The Trayvon Martin Affair. In Texas, a Death Penalty Showdown With International Law - Nicole Allan - International. The state is defying international courts, the UN, and the Obama administration by denying Vienna Convention rights to a Mexican prisoner.
Does it matter? Reuters On Thursday, Texas is scheduled to execute its seventh prisoner this year. While anti-death penalty advocates have rallied against all the executions, this particular case has also drawn protests from former judges and diplomats, the UN, and the Obama administration -- not out of opposition to capital punishment, but concern for America's place in the international community. As Thursday draws nearer, mounting pressure on Texas to stay the execution underscores both the U.S.' Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr. is a Mexican citizen who was sentenced to death by a Texas jury in 1994 for rape and murder. Euna Lee, an American journalist who, along with her colleague Laura Ling, was held captive in North Korea for five months in 2009, has called the Vienna Convention a "lifeline" that helped secure her release.
The Looming Death of the Death Penalty - Andrew Cohen - National. In recent years, capital punishment has been on a sharp decline, both in the courts and in the court of public opinion Reuters The year-end report by the folks at the Death Penalty Information Center tell more and more Americans what they already know in their hearts to be true: The death penalty experiment is failing yet again.
Undermined by overzealous prosecutors, a hobby-horse for incurious politicians, too often taken unseriously by jurors and witnesses, capital punishment in America has devolved since 1976 into a costly, inaccurate, racially biased, and unseemly proposition. We clearly can't do it right, and more people are wondering whether we should continue doing it at all. The facts and figures of 2011 soberly reflect the nation's evolving perceptions of the problems inherent in the justice system's ultimate punishment. There are a lot of reasons for these numbers. So have more Americans. Take the big death penalty stories of 2011. Following those cheers, Texas Gov. Another innocent executed? The only evidence against DeLuna was the shoddy eyewitness testimony of Kevin Baker, a car salesman who came face to face with Lopez’s killer as he fled the scene. Although DeLuna partly resembled the description given by Baker, upon further investigation it seems that DeLuna and the man Baker described were not the same person.
For example, Baker told police that the culprit had a full mustache and so much facial hair that he looked like “he hadn’t shaved in, you know, ten days, a couple weeks.” When police found DeLuna, he was lying half naked, shoeless and shirtless, underneath a pickup truck with little more than a day or two of stubble and no mustache. DeLuna testified that he was at the nightclub across the street from the crime scene trying to find a ride home when the sound of police sirens freaked him out because he was on parole at the time.
So he ran, losing his shirt when he jumped a fence. Rev. Yes, America, We Have Executed an Innocent Man - Andrew Cohen - National. Carlos DeLuna was put to death in December 1989 for a murder in Corpus Christi.
But he didn't commit the crime. Today, his case reminds us of the glaring flaws of capital punishment. Carlos DeLuna (Corpus Christi Police Department) Even for Justice Antonin Scalia, the crassest of the current United States Supreme Court justices, it was a particularly callous piece of writing. In 2006, in a case styled Kansas v. For the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas had bent over backward to overturn a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that had declared the law unconstitutional. Mocking the rationale of both, and unsatisfied with the scope of Justice Thomas' majority opinion, Justice Scalia wrote a concurrence he will have to live with the rest of his life.
It should be noted at the outset that the dissent does not discuss a single case -- not one -- in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. And then... The DeLuna case was flawed at virtually every level. Kansas v. The wrong Carlos: how Texas sent an innocent man to his death. A few years ago, Antonin Scalia, one of the nine justices on the US supreme court, made a bold statement.
There has not been, he said, "a single case – not one – in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred … the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops. " Scalia may have to eat his words. It is now clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit, and his name – Carlos DeLuna – is being shouted from the rooftops of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.
The august journal has cleared its entire spring edition, doubling its normal size to 436 pages, to carry an extraordinary investigation by a Columbia law school professor and his students. The book sets out in precise and shocking detail how an innocent man was sent to his death on 8 December 1989, courtesy of the state of Texas. Carlos DeLuna was arrested, aged 20, on 4 February 1983 for the brutal murder of a young woman, Wanda Lopez. Connecticut House Votes to Repeal Death Penalty. Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times Representative Patricia M.
Widlitz was for the repeal bill. Mr. Malloy’s signature will leave New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as the only states in the Northeast that still have the death penalty. New Jersey repealed it in 2007. The vote, after more than two decades of debate and the 2009 veto of a similar bill by the governor at the time, M. The bill exempts the 11 men currently on death row, including Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven J. The measure was approved by a vote of 86 to 62, largely along party lines. The legislation will make life in prison without possibility of parole the state’s harshest punishment. In a statement released late Wednesday night, Governor Malloy said the repeal put Connecticut in the same position as nearly every other industrialized nation on the death penalty.
“For decades, we have not had a workable death penalty,” he said, noting that only one person has been executed in Connecticut in the last 52 years. The Last Line of Defense - Magazine. An unlikely crusader, Diana Holt wages a heroic, long-odds battle against the death penalty.
Diana Holt, photographed by Joshua Drake In our criminal-justice system, once a person has been convicted, no matter how shaky the conviction, the presumption of innocence disappears. The defendant is assumed to have had a fair trial. New evidence, even enough to sow a field of doubt, does not necessarily entitle a defendant, not even one on death row, to a new trial. The remarkable defense attorney Diana Holt learned these lessons the hard way after she took on the case of Richard Charles Johnson, in October of 1999. Holt, then 41, had worked as an attorney at the Center for Capital Litigation, in South Carolina, a nonprofit that represented prisoners on death row. The case dated back to September 27, 1985, when Johnson, a 22-year-old knockabout, hitched a ride outside Morehead City, North Carolina, with Daniel Swanson, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from suburban Washington, D.C.
Is Ohio Keeping Another Innocent Man on Death Row? - Andrew Cohen - National. Instead of searching for the truth, the state is going to absurd lengths to defend a dubious death sentence.
AP Images Last year, the execution of Troy Davis captured most of the attention, and generated most of the debate, on the topic of capital punishment in America. Davis was put to death by lethal injection in Georgia three quarters of the way through a year that saw a general decline in support for (and implementation of) the death penalty. This year, just a few weeks in, there's an early candidate for such a spotlight: a death row inmate in Ohio whose case raises many of the same questions about fair trials and justice that surrounded the Davis case.
In fact, you could argue that the capital murder case against Tyrone Noling is even weaker than the one against Troy Davis. Frustrated prosecutors then gave the case to an investigator named Ron Craig and everything changed. Tyrone Noling (Ohio Dept. of Corrections) Unreliable Witness Identification DNA Testing. The execution of Steven Staley: Forcible medication on death row in Texas. Steven Stanley Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Can the state force a person to take drugs in order to execute him? That is the grisly question raised by the case of Steven Staley , a convicted murderer who believes polygraph machines are controlling and torturing him. Even though he’s psychotic, Staley is scheduled to be executed next week, based on a judge’s order requiring him to take medication he has refused. If Texas actually goes ahead with this deeply disturbing plan, it will be the first state, as far as I can tell, to drug someone in order to carry out a death sentence.
Here are the facts of Staley’s crime: In September 1989, he escaped from a Denver jail and went on an armed robbery spree, hitting up nine businesses in four states. And here are the facts of Staley’s mental illness: He has a long history of paranoid schizophrenia and depression. Staley was found competent to stand trial back in 1991. OK, deep breath. What is behind Judge Salvant’s chilling decision? When Rape Victims Lie « Sasha Said. No, this isn’t a post about how women are lying hussies out to ruin the lives of good men with wrongful rape accusations.
If that’s what you were expecting, you’re definitely reading the wrong blog (actually, come to think of, stick around; you may learn something). What I’m talking about is this: Living in a rape culture, women are acutely aware of the type of rapes–and the type of victims–that are taken seriously. And the type that aren’t. The “good” victim (the only kind that counts in the minds of many, many people) is attacked by someone she doesn’t know while dressed “modestly” and not under the influence of alcohol/drugs or engaged in “risky” behavior. She’s an upstanding citizen with no history of criminal activity, mental illness, or conduct outside the norms of mainstream society. Thanks to prevailing rape mythology, many people also have very definite ideas about what happens before, during, and after a “real” rape.
Some rapes do indeed happen like that; most don’t. New FBI Rape Definition Approved. U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder today announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s definition of rape, which the Justice Department says will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. Holder said the new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes, and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape.
The revision had been urged by women's advocacy groups and was approved by an FBI advisory committee. FBI Director Robert Mueller approved the new official definition on Dec. 21, 2011. The Justice Department held a conference call announcing the official change. Jarrett commended the definition as a more inclusive way to get a better understanding of rape in the country and said: "Definitions matter because people matter. " The change has been almost a decade in the making, as The Crime Report previously reported, with a series of advisory and listening meetings on a new definition. The Lessons of the ‘Brooklyn Groper’ Case. The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive. Ernie Lopez is currently serving a 60-year sentence for harming six-month-old Isis Vas, who later died. (Photo courtesy of PBS FRONTLINE) Her name was Isis Charm Vas and at 6 months old she was a slight child -- fifth percentile in height and weight. When the ambulance sped her to Northwest Texas Hospital on a Saturday morning in October 2000, doctors and nurses feared that someone had done something awful to her delicate little body.
A constellation of bruises stretched across her pale skin. CT scans showed blood pooling on her brain and swelling. Less than 24 hours later, Isis died. If you have any information about possible wrongful prosecutions in child death cases, please contact reporter A.C. An autopsy  bolstered the initial suspicions that she'd been abused. The police investigation  that followed was constructed almost entirely from medical evidence. Today, Lopez is serving a 60-year prison term for sexual assault and is still facing capital murder charges. "What's going on? Wrongful Convictions. When Paul House was finally released from prison in 2008, he was a specter of the man who had been sentenced to death more than 22 years earlier.
When I visit his home in Crossville, Tennessee, in March, House’s mother Joyce, who has cared for him since his release, points to a photo of House taken the day he was finally allowed to come home. In that photo and others from his last days in prison, House is all of 150 pounds, ashen and drawn, his fragile frame nearly consumed by his wheelchair.
In most of the images he looks days away from death, although in one he wears the broad smile of a man finally escaping a long confinement. When House’s aunt called to congratulate him on his first day back, his mother handed him her cell phone so he could chat. He inspected the phone, gave her a frustrated look, and asked her to find him one that worked. “Paul’s first meal when he got home was chili verde,” Joyce House says. The years of inadequate care have taken a toll. How Many Are Innocent? Bennett Barbour exonerated of rape in Virginia: how the state is botching the DNA retesting and notification of old cases. Bennett Barbour was convicted in 1978 of a rape he didn’t commit. At trial, he had an alibi supported by several witnesses.
He didn’t match the victim’s description of her attacker. Barbour suffers from a severe bone disease that would have made it nearly impossible for him to be the assailant. Police found no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, beyond the eyewitness identification by his alleged victim. Barbour was handed an 18-year sentence and paroled after nearly five years. Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow He tells me his time in prison was “a nightmare.”
The Commonwealth of Virginia learned that Bennett Barbour was innocent nearly two years ago, when DNA testing cleared him of the crime. Actually, that’s not true. Bennett Barbour is one of the fortunate ones. How was it that Bennett Barbour’s DNA came to be tested several decades after the alleged rape? It was a project intended to take 18 months at a cost of $1.4 million dollars. The Shaky Science of Shaken Baby Syndrome. On New York’s Rikers Island, the parents of baby Annie await trial for shaking their infant girl to death.
Her mother and father deny harming their child in any way, but prosecutors claim the 70 day old baby died with a severely fractured skull and brain damage consistent with being shaken violently. Shaken baby syndrome presents a terrifying dilemma to the criminal justice system: a false conviction leaves a grieving parent or other innocent in prison for years while an undeserved exoneration could allow a dangerous child abuser to kill again. Unfortunately, the medical science used to determine the cause of death in infants suspected of being shaken to death is far from precise, and certainly not conducive to the simple “guilty” or “not guilty” decisions that courts require. MORE: Study: Shaken-Baby Cases Rose During the Recession In the current case, reported by the The New York Times, the suspects are still awaiting trial.
Take, for example, the diagnosis of SBS itself. Inside Criminal Justice. Caged and doomed, boy leaves sad account of his life. Our ‘Broken System’ of Criminal Justice by John Paul Stevens. The New York "Miracle" Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Crime. Tale of Two Cities: NYPD's Racist Arrests Create Class War in New York. U.S. Sets New Rules to Stem Prison Rape. Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America.
Raise the Crime Rate. [Infographic] Combating Mass Incarceration - The Facts. Louisiana is the world's prison capital. Who Puts Kids in the Slammer for Life? We do! Juvenile Life Without Parole. Kids in Detention. Racial Disparities Persist in VA Juvenile Justice System: Report. Throwaway People: Will Teens Sent to Die in Prison Get a Second Chance? Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice. Against Law, For Order. Suit accuses California of unfairly isolating prison inmates. Imprisoned in America. US: Number of Aging Prisoners Soaring. Our Aging Prison Population: Should Criminals Die Free? - Amy Ziettlow - Health. After closing psychiatric hospitals, Michigan incarcerates mentally ill.
In Chicago, Mental Health Patients Have No Place to Go. Cook County Jail 'A Mental Health Provider,' Says Sheriff Tom Dart, Threatening Lawsuit. The Neglect of Mental Illness Exacts a Huge Toll, Human and Economic. National - Andrew Cohen - Death, Yes, but Torture at Supermax? Torture in U.S. Prisons? Historic Senate Hearing Takes Up Solitary Confinement’s Devastating Toll. National - Andrew Cohen - Supermax: The Constitution and Mentally Ill Prisoners. National - Andrew Cohen - Supermax: The Faces of a Prison's Mentally Ill. National - Andrew Cohen - An American Gulag: Descending into Madness at Supermax. Should prison inmates have the right to masturbate? “Felon” Human Rights in Criminal Sentencing Report Press Release - University of San Francisco School of Law.
What Does It Say About America That We Jail Teens for Having Sex or Being Late to School? Do Race and Ethnicity Matter in Prosecution?: A Review of Empirical Studies. The High Cost of Prisons. Purchasing Prisoners, Creating Criminals & How Occupy Could be Next. In New Jersey Halfway Houses, Escapees Stream Out as a Penal Business Thrives. Louisiana is the world's prison capital. Private Prisons Profit From Immigration Crackdown, Federal And Local Law Enforcement Partnerships. The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor. Investigation, Lawsuit Expose Barbaric Conditions at For-Profit Youth Prison in Mississippi. United States Continuing to Overspend on Police, Despite Decreasing Crime Rates — Justice Policy Institute.
Drones on the Home Front. Will a Militarized Police Force Facing Occupy Wall Street Lead to Another Kent State Massacre? A Brief History of Drones. Where American criminal justice went wrong. Homeless people treated as criminals in America. The Exile Nation Project - Mary Barr (Pt. 1) 15-Year-Old Girl Faces Life in Prison for a Miscarriage? Why Conservatives Are Criminalizing Pregnant Women. Militarys-newly-aggressive-rape. Sexual assault in the military: Congress pressures Pentagon to fix the system. Homeland Security's 'Pre-Crime' Screening Will Never Work - Alexander Furnas - Technology. Forty years in solitary confinement and counting. Misdemeanors can have major consequences for the people charged.