Governor Wolf temporarily bans death penalty in PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf says he is temporarily prohibiting the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Wolf said the moratorium will remain in effect until he has reviewed a task force report on the effectiveness of capital punishment in Pennsylvania and all concerns have been addressed satisfactorily. Continue reading: ABC27.com
Click here for the text of the moratorium.

Related: Similar arguments against the death penalty in Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, Colorado (The Marshall Project)

Death penalty, in retreat: Interview with Professor Carol Steiker

Harvard Law professor Carol Steiker: My brother and I are writing this book about the way in which capital punishment has become the subject of top-down, national regulation from the Supreme Court over the last 50 years. We look at the interplay between this attempted national regulation and state and local responses to it. The story of these last 50 years of interaction between the Supreme Court, the federal courts, the Constitution, and state and local and popular responses tells us a lot about the death penalty, what it means, and what its functions are. But it also tells us a lot about the possibilities and the pitfalls of constitutional regulation in the context of highly contested social issues. There are some interesting links here to school desegregation, abortion, and gay marriage.
Please read the Harvard Gazette’s interview with Professor Steiker on the history and the future of the death penalty in the United States. (The above excerpt was taken from the end of the interview.)
Backup copy on this site: Continue reading

Should Veterans With PTSD Be Exempt From the Death Penalty?

On January 12, 1998, Andrew Brannan was driving his truck at 98 miles an hour on a country road near his Dublin, Georgia, home when he was pulled over by Deputy Kyle Dinkheller. Brannan . . . shouted profanities and danced around, yelling, “Here I am, here I am … [s]hoot me.” He then attacked the deputy and a gunfight ensued, in which Brannan shot Dinkheller nine times with a rifle. . . . Every doctor who had examined Andrew confirmed that he was suffering for years before the crime from significant PTSD . . .

Before he made headlines as a convicted murderer, Brannan was a decorated combat veteran . . .  and was awarded the Bronze Star and two Army Commendation medals for outstanding service. . . .  On January 13, he became the first person executed in 2015.
Read Julia Filip’s article: The Atlantic

Carter pleads guilty in murder of Aiken police officer, gets life without parole

Stephon Carter, 22, pleaded guilty Monday, Feb.2 to the 2011 murder of Aiken Department of Public Safety Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Carter’s plea came minutes before jurors were expected to hear opening statements in his capital murder trial – and one day shy of a year after Joshua Jones pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the 2012 murder of Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers.

After Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman entered the courtroom Monday, Second Circuit Solicitor J. Strom Thurmond Jr. said the state was withdrawing its notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
Continue reading: The Aiken Standard

Exonerated in 2014

From the University of Michigan’s report Exonerations in 2014:
Six defendants who had been sentenced to death were exonerated in 2014, the most since 2009: three in Ohio, two in North Carolina and one in Louisiana. Each had been imprisoned for 30 years or more, and two – Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman in Ohio – spent more than 39 years in prison, the longest terms of incarceration for any known exonerees in the United States.

The Life-or-Death Test

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners suffering from “mental retardation” — a now outdated term — could not face the death penalty in the 2002 case Atkins v. Virginia, debates about whether a felon qualifies for execution have often revolved around a single number: an IQ score. On Tuesday, Georgia prisoner Warren Hill was executed for the 1990 beating death of a fellow inmate. His attorneys argued unsuccessfully that his IQ of 70 disqualified him for the punishment. This evening, Texas is set to execute Robert Ladd for beating a woman to death with a hammer in 1996. His attorney has pointed out that Ladd’s IQ of 67 would disqualify him from execution in most other states.               Continue reading: The Marshall Project