U.S. Death Penalty

New Proof of an Old Fear: Execution of the Innocent

New Proof of an Old Fear: Execution of the Innocent

By Cassandra Stubbs, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 4:58pm
The State of Texas, long the nation's leader in executions, has now earned the dubious title of the state most likely to execute the innocent. In 2004, Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham, despite compelling evidence that he was actually innocent of the arson which caused the death of his three small children. Now, newly assembled evidence suggests that Carlos DeLuna, executed by Texas in 1989, was also innocent. A team of researchers from Columbia Law School today released a new report about DeLuna's case, Los Tocayos Carlos: An Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction. The full report, along with video clips and interviews about the case, are available at the Columbia Human Rights Law Review's website.

Reggie Clemons and the Parade of Horribles

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 4:37pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

As soon as the St. Louis police officers knocked on the door of the home of Vera Thomas in April 1991, a parade of horribles began which culminated with her son, Reggie Clemons, being convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The case is infected by police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, witnesses with motivations to give false testimony, dreadful defense lawyering and blatant racism. All of this led to no justice for Reggie Clemons.

Reggie Clemons was destined to die as soon as he walked into the police station for questioning. The police asked him about the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry, two young white women who fell to their deaths from the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Missouri. Clemons and three people he was with that night were suspected of robbing, raping and murdering the Kerry sisters and forcing their cousin, Tom Cummins, to jump off the bridge.

At the police station, Clemons was beaten until he cried. When the police began to tape the confession, Clemons invoked his right to an attorney and said that the police had beaten him. When a second tape was made, Clemons confessed to rape because the police were preparing to beat him again. He did not confess to murder.

Remembering Executed Veterans

Remembering Executed Veterans

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 12:05pm

Memorial Day is over, with its picnics, parades, and poignant remembrances of the veterans who gave their lives in America's wars. But there is one group of vets few want to remember: the ones who went to war, came back tragically changed, committed…

ACLU, in Geneva, Advocates Against Death Penalty, Solitary Confinement

ACLU, in Geneva, Advocates Against Death Penalty, Solitary Confinement

By Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 10:32am

One year ago, the ACLU's Amy Fettig stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the use of solitary confinement in the United States. In a written statement also submitted to the Council last year, the ACLU expressed serious concern…

Lives Lost in 2012: Who Did We Kill?

Lives Lost in 2012: Who Did We Kill?

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 2:14pm

At the end of the year many news sources review a year’s worth of obituaries, usually the passing of the famous. Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. Whitney Houston, Dave Brubeck. Joe Paterno, a reminder that people’s lives are complicated,…

Velez Hearing Day 3: A Portrait of Constitutionally Inadequate Counsel

Velez Hearing Day 3: A Portrait of Constitutionally Inadequate Counsel

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 2:47pm

In Day 3 of the Velez hearing in Brownsville, Texas, I want to take a moment to explain the legal context – the rule of constitutional law – that will entitle Manuel Velez to relief if the judge, the Hon. Elia Cornejo Lopez, credits the…

Day 1 of Velez Innocence Hearing: A Family Comes to Court for Justice

Day 1 of Velez Innocence Hearing: A Family Comes to Court for Justice

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 12:34pm

The façade of the U.S. Supreme Court bears the motto “equal justice under law.” But that ideal is not confined to our high court. People across this nation seek out the courts for equal justice

Update: Intellectually Disabled Georgia Man Faces Monday Execution if Supreme Court Does Not Step In

Update: Intellectually Disabled Georgia Man Faces Monday Execution if Supreme Court Does Not Step In

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:47am

Georgia stands poised to execute Warren Hill on Monday even though a Georgia court affirmed yesterday that Hill has an IQ of only 70.

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