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Prosecutor Forgoes Costly Death Penalty Trial

Posted: July 30, 2004
In Alameda County, California, prosecutors announced that they will not seek the death penalty against Richard Dean Wilson because it is unlikely that a jury would return a death sentence. State authories say the decision to seek a life sentence for Wilson avoids a costly death penalty case and saves taxpayer dollars from financing a lengthy trial with an uncertain outcome. Wilson pleaded no contest to the murder of Angela Marie Bledsoe. Prosecutor Jim Anderson noted, "This was the best penalty phase mitigation I have ever seen. We

Judge Accused of Assisting Prosecution in Capital Cases

Posted: July 30, 2004
The California Supreme Court is asking the state's attorney general's office to explain why Fred Freeman's death sentence should not be reversed on allegations that a now-deceased Superior Court Judge colluded with prosecutors to ensure a capital conviction by eliminating potential Jewish jurors. The Supreme Court issued the show cause order after Freeman's attorneys filed a claim stating that Freeman was denied a fair trial because Judge Stanley Golde allegedly told prosecutors to keep Jews off the jury because they would never vote to send someone to the gas chamber. Prosecutor John

NEW VOICES: Texas DA Sees "Beginning of the End of the Death Penalty"

Posted: July 29, 2004

In Texas, Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness recently noted that the time-consuming and costly nature of capital punishment may lead to its demise. "I think this is the beginning of the end of the death penalty," said Maness after a Criminal District Court Judge recommended that the Court of Criminal Appeals commute the death sentence of Walter Bell to life in prison.


NEW RESOURCE: Study Identifies Flaws in Recent Deterrence Research

Posted: July 28, 2004
A new study conducted by Professor Richard Berk of the UCLA Department of Statistics has identified significant statistical problems with the data analysis used to support recent studies claiming to show that executions deter crime in the United States. In "New Claims about Executions and General Deterrence: Deja Vu All Over Again?," Professor Berk addresses the problem of "influence," which occurs when a very small and atypical fraction of the available data dominates the statistical results of a study. He found that this statistical problem

New York Legislators Put Off Attempts to Fix State's Death Penalty Law

Posted: July 27, 2004
Despite efforts by some state leaders to quickly "fix" the state's death penalty statue, opposition from many legislators halted attempts to pass a bill before the summer recess at the end of July. At a legislative conference on the issue, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry noted that "a lot of people who spoke were against it." These sentiments prompted Majority Leader Paul Tokasz to announce that legislators were "going to take some time with it" before deciding how to address concerns raised by the court. The Court of Appeals struck

DPIC Presents 2004 Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards

Posted: July 26, 2004
The Death Penalty Information Center honored journalists and producers from the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Magazine, Frontline, Sound Portraits Productions, and investigative journalist Alan Berlow during its 8th Annual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards at the National Press Club on Monday, July 26. The awards honor those journalists who have made an exceptional contribution to the understanding of problems associated with capital punishment. Award-winning human rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director

As Alabama Prepares to Execute Elderly, Ill Inmate, Officials Block Clemency Petition

Posted: July 22, 2004
A clemency letter-writing campaign organized by Alabama death row prisoners on behalf of James Barney Hubbard, an ailing 74-year-old man who is scheduled to be executed on August 5th, was recently halted by Department of Correction authorities at Donaldson Prison. Just two months before Hubbard's scheduled execution, Willie Dorrell Minor wrote a clemency petition to Alabama Governor Robert Riley. He planned to have the petition asking Riley to spare Hubbard's life signed by other individuals on the state's death row before submitting

NEW RESOURCE: Tennesee Study Finds Death Penalty Costly, Ineffective

Posted: July 22, 2004
A new report released by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury recommended changes to the state’s costly death penalty and called into question its effectiveness in preventing crime.  The Office of Research noted that it lacked sufficient data to accurately account for the total cost of capital trials, stating that “because cost and time records were not maintained, the Office of Research was unable to determine the total, comprehensive cost of the death penalty in Tennessee.”   Although noting that, “no reliable data exists

National, International Leaders Urge Supreme Court to Ban Execution of Juvenile Offenders

Posted: July 19, 2004
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, medical experts, and 48 nations are among those who filed friend-of-the-court briefs on Monday (July 19) urging the U.S. Supreme Court to end the juvenile death penalty. The Court is scheduled to hear arguments this fall in Roper v. Simmons, a case that will determine the constitutionality of executing juvenile offenders. The U.S. is one of only a handful of nations around the world that continues to permit the execution of juvenile

NEW VOICES: League Of Women Voters Cautions Against "Quick Fix" for NY's Death Penalty

Posted: July 16, 2004

The New York League of Women Voters has urged state lawmakers not to attempt a "quick fix" solution to the state's flawed death penalty law. "We now have a unique opportunity to re-examine the use of the death penalty in New York," said Marcia Merrins, president of the League of Women Voters. In June 2004, the New York Court of Appeals declared the state's death penalty unconstitutional.