The two stories in the links below are very recent, and they are not uncommon. The criminal justice system is not perfect; mistakes happen, and innocent people are convicted of murder. Luckily, David Robinson and John Bunn were not sentenced to death. They “only” lost 17 or 18 years of their lives. Once someone is executed, efforts to prove his innocence usually stop. Remember Cameron Todd Willingham? Troy Davis? How many more innocent people have to die before the death penalty is abolished?
CBS News: Missouri man David Robinson free after years in prison for murder he didn’t commit
New York Daily News: Exonerated: John Bunn, wrongfully jailed at 14 in the 1991 murder of a correction officer
The Legislature is considering a bill to repeal Louisiana’s death penalty. As someone who was nearly executed for a crime I didn’t commit, I hope our legislators recognize that as long as we have a death penalty we risk executing innocent people.
In 2015, ABA attorneys noticed a major gap in resources for lawyers who defend capital cases: clemency information. Defendants who have exhausted their direct appeals and habeas petition rights often ask governors for mercy – but there wasn’t a lot of information available about how to do that effectively.
“In every state that we studied, there were insignificant resources for and attention paid to clemency, leaving it … too hollow to be comfortable for our profession,” says Misty Thomas, chief counsel for the Death Penalty Due Process Project. Thomas notes that the ABA has no position on the death penalty – but “if we’re going to have the death penalty, every single stage should be robust and meaningful.”
Continue reading: ABA Journal
A little-known S.C. law, on the books for nearly a decade, exempts the state from performing an autopsy on a death-row inmate who has been executed.
That means if a lethal-injection execution doesn’t go according to plan, the state is not required to conduct an autopsy, a procedure that could shed light on what went wrong.
Read more: The State
If South Carolina doesn’t pass a law to keep the drugs it uses for lethal injections a secret, the state won’t be able to carry out its first execution in six years on Dec. 1. Or at least that’s what South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster spent the week telling state lawmakers. . . .
There’s just one problem: The scheduled execution of Bobby Stone, 52, on Dec. 1 was never going to happen because a federal court hasn’t reviewed his case yet. McMaster and Sterling created a false sense of urgency to publicly call for a law that would make much of the death penalty procedure in South Carolina a secret. Stone’s execution was stayed — as expected — on Tuesday.
Continue reading: Vice
By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project November 14, 2017
The Guantanamo military commissions, the scheme created by the government to try 9/11 and other detainees, have devolved into an unacceptable and alarming assault on defense lawyers attempting to provide fair representation to their clients.
Continue reading: ACLU
The problem of innocence in death penalty cases
By Brandon L. Garrett
The American death penalty has a big innocence problem, and it is not going away. The events of last week show why. The Center for Death Penalty Litigation
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — In a heinous case on the Navajo Nation, an 11-year-old girl was lured into a van, sexually assaulted and killed. The man who has admitted responsibility is not facing the death penalty — and the tribe isn’t seeking it.
American Indian tribes for decades have been able to tell federal prosecutors if they want a death sentence considered for certain crimes on their land. Nearly all have rejected that option.
Tribes and legal experts say the decision goes back to culture and tradition, past treatment of American Indians and fairness in the justice system. Continue reading: Minneapolis Star Tribune
In a new filing, Neal Katyal is asking the high court to consider Arizona’s death penalty law — and whether the death penalty itself is unconstitutional. Buzzfeed