News and Updates

Top Criminal Court to Hear Hank Skinner's DNA Plea


Credit: photo illustration by: Caleb Bryant Miller / Todd Wiseman
By: Brandi Grissom
The Texas Tribune
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Death row inmate Hank Skinner’s decade-long fight for DNA testing, which he hopes will prove his innocence in a grisly West Texas triple murder, will take center stage this morning in the state’s highest criminal court.


Towards Exempting the Severely Mentally Ill from the Death Penalty


JURIST Guest Columnist Olga Vlasova, Brooklyn Law School Class of 2013, is the Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow. She argues for prohibiting the death penalty for severely mentally ill offenders...
By: Olga Vlasova
Jurist
Monday, April 30, 2012

According to Mental Health America, about 10 percent of all death row inmates suffer from a serious mental illness. Although a severely mentally ill inmate on death row may have his execution delayed due to incompetency, once the individual has regained competence, he can be executed. The Supreme Court has never ruled that the US Constitution prohibits sentencing severely mentally ill offenders to death.


The Myth of Deterrence

By: Editorial
The New York Times
Friday, April 27, 2012

One of the most frequently made claims about the death penalty is that it deters potential murderers. That was the claim when the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.


Life Without Parole Is A Terrible Idea

Death-penalty opponents are gearing up for the possible abolition of capital punishment in California. They’d see it as a major victory, writes David Dow, but they shouldn’t.


Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photos
An inmate stares out a window at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif., March 2, 2012.
By: David Dow
The Daily Beast
Friday, April 27, 2012

If California dumps the death penalty this November, abolitionists will probably dance in the streets. But they shouldn’t, because the state would be abandoning one terrible idea only to replace it with another.


Now, abolish the death penalty

By: Kathleen M. Mullin
newsobserver.com
Friday, April 27, 2012

Last week’s landmark legal ruling which found that racial discrimination had tainted the death penalty trial of Marcus Robinson resulted in Robinson’s being spared execution and being resentenced to life imprisonment. At long last, the ruling itself recognized the overwhelmingly pervasive and prejudicial role that race plays in the administration of justice, which is certainly not blind.


Shifts seen in support for death penalty

By: Kevin Johnson
The Washington Post
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WASHINGTON — The campaign to abolish the death penalty has been freshly invigorated this month in a series of actions that supporters say represents increasing evidence that America may be losing its taste for capital punishment.


Connecticut abolishes death penalty


By: Ebong Udoma
The Chicago Tribune
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - The governor of Connecticut on Wednesday signed into law a repeal of the death penalty, making it the fifth state in recent years to abandon capital punishment.

Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the legislation without fanfare behind closed doors, saying in a statement it was "a moment for sober reflection, not celebration."


Prosecutor Misconduct & the Obama Administration

By: Linn Washington, Jr.
Counter Punch
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One of the issues driving protesters participating in the April 24, 2012 Occupy The Justice Department demonstration is an issue that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knows well: prosecutorial misconduct.

Holder knows this misconduct issue well because he has criticized it during congressional testimony, in fact as recently as March 2012 when he was commenting on a special prosecutor’s report castigating the wrongdoing of federal prosecutors.


Racial Bias in Death Penalty Cases: A North Carolina Test

A judge gives life to an extraordinary new law designed to remedy the state's long history of prejudice in capital trials.


Credit: AP IMAGES
The execution chamber at Central prison in Raleigh, N.C
By: Andrew Cohen
The Atlantic
Monday, April 23, 2012

If we still want to have a sound and sober national conversation about race and justice, if we still are eager to use a single case as a totem for what we perceive to be wrong or unjust about the criminal justice system, perhaps we all would be better served by paying attention to what's happening in North Carolina to a man named Marcus Robinson than we are by paying attention to what's happening in Florida to a man named George Zimmerman.


Life, death and race

How color-blind is justice, especially in capital cases?

By: James R. Acker
Times Union
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Twenty-five years ago today, on April 22, 1987, the Supreme Court decided McCleskey vs.