[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, MD., N.J., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Nov 24 20:53:33 CST 2007
Crime and punishment----Jury didn't deal proper punishment
Re: "Jury spares life of FW officer's killer Man sentenced to life in
prison for 2005 fatal shooting," Saturday Metro.
I would like to thank Teresa Nava for the service Fort Worth Police
Officer Hank Nava unselfishly gave the citizens of Texas. I would also
like to apologize to Mrs. Nava for lack of guts on the part of the jury
for not giving the death penalty to the killer of a police officer.
I'm not interested in the former convict being a model prisoner. Now the
taxpayers of Texas must feed and provide medical care for this animal. I
can only pray that his last breath will come soon, so God can provide the
proper punishment 12 cowardly Texans could not.
Harvey Pate, Forney
Do we give preferential treatment to whites?
Re: "Jury spares life of FW officer's killer Man sentenced to life in
prison for 2005 fatal shooting," Saturday Metro, and "Officer's killer to
die Dallas: Defense's low-IQ argument not enough to convince jurors,"
Nov. 2 Metro.
I was furious that Stephen Lance Heard, a white cop killer, did not get a
death sentence when, just days ago, Juan Lizcano, a Mexican cop killer,
did. Is it an opinion or is it factual that whites get preference in this
great country of ours?
To me, a U.S. citizen of Mexican heritage, federal, state or local laws
are human-made laws, and, as such, none are perfect.
There was only one perfect being on this Earth who did not hurt anybody,
and he was crucified.
Tony Villegas, Garland
(source: Letters to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)
Death penalty talk draws both sides
Lifetime Parkville resident Lorri Batton, who was baptized at St. John's
Lutheran Church on Harford Road, said her personal beliefs brought her to
the church for an anti-death penalty forum.
"Even if one person in jail could be innocent, no prisoner should be put
to death," Batton said. "Eyewitness testimonies are just not reliable. No
one's judgment is perfect."
She was one of about 15 people who turned out for the Nov. 17 forum
sponsored by Maryland Citizens Against State Execution.
One of the expected speakers, exonerated former death row inmate Kirk
Bloodsworth, was unable to attend.
Bloodsworth was convicted of raping and murdering a young girl in 1984.
After nine years on death row, he was exonerated of the charges after DNA
evidence proved his innocence. Bloodsworth was the first person in the
United States to be exonerated because of DNA evidence.
"I really would have liked to make it," he said when reached the day after
the forum. "Unfortunately my wife was ill and I needed to be with her."
One speaker was Bud Welch. His only daughter was killed in the 1995
bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, which claimed
the lives of 167 others.
Welch said his opinions on the death penalty stem from his relationship
with Bill McVeigh, father of Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh.
"I believe my daughter's death came from revenge and hate that Tim
(McVeigh) had for the United States government," said Welch. "Once I got
past my personal problems and all the initial pain of my daughter's death,
I realized killing Tim would only perpetuate that same hate and revenge
that killed my daughter."
McVeigh was executed in 2001.
Yusuke Sagawa came to the forum from Westminster to hear Welch.
"I read a book about wrongful convictions that lead to death row
exonerations and death penalty deaths," Sagawa said.
Welch spoke about his friendship with Bill McVeigh and how he and McVeigh
shared the sorrow of losing a child.
"When you lose a parent, you go to the top of the hill and you bury them.
When you lose a child, you bury them in your heart and that never goes
away," Welch said.
The next speaker, Walter Lomax, of Baltimore, said he was released from
prison in 2006 after serving 39 years of a life sentence for murder when a
group of supporters gathered evidence that resulted in his release.
"I wasn't on death row, but I am still against the death penalty," Lomax
said. "I mean, if I was innocent -- and I met many other men who I am
pretty sure were also innocent while I was in prison -- how can the system
see it fit to put people to death?"
Others at the forum had their own reasons for opposing the death penalty.
Danny and Maria Hammons, pastors of St. John's Lutheran Church in
Parkville, said they're against the killing of anybody at any time for any
Maria Hammons said, "I know the congregation may be at different ends of
the spectrum with respect to death penalty, but I think this is an
advantageous opportunity for anyone to learn, pray or ask questions about
the death penalty."
According to the sponsoring group, Baltimore County has sent more people
to death row than any other county in Maryland.
"Baltimore County is over 13 times more likely to seek the death penalty
in an eligible case than is Baltimore City and more than 5 times more
likely than Montgomery County. Yet Baltimore County accounts for only 6 %
of Maryland's homicides," according to a statement by the group.
Carney resident Nancy Allen said, "I am definitely against the death
penalty, and I think this forum will be good for people."
(source: The Towson Jeffersonian)
Legislature reexamines what insults our soul
IT'S NOT ABOUT money. It's not about justice. It's about life. New Jersey,
a state known for corrupt public officials and high taxes, is poised to
make a different kind of history. There is a good chance the Legislature
will abolish the death penalty during the final weeks of the current
session. It would be an extraordinary event, because the legislative
branch, not the judiciary, would effect the change.
On a practical level, New Jersey has not executed anyone since 1963. There
is not a long history of state executions over the past 44 years. There
have been none. Yet opposition to abolishing capital punishment is
coalescing. And it is unlikely that the votes in both chambers of the
Legislature will be cast quietly.
The arguments of supporters of the ban focus on the dangers of executing
an innocent person, the high cost of bringing a death penalty case to
trial and the long, costly appeals process. Additionally, there is concern
that the actual methods of execution are cruel and inhumane. This argument
is almost comical. A humane execution is an oxymoron.
Supporters of the death penalty argue that new DNA testing makes it more
unlikely that innocent persons would be executed, that a shorter appeals
process would reduce costs, and that it is indeed a fair and just
punishment for some crimes.
It's not about money. It's not about justice. It's about life.
I'm a product of my Catholic upbringing. The late Cardinal Joseph
Bernardin eloquently spoke of a seamless garment of life. Bernardin wanted
to focus attention on the value of life from conception to death.
Ironically, many opponents of embryonic stem cell research -- something
that may be a moot issue if recent developments in creating embryonic stem
cells prove viable -- support the death penalty. They see no correlation
between defending life in the cell stage and life in the adult stage, if
those adult "cells" committed murder.
It remains an unacceptable compromise of values. Nascent life is equal to
adult life, even if the choices made by the adult are horrific. The value
of life is not defined by how life is lived. It is a more basic truth:
Life is. That's reason enough.
Over the coming weeks, we will hear a great deal about the most horrific
murders in this state -- and there have been some -- grisly, horrible,
inexplicable acts of violence.
Yet execution is not justice; it is revenge. It is not unreasonable that
some victims' families want revenge, want something that acknowledges in a
real way that they have experienced an irreplaceable loss. But that is the
point: The loss is irreplaceable.
As a society, if we choose to make a statement about the value of life, we
cannot make that statement through sanctioned executions. Our criminal
justice system can be designed to ensure that violent criminals remain
incarcerated. I do not grow weepy for the septuagenarian murderer who
wants to spend his final days outside a prison cell. Life behind bars is
not a negotiable sentence.
The pulse of the nation has changed on capital punishment. Four decades
ago, it would have been hard to imagine political leaders -- most too
timid to take a moral stand on their own -- willing to legislate an end to
the death penalty.
I have listened to many a Jersey politician tell me why the Legislature
should preserve the sanctity of marriage, as if that were the overarching
issue of our day. Or for that matter an issue that needed defending.
But more at the core of family values, or what is truly "sacred" in a
secular society, is life itself. We cannot say that life is so precious
that taking it away from another person is cause for state-sanctioned
executions. It is a fundamental contradiction.
There will be voices that will dismiss the recent state commission's
recommendation to abolish the death penalty. They will cite dollars,
conviction rates and whether capital punishment is a deterrent against
Walt Whitman, the great American poet buried in our state, said,
"Reexamine all that you have been told ... dismiss that which insults your
A civilized society cannot sanction executions. As a state, we can
continue to be known for crooks, petty politicians and casinos. Or we
could be known for something of far greater value.
It is not about money. It's not about justice. It's about life.
(source: Alfred P. Doblin is the editorial page editor of The Record)
Death penalty works; don't kill it off
EXECUTIONS save lives. Here is why I say that: Recent studies by social
scientists opposed to capital punishment show a direct correlation between
criminal executions and lower murder rates.
For example, University of Colorado Professor Naci Mocan told The
Associated Press: "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that
the death penalty [deters] -- what am I going to do, hide them? Science
does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it. The
results are robust, they don't really go away. The conclusion is: There is
a deterrent effect."
Additionally, researchers at Pepperdine University in California show
that, for each execution carried out, there are 74 fewer murders the
The scientific evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent is
indisputable. But Trenton Democrats are committed to a radical political
agenda that ignores the clear scientific evidence and is in stark contrast
to the will of New Jersey residents.
They are attempting to ram through legislation during the lame-duck
session, without accountability -- to abolish the death penalty.
Democratic lawmakers are ignoring the people who in 1992 voted by a
3-to-1 margin that the death penalty is not "cruel and unusual
A report by New York Law School Professor Robert Blecker showed that,
"Common sense and human nature obviously suggest death's deterrent power."
If someone knows he will be subject to death for committing murder, he is,
at the least, less likely to commit murder.
Contrary to the Trenton Democrats, what I believe is that the death
penalty should be maintained in New Jersey as a deterrent. However, I also
believe significant reform should be implemented.
We must make an effort to fix what is wrong with the capital punishment
statute, which allows some doubt to remain before sentencing someone to
death. In order to do that I am proposing amendments to the current
First, I will introduce a bill identical to a bill introduced in the
Assembly by Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-Wall Township. The bill (A-4443)
creates a standard of "lingering doubt." Under this standard, the court
would instruct jurors during the penalty phase of a capital trial that if
they have any lingering doubt, the death penalty cannot be applied.
Second, I will introduce new legislation that will limit the appeals an
inmate can initiate. Currently, the appeals process is far too costly,
with legal fees going higher as the minutes pass. It takes a high toll,
too, on the emotions of the families who fight the appeals.
The legislation proposes a constitutional amendment that would require the
state Supreme Court to render its decision on the direct appeal and
proportionality review within 150 days of the certification of the record
by the sentencing court.
Aiming to abolish
Rather than fixing the problems with the process leading to the death
penalty, the Democrats in Trenton are aiming to eliminate it.
Abolishing it would create the possibility that some of those currently on
death row would be paroled as is already the case: Thomas Trantino was
sentenced to death for murdering 2 police officers. His sentence was
commuted in 2002, and today he is a free man.
Let's fix the problems with the process, not eliminate the deterrent of
the death penalty. Let's allow the will of New Jerseyans to have its say
over the Legislature.
Let's not leave the issue of the death penalty to politicians, but leave
it to our informed citizenry to decide whether punishment by death deters
the most horrific of crimes.
(source: Commentary; Gerald Cardinale is a New Jersey state senator
representing the 39th District----NorthJersey.com)
Lethal Injection to Get Supreme Test----Doubts of Humaneness Bring Case to
On the cold prison gurney, Joseph Clark's eyes fluttered as he woke up
from what was supposed to be his death.
"It don't work," Clark muttered to Ohio corrections officials who were
preparing him for a lethal injection. They had punctured his arms 19 times
in a fumbling attempt to find a vein, according to court records and news
reports. The anesthesia Clark was given to ward off pain from the lethal
dose of chemicals had worn off.
"Can you just give me something by mouth to end this?" Clark asked. He
writhed and moaned as pancuronium bromide paralyzed him and potassium
chloride stopped his heart, witnesses said.
When death penalty opponents bring arguments before the Supreme Court
challenging Kentucky's method of lethal injection, they will argue that
executions such as Clark's are proof that techniques used to put down the
condemned are not as painless and humane as state corrections officials
say. Death penalty opponents will argue that using a procedure that
creates "a known risk of pain and suffering," when other alternatives are
available, violates the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishment
Since the high court decided to hear the case, a de facto moratorium on
executions has occurred. On Nov. 15, the justices stayed the execution of
Mark Dean Schwab, who was scheduled to be executed in Florida for the
kidnapping, rape and murder of an 11-year-old boy.
Schawb's execution would have been the first in Florida since the state
revised its lethal injection procedures after a botched execution last
December. The change in procedures, which state officials say was made to
lessen the chance of pain, had led state courts to allow the Schwab
execution to move forward. In making their case against lethal injection,
death penalty opponents may cite what they describe as botched executions,
such as Clark's, which they say are often carried out by personnel who are
poorly trained, even on basics such as how to find a vein, or how to
insert a needle or a catheter.
Some states have allowed executioners, some with little medical training,
to surgically open the arm of a prisoner when they cannot find a vein,
fish out an exposed vein with string and insert a needle.
Lisa McCalmont, a consultant to the Death Penalty Clinic at the University
of California at Berkeley law school who recently committed suicide, said
the idea that an inmate gently dies during a lethal injection procedure
may be a false one. She added, "I don't think everybody knows that two of
the drugs are capable of causing excruciating pain."
State officials defend their methods of lethal injection, asserting that
when carried out properly, including proper anesthesia, no pain results.
Mark Dershwitz, a doctor and anesthesiology professor at the University of
Massachusetts who has reviewed protocols and testified on behalf of
states, said that even he has trouble inserting needles in some patients.
He added that the procedure of surgically opening a patient to find a vein
is an old protocol that, as far as he knows, is no longer used in the more
than 3 dozen states that carry out lethal injections.
"In a nutshell . . . if the protocol is implemented as written, there is
only the minutest chance that an inmate could be conscious during the
administration of the muscle relaxant and the potassium chloride,"
Still, opponents say, lethal injections are more likely to go wrong in
inexperienced hands. Lawsuits and news accounts have revealed instances of
poorly screened hires and badly trained personnel.
In Missouri, Alan Doerhoff, a doctor who administered the state's lethal
injections for more than a decade, admitted on the witness stand to being
dyslexic and prone to mistakes.
During testimony, Doerhoff said that executions were attended by people
with no medical background and that execution day was the first time that
many of them had picked up a needle. He also said that the execution
chamber was kept so dark to obscure witness views that executioners used
flashlights to find their way around.
Missouri stuck by Doerhoff until a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
revealed that he was the target of nearly two dozen medical malpractice
suits. He was relieved of his post in April, said Brian Hauswirth, a
spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections.
"We still feel that [Doerhoff] did a professional job with the Department
of Corrections," Hauswirth said. He said the department's director had no
knowledge of Doerhoff's dyslexia until it was revealed in court. "The
director decided we would not be using him for future executions."
Florida was the scene of what death penalty opponents call a terrible
lethal injection in December. The execution of convicted killer Angel Diaz
took twice the normal time, according to court documents citing the
accounts of prison officials and witnesses.
The executioner noted in prison records that pushing the syringes that
contained the anesthetic was "more difficult." The executioner used a
backup line to deliver the painful pancuronium bromide without doing the
same with the anesthetic.
Witnesses to the execution said Diaz showed facial movements that he
should not have had if he were properly anesthetized. Minutes later,
witnesses said, "he was gasping." Twenty minutes into the process, a
witness said, "His mouth was wide open, his head was back . . . he almost
appeared to be a fish out of water."
An autopsy of Diaz noted scorchlike marks that ran nearly the length of
his left arm where the potassium chloride was delivered. Lawyers called
them an indication of an agonizing death. Florida has not carried out any
executions since Diaz's.
Witnesses to executions in Virginia, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio have
reported seeing similar grimacing and squirming by condemned men who were
supposed to be out cold. Witnesses said they heard moans and watched as
the prisoners' bodies seized, arched upward and convulsed before coming to
Dershwitz said the witnesses were not seeing pain but rather an
involuntary contraction caused by the potassium chloride, which stimulates
muscle tissue as it cuts off the body's electrical impulses that generate
the heartbeat. "That is a predicted effect of potassium chloride," he
As he watched Clark's execution in Ohio last year, Michael Manning became
Manning is the brother of David Manning, whom Clark shot to death during a
1984 robbery in Toledo. He later joined Clark's relatives in denouncing
how the state carried out the execution, saying, "Nobody should have to
die a horrible death."
In the execution room, Clark's vein collapsed, as often happens with
former drug addicts. As prison officials poked and fished for a vein, an
execution that should have taken no more than 12 minutes lasted more than
After Clark's death, Ohio refined its lethal injection process, following
a trend in other states where protocols were legally challenged after
problem executions. Executioners in Ohio now check for a good vein as soon
as a prisoner enters the death house in Lucasville, said Andrea Carson, a
spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Officials were also directed to not speed up executions to finish the
process quickly for family members and others who watch condemned men die.
In spite of the changes, Carson said, "We maintain that our process worked
the way it was supposed to."
(source: Washington Post)
The death penalty's deterrence
12 studies authored by professors from a number of renowned universities
suggest that the death penalty saves lives by deterring criminals from
committing more homicides. Perhaps the Supreme Court should review these
cases while considering its de facto moratorium on executions, considering
not only the state's role in punishing criminals but also its role in
The studies, recently highlighted in national press reports, have sparked
a renewed debate on the morality of capital punishment. Conducted by
economists over the last decade, they conclude that one execution can save
anywhere from three to 18 lives. The economists' data presents strong
evidence that even would-be killers react to incentives to restrain
Critics argue that a causational link is difficult to establish, that
infinite extraneous factors could produce a reduction in homicide rates
everything from economic factors to policing tactics and demographic
shifts. Inasmuch as these studies confirming the link have appeared in
highly-respected, peer-reviewed journals, while their critics have largely
written for law reviews edited by students, these critics have not
convinced nearly as many in the academy as their opponents have.
In 2006, the United States executed 53 death-row inmates in 14 states: 24
in Texas, 5 in Ohio, 4 each in Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and
Virginia, and 1 prisoner apiece in Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi, South
Carolina, Tennessee, California, Montana and Nevada. And while executions
are still rare, punishing the perpetrators of roughly 1-in-300 homicides,
the data suggest that even this ratio is enough to deter a significant
number of future slayings.
38 states allow the death penalty; 37 of those use lethal injection and
only Nebraska uses electrocution. At least 9 states have placed a
moratorium on executions due to legal questions about potentially flawed
injection methods. This year, the Supreme Court took up a review of
Kentucky's lethal-injection process and is expected to rule sometime next
year on how the injections are administered and whether they constitute
cruel and unusual punishment. The case itself is a bit esoteric weighing
the ramifications of using specific drugs for the injection cocktail but
it will impact how future courts interpret and apply states' capital
punishment laws, perhaps decisively.
We respect states' rights to legislate and implement their capital
punishment ordinances; we also respect constitutional requirements that
the process be void of "cruel and unusual" means. But perhaps most
importantly, as these studies highlight, we respect the government's role
in protecting its citizenry from violent criminals.
(source: Editorial, The Washington Times)
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