News and Updates

Death-row innocents trapped in a living hell

Death Row inmate ... Larry Swearingen.
Great Lakes Advocate
Sunday, March 4, 2012

In his 12 years on death row, Larry Swearingen's execution date has been set three times. Three times he has known when he would be strapped to a stretcher and put down with drugs: sodium thiobarbital to anaesthetise him, pancuronium bromide to paralyse his muscles and potassium chloride to stop his heart.

In January 2009, he had written his goodbyes and was on his way to the chamber when the stay of execution came through. ''The way I had to look at it was, 'I'm just gonna lay down and go to sleep,''' he says. ''I wasn't gonna grovel. I wasn't gonna sit there and cry. I can't be remorseful for a crime that I didn't commit.''

When Innocence Isn’t Enough

Credit: Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press
Edward Lee Elmore was in prison for 30 years, convicted of a crime that the evidence strongly suggests he did not commit.
By: Raymond Bonner
The New York Times
Friday, March 2, 2012

EDWARD LEE ELMORE turned 53 in January. For more than half his life, the soft-spoken African-American who doesn’t understand the concept of north, south, east and west, or of summer, fall, winter and spring, was in a South Carolina prison, most of it on death row.

On Friday, Mr. Elmore walked out of the courthouse in Greenwood, S.C., a free man, as part of an agreement with the state whereby he denied any involvement in the crime but pleaded guilty in exchange for his freedom. This was his 11,000th day in jail.

State Senate Committee Hears Proposal to End the Death Penalty

By: Kenny Colston
89.3 WFPL News
Thursday, March 1, 2012

For the first time in Kentucky, a legislative committee is considering a move to abolish the death penalty. The bill received a hearing in a Senate committee today.

Senate Bill 63 would abolish capital punishment in the commonwealth, a move few other states have accomplished by statute.

The bill has the support of the American Bar Association based on a report the group released last summer detailing numerous problems with Kentucky’s capital punishment system.

End death penalty measure likely to be on November ballot

Credit: John Green
Volunteers carry boxes of signed petitions to the Department of Elections at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, March 1, 2012.
By: Howard Mintz
San Jose Mercury News
Thursday, March 1, 2012

California's voters in November will have their first opportunity in more than three decades to consider whether to scrap the death penalty and clear the largest death row in the nation's history.

Reviving one of the state's most contentious political issues, backers of a proposed ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty announced Thursday that they had more than enough signatures to put the explosive question on the November ballot. They gathered more than 800,000 signatures, 300,000 more than required, and only technical glitches would prevent a campaign that will reopen the debate over whether California should execute its most heinous murderers.

State considers voting against death penalty

Maryland has only used execution five times since 1977

By: Jim Bach
Diamondback Online
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

For several years, state lawmakers have proposed repealing the death penalty — an issue that will once again be brought up this session but has yet to make it to a full body vote in the state's General Assembly.

Bill seeks to repeal capital punishment in Missouri

The bill would also order re-sentencing of current death row inmates.

By: Jeremy Truitt
The Maneater
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A new House bill being brought forth by Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-District 58, seeks to repeal the death penalty in Missouri as well as allow re-sentencing for all inmates currently on death row in the state.

High Court Won't Hear Death Row Inmate's Evidence of Innocence

By: Bob Drummond
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to consider stopping the execution of Larry Ray Swearingen, a Texas death row inmate who says newly uncovered evidence proves his innocence.

Swearingen's lawyers had asked the high court to decide for the first time whether executing an innocent person constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution.

Lower federal courts declined to intervene in Swearingen's case in part because, as the law now stands, even uncontested scientific proof of innocence isn't a valid reason for a federal judge to stop an execution.

Another Death Row Debacle: The Case Against Thomas Arthur

In Alabama, a death row prisoner could be exonerated by a DNA test. Why are the courts preventing this from happening -- especially when another man has already confessed to the crime?

Credit: AP
Thomas Arthur
By: Andrew Cohen
The Atlantic
Monday, February 27, 2012

Another month, another man on death row, another excruciating case that illustrates just some of the ways in which America's death penalty regime is unconstitutionally broken. This time, the venue is Alabama. This time, the murder that generated the sentence took place 30 years ago. And this time, there is an execution date of March 29, 2012, for Thomas Arthur, a man who has always maintained his innocence. He also has the unwelcome distinction of being one of the few prisoners in the DNA-testing era to be this close to capital punishment after someone else confessed under oath to the crime.

Death penalty repeal bill to resurface in legislature

By: JC Reindl
The Day
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hartford - A bill that would repeal the death penalty is moving forward in the legislature.

The General Assembly's Judiciary Committee voted 23 to 15 Wednesday to raise the repeal bill for this year's short session.

Bradley Manning, Solitary Confinement and Occupy 4 Prisoners

By: Bill Quigley
Common Dreams
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today US Army Private Bradley Manning is to be formally charged with numerous crimes at Fort Meade, Maryland.   Manning, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Icelandic Parliament, is charged with releasing hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets of the US government to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. These documents exposed lies, corruption and crimes by the US and other countries.  The Bradley Manning defense team points out accurately that much of what was published by Wikileaks was either not actually secret or should not have been secret.