Posts

Showing posts from October, 2013

FEATURED POST

States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

Image
The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Food for thought...

"I don't see capital punishment as a peripheral issue about some criminals at the edge of society that people want to execute. I see the death penalty connected to the three deepest wounds of our society: racism, poverty, and violence."
- Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., Would Jesus Pull the Switch? (Click here to read the full article by Sister Helen Prejean.)

Malaysia: 2 Iranian women on death row to face 'due process'

Image
The government's insistence that 2 Iranian women sentenced to death for drug trafficking must face due process could anger Tehran.
Malaysia insisted Wednesday 2 Iranian women sentenced to death for drug trafficking must face "due process" despite a warning from Tehran that their executions would harm bilateral relations.
Shahrzad Mansour, 31, and Neda Mostafaei, 26, were sentenced to death in September for smuggling methamphetamine into Malaysia in December 2010. Defence lawyers are appealing the case.
The 2 Muslim nations both use the death penalty against drug traffickers.
But Iran's foreign ministry warned last week that executing the women would have a "negative effect" on bilateral ties, and called for them to be spared.
In a statement sent to AFP, Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said that while it valued relations with Iran it could not tolerate "illegal activities, which are detrimental to Malaysia's image and security".
"Any infr…

Mass Executions Continue in Iran: At Least 17 Executed According to Unofficial Sources

Image
Iran Human Rights, October 30: One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Semnan (Northern Iran) according to the Iranian state media. Meanwhile unofficial sources have reported 16 other executions in three other prisons.
Iran Human Rights (IHR) has received unconfirmed reports on mass-execution of a "not yet confirmed" number of prisoners in Adelabad Prison of Shiraz (southern Iran) today, Wednesday October 30. IHR is currently investigating these reports.
Execution of an Afghan citizen in Semnan:
One Afghan citizen identified as "M. S." was hanged in the prison of Semnan today, reported the state run Iranian news agency Fars. The prisoner was convicted of possession and trafficking of 997 grams of crack said the report.
Eleven prisoners among them two women hanged in Urmia:
According to the unofficial Kurdish "Mukrian news agency" eleven prisoners were hanged in the prison of Urmia (northwestern Iran) today. Six of the prisoners who were of Kurdish ethni…

Why Support For The Death Penalty In America Is Plunging

Image
A Gallup poll found this week that support for the death penalty in America is the lowest it's been in 40 years and has dropped sharply since its peak at 80% in 1994.
These days, roughly 60% of Americans support the death penalty for convicted killers, the lowest level of support since 1972 when 57% of people were in favor.
We spoke to death penalty expert Douglas Berman, who attributed the drop in support to three big factors: high-profile exonerations of death row inmates; the disappearance of "tough on crime" attitudes popular in the '80s and '90s; and the successful repeal of the death penalty in a number of U.S. states.
"Really over the last decade there has been a growing awareness of mistakes in the context of death row prosecutions and exonerations that tend to be very high-profile," said Berman, a law professor at The Ohio State University and founder of the Sentencing and Law Policy blog.
A total of 142 death row prisoners in America have bee…

USA: FBI Releases Report Including State Murder Rates for 2012

Image
The U.S. Department of Justice recently released its annual FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2012.
The national murder rate remained approximately the same in 2012 as in 2011.
The Northeast, the region with the fewest executions, had the lowest murder rate of any region, and its murder rate decreased 3.4% from the previous year.
The South, which carries out the most executions of any region, again had the highest murder rate in 2012.
The murder rate in the West remained about the same, while the rate in the Midwest increased slightly.
6 of the 9 states with the lowest murder rates are states without the death penalty.
The average murder rate of death penalty states was 4.7, while the average murder rate of states without the death penalty was 3.7 (not weighted by population).
Source: Death Penalty Information Center, October 28, 2013

Bahamas: Child molester, killer sentenced to death

Image
KOFHE Goodman has today been sentenced to hang for the murder of Marco Archer.
Goodman sat in the prisoner's dock in the Supreme Court hearing crouched forward with his hands on his chin. He made no verbal reaction when the death penalty sentence was handed down.
Justice Bernard Turner said: "This case is a clear and compelling case for the ultimate sentence of death, to satisfy the requirements of due punishment for the murder of this child and to protect this society from any further predatory conduct by this convict at any time in the future.
"Kofhe Edwardo Ferguson Goodman, I hereby sentence you to suffer death in the manner authorised by law."
Marco's mother Tryphemia Meadows told The Tribune afterwards that the sentence wouldn't bring back her son, but at least Goodman 'won't be able to hurt anymore little boys.'
Goodman, 39, stood trial between April 17 and August 2 in connection with the murder of Marco Archer. He was found guilty despit…

U.S. Military: Appeals court ruling sends airman back to death row

Image
The only airman on military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., will remain there, at least for now.
The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals has canceled a decision to overturn the death sentence of Senior Airman Andrew Witt, who was convicted in the 2004 double murder of a fellow airman and his wife and the attempted murder of a now-retired staff sergeant at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
The appeals court wrote in its Aug. 21 ruling Witt's defense attorneys had overlooked key evidence that could have persuaded jurors to spare the killer's life. The 3-2 decision also ordered a new sentencing hearing.
The Air Force filed a motion for reconsideration of the appeals court decision. The motion was granted Oct. 21 when the court vacated its initial ruling. All 10 appellate judges will now decide whether to uphold the death penalty, probably in a hearing in December at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., according to a source familiar with the case.
The appeals court wrote in its now-vacate…

Death row inmates challenge Florida's use of a new drug in lethal injections

Image
TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Death row inmates are asking the courts to stop use of a new drug being used in lethal injections.
Amended lawsuits have been filed in U.S. District Courts in four cities claiming use of midazolam hydrochloride as the first drug in the three-drug mix leaves the condemned at risk for severe pain during an execution.
Florida used the new mix during the execution of William Happ on Oct. 15. It was the first time it was used in an execution and Happ didn't file any appeals challenging its use.
The seven inmates challenging the use had already sued to stop the previous mix of drugs Florida was using before the change. The filings this week seek to amend the original suits to reflect the new procedure.
Source: Associated Press, October 29, 2013

Japanese government has so far failed to implement UN recommendations on death penalty: FIDH

Image
The Japanese Government has so far failed to implement UN recommendations on the death penalty, as the country is about to be reviewed for a sixth time by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. [1]
The 109th session of the Human Rights Committee is being held from 14 October to 1 November 2013 in Geneva. On 31 October, the committee will adopt a list of issues for the sixth periodic review of Japan, which will precede the actual review of Japan in July 2014.
“We are concerned at Japan’s continued ignorance of recommendations by UN experts on the death penalty” , said the Center for Prisoners’ Rights Japan (CPR), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in a joint statement.
“The execution of Tokuhisa Kumagai, on 12 September, took place right after the International Olympic Committee selected Tokyo as the host city for 2020 Olympic Games. This further displays the extent to which the government remains impervious to international pressure on the matter” , both org…

U.S. Death Penalty Support Lowest in More Than 40 Years

Image
Sixty percent of Americans favor death penalty for convicted murderers.
PRINCETON, NJ -- Sixty percent of Americans say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, the lowest level of support Gallup has measured since November 1972, when 57% were in favor. Death penalty support peaked at 80% in 1994, but it has gradually declined since then.
Americans have typically favored the death penalty; in fact, support has exceeded opposition in all but one survey, conducted in May 1966, during an era marked by philosophical and legal challenges to the death penalty from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s. Americans' support for the death penalty waned during that time. The culmination of that era was the Supreme Court's 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision, which invalidated all state death penalty statutes on technical grounds but stopped short of declaring the practice itself unconstitutional. Four years later, the court ruled that several newly written death penalty laws wer…

The Other Iranian Execution Stories

Image
Two stories about hangings in Iran have garnered some public attention in the past two weeks. In one story a convicted drug felon named Alireza M. was hanged and somehow managed to survive. In the other, perhaps 18 men were executed in response to a deadly attack on Iranian border guards.
These stories emerge after an apparent thaw in U.S.-Iran diplomatic relations, taken by some as a sign that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly-elected president, will usher in a period of openness and political change.
In early October, however, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported that over 125 people have been executed since Rouhani came into office on August 3.
In 2012, Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort and Iran Human Rights claim that at least 580 people were executed in Iran—294 of these executions were reported by the government and 286 from “unofficial sources.” While China leads the world in number of executions, Iran leads in number of juveniles executed setting the bar at pu…

Bali Nine courier Renae Lawrence escapes major punishment

Image
The Bali Nine's Renae Lawrence will escape serious punishment over an alleged prison murder plot, with the convicted drug mule only being banned from receiving sentence cuts for at least 12 months.
Lawrence, from Newcastle, was moved from Kerobokan jail to another prison in Bali on Saturday amid accusations the 36-year-old had conspired with another inmate to murder two female prison guards.
But Kerobokan jail governor Gusti Ngurah Wiratna confirmed on Tuesday that he would not recommend to police that she be charged.
"She will not be getting remission for at least one year," Mr Wiratna told AAP.
"For the time being, I think the sanction of not getting her remission and sending her to a remote prison - that should be enough."
The police have said they were unlikely to take any independent action.
"Several charges can be laid, like unpleasant conduct, or threat of life," North Kuta Police Chief Reinhard Habonaran Nainggolan, whose office has jurisdict…

Nebraska researches "Death Penalty" drug

Image
Nebraska will be looking at a number of options to maintain the death penalty.
Nebraska has been blocked from carrying out executions, because it cannot get adequate supplies of sodium thiopental, the drug the state would use as an anesthetic. No longer produced domestically, the drug has become increasingly difficult to obtain from European manufacturers who have been blocked from selling it for use in executions.
Missouri has announced it will change its death penalty protocol after it became difficult to receive propofol, an anesthetic used in its 3-drug protocol. The state now will use the sedative pentobarbital and is considering a switch to a 1-drug protocol.
Attorney General Jon Bruning says Nebraska will be review the move by other states toward a 1-drug protocol to carry out lethal injection, rather than the 3-drug method now on the books.
"Certainly, that's under discussion. The governor and I have had conversations and will continue to have conversations. That'…

Another Day to Die: Are Hopes that Indonesia will Abolish the Death Penalty Premature?

Image
The remissions of a pending death sentence against 2 Indonesians on death row awaiting hanging in Malaysia, has generated a ray of hope for the more than 130 Indonesians and foreigners now sitting on death row in Indonesian prisons.
Upon hearing that Heni Herawati and Indah Kumala Sarihad had their death sentences suspended, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said via his Twitter Account, "I express my thanks to the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, their lawyers and other elements of the government for their efforts and hard work."
According to Kompas.com, the President credits efforts by agencies of the Indonesian government in freeing more than 140 Indonesians imprisoned abroad from the threat of execution.
Calling on Indonesians to always abide by the laws of their host nations, the President hopes that there will be no future cases with citizens of the Nation charged with capital crimes.
A Double Edged Sword
The President admitted that whenever Indonesian C…

Ohio to execute inmate with 2 drugs never tried before in a U.S. execution

Image
Ohio will use a dose of two drugs never tried before in a U.S. execution to put to death a condemned inmate who raped and killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, the state prisons agency said Monday.
Lawyers for death row inmate Ronald Phillips immediately sued to put off his Nov. 14 execution, saying Ohio delayed the announcement so long it didn’t leave enough time to fully investigate the new method.
The agency made the decision because it couldn’t obtain a supply of its former execution drug, pentobarbital, from a specialty pharmacy that mixes individual doses for patients, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said. The agency had considered using a compounding pharmacy after its supply of federally regulated pentobarbital expired last month.
Instead, the state will use an intravenous combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller, in the Nov. 14 execution of Ronald Phillips of Akron.
Those drugs already are included in Ohio’s never-tried backup execution …

Saudi 'blasphemy' tweep Kashgari released

Image
Saudi authorities jailed him for nearly two years without trial for his tweets
Riyadh: After nearly two years in prison, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday freed a young Saudi writer whose tweets on the Prophet Mohammad sparked a conservative furore and an international manhunt.
Hamza Kashgari, 23 when he was jailed in February 2011, walked out of prison around dawn on Tuesday, a close friend of the family said.
Kashgari tweeted for the first time since his imprisonment at around 8am local time (0500 GMT): “Mornings of hope...souls that live and never die. Thanks to God.”
Kashgari’s lawyer, Abdul Rahman Allahim, confirmed the release in another tweet.
A writer and newspaper columnist in the Saudi city of Jeddah, Kashgari in February 2011 tweeted a series of comments reflecting meditatively on the human side of the Prophet, and imagining a meeting between himself and the Prophet.
Religious conservatives in the kingdom called the tweets blasphemous. Clerics — one of whom posted a video on YouTube …

No Drugs, No Executions: The End of the Death Penalty

Image
Florida's new drug of choice replaced pentobarbital, a barbiturate the state used for years as part of its three-drug lethal cocktail until de facto boycotts by foreign drug manufacturers exhausted its supply. Midazolam hydrochloride, marketed as Versed, was chosen not because of its effectiveness but because of its availability, a decision legal experts say calls into question Florida's commitment to the Eighth Amendment's promise of no infliction of cruel or unusual punishment.
Florida is just one of several states scrambling to update or refine its capital-punishment protocol amid a sudden shortfall of its lethal injection drugs, resulting in an unprecedented inconsistency in the way inmates are executed in the United States. Even as a steady majority continues supporting the death penalty, the difficulty in obtaining new lethal drugs, associated legal hurdles, and a gaping void of better execution alternatives has left capital punishment in America with an uncertain f…

Vietnam arrests two Australian nationals carrying 3.5kg of drugs

Image
Two Australian nationals have been caught carrying 3.5 kilograms of heroin at a Ho Chi Minh City airport, local customs officers said Sunday.
The customs unit at Tan Son Nhat International Airport identified the smugglers as J.N.A.J, 31, and 24-year-old K.C.G, both of whom held an Australian passport.
The drugs were discovered being secretly hidden in the passengers' luggage as it was being scanned at the airport.
The 2 and their trafficked substances have been handed over to city police.
Last Sunday Tan Son Nhat customs officers captured a 26-year-old Chinese woman who was bidding to illicitly bring 2.2kg of methamphetamine, also stashed in her luggage, into Vietnam.
The woman, Li Chunying, was then charged with "illegally transporting drugs" after being given to local anti-drug police.
Chunying had traveled through several countries before arriving in Vietnam, sources said.
Vietnamese authorities have seized about 24 kilos of drugs and more than 2,000 synthetic drug p…

Oklahoma: New execution date set

Image
Death date set for last of 3 men to be executed for 1995 Tulsa store clerk's killing; He will be the last of 3 people who received the death penalty in the 1995 fatal beating to be executed.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday set a Jan. 9 execution date for a Tulsa convenience store clerk's killer.
Michael Lee Wilson, 38, is 1 of 4 people who were found guilty of the beating death of Richard Yost, 30, at a QuikTrip at 215 N. Garnett Road more than 18 years ago.
A customer who entered the store about 6 a.m. Feb. 26, 1995, and saw no attendant found Yost's body in a walk-in cooler, evidence at the defendants' trials indicated.
Wilson was a clerk at the same QuikTrip and had finished a shift about 11 p.m. the night before Yost's body was found.
Yost knew Wilson and would have recognized the other 3 defendants because they had visited Wilson at work previously, prosecutors said at the defendants' 1997 trial.
While the other three men were beating Yos…

Missouri Gov. Nixon received health concerns over execution drug

Image
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Health care workers, medical groups and even a few patients pressured Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon before he halted what would have been the first execution with the anesthetic propofol.
The anticipated use of propofol in administering the death penalty fueled concerns that the anti-death penalty European Union could limit its export. Before he halted a planned October execution, Nixon's office received several dozen letters and messages asking him to put off the execution and to order development of a new death penalty protocol.
Nixon's office provided The Associated Press with correspondence it received before the decision. Many messages to the governor took little position on the death penalty and instead focused on propofol. The state Department of Corrections announced Tuesday executions now will use the sedative pentobarbital, which the Death Penalty Information Center says is used by 13 states.
The Missouri State Medical Association said in a letter t…

Bali Nine Inmate Accused of Hatching Kerobokan Murder Plot

Convicted “Bali Nine” drug trafficker Ranae Lawrence was accused on Sunday of masterminding a plan to murder two guards at Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Prison after staff discovered a knife and a text message exchange detailing the plot.
Kerobokan staff conducted a raid on the prison cells earlier this week, seizing some 52 cellphones and several sharp objects from the women’s ward, chief warden Gusti Ngurah Wiratna explained on Sunday.
A knife and a BlackBerry were taken from Lawrence’s cell.
Source: Jakarta Globe, October 27, 2013

Child killer sentenced to death in Morocco

Image
Rabat, Morocco - A Moroccan man convicted of abducting, raping and killing a two-year-old girl has been sentenced to death, the official MAP news agency reported on Friday.
The 30-year-old man, himself the father of a little girl, was also ordered to pay the toddler's family 200 000 dirhams (about R240 000) in compensation, according to the verdict issued Thursday.
Last year Moroccan courts sentenced 10 people to death for various crimes, according to the newspaper L'Economiste. More than 100 people are on death row in the kingdom.
No executions have been carried out in the North African country since a moratorium was declared in 1993, but the death penalty has yet to be abolished.
Sources: Sapa-Agence France-Presse, October 26, 2013

Food for thought...

“It’s not bad people I fear so much as good people. When a person is sure that he is good, he is nearly hopeless; he gets cruel -- he believes in punishment.”
- Clarence Darrow, American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Death for the Disabled: Should We Kill Freddie Lee Hall?

Image
Like many death row inmates across the country, Florida’s 68-year-old Freddie Lee Hall is mentally disabled. The question is whether he is too disabled to be executed—an issue that now will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in what many observers believe is the most important legal challenge to the death penalty in years.
In 1978, Hall was convicted of murdering a pregnant housewife and a deputy sheriff, both gruesome and heartless acts. But in 1992, at one of Hall’s many post-conviction resentencing hearings, a Florida judge found that Hall had been “mentally retarded all his life.”
In a later proceeding (Hall v. State), two state court appellate judges wrote that Hall had an IQ of 60, suffered from organic brain damage, had the short-term memory of a first-grader and was raised under the most “horrific family circumstances imaginable.” Among other forms of abuse and torture suffered at the hands of his mother, relatives and neighbors, Hall was tied up in a burlap sack as a young…

Iran hangs 16 rebels 'in reprisal for border deaths'

Image
Sixteen rebels have been hanged in Iran in retaliation for the deaths of at least 14 border guards in an ambush, say Iranian news agencies.
The rebels were "linked to groups hostile to the regime", the attorney general of Sistan-Baluchistan province was quoted as saying.
They were hanged in prison in Zahedan, north-east of Saravan, where the border deaths took place overnight.
It is not clear what link, if any, those hanged had to the border attack.
One report suggests they may already have been tried and convicted, but their executions brought forward following the ambush.
Friday night's attack in a mountainous region outside Saravan, on the south-eastern border with Pakistan, was blamed by Saravan's member of parliament, Hedayatollah Mirmoradzehi, on "anti-revolution guerrillas".
But reports that a rebel group called Jeish Al-Adl had claimed responsibility for the ambush were "not confirmed", Mr Mirmoradzehi told local Tasnim news agency.
An ar…

Iran reportedly executes Kurdish political prisoner

Image
According to unofficial reports Habibollah Golparipour was hanged early this morning.
Iran Human Rights (IHR) had yesterday received reports about the transfer of Mr. Golparipour from the Urmia Prison to an unknown location.
On March 15, 2009, Habibollah Golparipour was sentenced to death by branch 1 of the Mahabad Revolutionary Court (in the Western Azerbaijan province) in a trial that lasted a few minutes.
He was sentenced to death charged with "Enmity against the God" and membership in a Kurdish dissident group".
IHR has issued concern about imminent risk of execution for at least four Sunni Muslim Kurdish prisoners of consience who are currently being held in the Ghezel Hesar Prison (near Tehran).
There is also strong concern that two other death row Kurdish political prisoners Zanyar and Loghman Moradi might be in danger of execution.
All these prisoners have been sentenced by the Revolutionary Courts to death charged with enmity against the God.
All these prisone…

Oregon: Former Chief Justice Recommends Repeal of Death Penalty

Image
October 23, 2013: Edwin J. Peterson, who served as the Chief Justice of Oregon's Supreme Court for many years, recently recommended ending the “Dickensonian system we have in Oregon”.
Judge Peterson voted as a citizen to reinstate the death penalty in Oregon in 1978 and in 1984, but he now believes the capital punishment system is broken: "We have an inefficient, ineffective, dysfunctional system," he said. "There is widespread dissatisfaction.... Our system has failed. Recognize it and repeal Oregon’s death penalty."
He noted that taxpayers are supporting a system that yields no results: “Under current law, an Oregon defendant sentenced to death has no fewer than nine separate appeals. The reversal rate is high. Not one of the 37 persons on Death Row has yet exhausted his appeal rights! There is little reason to believe that any defendant now on Oregon’s Death Row will ever be executed. We taxpayers pay nearly all of the expenses of prosecuting and defending …

Gaza: Hamas sentences killer to death

Image
October 24, 2013: Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers sentenced a murderer to death, the interior ministry said.
A court in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip sentenced a man whom it did not name to "death by hanging for the murder of Aliyan al-Tilbani" during an armed burglary at a biscuit factory, a statement from public prosecutor Ismail Jaber said.
Four other men were sentenced to life in prison and forced labour, for taking part in the burglary during Tilbani's father was also wounded.
Source: Agence France-Presse, October 24, 2013