row Conditions, the Move Away from Solitary Confinement, and COVID-19 in U.S. Prisons

In the lat­est episode of Discussions With DPIC, David Fathi, the direc­tor of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, speaks with DPIC’s Managing Director Anne Holsinger about death-row con­di­tions across the coun­try. Fathi speaks about the shat­ter­ing” effects of long-term death-row soli­tary con­fine­ment, the move­ment away from auto­mat­ic soli­tary con­fine­ment for death row pris­on­ers, and the impact of COVID-19 in con­gre­gate-liv­ing cir­cum­stances, such as death-row.

Policy Issues

Representation

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Clemency

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Upcoming Executions

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May 11, 2020

New Podcast: Capital Defense Lawyer Kelley Henry on Death Penalty Litigation During a Pandemic

In the May 2020 edi­tion of Discussions with DPIC, vet­er­an cap­i­tal defense lawyer Kelley Henry (pic­tured), who is rep­re­sent­ing sev­er­al Tennessee death-row pris­on­ers fac­ing exe­cu­tion dates in 2020, speaks with DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham about the unprece­dent­ed chal­lenges of lit­i­gat­ing death-penal­ty cas­es dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. Henry, a Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender in Nashville, pro­vides an inside view of how the extend­ed pub­lic health emer­gency has affect­ed end-stage lit­i­ga­tion in death-penal­ty cas­es, espe­cial­ly the final inves­ti­ga­tions and clemen­cy efforts that take place in the months lead­ing up to…

Apr 25, 2020

News Brief — Coronavirus Effects Continue to be Felt in Capital Prosecutions

NEWS (4/​24/​20) — California: The death penal­ty tri­al of Kori Muhammad for the killings of four peo­ple in two sep­a­rate inci­dents end­ed with­out advanc­ing to a penal­ty phase just two days after a Fresno County jury con­vict­ed him of one count of first-degree mur­der and three counts of sec­ond-degree mur­der. The tri­al had been inter­rupt­ed by coro­n­avirus court clo­sures, with guilt-phase jury delib­er­a­tions halt­ed for four weeks in March, then com­plet­ed on April 22.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Sep 16, 2020

News Brief — COVID-19 Halts Another State Execution

NEWS (9/​15/​20) — Texas: A Bexar County tri­al court judge has issued an order with­draw­ing the death war­rant that had sched­uled Carlos Trevino’s exe­cu­tion for September 30, 2020. The court cit­ed the cur­rent COVID-19 con­di­tions in Texas” as the grounds for postponement. 

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Apr 06, 2020

News Brief — Fourth Texas Execution Put on Hold Because of Coronavirus Pandemic

NEWS (4/​6/​20) — Texas: A Texas tri­al court has resched­uled the exe­cu­tion of Billy Joe Wardlow from April 29, 2020 until July 8, 2020, the fourth exe­cu­tion in Texas that has been post­poned because of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. District Judge Angela Saucier grant­ed a motion filed by the Morris County District Attorney’s office to resched­ule the exe­cu­tion, rather than with­draw­ing the death war­rant as a defense motion had request­ed. If the court had with­drawn the war­rant, pros­e­cu­tors would have been required to seek a new death war­rant, a process that…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Mar 25, 2020

News Brief — Philadelphia Court Vacates Order for Medical Treatment of Likely Innocent’ Death-Row Prisoner With COVID-19 Symptoms

NEWS (3/​25/​20): Pennsylvania — Citing lack of juris­dic­tion, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has vacat­ed an emer­gency order it issued on Saturday that had direct­ed the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PaDOC) to trans­port Walter Ogrod from death row to an inde­pen­dent hos­pi­tal to obtain imme­di­ate test­ing and treat­ment for symp­toms of the COVID-19 coro­n­avirus.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jan 08, 2021

ProPublica Investigation Reveals Irregularities in Federal Executions

The fed­er­al government’s his­tor­i­cal­ly aber­rant exe­cu­tion spree has been fraught with irreg­u­lar­i­ties and has tram­pled over an array of bar­ri­ers, both legal and prac­ti­cal,” accord­ing to an inves­tiga­tive report by the non-prof­it news orga­ni­za­tion, ProPublica.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Conditions on Death Row

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Mar 20, 2020

Showing Coronavirus Symptoms, Likely Innocent’ Death-Row Prisoner Seeks Emergency Medical Care

Exhibiting symp­toms of the coro­n­avirus, a Philadelphia death-row pris­on­er who pros­e­cu­tors now acknowl­edge is like­ly inno­cent” and whose poten­tial release has been delayed by the Philadelphia courts has filed an emer­gency motion to obtain test­ing and inde­pen­dent med­ical treat­ment for COVID-19.

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Women

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jan 13, 2021

Supreme Court Vacates Stays of Execution, Paves Way for Late-Night Execution of Lisa Montgomery

After a series of rul­ings by the United States Supreme Court sum­mar­i­ly vacat­ed two stays of exe­cu­tion and denied attempts to rein­state two oth­ers, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment exe­cut­ed death row pris­on­er Lisa Montgomery (pic­tured) on January 13, 2021. Montgomery, the only woman on fed­er­al death row, was the first woman exe­cut­ed by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in more than 67 years, the first per­son exe­cut­ed in the U.S. in 2021, and the 11th pris­on­er put to death in a six-month fed­er­al exe­cu­tion spree with­out par­al­lel in the 20th or 21st centuries.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Representation

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Upcoming Executions

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Apr 17, 2020

Tennessee Supreme Court Stays Prisoner’s Execution Because of Investigative Time Lost to Pandemic

The Tennessee Supreme Court has stayed the June 4, 2020 exe­cu­tion of death-row pris­on­er Oscar Franklin Smith (pic­tured) and resched­uled his exe­cu­tion for February 4, 2021. The order, issued on April 17, 2020, grant­ed a stay request filed by Smith’s lawyers, who had sought a post­pone­ment on the grounds that, because of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, they had lost crit­i­cal time” for inves­ti­ga­tion in the case.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Apr 27, 2020

Texas Court Issues Nation’s Seventh Coronavirus Stay of Execution

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the May 6, 2020 exe­cu­tion of Edward Busby (pic­tured) for six­ty days. Busby’s was the nation’s sev­enth exe­cu­tion post­poned in the United States because of the coro­n­avirus and the sixth in Texas.

Death Row

Conditions on Death Row

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May 05, 2020

Texas Prisoners File Lawsuit Over Death-Row Conditions During Pandemic

Alleging that the Texas prison sys­tem is fail­ing to under­take take basic mea­sures to pro­tect [them] from the risk of dis­ease and death” pre­sent­ed by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, pris­on­ers on the state’s death row have filed a class-action motion to join a fed­er­al prison-con­di­tions law­suit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

State & Federal Info

Federal Death Penalty

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Feb 01, 2021

Under Court Order Requiring Protective Measures, Federal Bureau of Prisons Takes No Action After Media Witnesses to Executions Contract COVID-19

Despite being under fed­er­al court order to under­take pro­tec­tive mea­sures against the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) took no action after being alert­ed that two reporters who had been media wit­ness­es to the fed­er­al exe­cu­tions at the Federal Correctional Complex at Terre Haute, Indiana in January 2021 had con­tract­ed COVID-19.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Victims' Families

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New Voices

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Apr 09, 2020

Victim’s Mother Joins Fight to Free Likely Innocent” Death-Row Prisoner Walter Ogrod, Who Has Symptoms of Coronavirus

Saying she want­ed jus­tice for her mur­dered four-year-old daugh­ter, not a closed case with an inno­cent per­son in jail,” Sharon Fahy has joined with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and defense lawyers in the fight to imme­di­ate­ly free Walter Ogrod (pic­tured) from Pennsylvanias death row.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jun 09, 2020

Walter Ogrod Exonerated After 23 Years on Pennsylvania’s Death Row

Twenty-eight years after Philadelphia pros­e­cu­tors first sought to take his life for the mur­der of four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn, Walter Ogrod (pic­tured, sec­ond from right, with mem­bers of his defense team) has been exon­er­at­ed from Pennsylvanias death row.