Blog of Rights

Anna
Arceneaux

Texas Justice (Still) Denied

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 3:19pm
Once again, Texas prosecutors have successfully stalled proceedings which almost certainly will establish that Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham in 2004 for a crime he did not commit. Willingham's relatives had sought a court of inquiry before Judge Charles Baird in Austin to present new evidence of Willingham's innocence for the first time in a court of law. Prosecutors argued that the judge was biased and should be disqualified. When Judge Baird did not agree, prosecutors sought an order from the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals that he should recuse himself, or refer the recusal motion to another judge. Yesterday, that court granted the prosecution's request, and for now, the fate of the court of inquiry remains uncertain. This latest maneuver is part of a broader pattern by Texas prosecutors and political actors to stall and thwart proceedings seeking to uncover the truth that Texas has executed innocent people.

World Community Calls on U.S. to Abolish the Death Penalty

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 12:41pm

At least 136 countries across the world have rejected the death penalty by law or in practice, and worldwide support for abolition of the death penalty continues to mount. Still, the U.S. remains an outlier. Earlier this month, the United States…

138 Reasons to Abolish the Death Penalty

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 3:00pm

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote that there has not been "a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would…

Ignoring the Voice of the Jury

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:33am

Last week, Alabama executed John Forrest Parker. Ten of the 12 members of Parker's jury thought he should live, but the trial judge disagreed and overrode the jury's life verdict. Parker's execution was Alabama's second in as many years in which…

UN Special Rapporteur Recommends Reforms to U.S. Death Penalty System

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 6:03pm

This week, UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston released an advance copy of his report on the state of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in the United States. Chief among Alston’s concerns was the capital punishment system in the…

Alabama's Death Penalty: Still Haunted by the Past

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 1:45pm

A single plaque hangs on the wall outside the warden's office of Holman State Prison in Atmore, Alabama. It honors the execution team of the Alabama Department of Corrections with the Commissioner's Award of the Year, 2007. As you wait for admittance…

Cheers to Life

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 2:13pm

For me, the new year is an occasion to reflect on the triumphs and disappointments of the year past, to renew my goals and commitments, and to resolve again to face the new challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. This New Year's Eve, I am…

In Washington, a Life in the Balance

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 5:46pm

Darold Ray Stenson was to be executed by the State of Washington today. His execution would have marked the first execution in the state in over seven years. Thankfully, both state and federal courts have granted him a temporary stay, and at least…

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