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Indiana Governor Grants Clemency While Calling for Death Penalty Review

Posted: January 10, 2005

With just days remaining in his term, Indiana Governor Joe Kernan (pictured) has granted clemency to Michael Daniels, whose case underscored the Governor's concerns about the death penalty. "I have now encountered two cases where doubt about an offender's personal responsibility and the quality of the legal process leading to the capital sentence has led me to grant clemency. These instances should cause us to take a hard look at how Indiana administers and reviews capital sentences," said Kernan, who hopes the state government can soon examine whether Indiana's sentencing system is fair in death penalty cases.

The Governor noted that evidence casting doubt on Daniels' guilt was never presented in court, and that Daniels' IQ of 77 is just above the level to be considered mentally retarded. He also stated that Daniels, who was the only one of three co-defendants to receive a death sentence, was psychotic for some time and unable to assist in his defense. In July 2004, Kernan granted clemency to Darnell Williams just days before his scheduled execution.

 

RELIGIOUS VIEWS: Connecticut Archbishop Asks Parishoners to Protest the Death Penalty

Posted: January 7, 2005
As Connecticut prepares to carry out its first execution in over 40 years, Catholic Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford called on local parishes to sign a Church petition that calls for an end to capital punishment. "The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life only by taking life," Mansell wrote in a letter that will be read during Masses on January 8 and 9. Other bishops in Connecticut are taking similar actions prior to the scheduled execution of Michael Ross on January 26.

The U.S. Conference of
 

Washington Post Explores Gonzales Clemency Memos

Posted: January 6, 2005
The Washington Post has conducted further research into the clemency memos prepared by U.S. Attorney General nominee Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as lead counsel to then-Governor George W. Bush in Texas. Gonzales crafted 62 memos regarding clemency requests from Texas death row inmates, and several Texas attorneys have voiced their criticisms that the clemency memos contained incomplete and unfair summaries of evidence and mitigating circumstances. The memos, first reviewed in 2003 by
 

NEW RESOURCES: Conversations With Extraordinary Women -- Sister Helen Prejean

Posted: January 5, 2005
The book In Sweet Company: Conversations With Extraordinary Women About Living a Spiritual Life by Margaret Wolff features Sister Helen Prejean as one of 14 women whose spiritual beliefs have served as the compass for their decision-making and life's work. Prejean, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book "Dead Man Walking" and the newly released "The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions," has been an advisor to those on death row and an advocate against the death penalty for more than two decades. Wolff's book notes
 

NEW RESOURCE: Sister Helen Prejean's New Book: The Death of Innocents

Posted: January 3, 2005

In her new book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, Sister Helen Prejean uses her personal experiences as a counselor to those on death row to explore the issue of innocence and the likelihood of executing a wrongly convicted person. The book also traces the historical and legal underpinnings of the death penalty in the U.S. Prejean, who authored the #1 New York Times bestseller "Dead Man Walking," begins her new book by focusing on the cases of Joseph Roger O'Dell and Dobie Gillis Williams, both of whom she believes received unfair trials and probably were innocent. O'Dell was executed in Virginia in 1997 and Gillis was executed in Louisiana in 1999. Prejean was closely involved with each of their cases and accompanied both men to the death chamber. Their cases sparked "The Death of Innocents" and Prejean's closer look at wrongful convictions, inadequate defense, the capital appeals process, race, poverty, and the politics of capital punishment.

 

NEW VOICES: Federal Judge Discusses His Concerns About the Death Penalty

Posted: January 3, 2005

In an interview with The New York Times, Judge Jed S. Rakoff (pictured) discussed his reasons for finding the federal death penalty to be unconstitutional. Judge Rakoff ruled in April 2002 that the death penalty failed to secure due process because of the demonstrated risk of executing an innocent person. He noted that his conclusions on capital punishment were based in part on his extensive review of cases included on the Death Penalty Information Center's innocence list.

 

NEW RESOURCES: ACLU Report on International Implications of Capital Punishment in the U.S.

Posted: December 30, 2004
A new report by the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project discusses the United States' position on the death penalty in the face of international concerns regarding this practice. The report, How the Death Penalty Weakens U.S. International Interests, notes that many other nations are moving toward abolition of capital punishment and are critical of specific aspects of the death penalty in the U.S. Among the topics featured in this resource are the ongoing international efforts to abolish the death penalty, foreign intervention in U.S. capital cases, international
 

NEW RESOURCE: American Psychological Association Highlights Death Penalty Issues

Posted: December 28, 2004
The December 2004 issue of the American Psychological Association Journal, Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, contains articles devoted to important and emerging topics related to capital punishment. Craig Haney, Richard Wiener, James Acker, and Charles Lanier are among the issue's contributing writers who provide expert analysis in areas such as capital sentencing, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision-making, public opinion, victim impact statements, moratorium efforts, innocence, and
 

National Media Notes the Decline in Death Penalty Numbers

Posted: December 28, 2004
The Death Penalty Information Center’s 2004 Year End Report noting the declines in death sentences, executions, and the number of people on death row was covered by about 200 news outlets throughout the U.S. and overseas. Some newspapers took the occasion to editorialize about the state of the death penalty:

Detroit Free Press

The death penalty, thankfully, is making its own slow demise in the United States. Given the legal, moral and economic problems with the death penalty, all 38 states that allow
 

NEW RESOURCE: Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories

Posted: December 28, 2004
Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories is a new book by Rachel King of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project. The book focuses on the impact that the death penalty has on the families of those who have been condemned to die. King, who also wrote "Don't Kill in Our Names: Families of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty," describes these individuals as the unseen victims of capital punishment and highlights the experience of having loved ones on death row using personal accounts and a moving narrative voice. King notes that because their
 

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