Missouri Paid Executioners $250,000 In Cash, Possibly Violating Tax Law

Shortly before each execution in Missouri, a high-ranking corrections official takes envelopes filled with thousands of dollars in cash to the state’s executioners. The cash limits the paper trail — and helps keep the identities of the executioners hidden.

Most of the envelopes are filled with hundred dollar bills. And on the outside, the envelopes carry instructions: They aren’t to be opened until “completion of services rendered.” Continue reading: Buzzfeed

Follow-up article, Feb. 1: Missouri Corrections Head Defends Cash Payments Before State Legislature

Could One of These Cases Spell the End of the Death Penalty?

Last June, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that the death penalty might be close to its ultimate demise. “Rather than try to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time,” he wrote in a dissent to Glossip v. Gross, to which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg added her name, “I would ask for a full briefing on a more basic question: whether the death penalty violates the Constitution.”
. . . Regardless of what case they pick, the justices have many options; they could restrict the death penalty without abolishing it altogether. They could raise the age of who qualifies for the punishment or define more stringent tests for IQ or other indicators of mental ability. They could strike down the laws governing how juries make death decisions in some states1 but not others, or strike down laws keeping information about execution drugs secret. They could restrict the death penalty to the most heinous crimes, such as mass acts of terrorism or killing a police officer or prison guard.  Read the article: The Marshall Project

Death Penalty Case to be Re-Tried in St. Louis (Reggie Clemons)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (MissouriNet) — A man whose death sentence was thrown out in November will be retried for the 1991 murders of two sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce says she will retry 44-year-old Reginald Clemons for the murders of Julie and Robin Kerry, and says she will seek the death penalty against him. She is also filing charges of forcible rape and first-degree robbery.       Continue reading

Life After Death Row

Three wrongfully convicted exonerees share their stories about adjusting to life on the outside after decades in prison. All of them say the scars of confinement will never leave them. Some of them have been compensated by the state for the injustice that came to them. One of them, Ken Ireland, now serves on Connecticut’s parole board, the irony of which is not lost on him.  CBS News: 60 Minutes

A Historic Year For The Death Penalty In America

By Kim Bellware, Huffington Post

From papal speeches to street protests, death penalty news loomed large in 2015.  

Some states like Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Connecticut informally halted or outright struck the practice from their books, while others like Texas and Oklahoma scrambled to keep their death chambers running — sometimes with disastrous results.                                                      Continue reading: The Huffington Post

Why Has The Death Penalty Grown Increasingly Rare?

, , , Even though polls show that 60 % of the public still supports the death penalty, and even though the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld it as constitutional, the number of executions this year so far is almost the same as the number of fatalities from lightning strikes – 27 executions versus 26 deaths by lightning.

It’s an ironic statistic. When the Supreme Court briefly banned the death penalty in 1972, it did so, in part, because, as Justice Potter Stewart put it, capital punishment was being imposed so randomly and “freakishly” that it was like being “struck by lightning.”

Please read Nina Totenberg’s article at NPR/South Carolina Public Radio

Americans are turning against the death penalty. Are politicians far behind?

As many people know, most recently from the presidential primary debates, Americans are backing away from harsh criminal justice policies. In the debates, both Democrats and Republicans have consistently and uniformly suggested that mass incarceration has gone too far.

That includes the death penalty. Politicians may soon realize that the public has soured on capital punishment, as our polling data show, just as it has on mass incarceration more generally.                        Continue reading: Washington Post

SC seeks death penalty for father who killed, dumped 5 kids’ bodies in AL

The death penalty will be sought against the Lexington County father of 5 accused of killing his children, then dumping their bodies in Alabama.
Tim Jones, Jr., 33, appeared in court on Wednesday where Solicitor Donnie Myers served notice of his intentions to seek the death penalty.                         Continue reading: WIS News

Prison officials deny South Carolina deliberately skirted law on lethal injection drugs

South Carolina corrections officials deny intentionally breaking federal law when they obtained a lethal injection drug from an overseas supplier several years ago, a drug that was never used for an execution and has since been turned over to authorities.

In a segment Sunday on the CBS news show “60 Minutes,” South Carolina was named as 1 of 6 states that “have skirted federal law and turned to black-market dealers to get their hands” on drugs to execute death-row inmates.                   Continue reading: The Post and Courier