What's New

Soros Justice Fellowships Available

Posted: June 17, 2004
Applications for Soros Justice Advocacy, Senior and Media Fellowships are now being accepted by the Open Society Institute from lawyers, advocates, organizers, scholars, journalists and documentarians seeking to make advancements in criminal justice. The deadline for applicants is September 22, 2004. Proposed work should focus on reducing the nation’s over reliance on policies of punishment and incarceration, encouraging the successful resettlement of people returning from prison, eliminating race and class disparities in the criminal justice system, and restoring judicial discretion. More

UPCOMING EVENTS: World Congress Against the Death Penalty to Convene in Montreal

Posted: June 16, 2004
The 2nd World Congress Against the Death Penalty will take place in Montreal, Canada, October 6-9, 2004. The conference is sponsored by Penal Reform International, the End to Capital Punishment Movement (ECPM USA), and the ECPM Network (Together Against the Death Penalty). During the four-day event, government officials, representatives from death penalty and law-related organizations, and victims' family members from around the world will host a series of workshops, plenary sessions, and exhibits to discuss the future of the death penalty in those nations that continue to use it.

New Resource: Study Encourages Police to Record Interviews

Posted: June 16, 2004
A recent study conducted by former U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan and released by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law concluded that electronic recording of interrogations of criminal suspects is a cost-effective method that results in more convictions and speedier justice. The researchers contacted 238 law enforcement agencies in 38 states that record interrogations in felony crimes and found that “virtually every officer with whom we spoke, having given custodial recordings a try, was

NEW RESOURCE: The Angolite Highlights Long Road to Clemency for Man with Mental Retardation

Posted: June 16, 2004
The Angolite, a news magazine produced by inmates at Louisiana’s Angola State Penitentiary, highlights the commutation of Herbert Welcome, a man with mental retardation whose death sentence was lifted by Governor Mike Foster in 2003. The article follows Welcome’s decades-long struggle to have his sentence commuted, including a 1988 recommendation for clemency that was never signed. Years later, Welcome’s clemency effort was reignited by his attorneys from the Center for Equal Justice in New Orleans and his

Texas Relies on "Junk Science" in Choosing Who Will Be Sentenced to Death

Posted: June 16, 2004

Texas plans to execute David Harris on June 30th on the basis of a prediction in 1986 that he would be a future danger even if sentenced to life in prison. Dr. Edward Gripon testified that Harris posed a substantial risk of committing further violent acts, even though Gripon had never met or examined Harris. During his nearly two decades on death row, Harris has had only minor infractions, such as having too many postage stamps or hanging a clothesline in his cell. In a 1983 brief to the U.S.


Nichols' Sentencing Demonstrates Heavy Burden on Jurors

Posted: June 15, 2004
After deliberating for 20 hours over three days, the jurors who recently found Terry Nichols (pictured) guilty of murder in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing expressed some of the anguish that choosing between life and death caused them. “It was tough. We had found it much easier to arrive at a guilty verdict, but the penalty phase was much harder,” said juror Terry Zellmer. Cecil Reeder, a Korean War veteran who supported the death penalty for Nichols, said, "This shook me as deep as I've ever been shook in my life." Some of the jurors implied that Nichols'

Another Victims’ Family Provides Perspective on the Death Penalty as Maryland Execution Approaches

Posted: June 14, 2004
As Maryland prepares for the execution of Steven Oken this week, two Maryland parents whose daughter was murdered six years ago provided a victims' family perspective on capital punishment in The Washington Post:

“Oken committed the crimes for which he is sentenced to die back in 1987. Anyone who has seen the survivors of victims feels sorrow for the pain they have had to bear as the case has worn on. But the death penalty holds little promise of helping survivors deal with their emotional damage. The victim remains lost to them whether the killer lives or dies.


NEW VOICES: Prosecutor Withdraws from Death Penalty Case

Posted: June 11, 2004
A Kentucky prosecutor raised religious objections to the death penalty in asking to step aside in the case of two men charged with murder. J. Stewart Schneider, the commonwealth's attorney in Boyd County in northeastern Kentucky, said Thursday he filed his motion to withdraw from the case after reflections at a religious retreat. Schneider also is a minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).


NEW RESOURCES: Three New Items Of Interest

Posted: June 10, 2004
Three new items have been added to DPIC's Web site, including a summary of a new report from The Sentencing Project, the complete results of a recent North Carolina poll, and an updated "Special Resources from DPIC" Web page:

1. A summary of important facts from The Sentencing Project’s new report: “The Meaning of ‘Life’: Long Prison Sentences in Context.” For example,

Death Penalty Fading Away in Europe and Central Asia

Posted: June 9, 2004
In a unanimous vote that will soon add their nation to a lengthy list of countries around the world that have either halted executions or abandoned capital punishment altogether, the lower house of Tajikistan’s Parliament has adopted a moratorium on the death penalty. Passage by the upper house and the signature of the President are reportedly assured. The Tajik moratorium will leave Uzbekistan as the only republic in Central Asia that continues to carry out executions. Experts on Central Asia believe that pressure from leaders of the Organization for Security and Cooperation