News and Updates

Police torturer on trial

Chicago police torturer Jon Burge
Socialist Worker
Friday, May 21, 2010

The man responsible for the torture of Mark Clements and some 200 other African American and Latino men in Chicago will go on trial on Monday in a downtown courtroom.

Jon Burge is former police commander who oversaw a squad of detectives who were notorious for using torture techniques to coerce false confessions out of suspects. One of their victims was a 16-year-old Clements. The incriminating statement that was tortured out of him was the main evidence used at the trial where he was convicted. Clements was sentenced to four life sentences plus 30 years.

World Moving Towards Abolition

By: Mehru Jaffer
Thursday, May 20, 2010

VIENNA, May 20, 2010 (IPS) - Anti-death penalty activists meeting in the Austrian capital to discuss the eighth quinquennial report of the United Nations Secretary-General have hailed a worldwide trend towards total and universal abolition of capital punishment.

The abolitionists are euphoric although several countries, where capital punishment remains in force, also disrespect international norms and standards on three counts - in limiting the death penalty to very serious crimes, excluding juvenile offenders from its scope and guaranteeing fair trial.

Dems want to scrap death penalty in California

Credit: California Dept. of Corrections
Death Row inmate Michael Morales.
By: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, May 20, 2010

The California Democratic Party is calling for abolition of the death penalty, defying conventional political wisdom and raising an issue that its candidate for governor might prefer to avoid.

Democratic leaders have previously passed resolutions opposing capital punishment, but the party says its records indicate it has never enshrined the position in its platform - the formal statement of its principles - until this year.

From Amnesty- Demand justice in the case of Reggie Clemons - don't let him be executed!

By: Sandie Blanton
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In April 1991 in St. Louis, Missouri, two young white women plunged from a bridge into the Mississippi River. Three African American youths, who may well be innocent, are paying for the crime - all sentenced to death. One man has been executed, one had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment and the third, Reggie Clemons, sits on death row right now, at risk of execution.

Major Supreme Court Ruling: Kids Who Didn't Kill Anyone Should Not Have to Die in Prison

The Supreme Court has given a second chance to juveniles serving life without parole for non-homicide crimes.

By: Liliana Segura
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Children who commit crimes other than murder can no longer face a sentence of life without parole, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a highly anticipated decision that civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson calls "an incredibly important win for kids who've been condemned to die in prison."

Justices Limit Life Sentences for Juveniles

Court Bars Life Terms for Youths Who Haven't Killed

The New York Times
Monday, May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed may not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Death Row cases should be reviewed, justice says

Justice Paul E. Pfeifer
By: Alan Johnson
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The "father of Ohio's death penalty," Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, says all current Death Row cases should be reviewed to see which ones warrant execution -- and which should be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"There are probably few people in Ohio that are proud of the fact we are executing people at the same pace as Texas," Pfeifer told The Dispatch. His comments came the day after the lethal injection of Michael Beuke, the fifth Ohioan executed this year and the 38th since 1999.

"When the next governor is sworn in," Pfeifer said, "I think the state would be well served if a blue-ribbon panel was appointed to look at all those cases.

Supreme Court asked to decide Georgia death-penalty appeal

By: Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to hear a case that could decide whether Georgia can afford the death penalty.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Jamie Ryan Weis petitioned the high court to consider a recent 4-3 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court that denied Weis’ bid to bar a death penalty prosecution because he sat in jail for more than two years without lawyers to defend him.

Prosecution of former Chicago police Lt. Burge in torture case is 'wrong,' says ex-detective

By: Associated Press
The Chicago Tribune
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CHICAGO (AP) — A former Chicago police detective says it's "wrong" that his one-time boss is being prosecuted for allegedly lying about the torture of murder suspects decades ago.

Michael McDermott worked for the police department for 25 years, 15 of them under former police Lt. Jon Burge.

Burge is a key figure in an investigation into alleged police torture in the 1970s and 1980s. He's pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice and perjury charges.