What's New

NEW VOICES: New York Religious Leaders Unite Against Death Penalty, Call for Moratorium

Posted: May 12, 2004
New York religious leaders representing a range of faiths and regions recently united to voice their opposition to the death penalty and to encourage a moratorium on executions so that issues of fairness and accuracy may be addressed. A statement issued by the group noted:

“[O]ur nation’s continued reliance on the death penalty is extremely costly, ineffective in fighting crime, unequally applied, and handed out with alarming frequency to defendants who are later proved to be innocent. Even most death penalty proponents now agree that there are serious

Abolition of the Death Penalty Gaining Ground in Africa

Posted: May 12, 2004
During the past 10 years, most Commonwealth African countries have moved toward abolishing the death penalty and today almost half of these countries have abandoned the practice according to Amnesty International. Government leaders from around the continent recently met in Entebbe, Uganda, for a two-day summit to discuss capital punishment. Five Southern African Development Countries have abolished capital punishment, and the number of countries ending the death penalty in the Economic Community of West Aftican States region

Oklahoma Board Recommends Clemency for Mexican National

Posted: May 7, 2004
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has voted to recommend clemency for death row inmate Osbaldo Torres, a Mexican foreign national who is scheduled to be executed on May 18. The Board made its decision after an hour-long hearing that included testimony from Carlos de Icaza, Mexican Ambassador to the United States. Icaza told the board that Mexico opposes capital punishment in all cases, and that this case was particularly troublesome because no proof was presented that Torres was the shooter in the crime. A recent ruling by the U.N.

NEW RESOURCE - America’s Death Penalty: Beyond Repair?

Posted: May 6, 2004
“America’s Death Penalty: Beyond Repair?” examines capital punishment in the U.S. since 1976 through a variety of scholarly essays that look at critical issues such as innocence, race, arbitrariness, and international human rights law. Reknown death penalty expert and law professor Tony Amsterdam notes, “In these essays, some of our most knowledgeable students of capital punishment take a hard, no-nonsense look at how it actually operates and what drives America’s passionate refusal either to come to peace with the death

Investigation Reveals Cases of Innocence in Massachusetts

Posted: May 6, 2004
As Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seeks to reinstate capital punishment with a "foolproof" system(see earlier What’s New item), a news investigation has revealed that 22 state men have served lengthy prison terms over the last two decades for rapes and murders that they did not commit. Most of the wrongly convicted inmates were black. Experts say that Boston’s Suffolk County prosecutors have wrongly convicted the second highest number of innocent people in the nation, falling closely behind

North Carolina Lawyers’ Group Recommends Overhaul of Death Penalty

Posted: May 6, 2004
After a review of North Carolina’s death penalty, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers has issued a series of 11 recommendations that aim to address issues of fairness and accuracy in the state’s capital punishment statutes. In addition to recommendations addressing hidden evidence, mistaken eyewitness identifications, discrimination, and unreliable confessions, the group urged North Carolina lawmakers to enact a moratorium on executions while they consider implementing reforms to make the system more reliable. James Exum, former Chief Justice of the North Carolina

Alabama's Death Penalty Problems Continue

Posted: May 5, 2004
Questions about the accuracy and fairness of Alabama’s death penalty continue to surface as illustrated by a series of recent federal court rulings granting two new trials and one new sentencing hearing. All of the rulings were based on inadequate representation provided to the defendants. "Counsel simply provided no defense to the death penalty," Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham wrote March 31 in giving one of the inmates a new trial. The man has been on death row 22 years.

NEW VOICES: Massachusetts District Attorneys Criticize Governor’s Death Penalty Plan

Posted: May 4, 2004
District attorneys from several Massachusetts counties, including Suffolk, Norfolk, Middlesex, Essex and Barnstable, had strong reservations about Governor Mitt Romney’s attempt to establish a nearly "foolproof" death penalty system in the state. Some noted that nothing can eliminate the possibility of human error in such cases. The district attorneys said that the state’s medical examiner’s office and crime labs are currently overwhelmed with work, and that the labs do not have the capacity to add the additional responsibility of carrying out Romney’s


Posted: April 30, 2004
Three scheduled executions in May--Osvaldo Torres in Oklahoma, Kelsey Patterson in Texas, and Sammy Perkins in North Carolina--raise troubling questions about the application of the death penalty.

Torres is a Mexican foreign national whose execution is scheduled for May 18, just weeks after the International Court of Justice ruled that the United States should review the cases of 51 Mexican foreign nationals on death row in the U.S., including Torres’s case. At issue is whether the U.S. violated the rights of Mexican foreign

Florida Supreme Court Asked to Clarify Impact of Ring Decision

Posted: April 30, 2004
A District Court panel in Florida has endorsed a special verdict form that asks jurors to specify what elements of a crime warrant a death penalty. The District Court certified its decision as a matter of great public importance and asked the Florida Supreme Court to review the rulings, noting “this ruling could affect many cases that may ultimately be