News and Updates

What about Martin's right to 'stand his ground'?

By: Miller Francis
Friday, July 12, 2013

Like many people, I've been riveted by the George Zimmerman trial. I call it "the George Zimmerman trial" because that's what it is, but the more I watch, the more I wonder: Should it be renamed "the Trayvon Martin trial?"

I'm not just talking about some of the media's tabloid-like focus on Martin's background, his personal history, his school records and -- outside the courtroom -- the toxicology report. I'm talking about an aspect of the case that never comes up in the media coverage, one that I would argue is key.

This murder trial, in and out of the courtroom, has been boiled down to one question: Was Zimmerman in fear for his life and thus justified in defending himself by shooting and killing Martin?

It has been framed this way -- in terms of Zimmerman's mortal fear -- since the shooting in 2012.

California Prisoner Hunger Strike Begins

By: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
Monday, July 8, 2013

Who:  Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
What:  California Prisoners Begin 3rd Peaceful Hunger Strike and Work Actions
When: Monday, July 8, 2013, 11am
Where: Elihu Harris CA State Office Building, 1515 Clay St, Oakland, CA

It's Time to Abolish the Death Penalty

By: Sean McElwee
Huffington Post
Monday, July 8, 2013

The United States needs to abolish the death penalty. It's archaic, costly, ineffective, and most importantly, unjust. The first place to start with the death penalty may be philosophical. The purpose of our criminal justice system is to deter crime, rehabilitate convicts, and incapacitate hardened criminals. Philosophically speaking, life in prison serves these functions better than the death penalty. Life imprisonment is certainly a deterrent -- in fact, it may be worse than death itself. Life in prison allows for rehabilitation, whereas death is final. And with supermax prisons, escape is no longer a real possibility, so incapacitation is served equally well by both.

Abolition in Maryland

Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Anti–death penalty advocate Shujaa Graham, who was exonerated from death row in California, reacts to Maryland's recent death penalty ban.
By: David A. Love
The Nation
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recently I was at the State House in Annapolis when Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley made history, erasing a centuries-old practice with the stroke of a pen. On May 2, O’Malley signed a law repealing the death penalty, making it the eighteenth state to abolish capital punishment as well as the sixth state in six years—after New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Illinois and Connecticut.

Standing with me were two men with a very personal stake in the governor’s actions: Kirk Bloodsworth and Shujaa Graham, both of whom had been exonerated. They are just two of the 142 death row prisoners over the past forty years who have been released because they were innocent: Graham was number twenty, and Bloodsworth was number forty-eight. Along with organizers and lawmakers, many of these exonerated death row survivors—who spend an average of ten years on death row for crimes they did not commit—are leading the charge to halt executions throughout America.

Tim McKinney walks free after over a decade on death row

Credit: Wendy Ocheltree
Timothy McKinney is reunited with his family today.
By: Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wonderful news! Tim McKinney who has spent 15 years on death row walked out of jail today and into the arms of his waiting family. As Lee Wengraf, an activist who fought hard to try to win Tim his freedom, wrote: “Tim McKinney will be home with his family today. This has been a long struggle and even though he deserves to be exonerated outright,  this is a victory against the Tennessee Courts who wanted to execute him.”

Nathan Dunlap granted temporary reprieve by Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper

Credit: Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post
Nathan Dunlap at a May 1, 2013 court hearing at the Arapahoe County Court in Division court room 408 in Centennial.
By: Karen Augéand and Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday issued an executive order granting convicted killer Nathan Dunlap a "temporary reprieve" from an execution that had been just three months away.

In an executive order that provides an indefinite stay of execution, Hickenlooper writes that the decision has weighed heavily on him.

He calls Dunlap's crimes "horrendous" — although nowhere in the order does he refer to Dunlap by name — and declares his respect for the jurors who handed down the death sentence.

But more than 15 years have passed since that decision, and those years have provided "the benefit of information that exposes an inequitable system," Hickenlooper's order states.

"It is a legitimate question whether we as a state should be taking lives," the order says. "Because the question is about the use of the death penalty itself, and not about Offender No. 89148, I have opted to grant a reprieve and not clemency in this case."

Drop the Charges! No Fourth Trial for Tim McKinney!

Sign the petition for Tim McKinney: Drop the Charges!

Monday, April 29, 2013

**PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY!!   Please sign this petition for Tim McKinney! Tim spent 10 years on Tennessee's death row and could be facing yet another capital trial for a crime he did not commit...

Questions Linger Over Central Texas Man's Death Sentence

By: Adam Racusin
Friday, April 26, 2013

Click here to watch the video broadcast of this story.

Arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a teenager. The murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites sent shockwaves through central Texas. But, all along, the man behind bars for her murder has said he didn't do it.

Rodney Reed believes new challenges to his case could support his claims of innocence.

Reed has been on death row for 15 years living out a nightmare.

KEYE TV asked him if he killed Stacey Stites. "No, not at all, not at all," said Reed.

A black man convicted by a jury his attorneys claim never got the chance to hear all the evidence -- evidence they believe could set him free. "My innocence, my family and my supporters, they are all behind me," said Reed. "I have to continue to fight."

5 Things You Should Know About the History of the Death Penalty

Debates about the death penalty are as old as the nation itself.

By: Stephen John Hartnett
Monday, April 15, 2013
On March 15, 2013 Maryland became the sixth state in the U.S. to either abolish the death penalty or to impose a moratorium upon its use, joining Illinois (2001), New York (2007), New Jersey (2007), New Mexico (2009), and Connecticut (2012). Bills to abolish the death penalty have either been introduced or will be introduced this year in a number of states, including Alabama, California, Florida, Colorado, and others.

The tide is clearly turning against state-sanctioned killing in the name of the law. What many Americans do not know is that debates about the death penalty are as old as the nation itself. What follows are five facts that every American should know about capital punishment and its history in the U.S.

Is Life Without Parole Any Better Than the Death Penalty?

Maryland is poised to be the 18th state to abolish capital punishment, in favor of lifetime imprisonment.

Credit: Jay Baker/MCGovpics
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley speaks at a January press conference about ending the death penalty. A bill that would abolish the practice in Maryland awaits his signature.
By: Rebecca Burns
In These Times
Friday, March 22, 2013

Maryland has executed only five inmates since 1976, and in March the state legislature passed a bill abolishing the death penalty entirely. Of the 32 states that still have the measure on their books, 13 have not carried out any executions in the past five years. This gradual retreat from capital punishment is celebrated by activists who note that U.S. use of the death penalty, long abandoned by the rest of the developed world, places it in the company of human rights abusers such as Bahrain and North Korea.