Blog of Rights

Christopher
Hill

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.

Troy Davis Suffers Another Blow

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 1:18pm

Late last week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Troy Davis’s petition for a hearing to prove his innocence. Although seven of the nine non-police witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their trial testimony, that evidence…

The World is Getting Closer to Killing the Death Penalty

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 3:18pm

Amnesty International recently released its annual report about capital punishment in the world, entitled Death Sentences and Executions in 2008 (PDF). While the report contains some reasons for concern, it shows that the world is continuing to…

New Mexi-Can and New Mexi-Did Abolish Capital Punishment

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 9:14pm

So you've heard the cliché: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Well, for New Mexico, today is the first day the criminal justice system will value life. Last night Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill that repealed the death penalty…

The Perils of Junk Science

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 11:08am

(Originally posted on Change.org)

If a scientist were to testify that he saw a person commit a crime because he went to the scene in the Way Back Machine with Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, everyone would know it was untrue. Unfortunately,…

Hope on the Horizon

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 5:33pm

This state legislative session has seen a flurry of activity regarding capital punishment. There has been plenty of reason for hope, but also some disappointment for death penalty opponents.

We'll start with the bad news: Alaska has proposed…

Almost Certainly Innocent, Troy Anthony Davis Receives Another Execution Date

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 1:04pm

Troy Anthony Davis almost certainly is innocent, but that has not stopped the State of Georgia from giving him a new execution date: September 23, 2008. A hearing on his case is scheduled before the State of Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole…

The Trial of Jeff Wood

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 4:56pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

In Franz Kafka’s novel, The Trial, the main character is prosecuted and executed for an unnamed crime. We like to think that this kind of absurd surrealism only happens in literature. But something…

Highlighting Issues With Mental Illness and the Death Penalty

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 2:55pm

A judge in North Carolina ruled that Guy LeGrande was not competent to be executed. LeGrande has suffered with mental illness for years. His illness was in full view of the jury when he represented himself in his capital trial. During the trial,…

Capital Punishment Project Director Honored

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 3:45pm

John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, received the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award from Lawrence University. John, a 1977 graduate of Lawrence, was honored for his tireless work as a zealous defense attorney…

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