A new study examined all cases in which the death penalty was sought in Colorado over a 20-year period, from 1980 to 1999. The study identified 110 death penalty cases, and compared the race and gender of the victims. The authors concluded that the death penalty was most likely to be sought for homicides with white female victims. They also determined that the probability of death being sought was 4.2 times higher for those who killed whites than for those who killed blacks.
Professor Michael Meltsner, who worked as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in its efforts to challenge the death penalty in the 1960s and 70s, recently assessed the U.S.'s application of the death penalty over the past 30 years. He noted that today's death penalty system is "broken" and fails to make the nation a safer society. Writing in the Boston Globe, Meltsner wrote:
In a recent op-ed, Jack Fuller, former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, called for an end to capital punishment. Citing a series of mistakes by eyewitnesses, police and forensic experts, he stated that the criminal justice system is too deeply flawed to entrust with carrying out executions. Pointing to the likely innocence of Carlos DeLuna, a Texas man who was executed in 1989, Fuller concluded that the death penalty should be abolished because "no goverment is good enough to entrust with the absolute power that capital punishment entails." His article was entitled NOT IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE:
Death-penalty opponents advance various arguments for abolition, but the most powerful of them all finds embodiment in the person of Carlos De Luna.
Texas executed De Luna in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez in a gas station knife attack. Something went terribly wrong at the execution by lethal injection. De Luna did not slip quickly into unconsciousness as he was supposed to. Instead, he reared up on the gurney against the restraints and seemed to try to say something.
Perhaps it was to cry out in pain as the killing medications began to course into his veins before the anesthetic took hold. The possibility that lethal injection subjects its recipients to excruciating physical agony has become the focus of a great deal of attention lately among death-penalty opponents.
Dr. Orin Guidry, president of the 40,000-member American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), issued a public statement strongly urging members to "steer clear" of any participation in executions by lethal injection. In a four-page "Message from the President," Guidry noted that anesthesiologists have been "reluctantly thrust into the middle" of the legal controversy over lethal injections. In recent months, the procedures being used around the United States have been challenged because they may result in unnecessary and excruciating pain in violation of the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
On June 28, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two consolidated cases involving the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. In both cases, the foreign nationals were arrested but not informed by police officers of their consular rights under the Convention to ask that their respective consulates be notified of their detention. The Court concluded that statements made by foreign nationals do not need to be suppressed, even though the defendants were not informed of their consular rights.
The consolidated cases were: Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon (No. 04-10566) and Bustillo v. Johnson. In the first case, Moises Sanchez-Llamas, a Mexican national, was arrested after an exchange of gunfire with police. The officers did not inform him of his rights under Article 36(1)(b) of the Vienna Convention, namely his right to ask that the Mexican Consulate be notified of his detention. He made incriminating statements about the shootout during interrogation, but the state court denied his motion to suppress those statements on the ground that the authorities failed to comply with Article 36. Sanchez-Llamas was convicted and sentenced to prison. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, concluding that Article 36 does not create rights to consular access or notification that a detained individual can enforce in a judicial proceeding.
Just weeks after Ohio struggled for more than 90 minutes to find a suitable vein in Joseph Clark's arm to administer lethal injection drugs, the state has decided to implement new regulations aimed at ensuring smoother procedures during executions. In a report prompted by problems encountered during Clark's execution, Ohio prisons Director Terry Collins told Gov. Bob Taft that execution teams will now make every effort to locate two injection sites prior to an execution and will use a new method to make sure the veins stay open once entryways are found.
Below are summaries from two U.S. District Court decisions regarding problems with lethal injection procedures in Arkansas and Missouri. The court in Arkansas granted a stay of execution for Don Davis to allow further investigations into the lethal injection procedures. In Missouri, in Michael Taylor's case, the District judge put all executions in the state on hold until changes are made in the state's execution protocols.
Nooner v. Norris, No. 5:06CV00110 SWW
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
The U.S. has isolated itself among First World countries by allowing the death penalty -- 123 countries have abolished it completely, or in practice never use it, a few permitting it under extreme circumstances.
Of the 50 countries that newly abolished the death penalty since 1985,