Unconstitutional – an update from CCATDP

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.

Continue Reading →

Recommended this week

“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 WoodThe Gospel Herald
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas ExecutionEvangelicals for Social Action
Evangelicals urge halt to Texas executionBaptist 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 worseThe 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 →

He didn’t kill anyone, but TX is about to execute him

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.

Texans: Act now to tell Texas to stop the execution of Jeff Wood.

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.

Continue Reading →

Evangelical leaders call upon Texas to stop scheduled execution

Austin protest to spare Jeff Wood of the death penaltyAlmost 50 Evangelical leaders from Texas and around the country called upon state officials to stop the execution of Jeff Wood. In a letter released Monday, the religious leaders urged Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons to grant Wood a new sentencing hearing, saying he “never should have been sentenced to death.”

Texas is scheduled to execute Wood on August 24th for his role in the murder of Kris Keeran. But Wood wasn’t even inside the gas station where Keeran was working as the clerk. He was sitting in a “get-away” truck outside. Wood had no previous criminal history and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness.

Continue Reading →

Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Supreme Court To Hear Cases Challenging Two Texas Death SentencesBuzzfeed
The high court agrees to hear the death penalty cases of Duane Buck and Bobby James Moore.

After nearly 40 years, murder charges dropped against Kerry Max Cook in East Texas caseThe Dallas Morning News
Kerry Max Cook spent 20 years on death row. This week the murder charges against him were dropped. One of the subjects of “The Exonerated” is finally exonerated.
Continue Reading →

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Duane Buck’s racial bias death penalty case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments in Buck v. Stephens, a death penalty case raising extraordinary issues of racial bias. Duane Buck is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that his case did not warrant re-consideration, despite his claim that his lawyer was constitutionally ineffective for knowingly introducing “expert” testimony that Mr. Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. Buck seeks a new, fair sentencing hearing.

Here is a statement from Duane Buck’s attorneys:

“Trial counsel’s knowing reliance on false, inflammatory and deeply prejudicial evidence explicitly linking Mr. Buck’s race to his likelihood of future dangerousness is plainly extraordinary.

Continue Reading →

Case of racial bias on appeal to Supreme Court

Duane Buck
Duane Buck was sentenced to death in Texas after his own lawyer called an “expert” who testified that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. At this crucial moment, when our nation is addressing racial bias in the criminal justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear the full case in the next few weeks. The Court should do everything in its power to ensure Buck receives a full and fair review of his case and, ultimately, a new sentencing hearing, free of racial bias.

Continue Reading →

Scott Panetti’s mental illness at issue again in new hearing

Scott PanettiIn a hearing last week in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, lawyers for Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti argued that his severe mental illness renders him without the mentally competency to be executed. They asked the court to send the case back to a lower federal court to decide whether Panetti could have federally appointed defense and further resources to argue his case against execution.

Continue Reading →

Recommended link: Texas has not sentenced anyone to death in 2015

Texas

While Texas may seem like an outlier in the national trend away from the death penalty, even the Lone Star State is turning away from the antiquated, broken system.

For the first time in more than 20 years, no jury in the previous 6-month period has imposed the death penalty.

Read the full story in the Dallas Morning News’s Blog