Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.
Are Evangelicals Ditching the Death Penalty?, The Marshall Project
Another sign of how the U.S. is changing on the death penalty: Evangelical Christians are turning against it. Heather Beaudoin, our Director of Evangelical Outreach quoted in this article that looks at the demographic’s growing concerns over the ultimate punishment.
There’s trauma on both sides of the police-community relationship, The Washington Post
“African American and Latino children manifesting symptoms of stress and trauma akin to those who have lived in war zones. And many who patrol those communities show the same signs of stress and trauma… [T]hey’re supposed to serve share the same space, necessarily interact and can be deeply, sometimes tragically affected by each other.”
Recently I spoke to Wanda Moore, an Assistant Attorney General in New Jersey and the Director of the Office of Community Justice, about her work to reduce trauma and violence through positive youth development programs, community-based crime prevention strategies, and system wide change. Ms. Moore leads cutting-edge, place-based solutions work in several cities in New Jersey including Trenton, Jersey City, and Newark. She attended EJUSA’s 2-day trauma train-the-trainer for criminal justice professionals in April, made possible by the generous support of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.
(Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Fatimah Loren Muhammad: Thank you so much for speaking with me. What does a trauma-responsive justice system mean to you?
Wanda Moore: The overwhelming majority of people in the system are in the system because of some trauma they have experienced and their inability to cope with it. As a result, they may be using drugs, not taking care of themselves, or their mental health status may be impacted.
The latest sign that the death penalty is falling out of favor comes from Delaware, where earlier this month, the State Supreme Court struck down Delaware’s capital punishment statute as unconstitutional. The Court found that judges rather than juries wielded far too much power in determining who received a death sentence. The Delaware Attorney General has announced that his office will not appeal the ruling, which makes Delaware the latest in a growing number of states to scrap capital punishment.
Support for the death penalty is also shrinking across the United States. Two recently released polls show how unpopular capital punishment is becoming. According to the surveys, around 72% of Kentuckians and 53% of Oklahomans prefer alternatives to the death penalty.
A study of the cost of Nebraska’s death penalty concluded that the state could save $14.6 million per year if Nebraskans vote to end the death penalty in November.
Dr. Ernie Goss, professor of economics at Creighton University, said he was surprised when his study revealed how expensive the death penalty is compared to its alternatives.”If you care about economics, you should vote to Retain the end of the death penalty in November,” he said at a news conference to present the comprehensive study.
“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas Execution Demand New Sentencing Hearing for Jeff Wood, The Gospel Herald
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas Execution, Evangelicals for Social Action
Evangelicals urge halt to Texas execution, Baptist News Global
Evangelical leaders: Texas has ‘moral obligation’ to stop execution of death row prisoner, Christian Today
Several stories about the almost 50 Evangelical pastors who called on Texas Governor Greg Abbot and the Board of Paroles and Pardons to commute the death sentence of Jeffrey Wood. Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 23, even though he never killed anyone, had no previous criminal history, and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness. Although Wood was involved in a robbery, he didn’t plan to kill anyone and wasn’t even inside the gas station when the victim, Kris Keeran, was shot. He was sitting in a truck outside.
Even violent crime victims say our prisons are making crime worse, The Washington Post
According to a new report from the Alliance for Safety & Justice,“A majority of crime victims prefer investments in treatment & prevention over prison spending.” The report, “Crime Survivors Speak,” includes the first national survey of crime victims’ views on safety and justice policy. It reveals their preference for prevention, health, and rehabilitation over more spending on prisons and jails. Continue Reading →
Texas is scheduled to execute Jeff Wood on August 24, 2016, even though he never killed anyone, had no previous criminal history, and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness. Although Wood was involved in a robbery, he didn’t plan to kill anyone and wasn’t even inside the gas station when the victim, Kris Keeran, was shot. He was sitting in a truck outside.
The execution of a person who is not the “triggerman” is extremely rare. In fact, the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons has recommended commutations for two people who, like Wood, did not take a life themselves.
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