What's New

NEW RESOURCES: DPIC Offers Useful Web Resources

Posted: July 12, 2004
The Death Penalty Information Center has new Web resources to assist educators and those following recent court developments related to capital punishment:

1) DPIC's revised Educational Curriculum on the Death Penalty is an excellent tool for TEACHERS planning to involve their students in the upcoming national focus on juveniles and the death penalty. See also DPIC's Web page on Roper v. Simmons and an overview of the Juvenile

POSSIBLE INNOCENCE: New Evidence Throws Doubt on an Ohio Death Penalty Case

Posted: July 9, 2004
In an editorial entitled "Too Many Questions" that followed a two-part news series examining new information that casts doubt on the guilt of Ohio death row inmate John Spirko, the Mansfield News Journal of Ohio called for a re-examination of Spirko's case before the state allows an execution to go forward. A federal judge in the same case has said he has considerable doubts about the lawfulness of the case against Spirko. The editorial noted:

It's not often we call for careful reconsideration of the criminal case

NEW RESOURCE: Death Row Numbers Continue to Decline

Posted: July 8, 2004
The latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's quarterly publication "Death Row USA" is now available on DPIC's Web site. The April 2004 report reveals a continuing decline in the number of individuals on death row in the United States. The current population of 3,487 is 17 less than the 3,504 individuals reported in January 2004 and 210 fewer than the 3,697 reported in October 2002. "Death Row USA" provides a comprehensive look at the nation's death row population, including a complete listing of those serving death

NEW VOICES: Murder Victims' Family Members Join Call for North Carolina Death Penalty Moratorium

Posted: July 7, 2004
In a letter to the North Carolina House of Representatives, 21 family members of murder victims voiced their concerns about the state's error-ridden death penalty system and urged members to pass legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on executions while a study is conducted. "We are troubled by cases in which inadequate representation or prosecutorial misconduct led to innocent people being sent to our North Carolina Death Row. We are troubled by the ongoing evidence that our death penalty system is plagued by class and racial bias," the family members wrote. "The

Freed Death Row Inmate Awarded Large Settlement Based on Poor Representation

Posted: July 6, 2004
Roberto Miranda, a Cuban native who spent 14 years on Nevada's death row before being cleared of all charges and freed, has settled a lawsuit against Clark County, the public defender's office, and two former Las Vegas police detectives for $5 million. Miranda's conviction and death sentence were thrown out in 1996 when a federal judge ruled that the defense attorney who represented him during his 1982 trial had committed glaring errors. The judge ordered a new trial, but prosecutors declined to proceed with the case and Miranda was then freed from prison.

Commutation Granted in Indiana

Posted: July 2, 2004
Darnell Williams, who was scheduled to be exectued in Indiana on July 9, was granted a commutation of his death sentence to life without parole by Governor Joe Kernan. It was the first commutation in a death penalty case in that state in 48 years. The governor cited the fact that a co-defendant in the case, Gregory Rouster, had received a life sentence, and hence it would be unfair to execute Williams. (CNN.com (AP story), July 2, 2004). See Clemency.

NEW RESOURCES: American Prospect Features Special Report on Capital Punishment

Posted: July 2, 2004
The July 2004 edition of The American Prospect features a special section on capital punishment with articles by some of the nation's most respected experts on the topic. "Reasonable Doubts: A Special Report on the Death Penalty" examines the growing movement to reform or abolish capital punishment in America. Among the topics examined are public opinion, innocence, race, and the death penalty for juveniles. The series also provides a closer look at the death penalty in states such as Illinois and Texas, and offers an overview

POSSIBLE INNOCENCE: DNA Evidence Leads to Juvenile Offender's Release

Posted: June 30, 2004
Following a fifth round of DNA tests, a Louisiana death row inmate has been released on bond while awaiting a new trial. Earlier this year, Ryan Matthews' conviction and death sentence were overturned. The recent round of DNA tests on a ski mask, which prosecutors claimed was worn by Matthews during the crime, excluded Matthews but matched the genetic markers of another inmate. To date, no physical evidence linking Matthews to the crime has been found. Following the latest round of DNA testing, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office did not oppose Matthews' request for bond.

U.S. May Be Wavering on Respecting Extradition Conditions from Other Countries

Posted: June 30, 2004
The U.S. Justice Department indicated that it may no longer feel bound by extradition orders from other countries against the seeking of the death penalty in the U.S., a significant policy shift that experts feel could hinder international relations. In a preliminary case memo by federal District Court Judge Jack Weinstein, it was noted that a federal prosecutor had stated that officials in Washington believe a Dominican judge's order to not seek the death penalty for an extradited man is "not binding." Weinstein's memo stated that he

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justices Urge Vote on Moratorium

Posted: June 30, 2004
Eight former North Carolina Supreme Court justices are urging the leadership of the North Carolina House of Representatives to allow a vote on legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on executions in the state while capital punishment is studied. Among the 8 former justices are Democrats and Republicans, some who support the death penalty and others who oppose it. "This legislation is about fundamental fairness, an issue that should not be controversial. The recent exonerations of Alan Gell and Darryl Hunt give clear evidence of the