That’s what Darlene Farah said when she walked out of the courtroom this morning, more than 3 1/2 years after her daughter, Shelby, was murdered.
James Rhodes pleaded guilty to killing Shelby after reaching an agreement with the new State’s Attorney, Melissa Nelson, that would take the death penalty off the table and forgo a trial. Nelson’s predecessor, Angela Corey, had refused to consider such an agreement with Rhodes and his attorneys. Corey even vilified Darlene for her desire to have the charges end in a plea deal.
State capitals are buzzing as lawmakers return for this year’s state legislative sessions. It’s no surprise that the death penalty is on the agenda in so many places, given the growing movement away from executions.
There has long been strong support for death penalty repeal in Kansas, but due to many circumstances, repeal bills haven’t received committee hearings in recent years. This year, a diverse range of Kansans – murder victims’ family members, faith leaders, those with law enforcement experience, and legal experts – were able to express their support for repeal in front of a House committee. The hearing room was standing room only with supporters of the bill, and those testifying in favor of repeal outnumbered opponents 9 to 1.
Over 500 pastors recently released a letter calling for a new trial for Texas death row inmate Chris Young. The letter urges Texas officials to award Young a new trial because of the exclusion of a potential juror in his original death penalty case.
Young and his attorneys argue that the prospective juror was improperly struck from the jury because of her religious affiliation and her involvement in her church. They argue that striking a potential juror for that reason is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution.
Late last month, after serving several years on Delaware’s death row, Isaiah McCoy was released and acquitted of the murder for which he was originally convicted. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and the testimonies that were used against him were inconsistent. Despite this, McCoy was sentenced to die, but after receiving a new trial, he was acquitted of murder. Upon hearing the news, McCoy wept and said that he plans on spending the coming days with his daughters. McCoy is the 157th person to be released from death row due to a wrongful conviction.
The Montana legislature is now in session, and a bill to repeal will be debated in the House Judiciary Committee on MONDAY morning!
Now is the time to contact your legislators and tell them to say YES to repeal.CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS
Many lawmakers in Montana are rethinking the death penalty, frustrated by its errors, delays, and high costs. As they consider death penalty legislation, it is critical that you let them know how important repeal is to you.
This past Wednesday, EJUSA co-sponsored a discussion on the death penalty at Northland Church in Longwood, Florida. We were thrilled to be able to help bring this conversation to Northland – one of the largest Evangelical churches in the nation. Pastor Joel Hunter moderated, and EJUSA Organizer Christine Henderson made the trip from Jacksonville, FL, to share our vision of a criminal justice system that heals and restores lives. The panel consisted of two people who have come face to face with the death penalty in their personal lives and two people who discussed the theological implications of the death penalty.
Last year, Georgia led the nation in executions with nine, which was the most in the Peach State’s history. While executions are at record levels, no one has been sentenced to die in Georgia in nearly three years, which suggests that its death penalty is slowly dying. However, there are many in Georgia who wish to hasten its demise. Just last week, a group of conservatives and libertarians came together to launch the Georgia Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty (GA CCATDP) group and call on the state legislature to reexamine capital punishment. The press event was attended by a conservative state representative, former Republican Party official, think tank leader, and activists from across the state who described in detail why capital punishment is inconsistent with their values.
Republican State Representative and press conference participant, Brett Harrell, said, “I like to make sure that government is as efficient, effective, and small as possible,” but when speaking about the death penalty, “the government has failed to provide an efficient, effective, accurate system.”
If you missed the press conference, you can watch it here.
The Kansas legislature is now in session, and a bill to repeal the death penalty will soon be introduced. Many lawmakers in Kansas are rethinking the death penalty, frustrated by its errors, delays, and high costs. As they consider death penalty legislation, it is critical that you let them know how important repeal is to you.
Florida prosecutors have played a major role in creating an unjust criminal justice system with their ability to decide who to prosecute and what charges to file.
Several prosecutors in the state had a history of extreme overzealousness and seemed to forget the community they were elected to represent. They charged children as young as twelve as adults, sentencing them to long prison terms. They helped fill Florida’s death row with people with severe mental impairments and mental illness. And they supported a system that has allowed people of color to be treated more harshly than white people.
Newly-elected prosecutor Melissa Nelson seems to have a different plan coming into office. Nelson represents the 5th district, which includes 5 counties in the Northeast area of the state. According to a recent interview with Reason magazine, she is looking at new ways of encouraging prosecutors to seek justice, rather than just convictions. And she’s even exploring the idea of creating a Conviction Integrity Unit.