Blog of Rights


People of Faith Launch Campaign Against Capital Punishment

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 10:50am
People of faith from across the country gathered at a conference in Atlanta last Tuesday and Wednesday for a "kairos" moment.

Punishment for Cheshire Defendant Need Not Fit the Crime

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 1:15pm

Earlier this month, a jury convicted Stephen J. Hayes of breaking into the Cheshire, Connecticut, home of the Petit family three years ago, then kidnapping the family, physically assaulting the father, sexually assaulting the mother, and murdering…

Reaction to Nichols' Verdict Reflects Common Misunderstanding of the Law

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 3:18pm

(This op-ed was originally published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on January 2, 2009.)

Brian Nichols' life sentence without parole has provoked angry reactions from many people. They argue that, given the heinousness of his crimes,…

Sentenced To Death Because Of Where You Live: The Death Penalty’s Geographic Bias

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 11:55am

Americans have become increasingly troubled by the profound flaws in our capital punishment system, including its astonishing error rate and its racial and socioeconomic biases. They are less aware of its disturbing geographical biases.


Maryland Commission Calls for Repeal of Death Penalty

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 12:15pm

After four months of study, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment has called on the state to abolish the death penalty. In a 13-to-7 vote, the Governor-appointed commission concluded that capital punishment carries the “real possibility”…

Troy Davis Case Proves Death Penalty Is Fatally Flawed

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 12:50pm

The U.S. death penalty system is a failed government program unworthy of a people that cherish fairness and justice. If we needed any further proof of this fact, the Troy Davis case seals the deal.

On September 23, 2008, Troy Davis came within two hours of being executed. He was at least temporarily saved when the United States Supreme Court granted a last-minute stay to give it time to decide whether to review his case. But Troy is not out of the woods. If the Supreme Court decides not to take his case, he will once again face execution.

Troy Davis has steadfastly maintained his innocence for all of the many years he has been imprisoned on Georgia's death row. An African-American, Davis was convicted of the murder of a white, off-duty Savannah Police Officer named Mark MacPhail in 1991. Not a shred of physical evidence links him to the crime. No murder weapon has been found. Nine non-police witnesses testified against him at trial, but all but two of these witnesses have either recanted their testimony or gave contradictory statements prior to Troy's trial. Some of the recanting witnesses now assert that they were coerced by police to say that Davis was the murderer. One of the witnesses who did not recant was seen acting suspiciously the night of Officer MacPhail's murder and has been heard boasting that he killed an off-duty police officer.

Slowing the Fast Track to Executions

By John Holdridge, Capital Punishment Project at 4:12pm
Last week Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proposed regulations aimed at radically limiting the ability of federal courts to review the constitutionality of death sentences imposed in state courts. These regulations were issued pursuant to a little-noticed…
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