Blog of Rights

Replacing the Noose With a Needle: The Legacy of Lynching in the United States

Replacing the Noose With a Needle: The Legacy of Lynching in the United States

By Angel Harris, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 2:28pm
Ida B. Wells said it best, "Our country's national crime is lynching."

The Importance of the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel in Capital Cases

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 5:09pm

A person does not need to go any farther than a Law & Order episode to understand the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We hear the officers on TV tell suspects that if they cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for them. The Framers of the Constitution made the statement more artfully when they wrote that the accused in every criminal prosecution “shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

In Gideon v. Wainright, the Supreme Court explained the importance of this right, stating, “[I]n our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” The right to counsel protects all of us from being subjected to criminal prosecution in an unfair trial. But nowhere is this right more important than when the accused faces the death penalty.

Wrongful Convictions, Wrongful Bias

Wrongful Convictions, Wrongful Bias

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 9:55am

The most important payment we can make on the debt we owe to wrongfully convicted defendants is to break the link between race and the death penalty.

After 9 Years, Manuel Velez, an Innocent Man, is Free at Last

After 9 Years, Manuel Velez, an Innocent Man, is Free at Last

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 10:36am

At 12:32 p.m. ET, Manuel Velez, my client and an innocent man, stepped out of prison and into the Huntsville, Texas air a free man.

For nine years, Manuel has languished behind bars. What's ironic about watching him walk out of this particular…

Getting It Dead Wrong for 30 Years

Getting It Dead Wrong for 30 Years

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 1:19pm

According to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Henry Lee McCollum deserved to die for the brutal rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. There's just one problem, and a frequent one in death penalty cases: Henry Lee McCollum didn't do it.

Instead…

Serial and What It Says About America's Criminal Justice System

Serial and What It Says About America's Criminal Justice System

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 3:57pm

Serial, the pop culture podcast phenomenon, isn't just a well-produced and addictive listening experience (though it is both of those things). By questioning the validity of some criminal justice procedures and educating its listeners to ask questions,…

Oklahoma Plays Torture Roulette With Lethal Injection

Oklahoma Plays Torture Roulette With Lethal Injection

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project & Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 1:32pm

The logical response to Clayton Lockett's bloody, pain-filled, unconstitutional execution in Oklahoma eight months ago would be to prevent such torture from happening again. But Oklahoma has another idea for its first execution since Lockett's. Instead…

Ohio Wants to Cloak the Death Penalty in Secrecy

Ohio Wants to Cloak the Death Penalty in Secrecy

By Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio at 5:16pm

It would be an understatement to say Ohio has had many problems administering capital punishment.

Over the last decade, the state granted clemency to 10 people and botched four executions, including the tortuous death of Dennis McGuire, who…

NJ Senator Delivers Prize-Winning Speech Against Death Penalty

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:56pm

In a speech delivered before the Memorial de Caen International Human Rights Competition in Caen, France, yesterday, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak said:The death penalty is a random act of brutality. Its application throughout the United…