[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----USA, N.J., ILL., FLA., S.C., N.Y.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Apr 26 05:00:19 UTC 2007
Lethally inhumane injections----When the state kills, it tortures first.
The Virginia General Assembly this year decided the state should kill more
criminals. It overrode a gubernatorial veto and made more crimes eligible
for the death penalty. Lawmakers refuse to acknowledge the barbarity of
their ultimate punishment.
Virginia, with rare exception, uses lethal injections for executions. In
theory, it is supposed to be the most humane way to kill a prisoner. In
practice, a new study finds, it is often anything but humane.
Lethal injections work by administering 3 drugs to the condemned prisoner.
One renders him unconscious; the 2nd paralyzes him; and the 3rd stops his
The injections don't always work that way, though. Because doctors do not
participate in executions, mistakes often occur. In recent years, there
have been reports of prisoners awakening during their executions. They
suffer through intense pain, all the while paralyzed and unable to
Such anecdotes convinced about a dozen states to impose a moratorium on
lethal injections, but not Virginia.
Now, however, there are more than just stories. A group of scientists
studied execution data, including some from Virginia, and confirmed the
worst. Some people do awaken mid-execution, an experience the researchers
likened to suffocating slowly while on fire.
That does not bother many death-penalty supporters. A prosecutor in
Indiana, for example, told The New York Times, "It doesn't matter a whole
lot to me that someone may have felt some pain before they were
administered the poison as a method of execution."
It might not matter to him, but it does matter to the Constitution.
America's fundamental legal document forbids cruel and unusual punishment.
If paralyzing someone and triggering every pain receptor in his body while
he suffocates isn't cruel, what is?
Perhaps now that the scientific evidence is on the table, Virginia
lawmakers will stop looking for reasons to torture more people before
killing them and will instead end a practice that has no place in a
Don't hold your breath while you're on fire.
(source: Editorial, Roanoke Times)
Prisoners Executed By Lethal Injection May Suffocate In Pain While Awake
A new US study suggests that some prisoners executed by lethal injection
die from asphyxiation while conscious, paralyzed and in pain.
The study is published in the journal PLoS Medicine.
Dr Leonidas Koniaris and colleagues from the University of Miami in
Florida, USA, reviewed data on executions from two US states, North
Carolina and California, and assessed the medical literature on the three
drugs that are used to administer lethal injections.
They concluded that the lethal injection system used to execute prisoners
may not be working in the way intended.
The lethal injection is a cocktail of three drugs, each of which is
supposed to be fatal on its own, according to those who originally
designed the method.
-- Drug number 1 is a barbiturate: thiopental. This is an anesthetic but
not a painkiller (analgesic).
-- Drug number 2 is a a neuromuscular blocker: pancuronium bromide. This
paralyses the muscles, including those that control breathing.
-- Drug number 3 is an electrolyte: potassium chloride. This stops the
These 3 drugs combined are supposed to cause death by rendering the
prisoner unconscious and then inducing respiratory and cardiac arrest.
However, the researchers suggest that the doses are not tailored to the
individual prisoner, for instance to adjust for body weight.
Reports on a number of recent executions reveal that some prisoners take
many minutes to die, and others become very distressed, because the method
is not working as intended.
Dr Koniaris and colleagues say their findings suggest that in some cases
the dose of the anasthetic, thiopental, is not sufficient to cause death
and may even not be enough to keep the prisoner unconscious for the
duration of the execution.
They also suggest that the dose of potassium chloride is sometimes not
enough to stop the heart, which results in prisoners being conscious while
the paralysis brought about by the pancuronium bromide asphyxiates them.
The research team concluded that:
"The conventional view of lethal injection leading to an invariably
peaceful and painless death is questionable."
"We concluded that the original design of the lethal injection drug
protocol itself is flawed," said Dr Teresa A. Zimmers, research assistant
professor of surgery at the Miller School of Medicine and lead author of
"The drug protocol is based on little clinical and scientific data and
contradicts clinical veterinary practice," she added.
Dr Koniaris and colleagues mention that the current regimens for lethal
injection in the US are derived from one designed by Oklahoma legislators
and appear to be founded on personal opinion rather than independent
In an accompanying editorial titled "Lethal injection is not humane", the
journal's editors discuss these findings and their reason for publishing
They declare that their intention is not to encourage further research to
"improve" lethal injection methods.
"As editors of a medical journal, we must ensure that research is ethical,
and there is no ethical way to establish the humaneness of procedures for
killing people who do not wish to die", they write.
Explaining that "The data presented by Koniaris and colleagues adds to the
evidence that lethal injection is simply the latest in a long line of
execution methods that have been found to be inhumane", they argue that
this strengthens the constitutional case for abandoning executions
altogether in the US.
Lethal injection is used as a capital punishment to execute prisoners in a
number of countries, most notably the US and China.
It is also used in euthanasia for patients with terminal or chronically
"Lethal Injection for Execution: Chemical Asphyxiation?"
Teresa A. Zimmers, Jonathan Sheldon, David A. Lubarsky, Francisco
Lpez-Muoz, Linda Waterman, Richard Weisman, Leonidas G. Koniaris.
PLoS Medicine Vol. 4, No. 4, e156doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040156
(source: (Medical News Today (UK) )
The Death Penalty Isn't All That Bad
When tragedies occur in our country, often many debates will arise. Gun
control, psychiatric evaluations, response time, etc are all used by many
politicians to further enhance their campaigns. However, one debate that
slips under the radar and goes unnoticed is the death penalty sentence.
Many anti-death penalty activists will debate this, but having this option
at the end of a trial only does good for our society.
As you may be aware, its not cheap to for the prosecution of a case to
pursue such a maximum sentence. On average, more than 2 million dollars is
spent each time the death penalty is pursued by the time you get done with
all the legal fees and such. Moreover, sentencing the convict to life
without parole would only cost more money in the long run. The average
cost of a jailed inmate runs to about 60 dollars per day. Over a one year
period, that comes out to be more than 22,000 dollars! A more astonishing
number than that is a 35 year sentence would cost our system more than
Besides the issue of money, it's also just common sentence to have the
death penalty to be used as a last resort to some cases. Any sane criminal
that valued his/her life wouldn't put themselves at risk to receiving the
death sentence when committing their crime. With the death sentence fully
mandated with no questions asked, prosecutors will be less hesitant to
pursue the death penalty in any case.
One group that would fully agree with this, are the prison guards. If the
death penalty was omitted from our legal system, criminals would be just
sentenced to life without parole. With nothing left to live for, why not
recruit other inmates and start an uprising. Prisoners on death row may
have these similar ideas, but they're on death row for a reason.
But most of all, some criminals just deserve to die. Criminals that commit
such heinous acts deserve whatever sentence the prosecution seeks. Its
important to note that without the death penalty, Timothy McVeigh would
still be alive in jail today. Some restitution must be felt by our nation
knowing that he had to trade his life in order to take all the others. Add
to that list, Saddam Hussein who did more damage to a country than could
ever be imagined. He got what was coming to him. And in wake of the
Virginia Tech tragedy, what if that lone gunman didnt take his own life
and was still alive today? A lawyer would have had to defend him, would we
be satisfied and restituted if somehow the jury was swayed to sentence him
to life in prison? Hopefully not.
In the end, the death penalty will always be an ongoing debate because
religion plays such an important role in our society. The Bible is clearly
against the death penalty as God forgives all of our sins. But what gives
one person the right to take another ones life and live to tell the story?
The opposition has and always will fail to answer this. People just have
to remember that its our privilege for us the God will forgive our sins in
the end. Too many heartless criminals take advantage of this. Thats why
you see most of these terrorists and deranged individuals committing
suicide before getting put on trial because they'll be sentenced to death
regardless. With the death penalty set, this problem is only mediated.
(source: Peter Giordano; Any opinions expressed in this article are those
of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Student Operated
Legal system resembles bad parent
Anybody who ever watched "Law and Order" knows what circumstantial
evidence is and how damaging it can be in a court of law. This kind of
evidence indicates somebody committed a crime based on the surrounding
circumstances of behavior, background, motive, location or lack of alibi.
Sometimes we put people to death because a jury believed a case prosecuted
on just such evidence. It's our human nature to make decisions based on
what looks good or what looks bad.
I once saw an interesting exchange between a prosecutor and a defense
attorney in a court drama.
"Juries aren't stupid," the prosecutor said.
"You must be arguing cases in a different court of law than I am," the
defense lawyer replied.
The people who serve on juries are most certainly not stupid, but there
are never guarantees when the human element is involved. After all, the
factors that lawyers consider when selecting a juror are little more
than,well, circumstantial evidence.
Because of this frailty in our justice system, specialized legal research
groups have begun to spring up, such as Centurion Ministries and the
Innocence Project. These groups revisit cases, often of long-forgotten
inmates with few resources, where the forensic evidence still exists that
put them in jail for long periods of time and some even on death row.
Armed with the new weapon of DNA testing and other improvements in the
collection and analysis of forensic evidence, they are finding a
surprising number of people who really and truly "didn't do it" no matter
how bad they may have looked.
Brandon Moon did 17 years for a rape that postconviction DNA testing
proved he didn't commit. He was misidentified by an eyewitness and test
results of the evidence were flawed.
Herman Atkins did 11 and a half years for a crime post-conviction evidence
proved he didn't commit. The victim failed to identify him until after she
was shown his picture on a wanted poster for an unrelated crime. Having
your face on a wanted poster looks really bad. People will believe you are
capable of anything.
One inmate who spent 17 years on Texas' death row was released in 2004
after prosecutors acknowledged that the factors used to convict him of
arson were proven to be unreliable. A less happy ending occurred for
another inmate who was executed for a 1991 fire that killed his three
children. The Innocence Project posthumously presented credible evidence
that the fire was mislabeled as arson.
Our legal system faces the danger of becoming like a parent who doesn't
feel too badly about punishing a child for something he may not have done
on the grounds that there is most surely an unpunished deed somewhere in
Write to Francis Shrum
in care of King Features
Weekly Service, P.O. Box
536475, Orlando, FL
32853-6475, or send an email
to letters.kfws at hearstsc.com.
(source: Hardin County News)
Criminal Justice Failures----Jailing the innocent
The science of DNA on Monday cleared the 200th person wrongfully convicted
of a crime in the United States, a record which demands that the criminal
justice system fix its serious flaws.
The details of Jerry Miller's unjust imprisonment should no longer shock
anyone. He was convicted of rape in Chicago in 1982, based on erroneous
eyewitness identification. Miller spent 25 years in prison, proclaiming
his innocence. He was already out on parole when DNA evidence finally
proved he was innocent. It was too late to give him his freedom, but not
too late to clear his name.
Since the 1st person was exonerated by DNA evidence in 1989, such
reversals are becoming more frequent. The 200 people cleared by DNA in the
United States spent a combined 2,475 years in prison for crimes they
What if one of them were your brother, or son, or father?
There can be no doubt that there are other innocent people behind bars,
including some on death row.
Larry Peterson of Burlington County nearly was sentenced to death in 1989
for murder, instead receiving a sentence of life imprisonment. He spent
nearly 20 years behind bars until DNA evidence proved his innocence last
The use of DNA also can prove guilt with certainty. Last year, DNA tests
proved that Roger Coleman had indeed committed the murder in Virginia for
which he was executed in 1992. Death-penalty foes had hoped a posthumous
exoneration of Coleman would help their just cause.
Race is a significant factor in many cases. 2/3 of all black men
exonerated by DNA evidence had been wrongfully convicted of raping white
The criminal justice system gets the guilty party far more often than it
sends an innocent person to jail. But that doesn't mean society can afford
to shrug off the miscarriages of justice that do occur.
States, courts and law-enforcement officials need to do more to prevent
convictions of the innocent, and to compensate those who were wrongfully
21 states, including New Jersey, have laws allowing people to get paid for
their wrongful incarceration. Pennsylvania is not among them, but an
"innocence commission" being formed could recommend compensation. It
Incorrect eyewitness identification accounts for 77 5 of wrongful
convictions overturned by DNA. States and cities should follow the example
of New Jersey in instituting "double-blind" lineups of suspects, in which
neither the witness nor the person arranging the lineup knows who the
Along with one-by-one viewing of potential suspects, instead of a group
lineup, these safeguards can prevent police from inadvertently "tipping
off" a witness about a given suspect.
The Innocence Project, which is fighting this good fight, has more
information about preventing wrongful convictions at its Web site,
www.innocenceproject.org. The battle is far from over. The group's leaders
say there are at least 250 such cases pending nationwide.
(source: Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Cop killer Wilson placed on death row in Indiana
Ronell Wilson, the double-cop killer from the Stapleton section of Staten
Island who was sentenced March 29 to die by lethal injection was flown
last week to the United States Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind., and
placed on death row, according to his attorney Ephraim Savitt.
The 24-year-old Wilson was convicted of murdering Detectives James Nemorin
and Rodney Andrews during a botched gun buy in Tompkinsville in March
But only one day after U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced
Wilson to the death penalty, the condemned Stapleton Houses gang member
fought with U.S. marshals as they were getting ready to put him on an
airplane for his 1st - and probably last - plane ride.
Instead of catching a flight to Indiana and hauled away to USP-Terre
Haute, Wilson was hustled off to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., for
what federal sources described as a "cooling out period."
Savitt said Wilson was held in Lewisburg for "about a week."
USP-Terre Haute is the country's only federal death row facility.
(source: Staten Island Advance)
Panel calls death penalty not worth the risk
4 members of a death penalty study panel were joined last night by a
former death row inmate to illustrate a key reason for abolishing capital
punishment: the possibility that an innocent person could be executed.
"It's not for the guilty that we seek justice. It's to not punish the
innocent," said Kirk Bloodsworth, who was convicted in 1985 of the
gruesome rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Maryland.
Bloodsworth spent nearly 9 years in prison, including 2 on death row,
before DNA testing -- a fairly new technology at the time -- exonerated
him in 1993.
The case made Bloodsworth the 1st man in a death penalty case to be freed
by DNA evidence. The actual killer was caught, also based on DNA evidence,
Bloodsworth and 4 members of the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission
took part last night in a panel discussion at Fairleigh Dickinson
University's Flor ham Park campus. The panel was intended as a prelude of
sorts to the college's production of the play "Dead Man Walking," adapted
from the 1995 film about a nun's experiences counseling a death row
The discussion also was the 1st time since the group's recommendations to
the state Legislature were released Jan. 2 that so many panel members
spoke publicly, according to moderator Joseph Chuman, a human rights
professor at Columbia University.
"So we're at something of a historic moment here," Chuman said. "In the
very near future, New Jersey may become the first state in modern history
to legislatively abolish the death penalty."
The statement was met with a smattering of applause among the 200 or so
audience members, most of them undergraduates at the university.
The commission found capital punishment is inconsistent with evolving
standards of decency; serves no legitimate purpose, such as deterrence or
retribution; and is not worth "the risk of making an irreversible
It also concluded that the state's intricate system of capital
prosecutions and appeals is emotionally draining for families of murder
victims and costs more than the alternative -- life without parole --
which it said should replace execution.
12 of the 13 commission members voted for the recommendations. The lone
dissenter was former state Sen. John Russo (D- Ocean), who sponsored the
state's death penalty law.
Contrary to what some critics have said, more than half the commission
members supported the death penalty in certain circumstances when they
first convened last year, according to those present last night. But they
were swayed by the plight of murder victims' loved ones, for whom the
death penalty appeals process is a never-ending torture.
"It was interesting to me how many survivors are opposed to the death
penalty," one member, West Orange Police Chief James Abbot, told the
audience. "Probably more than anything else, it was the survivors and the
victim advocates" who changed his mind.
Another member, Kathleen Garcia, whose nephew was murdered in 1984, said
she continues to support capital punishment on a moral level but is
opposed to it on a practical one.
"I have as much compassion for those who have killed as they had for their
victims," Garcia said. "But you have to focus on the survivors and what
the process does to them."
She added, "When we say 'take someone's life,' it doesn't have to be
New Jersey reinstated capital punishment in 1983, but it has never been
carried out. 9 men are currently on death row in Tren ton State Prison.
Several bills already are pending before the Legislature to replace
capital punishment with life in prison.
New report blasts probe into cop torture
A 4-year, $6.5 million investigation into police torture in the 1970s and
'80s was a whitewash that left crooked cops unindicted and soft-pedaled
mistakes by top law-enforcement officials, including then Cook County
State's Atty. Richard M. Daley, a coalition of civil rights groups argued
in a report released Tuesday.
2 special prosecutors appointed to the matter in 2002 had ample evidence
to charge former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge and others with perjury
and obstruction of justice, according to the coalition's report.
But instead, prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Boyle conducted a
"hopelessly flawed" investigation that was "calculated to obfuscate the
truth about the torture scandal," the coalition's report said.
"Any prosecutor worth his salt would have prosecuted Jon Burge," Locke
Bowman, attorney at Northwestern University's MacArthur Justice Center,
said at a news conference.
Egan and Boyle also protected Daley and other supervisors from public
embarrassment by ignoring the "conspiracy of silence" that allowed Burge's
wrongdoing to continue, the report said.
Coalition officials said they would forward the report to federal
prosecutors, Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, an international
human-rights body and others in the hope of spurring further action.
More than 200 groups and individuals signed on to the coalition's report.
The authors of the report include lawyers who have filed multimillion
dollar lawsuits against the city on behalf of alleged torture victims and
who believe that city officials have reneged on a settlement.
Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said Tuesday that city officials
had just begun to review the coalition's report. She said that though the
coalition urges the city to stop paying for Burge's defense in civil
lawsuits, the city is legally obligated to pay.
Egan and Boyle could not be reached Tuesday for comment. James Sotos, an
attorney who represents Burge in two civil cases, declined to comment.
Last year, Egan and Boyle defended their investigation to the Cook County
Board and objected to the notion that they went too easy on Daley for his
handling of a 1982 letter that documented police torture.
In July, Daley said the letter was sent to his office's special
prosecutions unit, which he said followed up, although he said some
witnesses did not cooperate with investigators.
A Cook County judge appointed Boyle and Egan in 2002 to investigate claims
that Burge and detectives working under him routinely used torture,
including electric shock, Russian roulette, beatings and attempted
In a long-awaited report released in July, the special prosecutors said
there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Burge and 4 other former
officers abused suspects to extract confessions.
But Egan and Boyle also concluded that none of the men could be charged
with a crime because the state's 3-year time limit on felony charges has
"We have considered every possible legal theory that would permit us to
avoid the effect of the statute of limitations," Egan and Boyle concluded.
"Regrettably, we have concluded that the statute of limitations would bar
But in its report Tuesday, the coalition argued that Burge and others
should have been charged criminally for lying to cover up their original
wrongdoing. The coalition's report alleged that Burge, for example, had
denied under oath in 2003 that he had witnessed or participated in any
At the coalition's news conference, Madison Hobley, who spent 16 years on
death row before he was pardoned by Gov. George Ryan in 2003, called the
special prosecutors' report a "sham" and said information he provided
about the torture he endured was not included in the special prosecutors'
Hobley said he was handcuffed to a wall, beaten, smothered with a plastic
typewriter cover and repeatedly called a racial slur by police detectives
in 1987, when he was arrested after a fire killed his wife, son and 5
Other groups that signed on to the coalition's report include The Center
on Wrongful Convictions, the Midwest office of Amnesty International, The
Innocence Project, Cook County Bar Association, National Association of
Black Law Enforcement Officers and numerous groups that oppose the death
Individuals who signed on include U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, Cook County
Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, Rev. Jesse Jackson and authors Studs Terkel
and Howard Zinn.
After the coalition's report was released, about 30 protesters from
Campaign to End the Death Penalty and other groups staged a rally outside
(source: Chicago Tribune)
Ex-prisons chief gets 8 years
Former Department of Corrections Secretary James Crosby was sentenced to 8
years in federal prison Tuesday for taking kickbacks.
Crosby's former protege is scheduled to be sentenced today in connection
with the same financial scheme.
Crosby, 54, and his former best friend, Allen Clark, 41, pleaded guilty in
July to accepting at least $130,000 from American Institutional Services.
During a meeting with the company in November 2004, Crosby and Clark
agreed to allow the firm to operate the canteens in the prison visiting
parks on weekends, with the expectation that the two prison officials
could realize up to $12,000 a month in return - about 40 percent of the
anticipated profits, according to court records. At the time Crosby and
Clark cut their deal with the company, Crosby was being paid about
$124,000 by the state and Clark about $94,500.
Acting U.S. Attorney James Klindt said Crosby told federal officials his
motive for getting involved in the scheme was not financial reasons but as
a means to be involved socially with the other people participating in the
Klindt, however, told U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington
he saw Crosby's participation as being "all about the money."
Under oath, Crosby apologized for his actions Tuesday but did not explain
''I am truly sorry for what I did,'' Crosby said when he took the witness
stand. ''I failed a lot of people. I failed the people who worked for
me.'' Crosby apologized to current prison Secretary James McDonough "for
the job I left for him to do."
McDonough was the prosecution's only witness during the 45-minute
sentencing. McDonough recalled for Judge Covington what it was like to
report to the prison system headquarters his first day on the job.
"My office was a crime scene," McDonough testified, referring to the crime
scene tape across the secretary's office door. The tape was put there by
federal and state agents who searched the office minutes after Crosby's
firing. McDonough said he agreed to testify at the sentencing because
under Crosby, "The senior leadership of the department did great damage to
Crosby was a 31-year veteran of the prison system when he was fired. After
being raised in Bradford County and graduating from the University of
Florida with a degree in journalism, Crosby was hired as a classification
officer for the prison system. He continued to live in and around Bradford
County for many years and served as mayor of Starke. Crosby's prison
career included stints as warden at Cross City, Lancaster and Tomoka
Correctional Institutions before being named warden at Florida State
Prison at Raiford, the state's flagship prison and home to most male death
During Crosby's tenure as secretary of the state's largest agency, the
department of 27,000 employees was rocked with scandals, including
officers convicted of steroid abuse, money disappearing from employee
clubs, misuse of inmate labor and a reputation for heavy drinking and
raucous parties, especially after sporting events between department
Before pronouncing the sentence, Covington chastised Crosby because he was
in a leadership position involving public trust.
"The public trust was violated," Covington said. "As the head of the
department, you have to suffer the consequences."
While Covington was handing down the sentence, Crosby sat tilted back in
his chair, slumped slightly to the right and occasionally wiped the palm
of his hand across his face. Covington said that because of his position
as head of the prison system, he would likely create security concerns if
taken into custody immediately and taken to a county jail. Instead,
Covington gave Crosby until May 24 to report to federal prison.
Crosby left the courtroom declining to comment. Crosby's ex-wife, however,
had something to say to McDonough.
Leslie Crosby divorced Jim Crosby three days after he pleaded guilty and
he handed over $200,000 of his retirement fund to her. Shortly afterward,
she bought the modest home in Starke where the couple now live.
Leslie Crosby confronted McDonough at the end of the sentencing and in a
choked voice asked, "How can you live with yourself?"
She was pulled away by Kenneth Lampp, a former warden who was fired by
McDonough. Lampp put his arms around Leslie Crosby and steered her toward
the door saying, "Leslie, come on, don't do this."
In the hallway outside the courtroom, Jim Crosby paused long enough to
accept a hug from Len Register, the former 8th Judicial Circuit state
attorney who is now an assistant U.S. attorney in the Panhandle.
"I am here as a private citizen," Register told The Sun. "We grew up
together and have known each other all our lives, and I am here to support
Tuesday's sentencing may not be Crosby's last appearance in court.
Crosby has not yet paid the $30,000 he agreed to pay as his part of the
restitution he accepted responsibility for in his plea deal. Covington had
no sympathy for Crosby when his attorney, David Moye, said Crosby has
probably lost $1 million in retirement money as a result of his legal
''The public's trust was violated,'' Covington said. ''Government
officials are held to a higher standard.''
Retirement money can be withheld when someone is convicted of committing a
crime as a part of their state employment. Florida is now suing Crosby to
recoup the retirement money that he paid to Leslie when they were
Another reason why Crosby may be asked to return to court is if he is
needed as a witness in future proceedings against others. Prosecutor
Klindt said Crosby has been cooperating with an ongoing investigation.
Outside the courthouse, Klindt would not say how far the investigation
might extend or who may be involved. Klindt mentioned he would likely ask
a judge to reconsider Crosby's sentence at some future point based on the
The sentence also includes 3 years of probation and calls for Crosby to be
evaluated for alcohol abuse. Federal prison officials have said that
inmates who participate in substance abuse programs have had as much as a
year taken off their prison sentences.
McDonough, who has harshly criticized Crosby for various circumstances
uncovered around the department after Crosby's firing, said he was
satisfied with the sentence Crosby received.
"I think justice has been done," McDonough said.
(source: The Gainesville Sun)
Midlands residents say mentally ill aren't getting proper treatment
The Virginia Tech tragedy has brought up many questions about treatment
for mental illness in this country. You may remember that the shooter, Cho
Seung Hui, was treated for mental illness but was never committed.
Here in the Midlands, we talked to some parents who say they aren't
surprised Cho fell through the cracks.
News 10 gets e-mail all the time of people telling horror stories about
how they can't find help for loved ones with mental illnesses.
"It seems now since then tragedy at VT, everyone is waking up. It is a
shame that it took something like this to happen before anyone took
notice," wrote Cindi from Blythewood.
Took notice, she says, of a mental health system that is broken -- not
only in Virginia, but right here in South Carolina.
Neither Cindi nor Bemo want to be a part of this story. They only talked
to News 10 on camera about their families' mental health problems because
they say they are desperate for help.
Cindi's worried about people like her son, who has bi-polar disorder.
"They're going to end up shot, they're going to end up dead, or their
going to end up killing somebody else," Cindi told News 10.
Cindi says because of her son's disease, his emotions can quickly go from
mellow to out of control.
For people like him there's no quick fix, and no treatment in our state,
she says, for people who need long-term care.
"There's still no beds. There's nowhere for them to go. You know there is
no treatment," Cindi says.
So Cindi says families run into the same problems with our state mental
health system that news 10 has uncovered in the past, like the mentally
ill being warehoused in emergency rooms.
Cindi says that recently happened to her son.
"They kept him in the ER for 10 days in the ER he sat in a 8X8 room -- a
stretcher that was his bed," Cindi told News 10.
Both she and Bemo say their mentally ill family members have spent time in
jail. Cindi says she's even had to call the cops on her own son as a last
ditch effort to try and get him help.
"It's pretty sad when you've got families turning to law enforcement
community for help, because they can't get into the front door of the
mental health system," says Dave Almeida, who is a mental health advocate.
Almeida says he sees it all the time. From people needing a support group
or medicine to manage their illness, to the most severe cases, like death
row inmate Jamie Wilson.
As news 10 first told you in November, Wilson's story is the subject of a
documentary. He was convicted of killing two girls in a school shooting in
greenwood almost two decades ago.
He's still on death row, even though Wilson's attorney's say a judge ruled
Wilson was so mentally ill, he didn't know what he was doing.
"I think when you talk about Jamie Wilson one of the sad things about his
case as that unlike Virginia Tech, Wilson was actively trying to get
treatment. Wilson was actually trying to get treatment and was being told
once again by the system, no," says Almeida
'No' is a word Bemo is very familiar when trying to get help for his
"For years I have asked for help, and nobody knows the answer. Nobody can
say 'I know what to do, go here and this will solve your problems,'" said
Both Bemo and Cindi say at times their family members have been so out of
control, they had no other option than to kick them out of the house.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I mean put your son out
knowing he has issues because there is nobody out there to help. It's
hard," said Cindi.
Hard, but Cindi says she won't give up. Because neither Cindi nor Bemo
want their family, or anyone else's, to have to live through another
"Don't you wish someone had been able to help this guy, to say 'this guy
has a problem and we need to help him fix it because he can't fix it
himself.' How it would have saved so many lives," said Almeida.
But Almeida says states can learn from past slip-ups. "If something good
can come out of the Virginia Tech shooting, certainly we would want it to
involve the mental health system. But there's got to be a better way to
have that dialogue without seeing people lose their lives."
(source: WIS-TV News)
Bruno calls for death penalty to be re-instated
With 3 police officers shot in the last 24 hours, Republican Senate
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno joined colleagues in calling for the death
penalty to be re-instated for terrorists and cop-killers.
Bruno said Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer - a death penalty supporter -
needs to leverage his clout with the Democrat-led Assembly for passage of
the bill. The lower house has declined to move on death penalty
legislation in recent years.
The statute was struck down in 2004, when the state Court of Appeals ruled
a key portion of the sanction to be unconstitutional.
(source: Staten Island Advance)
Bruno calls for Spitzer to act on death penalty
Drawing from three trooper shootings in the past 24 hours in Delaware
County, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno urged Gov. Eliot Spitzer
Wednesday stop beating the drum for a flawed campaign finance reform bill
and return to the Capitol immediately and use his influence to force a
death penalty law.
"Why isn't he using his influence to push this?'' Bruno said. "What is
more important than protecting the lives of law enforcement officers? Is
campaign finance reform more important than that? I don't think so."
Bruno said the governor's priorities are out of whack and that he is
misguided in "wandering'' around the state blasting Senate Republicans for
not signing on to his proposed campaign finance reforms. He suggested the
governor's time would be better spent urging Assembly Democrats to fix the
death penalty law to make in constitutional while creating a death penalty
law for those who murder law enforcement officers.
Spitzer, he said, should come to Albany today and start convincing his
fellow Democrats in the Assembly to join him on a death penalty bill, just
as he persuaded them to go along with civil confinement of sex offenders.
He said he wants to sit down with the governor and Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver to discuss a death penalty package as soon as possible.
"It's open season on law enforcement people,'' Bruno complained after a
press conference calling for Assembly passage of "Granny's Law,'' which
passed unanimously in the Senate. That law calls for stiffer penalties to
those who assault people 70 years old and up.
Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee said the governor has made immediate plans
to return to Albany. He had no comment on Bruno's remarks, adding the
governor is being briefed by State Police on the shootings of three
troopers by a suspect named Travis Trim from St. Lawrence County. Spitzer
was in Nassau County in his second day of moving about the state to
criticize Senate Republicans' unwillingness to embrace his reforms of
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, meanwhile, called for gun
laws that target incompetent or sloppy gun dealers and improved use of
ballistics in solving crimes.
(source: Times Union)
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