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Protess Wins Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship

Posted: December 5, 2003
David Protess, a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in Chicago, has been awarded the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Protess and his investigative journalism students exposed miscarriages of justice in a number of high-profile cases in Illinois, including the case of Anthony Porter, who was only 48 hours away from his execution until students found evidence of his innocence. Porter's case has often been cited by former Illinois Governor George Ryan, whose questions about innocence and systemic fairness led him to
 

NEW RESOURCE: "Legacy of Violence"

Posted: December 4, 2003

"Legacy of Violence: Lynch Mobs and Executions in Minnesota," a book by John D. Bessler, examines the history of illegal and state-sanctioned executions in Minnesota, one of twelve states that currently does not have the death penalty. The book is timely in that the current governor, Tim Pawlenty, has proposed reinstating the death penalty, which was abolished in 1911.

 

Stephen Bright Named Newsmaker of the Year

Posted: December 4, 2003
Stephen Bright, Executive Director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), has been named Newsmaker of the Year by the Fulton County Daily Report for his "unrelenting efforts over the years to expose Georgia's shortfalls in indigent defense." Bright has worked in Georgia for more than 25 years. During that time, he has represented countless indigent defendants, many of whom have been on Georgia's death row, and he has led the Southern Center's fight to provide legal representation to those who are less fortunate. According to the paper, in large part
 

NEW VOICES: Nobel Laureates Oppose Death Penalty, Decry Execution of Juvenile Offenders

Posted: December 3, 2003
A gathering of Nobel Laureates in Rome concluded with a common statement calling for abolition of the death penalty and specifically decrying the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The statement noted "the death penalty is a particularly cruel and unusual punishment that should be abolished. It is especially unconscionable when imposed on children." Among those in attendance at the summit were Mikhail Gorbachev, former Israel Prime Minister
 

NEW VOICES: Nobel Laureates Oppose Death Penalty, Decry Execution of Juvenile Offenders

Posted: December 3, 2003
A Rome summit gathering of Nobel Laureates concluded with a common statement calling for abolition of the death penalty and specifically decrying the juvenile death penalty. The statement noted "the death penalty is a particularly cruel and unusual punishment that should be abolished. It is especially unconscionable when imposed on children." Among those in attendance at the summit were Mikhail Gorbechev, former Israel Prime Minister Simon Peres, the Dalai Lama, and Costa Rican President Oscar arias Sanchez. The summit participants addressed issues related to global peace, including
 

Public Support for Death Penalty Drops to 25-Year Low

Posted: December 2, 2003
According to the latest Gallup Poll in October 2003, support for the death penalty has dropped to 64%, its lowest level since 1978. The 32% of Americans opposed to the death penalty represented the most opposition since 1972. (2003 poll: CNN.com, November 25, 2003; Fox News, November 26, 2003) This finding is particularly noteworthy given the extensive media coverage leading to the trials of John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo in Virginia. Two other polls this year also recorded a drop in death penalty support to 64%: ABC News poll and
 

Supreme Court to Clarify Ring Ruling

Posted: December 1, 2003

The Supreme Court agreed to clarify the impact of its 2002 Ring v. Arizona ruling that held that jurors, rather than a judge, must be allowed to determine whether a defendant is eligible for a death sentence. The Justices will decide whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit was correct when it overturned Warren Summerlin's death sentence, holding that Ring should apply retroactively to inmates who had exhausted their direct appeal.

 

New York Appeals Court Overturns Second Death Sentence

Posted: November 26, 2003
New York's highest court has overturned the death sentence of James F. Cahill, one of six men remaining on the state's death row. The Court found that the trial judge made errors in screening the jurors who convicted Cahill and sentenced him to death. In its 4-2 ruling, the Court also noted that prosecutors had not proven the "aggravating factors" required by New York's death penalty law. Cahill will now serve a sentence of life in prison. (New York Times, November 26, 2003)
Despite the fact that New York has spent tens of millions of
 

USA Today: Death Penalty Distorts the Judicial System

Posted: November 25, 2003
In an editorial published after a Virginia jury recommended a death sentence for John Muhammad, USA Today noted that the case of Muhammad and his juvenile co-defendant "undermines public confidence that the law is applied objectively." The editorial
 

SCIENCE: Psychologist Cautions that Adolescent Brains Are Still Developing

Posted: November 25, 2003
In an interview in the Science section of the New York Times, Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a psychologist at Temple University and the director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, states that juvenile offenders should be viewed under the law as less culpable than adults because their brains are still developing. In a forthcoming paper, Steinberg argues for a legal approach "under which most youths are dealt with in a separate justice system and none are eligible for capital punishment" (emphasis added). In the interview, which addresses
 

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