What's New

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

NEW VOICES: Bill Kurtis Describes His Shift on the Death Penalty

Posted: December 27, 2004
A&E television host and well-known investigative journalist Bill Kurtis chronicles his journey from death penalty supporter to capital punishment opponent in his newly released book, The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice. In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Kurtis stated, “Look, I was for the death penalty, but looking at these cases and the rapidly increasing number of exonerations, there are just too many possibilities for error.” He went on to observe, “You have a system with too many working parts. We have malpractice in medicine. We don’t

NEW RESOURCE: Montoya's Meditations on Capital Punishment

Posted: December 21, 2004
Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment, Recent Works by Malaquias Montoya is a new art exhibition catalogue featuring recently created silkscreen images, paintings, and related research dealing with the death penalty and prisons. The works featured in this book are part of a collection of art that is currently touring the United States. Montoya has lectured and taught at numerous universities and colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Stanford, UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Sixty percent of the proceeds from the book will

NEW VOICES -- Palm Beach Post Editorial: Plea Bargain Underscores the Arbitrariness of the Death Penalty

Posted: December 21, 2004
While applauding a life-sentence plea bargain arranged by Palm Beach County's State Attorney in an especially heinous murder, the Palm Beach Post said the state had "forfeit[ed] the moral standing to execute anyone else."

The State Attorney said that he agreed to let the defendant plead guilty to killing 5 people because the life-without-parole sentnece will bring finality. The Post noted: "The state saves not only the cost of a trial; the victims' relatives - who supported the deal - do not have to relive the horror. The state will save more by avoiding years