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New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a long time supporter of capital punishment, called for New York's legislature to step back and more thoroughly review the state's death penalty system, which has not resulted in any executions and has cost the state more than $170 million in the last decade. Speaker Silver said that his chamber would not follow the lead of the state Senate, which passed an amendment to fix the state's death penalty law without hearings. "After 10 years of having the death penalty, and very limited ...
The Death Penatly Information Center has issued a new report, Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty, cataloging 116 cases of former death row inmates who have been exonerated in 25 states since 1973. The report also notes that as the number of innocent people freed from death row has risen and become more public in recent years, there has been a dramatic drop in death sentences around the country. The number of death sentences, which have been steadily dropping since 1998, are now about 50% less than they were in the late 1990s.
A new biography by Tim Junkin entitled Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA recounts the events that led first to the conviction and death sentence, and then to the freeing of Kirk Bloodsworth for the murder of a nine-year-old girl in Maryland.
Thomas F. Kelaher, the new president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey, said that it is time to start rethinking the use of the death penalty in the state. Although Kelaher is a supporter of the death penalty, he noted: "If the death penalty hasn't been used in 20 years, society should ask if it should be continued. It was supposed to act as a deterrent. If it hasn't been used in 20 years, you really can't say it's a deterrent."
Presentations at DePaul University's symposium on Race and the Death Penalty were recently published in the university’s Law Review. National experts examined statistical evidence and attitudes regarding race discrimination in the capital punishment system. A keynote address was delivered by Bryan Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, and former Governor George Ryan gave the closing remarks. To read DPIC's summary of the articles click here.
Despite broad bipartisan Congressional support for the Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act, which includes the "Innocence Protection Act" (IPA) to help states pay for the costs of post-conviction DNA testing, the Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed action on the bill. Kirk Bloodsworth (pictured), whose name accompanies the IPA, urged Congress to act: "Nobody should have to wait for justice. I struggled for nearly 20 years to clear my name. This legislation will prevent innocent people from ending up on death row, and it will ensure
A federal judge has overturned one of California's oldest death sentences based on his finding that the 1979 trial of Earl Lloyd Jackson was tainted by unreliable jailhouse informants and poor representation. "The special circumstance finding and the death sentences in this case rest on an evidentiary foundation constructed largely from the false testimony of two jailhouse informants," wrote U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie in his ruling. Rafeedie further found a "dereliction of duty" by prosecutors and Jackson's defense attorney,
The University of Cincinnati's Center for Law and Justice will be inaugurating its Innocence Week beginning September 14th. The week of activities centered on wrongful convictions will include a presentation by Scott Hornoff, a police officer from Rhode Island who was wrongly convicted of murder before being freed on the basis of DNA, presentations by DNA expert Barry Scheck, and performances of the award-winning play The Exonerated. The Center for Law and Justice is best known for launching the Ohio Innocence Project in 2003. The project seeks to exonerate wrongly imprisoned
Of the 63 death sentences handed down since New Jersey reinstated capital punishment in 1982, 47 have been overturned, including that of Robert Marshall, whose death sentence was reversed on April 8th by a federal court. Marshall had been on New Jersey's death row longer than any other inmate prior to the vacating of his sentence. New Jersey has not carried out an execution since bringing back the death penalty. It currently has 11 inmates on death row, and no executions are scheduled at this time. (Asbury Park Press, September 7, 2004) See Death
The Bureau of Justice Statistics' Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 2002 contains its latest catalog of data on crime, the administration of justice, and public attitudes toward criminal justice issues such as the death penalty. For example, a growing number of Americans support the sentence of life without parole over the death penalty. In 1985, a Gallup Poll found that 34% of those polled favored life in prison without parole. This latest edition of the Sourcebook shows that by 2001 the number of respondents favoring life without parole had climbed