As we observe World Day Against the Death Penalty today, the news this week – including an innocent former Death Row prisoner finally freed in Texas – underscores the many flaws of both the justice system that continues to unfairly convict defendants and states’ secret protocols of the actual death chamber. This week, major editorial boards, PA’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate and a former executioner himself are joining the public groundswell in condemning capital punishment.
On World Day to Abolish the Death Penalty, UN Sec-General Calls for Abolishing Capital Punishment…
UN Assistant-Secretary General Ban Ki Moon Urged Abolition of the Death Penalty. “The taking of life is too irreversible for one person to inflict on another. We must continue arguing strongly that the death penalty is unjust and incompatible with fundamental human rights.” [Jurist, 10/10/14]
A Death Row Inmate is Freed in Texas After Evidence Shows Likely Innocence…
TX: Another death row inmate freed on parole after medical evidence showed flawed conviction. Manuel Valez was exonerated this week after evidence showed language barriers caused a flawed confession and medical evidence showed that Valez could not have caused the injuries that led to his girlfriend’s infant’s death. [Houston Chronicle, 10/8/14]
States Continue Facing Scrutiny, Lawsuits Over Their Fight to Keep Execution Protocols a Secret…
AL: Inmate filed Federal lawsuit to block lethal injection with drugs never tried on US prisoner. “An Alabama death row inmate has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the state’s new lethal injection drug combination has never been tried on any prisoner in the United States and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.” [AP, 10/9/10] [Anniston Star, 10/6/14]
OH: Editorial Board: “Death penalty protocol in Ohio needs light not darkness.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board wrote, “Those who prepare and sell drugs for executions should not be cloaked in secrecy nor should medical personnel assisting with executions be shielded from the oversight of their peers. To do so is to take the easy way out – and to detour wrongly around required disclosure for state contracts – for what should be a sobering, if not agonizing, decision for all involved.” [Editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/7/14]
…Particularly from the Media in Oklahoma
OK: ACLU, Media file suit against OK moving to limit media at executions. The ACLU and members of media filed motion asking for ruling in their case against the state for moving to limit the number of media at executions and allowing parts of them to be blocked. [NewsOk, 10/9/14]
- OK: State reveals new death chamber after botched lethal injection – now only 5 reporters can view executions. OK officials unveiled a new death chamber, with renovations topping $100,000 forced to make them after the botched lethal injection of Clayton Lockett who took 43 minutes to die. Renovations made to the viewing area will now limit media witnesses to five and when media questioned several of the new protocols, state officials declined to answer. [Associated Press, 10/9/14]
And Voices Across the Country Condemn, Speak Out Against the Death Penalty.
PA: Dem Gov candidate supports moratorium on death penalty in PA. In a debate this week, PA Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf said, “I think we ought to have a moratorium on capital punishment cases in Pennsylvania.” He was “not convinced we’re dispensing justice fairly.” [PoliticsPA, 10/8/14; NewsWorks.org, 10/9/14]
Former Director, GA Dept. of Corrections: “Why I’m against the death penalty.” Allen Ault, former director of the Georgia Department of Corrections writes, “The final reason for my opposition is a particularly personal one—the heavy toll capital punishment exacts from the individuals who have to carry out the sanction…I know two executioners who have committed suicide and several who are completely dysfunctional due to drugs, alcohol or suicidal depression. I do not know one who has not experienced a negative impact.” [Op-Ed, Courier-Journal, 10/9/14]
TX Op-Ed: “There must be a better way to try a capital murder case.” News editor for the Huntsville Item: “I have witnessed more executions than I can count. And, in my opinion, if the government is going to continue to allow the death penalty as a form of capital punishment, the qualifications for defense and prosecuting attorneys to try these cases must be high.” [Op-Ed, Huntsville Item, 10/3/14]
NYTimes: Photographer starts new campaign – “Photographers Selfie Against the Death Penalty.” Photographer Marc Ansin is embarking on a social justice project: The campaign, “which compiles 517 final statements of Texas’ death row prisoners. Their final words are combined with mug shots, summaries of the crime for which they were convicted and other details about the prisoners.” He hopes the final book will become a major exhibition and be placed in schools in states where the death penalty is legal. [New York Times, 10/6/14]