Entries tagged with “Reform Prosecutors

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Innocence

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Feb 21, 2022

56 Prosecutors Issue Joint Statement Calling for End of Broken’ Death Penalty

Calling cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in the U.S. bro­ken,” 56 elect­ed pros­e­cu­tors from across the coun­try have issued a joint state­ment urg­ing sys­temic changes to end the death penal­ty nation­wide. As an ini­tial step, the pros­e­cu­tors pledged to not seek the death penal­ty against peo­ple with intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ties, post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der, his­to­ries of trau­mat­ic brain injury, or oth­er intel­lec­tu­al or cog­ni­tive chal­lenges that dimin­ish their abil­i­ty to ful­ly under­stand and reg­u­late their own actions.”

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Costs

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Race

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New Voices

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Nov 09, 2017

Anti-Death Penalty District Attorney Elected in Philadelphia, the Nation’s 3rd Largest Death Penalty County

Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniathe nation’s third largest death-penal­ty coun­ty—has elect­ed as its new dis­trict attor­ney a can­di­date who ran on a plat­form of end­ing mass incar­cer­a­tion and eschew­ing use of the death penal­ty. Democrat Lawrence Krasner (pic­tured), a long­time civ­il rights lawyer and oppo­nent of the death penal­ty, who once joked that he’d spent a career becom­ing com­plete­ly une­lec­table,” received 75% of the vote in eas­i­ly defeat­ing his Republican oppo­nent Beth Grossman. As a civ­il rights and crim­i­nal defense attor­ney, Krasner had rep­re­sent­ed polit­i­cal pro­test­ers and Black Lives Matter activists, and had…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Jun 15, 2020

Birmingham D.A. Files Brief Supporting New Trial for Death-Row Prisoner Toforest Johnson

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr has filed an ami­cus brief sup­port­ing the grant of a new tri­al to Toforest Johnson (pic­tured, cen­ter, with fam­i­ly mem­bers), sen­tenced to death for the mur­der of an Alabama sheriff’s deputy. In a plead­ing filed in the Jefferson County Circuit Court, Carr wrote that, A prosecutor’s duty is not mere­ly to secure con­vic­tions, but to seek jus­tice,” and that duty, he said, requires inter­ven­tion in this case” on Johnson’s behalf.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Oct 28, 2020

California Governor, 6 District Attorneys File Briefs Saying State’s Death Penalty is Arbitrary and Infected by Racism’

Calling California cap­i­tal sen­tenc­ing pro­ceed­ings infect­ed by racism,” Governor Gavin Newsom (pic­tured) has filed a brief in the California Supreme Court sup­port­ing a death-row prisoner’s claim that cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment as cur­rent­ly prac­ticed in the state vio­lates the California penal code and the state constitution.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Sep 10, 2021

California Supreme Court Upholds Death-Penalty Statute Against Challenge That Could Have Overturned Hundreds of Death Sentences

The California Supreme Court has upheld the state’s death-penal­ty statute against a con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenge that had the poten­tial to over­turn the sen­tences of hun­dreds of peo­ple on California’s death row. In a unan­i­mous rul­ing issued August 26, 2021 in People v. McDaniel, the court held that a cap­i­tal jury need not unan­i­mous­ly agree to the exis­tence of an aggra­vat­ing cir­cum­stance before weigh­ing it in the sen­tenc­ing deci­sion so long as every juror found that the pros­e­cu­tion had proven at least one aggra­vat­ing cir­cum­stance that jus­ti­fied a death sen­tence beyond a…

Facts & Research

New Voices

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May 31, 2019

Citing Conflict With Florida Death-Penalty Ruling, Aramis Ayala Will Not Seek Re-Election As State Attorney

Aramis Ayala (pic­tured), the first African American elect­ed as a state attor­ney in Florida, will not seek re-elec­tion as Orange-Osceola County State Attorney. Citing con­flicts with the Florida Supreme Court’s pro­nounce­ments on cap­i­tal pros­e­cu­tions, Ayala announced in a Facebook video on May 28, 2019 that she would not pur­sue a sec­ond term as state attor­ney. It’s time for me to move for­ward and to con­tin­ue the pur­suit of jus­tice in a dif­fer­ent capac­i­ty,” she said.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Upcoming Executions

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May 27, 2022

Controversy Over Texas Executions as Houston Judge Refuses to Issue Death Warrant and Attorney General Fights Nueces County D.A.’s Effort to Withdraw Another

The fates of two men sub­ject to poten­tial­ly immi­nent exe­cu­tion in Texas hang in the bal­ance, as the state’s attor­ney gen­er­al and one local pros­e­cu­tor chal­lenge the dis­cre­tion of oth­er key offi­cials not to move for­ward with exe­cu­tions. The con­tro­ver­sy over the exe­cu­tion dates high­lights emerg­ing ten­sions between pros­e­cu­tors about enforce­ment of death sen­tences and the pro­vi­sion of fair process before a pris­on­er is executed.

Facts & Research

New Voices

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Jan 10, 2017

Denver’s Newly Elected District Attorney Says She Will Not Seek the Death Penalty

Newly-elect­ed Denver, Colorado District Attorney Beth McCann (pic­tured), sworn into office on January 10, 2017, has said that her admin­is­tra­tion will not seek the death penal­ty. Asked by 9News, Denver’s NBC affil­i­ate, whether Denver was done with the death penal­ty,” McCann said: We are under my admin­is­tra­tion. I don’t think that the state should be in the busi­ness of killing people.”

Policy Issues

Costs

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Deterrence

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Race

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New Voices

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Jan 12, 2022

DPIC Podcast: Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton on Bringing Fairness and Equity to Criminal Legal Reform and Ending the Death Penalty

In the January 2022 episode of Discussions with DPIC, Contra Costa County, California District Attorney Diana Becton (pic­tured), speaks with Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham about the rise in reform pros­e­cu­tors across the coun­try, the inher­ent flaws in cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment that led her to work along­side oth­er reform pros­e­cu­tors to end the death penal­ty, and her efforts as dis­trict attor­ney to bring fair­ness and equi­ty to the crim­i­nal legal system.

Policy Issues

Race

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New Voices

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Mar 23, 2017

Florida Black Caucus, Victim’s Parents Urge Governor to Rescind Order Removing Prosecutor For Not Seeking Death Penalty

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus has joined more than 100 lawyers and legal experts and the par­ents of mur­der vic­tim Sade Dixon in urg­ing Governor Rick Scott to rescind his order remov­ing Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala (pic­tured) from a high-pro­file dou­ble mur­der case in which she decid­ed to not seek the death penal­ty. The oth­er vic­tim in the case, Lt. Debra Clayton, was an Orlando police offi­cer. Governor Scott did not speak with Dixon’s fam­i­ly before issu­ing an order remov­ing Ayala and appoint­ing a Special Prosecutor to the…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Feb 12, 2021

Former Pennsylvania Death Row Prisoner Christopher Williams Released From Prison After Being Cleared of Another Murder

Pennsylvania death-row exoneree Christopher Williams (pic­tured) was released from prison on February 9, 2021, after being exon­er­at­ed in a sec­ond mur­der case. The sec­ond wrong­ful mur­der con­vic­tion had kept Williams incar­cer­at­ed after he was cleared of the mur­der for which he was wrong­ful­ly con­demned to die.

Policy Issues

Costs

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Deterrence

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Innocence

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Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Sep 15, 2021

Four Utah Prosecutors Urge Legislature to Repeal and Replace Death Penalty

Four Utah dis­trict attor­neys, rep­re­sent­ing coun­ties that com­prise 57.5% of the state’s pop­u­la­tion, have urged the state leg­is­la­ture and Utah Governor Spencer Cox to enact leg­is­la­tion to repeal and replace Utah’s death penalty.

Facts & Research

Public Opinion

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May 20, 2021

In Election Seen as Referendum on Reform Prosecutors, Larry Krasner Renominated for Second Term as Philadelphia District Attorney

In a pri­ma­ry elec­tion wide­ly con­sid­ered a ref­er­en­dum on reform pros­e­cu­tors, incum­bent Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner eas­i­ly secured a vic­to­ry against for­mer Philadelphia homi­cide pros­e­cu­tor Carlos Vega. Krasner won the May 18, 2021 elec­tion on a plat­form of con­tin­u­ing the reform he began four years ago when he was first elect­ed: eschew­ing use of the death penal­ty, ini­ti­at­ing sys­temic crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms, and end­ing mass incar­cer­a­tion. Krasner’s Democratic pri­ma­ry win all but ensures that he will be re-elect­ed in the November gen­er­al elec­tion in the heav­i­ly Democratic city.

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Public Opinion

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New Voices

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Aug 08, 2018

In First Post-Ferguson Election for St. Louis County Prosecutor, Death-Penalty Opponent Unseats Long-Time Incumbent

In an elec­tion viewed as a ref­er­en­dum on racial jus­tice and crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, death-penal­ty oppo­nent Wesley Bell (pic­tured, left) sound­ly defeat­ed sev­en-term incum­bent, Robert McCulloch (pic­tured, right) for the Democratic nom­i­na­tion for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney. With no Republican oppo­si­tion in the gen­er­al elec­tion, Bell, a Ferguson, Missouri, city coun­cil mem­ber, is expect­ed to become the coun­ty’s first African-American chief prosecutor.

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Aug 19, 2020

In Move Raising Race, Gender, and Political Issues, Missouri Governor Seeks Authority for Attorney General to Prosecute St. Louis Homicide Cases

In a polit­i­cal maneu­ver that fur­ther inject­ed issues of race, gen­der, and polit­i­cal dis­en­fran­chise­ment into local law enforce­ment pol­i­cy, Missouri’s Republican Governor Mike Parson has asked state law­mak­ers to grant Republican state attor­ney gen­er­al Eric Schmitt author­i­ty to pros­e­cute mur­der cas­es in the city of St. Louis. The pro­pos­al tar­get­ed cas­es that are cur­rent­ly under the exclu­sive purview of Democratic St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, the state’s only Black female cir­cuit pros­e­cu­tor, and esca­lat­ed the clash between the reform pros­e­cu­tor and the hard-line con­ser­v­a­tive governor.

Policy Issues

Deterrence

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Innocence

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Victims' Families

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Sep 08, 2021

Legislators Plan New Attempt to Repeal Utah Capital Punishment Law, as Prominent County Attorney Announces He Will No Longer Seek the Death Penalty

Efforts to end the death penal­ty in Utah edged for­ward on September 8, 2021 as two Republican leg­is­la­tors revealed plans to intro­duce leg­is­la­tion to repeal and replace” the state’s cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment law and the pros­e­cut­ing attor­ney in the state’s sec­ond most pop­u­lous coun­ty declared that he would no longer seek the death penal­ty in future cases.

Facts & Research

Public Opinion

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Nov 04, 2020

Local Prosecutor Elections Foreshadow Continued Movement Away From Death Penalty

Reform pros­e­cu­tors made fur­ther inroads in the American legal sys­tem in the November 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion, unseat­ing pros­e­cu­tors in sev­er­al of the most pro­lif­ic death-sen­tenc­ing coun­ties in the United States and cap­tur­ing open seats in major Texas and Florida coun­ties, but falling short in sev­er­al oth­er high pro­file races.

Facts & Research

Public Opinion

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Dec 06, 2022

Midterm Elections: Moratorium Supporters, Reform Prosecutors Post Gains Despite Massive Campaign Efforts to Tie Reformers to Surge in Violent Crime

In a year that fea­tured mas­sive cam­paign adver­tis­ing attempt­ing to por­tray legal reform­ers as respon­si­ble for increas­es in vio­lent crime, can­di­dates com­mit­ted to crim­i­nal legal reform or who promised to con­tin­ue statewide mora­to­ria on exe­cu­tions post­ed key elec­tion wins in the 2022 midterm elec­tions. Defying a pre-elec­tion nar­ra­tive fore­cast­ing a back­lash against pro­gres­sive pros­e­cu­tors and con­ven­tion­al wis­dom that fear of crime dri­ves polit­i­cal out­comes, reform pros­e­cu­tors were re-elect­ed to office and gained new footholds in coun­ties across the country.

Oct 21, 2021

Missouri Judge Denies St. Louis City Prosecutor’s Request for Outside Prosecutors to Handle Death-Eligible Cases

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge has denied St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardners (pic­tured) July 2021 request for spe­cial pros­e­cu­tors to han­dle three death-eli­gi­ble homi­cide cas­es in her juris­dic­tion. On October 15, 2021, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan wrote that the con­flicts cit­ed by Gardner’s office in its request for a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor were not dis­qual­i­fy­ing” and there­fore that the Court has no author­i­ty to appoint a spe­cial prosecutor.”

Facts & Research

New Voices

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Jul 19, 2017

New Generation of Prosecutors May Signal Shift in Death Penalty Policies

A new gen­er­a­tion of pros­e­cu­tors, elect­ed across the coun­try on a plat­form of crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, are tak­ing a dif­fer­ent approach to crim­i­nal jus­tice poli­cies than their pre­de­ces­sors, includ­ing a reduc­tion in the use of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. A Christian Science Monitor pro­file of these pros­e­cu­tors — focus­ing on Mark Gonzalez (pic­tured), the Nueces County, Texas, dis­trict attor­ney — says “[f]rom Texas to Florida to Illinois, many of these young pros­e­cu­tors are eschew­ing the death penal­ty, talk­ing reha­bil­i­ta­tion as much as pun­ish­ment, and often refus­ing to charge peo­ple for minor offenses.”

Facts & Research

Public Opinion

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Dec 14, 2020

New Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón Implements Sweeping Changes in Death Penalty Policy

Just hours after tak­ing office, new­ly elect­ed Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón issued a series of sweep­ing changes that end­ed new death-penal­ty pros­e­cu­tions and moved towards recon­sid­er­ing exist­ing death sen­tences in the coun­ty with the nation’s largest death row. The pol­i­cy changes sig­naled the poten­tial nation­wide impact of local pros­e­cu­tor elec­tions in 2020, as new reform pros­e­cu­tors pre­pare to take the helm in coun­ties that con­sti­tute more than 11% of the country’s total death row.

Policy Issues

Deterrence

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Race

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Aug 31, 2021

New Podcast: Rethinking Public Safety, A Conversation with Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, Miriam Krinsky

In the third episode of the Discussions with DPIC podcast’s Rethinking Public Safety series, Miriam Krinsky (pic­tured) speaks with DPIC Senior Director of Research and Special Projects Ngozi Ndulue about her expe­ri­ences as a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor and the Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP), a net­work of elect­ed pros­e­cu­tors devot­ed to pro­mot­ing fair­ness, equi­ty, com­pas­sion, and fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty in the crim­i­nal legal system.

Facts & Research

New Voices

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Nov 14, 2019

On Election Night, Reform Prosecutors Win in Virginia, California, and Pennsylvania

Reform pros­e­cu­tors made fur­ther inroads into the admin­is­tra­tion of American law enforce­ment, sweep­ing coun­ty elec­tions in Northern Virginia and gain­ing con­trol of prosecutor’s offices in Pennsylvania and California. Progressive pros­e­cu­tors rode a blue wave of sub­ur­ban votes on November 5, 2019 that solid­i­fied Democratic con­trol of every state leg­isla­tive and pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al seat in the Northern Virginia coun­ties bor­der­ing the nation’s cap­i­tal and wrest­ed con­trol of coun­ty gov­ern­ment from one of Philadelphia’s most his­tor­i­cal­ly Republican sub­urbs. But the insur­gency was ide­o­log­i­cal, not par­ti­san, as for­mer pub­lic defend­er Chesa Boudin (pic­tured) unseated…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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New Voices

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Nov 15, 2016

OUTLIER COUNTIES: Alabama’s Leading Death Sentencing County Elects Prosecutors Who Oppose Capital Punishment

Jefferson County, Alabama is among both the 2% of coun­ties that account for more than half of all exe­cu­tions in the U.S. and are respon­si­ble for more than half of all pris­on­ers on death row across the coun­try. It led the state in new death sen­tences from 2010 – 2015, putting more peo­ple on death row than 99.5% of U.S. coun­ties. All five of the defen­dants sen­tenced to death in those cas­es were Black.

Facts & Research

Clemency

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Upcoming Executions

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Federal Death Penalty

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Dec 07, 2020

Prosecutors Call for Ending Federal Executions

Saying our nation’s long exper­i­ment with the death penal­ty has failed,” a coali­tion of near­ly 100 crim­i­nal jus­tice offi­cials is call­ing on the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to halt the five exe­cu­tions cur­rent­ly sched­uled for December 2020 and January 2021 and to end its use of the death penalty.

Facts & Research

Public Opinion

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Aug 05, 2020

Reform Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner Wins St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Primary Election

In a pri­ma­ry elec­tion that was regard­ed by many as a ref­er­en­dum on reform pros­e­cu­tors, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner (pic­tured) beat back a chal­lenge by the circuit’s for­mer chief homi­cide pros­e­cu­tor, Mary Pat Carl. Election returns from the August 4, 2020, Democratic pri­ma­ry in St. Louis showed Gardner, the city’s first African-American Circuit Attorney, with 61% of the vote, while Carl received 39%.

Facts & Research

Sentencing Data

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New Voices

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Dec 13, 2018

Report on Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor” Calls for Prosecutors to Work to End Death Penalty

A group of jus­tice-reform orga­ni­za­tions has issued a new report, 21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor, that calls on pros­e­cu­tors to work to end the death penal­ty” as part of its rec­om­mend­ed reforms in pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al prac­tices. The report, pre­pared joint­ly by the orga­ni­za­tions Fair and Just Prosecution, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Justice Collaborative, sets forth a series of prin­ci­ples that the groups say are designed to improve the over­all fair­ness and effi­ca­cy of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.” The report sets forth 21 prin­ci­ples of pros­e­cu­tion for…

Policy Issues

Costs

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Race

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Sentencing Alternatives

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Jul 23, 2020

Santa Clara DA Announces Office Will No Longer Pursue Death Penalty

After four unsuc­cess­ful attempts to impose the death penal­ty over the past decade and what he described as a trans­for­ma­tive vis­it to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, Santa Clara County, California District Attorney Jeff Rosen (pic­tured) has announced that his office will no longer seek the death penalty.

Policy Issues

Deterrence

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Innocence

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Race

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Victims' Families

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Jan 07, 2021

St. Louis County Prosecutor: Death Penalty is Ineffective, Racially Biased, Hypocritical and Inhumane’

Calling the death penal­ty inef­fec­tive, racial­ly based, hyp­o­crit­i­cal and inhu­mane,” St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell (pic­tured) has renewed his pledge to nev­er autho­rize a cap­i­tal pros­e­cu­tion. In a December 23, 2020 op-ed in the St. Louis American, Bell urged all pros­e­cu­tors in Missouri who cur­rent­ly con­sid­er the death penal­ty an option to stop.”

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Nov 17, 2022

Tennessee Attorney General’s Office Continues to Oppose Local Prosecutors Who Concede that Death-Row Prisoner Is Intellectually Disabled

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office attempt­ed to pre­serve a tri­al court rul­ing deny­ing Byron Blacks intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty claim, argu­ing before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) on November 8. Black’s attor­neys argue that a new law enti­tles him to relief from his death sen­tence because of his intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty, and the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office agrees. However, a tri­al judge denied Black’s claim because it had been pre­vi­ous­ly raised when Tennessee was apply­ing uncon­sti­tu­tion­al stan­dards to deter­mine intel­lec­tu­al disability.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Foreign Nationals

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Oct 02, 2020

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Reverses Course, Takes A Second Foreign National with Intellectual Disability Off Death Row

For sec­ond time in eight days, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) has reversed course after ini­tial­ly reject­ing a death-row prisoner’s claim of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty and has resen­tenced the pris­on­er to life. The deci­sions, both involv­ing for­eign nation­als and both sup­port­ed by local pros­e­cu­tors, marked the sixth and sev­enth time that Texas courts have vacat­ed death sen­tences imposed on intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled cap­i­tal defen­dants since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 struck down the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly restric­tive def­i­n­i­tion of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty the state had been using.

Policy Issues

Sentencing Alternatives

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Mar 18, 2020

Virginia Death Row Shrinks to 2 as Prosecutor Drops Death Penalty Against Mark Lawlor

Virginias death row shrank to just two pris­on­ers on March 12 as recent­ly elect­ed Fairfax County, Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve T. Descano agreed to a deal to resen­tence for­mer death-row pris­on­er Mark Lawlor (pic­tured) to life with­out parole. Lawlor was sen­tenced to death in 2011 for the mur­der of Genevieve Orange. No one has been sen­tenced to death in Virginia since.