News and Updates

Connecticut Senate votes to abolish death penalty

The legislation would not affect sentences of the 11 inmates currently on Connecticut’s death row

Credit: Jessica Hill/AP
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy speaks after signing a two-year $40.1 billion budget bill into law at the Capitol in Hartford, Conn., Wednesday, May 4, 2011.
By: The Associated Press
New York Daily News
Thursday, April 5, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. - A push to abolish Connecticut's death penalty is one step closer to becoming a reality after clearing a key legislative hurdle in the state Senate early Thursday morning.

State senators voted 20-16 in favor of a death penalty repeal bill after about 11 hours of impassioned floor debate.

Two young victims of racist hate

Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin
By: Marlene Martin
The Socialist Worker
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

AN AFRICAN American teenager murdered in the South. His killer goes unpunished. The authorities and local media blame the victim. But his death sparks a mass movement against racism.

That could describe the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in February 2012. But it's also the story of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Money, Miss., in 1955.

Connecticut Weighs Ending Death Penalty

By: Ashby Jones
The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

State senators in Connecticut are slated to vote Wednesday on whether to become the fourth state in recent years to repeal the death penalty.

Senate Democrats say they have enough votes to approve the bill and send it to the state's House of Representatives, where it would widely be expected to pass. Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, has said that if presented to him, he would sign the bill into law.

Cruel and unusual?: Death row inmate challenges state execution procedure

By: Brian Lyman
Montgomery Advertiser
Sunday, April 1, 2012

A death row inmate who had his execution blocked by a federal court that cited Alabama’s “secrecy” concerning its execution procedure says that procedure could leave him conscious while drugs that stop his breathing and his heart flow through his body.

Attorneys for Thomas Arthur, who was convicted in a 1982 murder-for-hire scheme, argue that the use of pentobarbital to anesthetize a prisoner during an execution violates Arthur’s Eighth Amendment protections.

Ex-judges, prosecutors backing Va death row inmate

A Virginia death row inmate is getting some high-powered support in his bid for freedom.

By: Associated Press
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thirty-four former judges and prosecutors have filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging a federal appeals court to affirm the reversal of Justin Michael Wolfe's murder-for-hire conviction. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case on May 17.

Wolfe, now 31, was sentenced to death for the 2001 slaying of his marijuana supplier, Daniel Petrole, in Prince William County. U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson threw out Wolfe's conviction last July, saying the prosecution suppressed evidence and knowingly used false testimony from its star witness, shooter Owen Barber.

The Virginia attorney general's office is appealing Jackson's ruling.

Trayvon Martin death: thousands march in town where teenager was shot

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson among the speakers at rally as protesters vow to continue until arrest is made

Credit: David Manning/Reuters
Jesse Jackson, centre right, joins the protest march over the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
By: Associated Press
The Guardian
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thousands of people have joined a march through Sanford, the Florida town where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, vowing to continue their protests until an arrest is made.

Alabama death penalty case far from over

By: The Associated Press
The Daily Comet
Thursday, March 29, 2012

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Though the scheduled Thursday execution of Thomas Douglas Arthur had been halted, the legal battle over the man convicted of a 1982 murder-for-hire is far from over.

U.S. judge bars import of drug used in death penalty

By: Jeremy Pelofsky
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A U.S. judge on Tuesday barred U.S. authorities from importing an anesthesia drug used in carrying out death sentences because the Food and Drug Administration never approved the drug for use in the United States, and he ordered supplies be confiscated.

A group of death row inmates had sued the FDA last year over improperly allowing shipments into the country of sodium thiopental, a sedative used as the first of three drugs administered in carrying out executions.

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.