News and Updates

John Grisham: Teresa Lewis didn't pull the trigger. Why is she on death row?

By: John Grisham
Washington Post
Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Commonwealth of Virginia already has a serious relationship with its death penalty. In the past three decades, only Texas has executed more inmates. But on Sept. 23, the Old Dominion will enter new territory when it executes a female inmate for the first time in nearly a century.

Her name is Teresa Lewis, she is the only woman on death row at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and her appeals have all but expired. If she is executed, she will become another glaring example of the unfairness of our death penalty system.

In Virginia, a Woman on the Verge of Execution

Teresa Lewis was sentenced to death for plotting to have her husband and stepson killed in 2002. Lewis could become the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly 100 years
By: Katy Steinmetz and Alex Altman
Time Magazine
Friday, September 10, 2010

After midnight on Oct. 30, 2002, two men crept into an unlocked trailer in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. A family of three was sleeping. Toting shotguns, the intruders roused Teresa Lewis, now 40, and told her to leave the bedroom she shared with her husband Julian. One of the men shot Julian several times. The other intruder stalked down the hall and put five bullets into Julian's son, C.J., a U.S. Army reservist. The intruders divvied up the cash in Julian's wallet and fled the trailer. About 45 minutes later, Teresa Lewis called the police to report that her husband and stepson had been killed. But when the police arrived, Julian Lewis was still alive.

America's Jim Crow Gulag

Michelle Alexander argues that there's nothing "colorblind" about the U.S. criminal justice system. Ken Richardson reviews her important new book.

Shackled prisoners are led outside to begin a day of labor
By: Ken Richardson
Friday, September 10, 2010

The United States is a country that was built on a foundation of racism. Historically, racism has taken many forms and served different purposes for those at the top of U.S. society. Whether it was chattel slavery or Jim Crow segregation, structural and overt racism have been a major feature of American life for many generations.

Troy Davis Innocence Claim Denied

By: Jean Marlowe
The Nation
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On June 23, outside a federal courthouse in Savannah, Georgia, anti–death penalty activists began arriving at 5 AMfor a critical two-day hearing in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, a prisoner on Georgia's death row. In a highly unusual move, the US Supreme Court had ordered the evidentiary hearing, giving Davis a rare opportunity to clearly establish his innocence. The bar for establishing innocence was high—the burden of proof was on Davis.

Death penalty march comes to Denton

By: Taylor Jackson
North Texas Daily
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A crowd took to Oak Street on Saturday to show opposition to the death penalty.

The group of about 50 marched along the path from the Denton Square to Wooten Hall, yelling chants from hand-written notes.

Ga. Death Row Inmate Failed to Prove Innocence, Rules Federal Judge

Condemned inmate's lawyers say they will appeal; case could move directly to the U.S. Supreme Court

By: Alyson M. Palmer
Fulton County Daily Report
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A federal judge in Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday ruled against Troy Davis' claims that he is innocent of the 1989 murder for which he's been sentenced to death.

The cruel and unusual punishment of Teresa Lewis

The case of the first woman to be executed in Virginia for a century highlights America's death row sham

Credit: Getty Images/Joe Raedle
A death chamber in Huntsville, Texas, where execution is conducted by lethal injection. In Virginia, inmates may choose between lethal injection and electrocution.
By: Alex Hannaford
Sunday, August 22, 2010

On 23 September, 40-year-old Teresa Lewis will become the first woman to be executed in the state of Virginia for almost a century. She'll also be the first woman put to death in the US since 2005. Considering that, in the intervening five years, around 220 men will have been executed, it puts it into perspective: executing women is unusual. Of more than 1,200 executions carried out since the US supreme court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 were of women. And each time that happens, it's stunningly bad PR for an increasingly unpopular facet of the American justice system.

Troy Davis judge in Ga. won't reconsider evidence

Associated Press
Thursday, August 12, 2010

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A federal judge says he won't reconsider testimony he refused to hear in court in the case of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis. The judge ruled Thursday against a motion by Davis' attorneys, who argued the judge wrongly rejected a witness who was to testify she heard another man confess to killing a Savannah police officer in 1989.

A federal judge says he won't reconsider testimony he refused to hear in court in the case of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled Thursday against a motion by Davis' attorneys, who argued the judge wrongly rejected a witness who was to testify she heard another man confess to killing a Savannah police officer in 1989.

He deserves his day in court

Credit: Matt Beamesderfer | SW
Texas protesters call for an end to the death penalty
By: Mark Clements
Socialist Worker
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FREDERICK BELL could become the fourth person executed this year by the state of Mississippi if the courts refuse to take up his plea that evidence of his innocence be heard.

In May 1991, 19-year-old Bell was charged for the robbery and murder of store clerk Bert Bell (no relation). He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 1993, largely because his trial attorneys failed to even investigate the case or conduct DNA testing beforehand.

Since 1993, Bell has sat caged in a prison cell on Mississippi's death row, denied access to the courts, despite newly discovered evidence that strongly suggests he is completely innocent in this case.

'Rock and a hard place' for city over Burge costs

Credit: Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune
By: Matthew Walberg, Tribune reporter
Chicago Tribune
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

After already paying hefty legal fees connected to the torture claims against former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, city officials are bracing to spend more on his defense rather than face even worse potential court damages from a host of related civil lawsuits.

Over the past two decades, the city has shelled out roughly $10.1 million to defend Burge, itself and other defendants in the torture scandal that led to Burge's federal conviction in June for lying about acts of torture from the 1970s and '80s.