What's New

POSSIBLE INNOCENCE: Former Massachusetts Death Row Inmate Released After 30 Years in Prison

Posted: May 21, 2004
Laurence Adams, who was sentenced to death in Massachusetts in 1974 shortly before the state finally abandoned capital punishment, was released on May 20 after spending three decades of his life in prison. In April 2004, a judge overturned Adams’ conviction when new evidence, including conflicting statements from the state’s star witness and a statement from a witness who said two other people committed the murder, cast doubt on his guilt. Superior Court Judge Robert A. Mulligan said that he vacated the conviction to “avoid a

PUBLIC OPINION: North Carolinians Support Death Penalty Moratorium

Posted: May 20, 2004
An April 2004 poll of North Carolinians revealed that 63% of respondents support a halt to executions while the state’s death penalty is studied, and many respondents have doubts about the accuracy of the death penalty. “Support for the two-year suspension of executions is widespread and cuts across all demographic groups, regions of the state and political party affiliation. This is clearly an issue that resonates with the people of North Carolina,” stated John Doble, founder of Doble Research Associations, the national

San Francisco Voters Back DA's Decision to Not Seek Death Sentence

Posted: May 19, 2004
Both city voters and the Bar Association of San Francisco have voiced support for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ decision to not seek the death penalty in the case against David Hill, who is accused of killing city police officer Isaac Espinoza. A recent poll found that 70% of respondents backed Harris’ decision, while only 22% opposed the choice and 8% remained undecided. The poll also found that 65% of those surveyed gave Harris’ overall performance as District Attorney favorable marks. Harris ran for office as an opponent of capital punishment. The San

Texas Board Recommends Clemency on Eve of Execution

Posted: May 18, 2004
On the eve of the Kelsey Patterson's scheduled execution in Texas, the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 5-1 to recommend that Governor Rick Perry commute Patterson’s death sentence to life in prison. In its rare recommendation for clemency, the Board noted that if Governor Perry refuses to grant clemency, Patterson, a mentally ill man who is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, May 18th, should receive a 120-day reprieve. The Board’s actions mark the first time in more than two decades that members have recommended a commutation to the governor at such a late state in

Oklahoma Governor Grants Clemency to Mexican Foreign National

Posted: May 14, 2004
Just days before the scheduled execution of Osvaldo Torres, a Mexican foreign national on Oklahoma’s death row, Governor Brad Henry granted a request for clemency in part because of a recent International Court of Justice decision ordering the United States to review the cases of 51 Mexican foreign nationals on death row because they were denied their right to seek consular assistance following their arrest. Henry’s announcement came just hours after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided to stay Torres’ execution and order a

NEW RESOURCE: CBS to Air Mini-series Based on Turow Death Penalty Novel

Posted: May 13, 2004
A television Mini-series based on the fiction novel “Reversible Errors,” a best-selling book by award-winning author and capital defense attorney Scott Turow, will air on CBS on Sunday May 23, and Tuesday May 25, 2004. The story is about a corporate lawyer whose world is turned upside-down when he is assigned to draft the final appeal of a potentially innocent inmate nearing his execution date. Although “Reversible Errors” is not about an actual capital case in the U.S., the novel and the CBS mini-series encapsulate many of the issues

NEW VOICES: Supreme Court Justice Stevens Says U.S. “Better Off “ Without Capital Punishment

Posted: May 12, 2004
During a “fireside chat” with fellow Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and hundreds of lawyers and judges who practice in federal courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated, “I think this country would be much better off if we did not have capital punishment.” Stevens noted that he believes the death penalty is constitutional, adding, “But I really think it’s a very unfortunate part of our judicial system and I would feel much, much better if more states would really consider whether they think the benefits outweigh

NEW VOICES: Scientific Experts Say DNA Evidence Not “Infallible”

Posted: May 12, 2004
Scientists who are skeptical of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s claim that DNA is “infallible” evidence in a death penalty case have voiced concern about the assumption, noting that there is no way to avoid all possible instances of human error and that the evidence does not always prove a person’s guilt or innocence. Theodore D. Kessis is the founder of Applied DNA Resources, based in Columbus, Ohio, and a faculty member at the John Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore. He provides expert testimony and analysis to the legal community, including reviews of protocols used by labs

NEW VOICES: New York Religious Leaders Unite Against Death Penalty, Call for Moratorium

Posted: May 12, 2004
New York religious leaders representing a range of faiths and regions recently united to voice their opposition to the death penalty and to encourage a moratorium on executions so that issues of fairness and accuracy may be addressed. A statement issued by the group noted:

“[O]ur nation’s continued reliance on the death penalty is extremely costly, ineffective in fighting crime, unequally applied, and handed out with alarming frequency to defendants who are later proved to be innocent. Even most death penalty proponents now agree that there are serious

Abolition of the Death Penalty Gaining Ground in Africa

Posted: May 12, 2004
During the past 10 years, most Commonwealth African countries have moved toward abolishing the death penalty and today almost half of these countries have abandoned the practice according to Amnesty International. Government leaders from around the continent recently met in Entebbe, Uganda, for a two-day summit to discuss capital punishment. Five Southern African Development Countries have abolished capital punishment, and the number of countries ending the death penalty in the Economic Community of West Aftican States region