I Am Troy Davis

September 21, 2013

It was two years ago today that a monstrous miscarriage of justice was committed by the state of Georgia as its unrelenting pursuit to execute Troy Davis finally came to fruition.

Troy was executed even though there was no DNA evidence and no weapon that linked him to the murder that was committed. The majority of the witnesses in his case recanted their testimony against Troy because, as they explained, they were pressured and threatened by the police to give false testimony.

Troy Davis will never be forgotten.

The best way to honor him today is to fight to end the death penalty.

Troy Davis’ life and struggle against the death machine in Georgia and in the US will be vindicated one day when in our society it will no longer be possible to execute another human being.


Sister Helen Prejean’s ongoing fight against the death penalty

June 20, 2013

Death Penalty Statistics

June 4, 2013

Here are some graphs with current statistics on the death penalty.

The research was provided by the Death Penalty Information website which is an outstanding resource on all matters related to the death penalty.

It is striking to see how it is specific regions in the US that continue to lead in the number of death row population and in the number of executions carried out every year.

This regional disparity is not new and is troubling but the disparity is also indicative that the death penalty is being implemented in lesser numbers in other parts of the US.


America’s Retreat From the Death Penalty

January 3, 2013

America’s Retreat From the Death Penalty

An excellent editorial from the NY Times on the death penalty that touches on all the major points about why the death penalty is wrong and should be abolished.

Capital punishment slowly loses ground in US

December 9, 2011

The murder of Troy Davis has undoubtedly had an impact on public support for the death penalty.

The shock and outrage over his execution has made many people reassess their position on the issue.

Troy’s case is a textbook example of the injustice so prevalent in the criminal justice system.

For many, this unfortunate reality has been a real eye opener and its made them think twice about the use of the death penalty. For many other people, who’ve never spent too much time thinking about the issue, the Troy Davis case has been an education in itself.

I don’t think the decline of the death penalty in the US is “slow” as the article emphasizes, there is plenty of evidence that shows that it is on a quicker pace. Politicians, police chiefs and the public at large are questioning the death penalty, in theory and practice, more and more every day.

Capital punishment slowly loses ground in US

By Chantal Valery (AFP)

WASHINGTON — With a new moratorium on the death penalty in Oregon and a drop in the number of death sentences and executions, capital punishment is slowly losing ground in the United States.

Oregon governor John Fitzhaber announced on Tuesday that the northwestern state will halt executions at least until the end of his mandate, joining the camp of US states that have effectively shunned the death penalty.

“I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor,” said Fitzhaber, who said he had come to the conclusion they were “morally wrong.”

The governor suspended the last execution scheduled for this year, halting the count for the number of people put to death in the United States in 2011 at 43.

That total is slightly below that seen last year, and less than half the number of people executed each year in the 1990s. The number of death sentences also has fallen since then by nearly a third.

Only a dozen of the 50 US states conducted executions last year, most of them in the south.

“Slowly, state by state, there is this erosion of support for the death penalty,” Richard Dieter, the director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told AFP.

In all, 16 states have abolished the death penalty or did not re-adopt it after it was restored by the US Supreme Court in 1976. They could be joined as early as next year not only by Oregon, but also by Maryland, Connecticut and California.

“It’s going to take a while — the death penalty won’t end in three years; in 10 years, there’s a possibility,” said Dieter, stressing that it ultimately will be up to the Supreme Court to decide.

Public enthusiasm for capital punishment shows some signs of waning, falling to the lowest level in 39 years, but Robert Blecker, a law professor at New York University, notes that it “remains surprisingly constant and robust.”

Blecker pointed to a recent Gallup poll that found that 61 percent of Americans approve of the death penalty for convicted murderers.

“Americans as a whole favor the death penalty when it is imposed only when there’s absolute certainty,” said David Schaefer, a professor at Holy Cross College in Massachusetts and an advocate of capital punishment.

With the execution of Troy Davis in September, whose case became a cause celebre after doubts were raised about his guilt, “we reached a new plateau in the US critical examination of the death penalty,” said Steven Hall, of the abolitionist StandDown organization in Texas.

“If you have an ideal vision, the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst,” he said. But Hall added that the possibility that innocent people are put to death is “an issue that has been a great concern to people.”

New voices also are being raised against the death penalty — prosecutors, former guards and prison officials have protested individual executions on various grounds, denouncing lethal injection as cruel or calling for DNA tests.

Since 1973, 138 inmates on death row have been subsequently found innocent and released, 17 of them on the basis of DNA evidence, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which says doubts have been raised in three out of four executions.

“If we occasionally, very rarely, execute an innocent person, if the death penalty is more deterrent than life without parole, on balance we will have saved innocent lives,” said Blecker, who supports the use of the death penalty for the most monstrous crimes.

On the other hand, the cost of an execution, estimated at $3 million when all the legal work involved is considered, is three times greater than locking up someone in prison for life, according to a recent study.

“The wheel of justice rolls rather quickly” in certain cases like that of Timothy McVeigh, who was executed in 2001 for the Oklahoma City massacre after only six years on death row, said Schaefer.

But a 10 to 20 year process is more common. Schaefer argues for speeding up that process by “eliminating procedural road blocks that do not depend on the guilt or innocence.”

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved

Oregon Governor stops executions in Oregon, calls system ‘compromised and inequitable’

November 23, 2011

The best news I’ve heard all week.

A very humane and principled argument made by the Oregon Governor in explaining his decision to halt all executions.

A moratorium is at least a positive first step as the work towards abolition continues.

May the next victory be in Oregon!

Gov. John Kitzhaber stops executions in Oregon, calls system ‘compromised and inequitable’

SALEM — Gov. John Kitzhaber announced today he will not allow the execution of Gary Haugen — or any death row inmate — to take place while he is in office.

The death penalty is morally wrong and unjustly administered, Kitzhaber said.

“In my mind it is a perversion of justice,” he said at an emotional news conference in Salem.

The governor cited his constitutional authority to grant a temporary reprieve for Haugen, in effect canceling the planned Dec. 6 lethal injection of the twice-convicted murderer. Haugen waived his legal appeals and has been preparing for the execution, which would have been Oregon’s first in 14 years.

Click here to view the entire article

Death penalty’s unlikely opponents

October 31, 2011

Death penalty’s unlikely opponents
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN

(CNN) — Charisse Coleman has no real compassion for the man who walked into the Thrifty Liquor Store in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1995 and put three bullets in her brother, Russell.

But she doesn’t want Bobby Lee Hampton — one of more than seven dozen killers on Louisiana’s death row — executed, either.

“My opposition to the death penalty has nothing to do with Bobby Lee Hampton,” Coleman said. “He’s a bad dude. He’s never going to be a good dude. If I got a call that said Bobby Lee Hampton dropped dead in his cell last night, I don’t think it would create a ripple in my pond.”

She added, though, “I will be goddamned if I will let Bobby Lee Hampton make me a victim, too, by taking me down that road of bitterness and revenge.”

Coleman, 50, is among the most unlikely opponents of the death penalty, people who lost loved ones to unspeakable violence yet believe executing the killer will do nothing for family members or society.

Their stance is backed by groups like Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, and their reasons aren’t as religious or political as one might think. Some feel so strongly they’ve spoken against the death penalty even when it wasn’t an option in their loved one’s case.

There’s no denying most Americans are pro-death penalty. They have been since 1967, according to Gallup, which regularly conducts polls asking whether Americans are for or against capital punishment in murder cases. Support reached as high as 80% in 1994 and declined to 61% in a poll this month — the lowest since 1972, the year the Supreme Court temporarily halted executions.

Add a little nuance, though, and sentiments shift. When asked to choose between the death penalty and life in prison, 50% of respondents in a recent CNN/ORC International Poll said they favored a life sentence, compared to 48% who preferred the death penalty.

Click here to view the entire article

Into the Abyss

October 27, 2011


October 10, 2011

Troy Davis R.I.P.

September 23, 2011