Blog of Rights


Short Film Illustrates Unfair Trial

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 12:58pm
Injustice runs rampant in North Carolina's death penalty system.Of the 129 people exonerated from death row, eight are from North Carolina. The most recent exonerees were sent to death row because of prosecutorial misconduct, use of coerced testimony from snitches and junk science. The state has lied to a judge about how executions would be carried out and lied to a corporation that they would not use a machine for executions when, in fact, it is exactly why the state purchased the machine.

Ohio Judge to Review State's Execution Protocol

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 11:57am
The Ohio Supreme Court will allow a judge to hold a hearing on the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection law. Previously, the state sued to prevent Judge James Burge from holding a hearing about the state's lethal injection process. The…

Questions of Politics Persist as Work of the Texas Forensic Science Commission is Delayed

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 3:27pm

Last month, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee of the Texas Legislature held a hearing reviewing the newly reconstituted Texas Forensic Science Commission (FSC), a government agency that gathers information and reports on the use of science in…

Capital Punishment Project Staff Highlighted in Law Review Article

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 4:50pm

A recent article in the Tennessee Law Review (subscription required) highlights the work done by the ACLU Capital Punishment Project in their representation of Richard Taylor, a severely mentally illness death-row inmate in Tennessee. The article,…

Suspicious Shakeup in Texas

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 5:49pm

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry dismissed three members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, including the chairperson.

His timing was extremely suspicious, to say the least.

The commission was set to hear testimony today…

No Suitable Vein

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 2:56pm

On Monday, Ohio's execution team was unable to find a suitable vein in Romell Broom's arm so it could not inject poison into his body and put an end to his life. The failed attempts took so long that Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland finally gave Broom…

Supreme Court Orders Federal Court to Look at Evidence in Davis Case

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 2:43pm

The Supreme Court of the United States has ordered a federal district court judge (PDF) to "receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis's] innocence."…

New Report Examines the Effect of Severe Mental Illness and Capital Punishment on Families

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 11:58am

Double Tragedies: Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty for People with Severe Mental Illness is a report written by a collaboration of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).…

Troy Davis Day of Action Next Tuesday

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 5:55pm

On May 19, 2009, there will be a Global Day of Action for Troy Davis sponsored by Amnesty International.

As you may recall, Davis awaits execution in Georgia for a crime of which he is almost certainly innocent. Davis was convicted and sentenced…

Mercy in Missouri

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 2:58pm

(Originally posted on ACSBlog.)

During the last general election there was much discussion about the power of the executive branch. One great power that the executive branches of the federal government and most states have is the power to grant clemency.

The ability to examine a person's life and decide to grant him or her mercy is awesome. This ability is even more incredible in the capital punishment context. It gives the executive the chance to save a life. In 2003, Gov. George Ryan (R-Ill.) commuted the death sentences of all 167 death-row inmates and pardoned four men. He did so because he believed that the state's capital punishment system could no longer be trusted given the numerous exonerations and the documented cases of law enforcement misconduct.

Clemency can make things right when the complicated and convoluted procedures of the judicial system prevent justice from being done because, for example, a death-row inmate has missed a deadline. It can also make things right when a death-row inmate has shown that he has reformed and deserves the mercy of a life sentence without parole.

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