News and Updates

America had 5th most executions of any nation in 2011, Amnesty International says

By: Associated Press
Austin American-Statesman
Monday, March 26, 2012

The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said Monday.

America's 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment, the rights group said in its annual review of worldwide death penalty trends, even though U.S. executions were down from 46 a year earlier.

Unlikely Advocates For Teen Killers: Victims' Families

Credit: Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel wait outside the Supreme Court for Tuesday's hearing on whether it is unconstitutional to sentence teenagers to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
By: Laura Sullivan and Lauren Silverman
National Public Radio
Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Supreme Court heard arguments this week about the fate of 2,500 offenders who were sentenced as teenagers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Seventy-nine of them were 13 or 14 when they committed their crimes.

Many prosecutors and family members of victims spoke out about the need to keep the sentences in place.

But in a small building cafeteria, just a few blocks from the Supreme Court, a different group of family members quietly came together. These were the families of teenagers who committed horrible crimes — and sitting next to them were the families of victims.

Raising our voices for Trayvon

A report from New York City on an angry protest--one of many across the country--against the killing of Trayvon Martin.

By: Gary Lapon and Julian Guerrero
Socialist Worker
Thursday, March 22, 2012

THOUSANDS of people gathered in Union Square in New York City March 21 for a "Million Hoodie March" to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, as outrage at his racist murder continues to spread across the country and the world.

Legislative committee approves death penalty repeal

By: Ken Dixon
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

HARTFORD -- The law-writing Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would repeal the state's death penalty and substitute lethal injection with life in prison without the possibility of release.

The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin

Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times
Charles M. Blow
By: Charles M. Blow
New York Times
Friday, March 16, 2012

“He said that Tray was gone.”

That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.

“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.”

Police Monitor Brings Unique Perspective To Table In Carter Shooting

Says officers assume the worst about African-Americans

By: Rebekah Skelton
The Austin Villager
Friday, March 16, 2012

Austin Police Monitor Margo Frasier is a middle-aged white woman, who acknowledges that she is not likely to be stopped and searched by police anytime soon. Her adopted daughter, however, is a 19-year-old African-American, and her chances of being stopped are much higher, Frasier said. So when Frasier reviews a case such as the officer-involved fatal shooting of Byron Carter Jr., a young African-American man, she brings a unique perspective to the table.

Too young for life without parole

It's time for the United States to take a new look at imposing this too-harsh sentence on children who commit major crimes.

Credit: Los Angeles Times
Juvenile inmates are handcuffed to each other after returning from court to Clifton Tatum Juvenile Hall in Ventura.
By: Katherine Ellison
Los Angeles Times
Thursday, March 15, 2012

In 1646, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the Stubborn Child Law, decreeing that teenage boys who disobeyed their parents could be put to death.

What a difference 3 1/2 centuries make. In our enlightened age, mothers and fathers study manuals for techniques to make children more compliant. And many of us are well acquainted with the critical mass of neuroscience establishing that adolescence constitutes a time of diminished responsibility, when the brain's frontal lobes — the seat of judgment and impulse control — are still developing.

EXECUTION RECORD: Arizona On Pace To Match Busiest Year For Death Penalties

Credit: Getty Images
By: Amanda Lee Myers
Huffington Post
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

PHOENIX -- With two executions already carried out so far this year and two more up for consideration next week, Arizona is on pace to match its busiest year for executions since establishing the death penalty in 1910 and be among the busiest death-penalty states in the nation, The Associated Press has determined.

Bill abolishing death penalty to get cursory glance

By: Samantha Foster
The Capital-Journal
Sunday, March 11, 2012

A House bill that would abolish the death penalty in Kansas and add the crime of aggravated murder with a sentencing of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole will receive an informational hearing Thursday, but it is doubtful any action will be taken.

Appeal of Death Row Case Is More Than a Matter of Guilt or Innocence

Rob Will
By: Brandi Grissom
The New York Times
Saturday, March 10, 2012

No one saw Rob Will shoot and kill Harris County Deputy Sheriff Barrett Hill in the still-black morning hours in a Houston bayou on Dec. 4, 2000. No physical evidence linked him to the murder.

Mr. Will, now on death row, said that he is innocent, but that he has been represented by ineffective lawyers. He has a new lawyer who faces the daunting challenge of representing Mr. Will at this late stage in his appeals.