Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ending the Death Penalty Because of, not in Spite of, Conservative Principles

. . . When interviewed by The Daily Show, the lead Republican sponsor of repealing Nebraska’s death penalty, Senator Colby Coash, explained to a skeptical reporter that it was because of, not in spite of, his conservative principles that he led the effort. In particular, this aspect of the Nebraska campaign – legislators ending capital punishment for conservative reasons – has fascinated and perplexed observers.

Specifically, the conservative case against the death penalty consists of 3 principal arguments: the death penalty’s incompatibility with (1) limited government, (2) fiscal responsibility, and (3) promoting a culture of life. . . .

Read the article: The Harvard Law Record

Forensic Pseudoscience—-The Unheralded Crisis of Criminal Justice

This past April, the FBI made an admission that was nothing short of catastrophic for the field of forensic science. In an unprecedented display of repentance, the Bureau announced that, for years, the hair analysis testimony it had used to investigate criminal suspects was severely and hopelessly flawed.                                                  Continue reading: Boston Review

When ‘Race-Neutral’ Reasons for Striking Jurors Aren’t Neutral in the Slightest

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case regarding whether Timothy Tyrone Foster lives or dies.

Nearly 30 years ago, an all-white jury sentenced Foster, then an 18-year-old Black kid, to death for the murder of an elderly white woman in Floyd County, Georgia. The prosecution had eliminated every eligible Black person from the jury pool. And once the prosecution had obtained an all-white jury, the lead prosecutor, Stephen Lanier, urged said jury to impose the death penalty in order to “deter other people out there in the projects.” Continue reading: RH Reality Check

U.S. death penalties, executions slow as capital punishment is squeezed

Capital punishment in the United States has moved into the slow lane, with the number of executions and new death sentences likely to hit lows not seen for more than 20 years.

The last 2 executions of the year are set to be carried out next week, with Texas scheduled to put convicted murderer Raphael Holiday to death on Wednesday and Georgia scheduled to execute convicted murderer Marcus Johnson on Thursday.
If those lethal injections proceed, there will have been 27 executions in the United States in 2015. That would be the least since 1991, before “a get tough on crime” movement swept the country and led executions to hit 98 in 1999, the highest since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Continue reading: Reuters

Why Are So Many Veterans on Death Row?

By Jeffrey Toobin

. . . Richard C. Dieter, the longtime executive director of the invaluable D.P.I.C., estimates that “at least 10% of the current death row—that is, over 300 inmates—are military veterans. Many others have already been executed.” In a nation where roughly seven per cent of the population have served in the military, this number alone indicates disproportionate representation. But in a nation where military service has traditionally been seen as a route into the middle class—and where being a vet has been seen as more of a benefit than a burden—the military numbers are especially disturbing.
Read the article at The New Yorker
Related: Death Penalty Information Center: Retired Generals Call for Review of Status of Military Veterans Facing Death Penalty

Letter to the Charleston Post and Courier

Dear Editor:

Mr. Nuss wrote a letter lamenting the cost and delay of Dylann Roof’s trial.

Roof’s lawyers have indicated that if the death penalty were taken off the table they would be ready to enter a guilty plea. Taking the death penalty off the table would allow the survivors and victims’ family members to avoid the additional trauma of a lengthy trial and the reoccurring trauma over the years as the appeals proceed.

The survivors and family members would have some closure. Hundreds of thousands of dollars would be saved. Court time would be freed up. Roof would spend the rest of his life in prison. He would not receive years of media attention. He would quietly stew in his own evil juices as his victims would begin healing.

Ron Kaz
Chair, SCADP

The Worst Lawyers

Death sentences are down across the country – except for where one of these guys is the defense attorney.
By Robert J. Smith

20 years ago a law professor wrote that the death penalty in America was handed down not “for the worst crime, but for the worst lawyer.” Is that still true?
Read the article at

Begging to Be Executed Saved His Life

A death row inmate who was exonerated at the 11th hour opens up about the psychological turmoil he faced, and the problems with capital punishment.

It could only make sense in the twisted world of American justice. A death row prisoner’s life was saved because he wrote to a judge begging to be executed.

After decades behind bars protesting his innocence, he could no longer stand the failed appeals, the enforced silences, and the despair of another extinguished dream of freedom. He requested that his trip to the electric chair take place in the coming months.
Continue reading: The Daily Beast
Review of “The Fear of 13”
Movie trailer