What's New

New Resource: Bureau of Justice Statistics Sourcebook

Posted: September 3, 2004
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

Judge Stays Workman Execution, Doubts About Case Remain

Posted: September 3, 2004
A federal judge in Memphis has blocked the execution of Philip Workman (pictured), a Tennessee man who has been on death row for more than 20 years despite evidence that he did not shoot the victim who was killed. Workman's execution, scheduled for September 22, was delayed pending the results of a federal review of another Tennessee case that could affect Workman's latest appeals. (New Channel 5 News in Tennessee, September 2, 2004).

Workman was convicted in 1981 of the murder of police officer Ronald Oliver during the course of a Memphis robbery. Workman has never

NEW RESOURCE: Law Review Features Wrongful Conviction Symposium

Posted: September 1, 2004
The Summer 2004 Drake Law Review includes articles based on a recent Symposium on Wrongful Convictions featuring some of the nation's leading experts on innocence and the death penalty. The articles provide a detailed overview of the issue of innocence and examine wrongful convictions from a number of persectives, including the role of criminal case review in correcting miscarriages of justice, the need to record police interrogations, the impact of innocence on victims' family members, and compensating those who were wrongly

California Senate Establishes Criminal Justice Study Commission

Posted: August 31, 2004
By a vote of 23-12, the California Senate passed a resolution establishing the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a panel of experts who will investigate the state's criminal justice system and present a series of recommendations to the legislature and governor based on their findings. Members of the panel will be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules and will be charged with holding a series of meetings and public hearings to determine why innocent individuals have been wrongly convicted in the state and what safeguards should be put into place to

NEW VOICES: Time to Re-Think the Death Penalty

Posted: August 30, 2004
An op-ed in Oregon's Albany Democrat Herald called on the state to re-think its reliance on the death penalty:

20 years after voters in Oregon reinstated the death penalty, it is time to take a dispassionate look and conclude that it hasn't done much good.

In the general election of 1984, Oregon voters overwhelmingly called for the death penalty to be resumed. 2 initiatives were on the ballot that year. One, calling for capital punishment or mandatory life sentences for aggravated murder, passed by 893,818 to 296,988. A

Discovery of Lost Evidence Is the Latest Embarrassment for Nation's Leading Death Penalty Jurisdiction

Posted: August 27, 2004
The discovery of 280 unopened and mislabeled boxes of evidence found in the Houston Crime Lab's property room could impact as many as 8,000 cases, including many cases where defendants have sought evidence to prove their innocence. Investigators began sorting through the boxes this month, finding an array of evidence that ranged from a fetus and human body parts to clothes and a bag of Cheetos. Although the boxes were located nearly a year ago, the cataloging of their contents has just begun and could take up to a year to complete. Some of the evidence may be linked

Brutalization Effect: Children Die Imitating Recent Execution in India

Posted: August 26, 2004
In the two weeks since India's first hanging in 13 years, two children have died and a third young boy was nearly killed as a result of imitating the highly publicized execution. A 14-year-old boy died after he tied one end of a rope around his neck and swung the other end on a ceiling fan in his home to re-enact the execution. The boy's father said that his son was very curious about the nation's first execution and had closely followed the days leading up to it by watching news accounts. The second child to die, a 12-year-old

Life Sentences Given in Four States

Posted: August 25, 2004
Death sentences have declined across the country. The following four cases are recent illustrations of this trend:

  • In Cook County, Illinois, a judge sentenced Ronald Hinton to life without parole, citing abuse in the defendant’s background and his remorse for the crimes. Hinton admitted to three murders. (Chicago Tribune, August 25, 2004).
  • In Butler County, Ohio, a three-judge panel sentenced Tom West to life without parole for a shooting spree at a trucking company in which two people were killed and three others wounded. Costs of the

Prosecutors Offer a Variety of Reasons for Foregoing Death Penalty

Posted: August 24, 2004
The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office reflected on a number of factors in deciding to forego seeking a death sentence for Seti Christopher Scanlan, whose first trial ended in a mistrial after he took the stand and begged jurors to sentence him to death. Prosecutors are now seeking a sentence of life in prison for Scanlan after concluding that "it was not reasonably likely that we would get a jury that would deliver the death penalty." The case has already cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars and that number would have doubled if

NEW RESOURCE: Scientific American Looks at Crime Rates

Posted: August 23, 2004
In his Scientific American magazine article entitled, "The Case of the Unsolved Crime Decline," criminologist Richard Rosenfeld examines why U.S. crime rates dropped more than 40% in the 1990's and what lessons current policy-makers can learn from this decline. Rosenfeld provides an overview and evaluation of previous research showing a link in the crime rate decline and factors such as changes in demographics, law-enforcement practices, economic conditions, incarceration rates, domestic violence and firearm policies, and the use of guns by young