What's New

Mexico Protests Execution Date For Its Citizen in Oklahoma

Posted: March 11, 2004
Mexican President Vicente Fox has urged the United States to halt the execution of Osvaldo Torres, a Mexican foreign national who is scheduled to die in Oklahoma on May 18th. Oklahoma set the execution date despite a 2003 ruling by the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, that called for staying Torres’s execution and the execution of two other foreign nationals in Texas until the Court could further review the case. The allegation before the world court is that Torres and more than 50 other Mexican prisoners

Florida Capital Punishment Supporter Urges State to Abandon Juvenile Death Penalty

Posted: March 10, 2004
Florida Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa), a long-time death penalty supporter, is asking his legislative colleagues to support a bill to bar the juvenile death penalty in Florida. “In my heart and soul I believe it’s the right thing to do. There is a certain essence of juveniles that make them different,” said Crist. Research supports that notion. David Fassler, a Vermont psychiatrist who helped the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry draft its policy against capital punishment for juveniles stated, “[L]aws raising the

INNOCENCE: Formerly Exonerated Death Row Inmate Now Cleared of All Charges

Posted: March 9, 2004
Steven Manning, a former Chicago police officer who was exonerated from Illinois' death row in 2000 but remained in a Missouri prison on another charge, has been freed after Missouri prosecutors dropped all charges against him. In January 2000, 7 years after he was sentenced to death in Illinois, a judge threw out Manning’s death sentence and conviction because the state used inadmissible testimony to secure his conviction. Cook County prosecutors later dismissed their case against Manning because the testimony of the remaining key witness in the case, Tommy Dye, was

Kansas Study Concludes Death Penalty is Costly Policy

Posted: March 5, 2004
In its review of death penalty expenses, the State of Kansas concluded that capital cases are 70% more expensive than comparable non-death penalty cases. The study counted death penalty case costs through to execution and found that the median death penalty case costs $1.26 million. Non-death penalty cases were counted through to the end of incarceration and were found to have a median cost of $740,000. For death penalty cases, the pre-trial and trial level expenses were the most expensive part, 49% of the total cost. The

NEW VOICES: Police Chief Says Death Penalty Is Unwise Use of Limited Resources

Posted: March 4, 2004
West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, has told state lawmakers that resources devoted to the death penalty would be better spent elsewhere. He noted, "It is a practical issue. We have a death penalty law on the books, but we haven't executed anyone since 1960, and it doesn't look like anyone will be executed. The process is long, labor intensive and expensive. Now, any money we've put into death penalty cases has really been wasted." Strillacci


Posted: March 4, 2004
Governors Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming have signed into state law bipartisan legislation banning the execution of those who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes. Of the 38 death penalty states, 19 forbid the death penalty for juveniles. The federal government also forbids the practice. Twelve additional states do not allow the death penalty at all. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty this fall when it hears arguments in Roper v. Simmons.

Dallas Morning News Calls for Death Penalty Moratorium in Texas

Posted: March 3, 2004
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's recent reversal of Delma Banks' death sentence in Texas because of prosecutorial misconduct, the Dallas Morning News has called for a halt to executions while state officials review serious problems in the system:
It's hard to imagine a clearer message. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision lifting Texas inmate Delma Banks' death sentence paints as bright a line as jurists paint. The governor, Texas legislators and law enforcement officials should absorb the ruling and change the state's ways.

NEW RESOURCES: Arbitrariness and Racial Disparities in Death Sentencing

Posted: March 3, 2004
In a recent study examining death sentencing trends around the country, researchers reported significant differences between the rates at which black defendants who kill white victims are sentenced to death, as compared to the rate at which black defendants who kill black victims are sentenced to death. In every one of the seven states for which data was available, blacks who kill whites were far more likely to receive a death sentence than blacks who killed blacks. Because the study used sentencing rates

NEW VOICES: North Carolina Attorney General Urges Open-File Policy, Calls Gell Case a "Travesty"

Posted: March 2, 2004

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is calling on prosecutors to open their files to defense attorneys in first-degree murder cases to avoid wrongful convictions like that of former death row inmate Alan Gell, who was exonerated and freed in February. Cooper called Gell's first trial a "travesty" and stated that the prosecutors committed "inexcusable neglect" in their handling of the trial. "The original prosecutors in this case owe everyone an apology: the defendant, the victim's family, the community, and everybody in the state. An unfair trial occurred," Cooper said.


NEW RESOURCES: Experts Debate the Death Penalty

Posted: February 27, 2004
"Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment?," a new book edited by Hugo Bedau and Paul Cassell, brings together judges, lawyers, prosecutors and philosophers to debate the death penalty in a spirit of open inquiry and exchange. The book discusses issues such as deterrence, innocence, life in prison without parole, and race. In addition to the editors, those who have chapters in the book inlcude: Judge Alex Kozinski, Stephen Bright, Joshua Marquis, Bryan Stevenson, Professor Louis Pojman and former Governor George Ryan. (Oxford University