2018 Marked the 4th Consecutive Year with Fewer than 30 Executions and Less than 50 Death Sentences—-Washington State Becomes 20th State to End Capital Punishment
With 25 executions and 42 death sentences expected this year, the use of the death penalty remained near historic lows in 2018, according to a report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). 2018 marked the 4th consecutive year with fewer than 30 executions and 50 death sentences, reflecting a long-term decline of capital punishment across the United States. Court decisions and election results signaled continuing low death-penalty use as Washington State declared its capital punishment statute unconstitutional and voters ousted prosecutors in 7 counties known for aggressive death-penalty usage.
Read more: The Death Penalty Information Center
Year End Report (pdf)
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the death penalty, as applied, violates its Constitution.
The ruling makes Washington the latest state to do away with capital punishment.
Continue reading: Seattle Times
“The problem is the desperation to get out, and the willingness of the district attorney to use us.”
For the last 2 decades, Curtis Flowers has been on death row in Mississippi for a 1996 quadruple murder. He has consistently maintained his innocence and appealed his case 6 different times on issues ranging from racial bias in jury selection to prosecutorial misconduct. But each time, District Attorney Doug Evans succeeded in keeping Flowers behind bars, largely because of his reliance on jailhouse informants who have insisted that Flowers confessed to the killings. But now, during the 11-episode American Public Media podcast In the Dark that chronicled the case, Evans’ star witness confessed that he made it all up.
Read more: Mother Jones
Alabama’s Lynching Memorial and the Legacy of Racial Terror in the South
by Liliana Segura
A week before the crowds arrived in Montgomery for the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a monument to victims of lynching in the United States, Alabama prepared to kill 83-year-old Walter Moody.
Continue reading: The Intercept
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
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
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