U.S. Death Penalty

Killing the Mentally Ill

Killing the Mentally Ill

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 4:00pm
Reading today’s editorial in the New York Times led me to ask: when will our country finally stop the execution of the severely mentally ill?
States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:48pm

As states begin to realize that they can reduce their prison populations safely, the pace of reform has begun to pick up a bit this year. State legislative sessions are coming to a close, which makes it a good time to review the actions lawmakers…

Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

By Cassandra Stubbs, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 6:09pm

This week, Northwestern and the University of Michigan law schools released a National Registry of Exonerations, a new database chronicling the ever-growing number of exonerees from our nation’s criminal justice system.   The database…

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…

Rhode Island's Rightful Stand Against the Federal Government

Rhode Island's Rightful Stand Against the Federal Government

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 2:44pm

Last week, the Rhode Island ACLU announced its disappointment with a federal circuit court's decision overturning Gov. Lincoln Chafee's efforts to prevent the institution of federal death penalty charges against Jason Wayne Pleau, whom Rhode Island…

Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 2:34pm

Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is the highest it’s ever been in U.S. history. And yet, our criminal justice system…

CT Ends Death Penalty! One Big Step for a Small State; One Giant Step for our Society

CT Ends Death Penalty! One Big Step for a Small State; One Giant Step for our Society

By Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 2:36pm

Connecticut has finally wiped its hands of that messy and sorrowful task of killing its own citizens. Today, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation to repeal the death penalty that was passed by the state legislature earlier this month.

After…

Key Evidence Found in Reggie Clemons Case

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:39pm

Last year, Chris Hill, formerly of our Capital Punishment Project, blogged about the case of Reggie Clemons. Chris called the case a horrifying confluence of "police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, witnesses with motivations to give false…

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.

Race, Reasonable Doubt and Reggie Clemons

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 3:26pm

The ACLU often provides examples of the problems with the capital punishment system in the United States. Reggie Clemons is scheduled for execution on June 17, 2009. Clemons, a black man, was convicted of the murder of two young white women in St.…

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