[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----USA, CALIF., ALA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Oct 23 16:35:20 CDT 2008
Death penalty opposed----A&E's Bill Kurtis speaks out at ISU
Bill Kurtis, the narrator of Will Ferrell's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron
Burgundy," promoted his book "Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American
Justice" Monday night in Tilson Auditorium to a crowd of 450 to 500
Kurtis opened with a joke, saying he tries to lighten the mood before
delving into his speech about the death penalty.
Kurtis, who is also known for his work as host of the A&E series "American
Justice," and producer of "Cold Case Files," began his speech by giving a
background of the Charles Manson murders of 1969. He explained how the
accused were sentenced to death. During their time on death row the laws
of California were changed, and the death penalty was suspended, he said.
Kurtis said he believes we need the death penalty in some circumstances.
However, he is critical of the way the U.S. judicial system works.
He followed up his story of the Manson murders with the story of Ray
Krone, a man from Arizona accused and convicted of a murder he did not
Krone spent 10 years on death row before he was released after DNA
evidence proved that he was not the murderer.
"I believe the system makes too many mistakes to have the power of life
and death," Kurtis said.
Kurtis believes the problems can range from overzealous prosecutors to
accidental mistakes made by detectives or forensic analysts.
Sometimes a combination of both can lead to people being wrongly
convicted, he said.
It is cheaper for a prisoner to serve a life sentence without parole than
it is to impose the death penalty, Kurtis said.
Linda Crossett, the interim director of continued education, booked Kurtis
to come and speak. "The speech was very thought provoking," she said.
Brian Royer, 50, a Terre Haute resident who received a criminal justice
degree from ISU, thought the speech was very entertaining and informative.
"The speech confirmed my thoughts on flaws in the judicial system," Royer
Lindsay Measel, a criminology and criminal justice graduate student who
attended the speech with her criminology fraternity, Lambda Alpha Epsilon,
said, "I really enjoyed the speech. It's not every day you get to hear
such a well respected and educated speaker."
( source: The (Indiana State University) Statesman; Jake Sutterfield is a
sophomore open preference major)
CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS----Proposition 9 would give crime victims a stronger
voice, but critics say it could violate inmates' rights; Opponents of the
measure include Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.
A quarter-century after the slaying of Marsalee Nicholas, a college
student from Malibu, voters will consider an initiative launched in her
name that would give a stronger voice to crime victims and their families,
and impose harsher treatment on convicted killers.
Proposition 9 would alter the state Constitution to require that crime
victims be notified and consulted on developments in their cases. It would
give them 1st claim on any restitution to be collected from offenders, and
it would force prosecutors to take their opinions into account.
The measure, known as Marsy's Law and the Victims' Bill of Rights of 2008,
also would make the state criminal justice system tougher in ways that
critics, such as Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, say could
violate prisoners' constitutional rights.
Ex-convicts accused of violating parole would lose their right to a lawyer
provided by the state. Those serving possible life sentences could be
denied parole for up to 15 years, triple the current maximum. And an
unlimited number of victims would be able to testify at an inmate's parole
hearing and say whatever they want -- uninterrupted -- without having to
answer questions from an inmate or the inmate's lawyer.
"Victims just have no rights," said Marcella Leach, 79, Marsy's mother.
"All anybody cares about is the rights of the criminals."
Marsy Nicholas was 21 when she was shot in the head and killed by an
ex-boyfriend while home from UC Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving in November
The Proposition 9 campaign has received $4.8 million from her older
brother, billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III -- who is currently under
federal indictment on fraud, conspiracy and drug charges.
Marsy's mother, a proponent of the measure, co-founded Justice for
Homicide Victims with her late husband, Robert, and with Ellen Dunne,
whose daughter with author Dominick Dunne also was murdered.
Opponents say that Proposition 9's provisions on notification and
restitution duplicate a crime victims' bill of rights that voters approved
in 1982, and that they are designed to distract from the ballot measure's
true -- and less advertised -- purpose: to keep prisoners locked up
In a system that now grants parole to about 1% of eligible prisoners,
inmates would be denied a chance for release for up to 15 years at a time
without "clear and convincing evidence" for a shorter period between
That could destroy any motivation inmates may have to improve themselves,
said Mark Smith, who won his release in court in 2003 after serving 18
years for second-degree murder for a killing in Topanga Canyon.
Smith was suffering in prison from AIDS, dementia and cancer, and had been
recommended for release based on his prison record by his sentencing judge
and the state parole board. But Gov. Gray Davis blocked him from leaving.
"I really didn't think I was going to get out -- I pretty much lost all
hope," said Smith, 53, of Sun Valley. "Once they're denied for 15 years,
they will lose hope. . . . There would probably be riots over it."
Inmates can now be denied parole for one to five years, and some are
rejected many times before winning release. Victims' relatives, who often
attend the hearings, say the inmates shouldn't be able to have so many
chances because it is painful for families to revisit the crime over and
Marcella Leach said she had a heart attack at the 1st of 4 hearings for
her daughter's killer, Kerry Conley.
"There's a lot of killers in prison today who waste precious taxpayer
resources getting wasteful parole hearings when they have no chance of
getting parole," said Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange), the
initiative's statewide chairman.
According to the nonpartisan state legislative analyst's office, the
measure could save tens of millions of dollars by reducing the number of
parole hearings and ending the state's practice of paying for lawyers for
accused parole violators.
But the analyst said the proposition could cost the state hundreds of
millions of dollars by restricting the state's ability to release inmates
early from overcrowded prisons, a plan adopted and then dropped by Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger this year.
Cooley and his staff said the measure could interfere with prosecutions by
making victims into independent parties to criminal cases with the
ability, for instance, to challenge sentences and to demand a speedy
trial, and to refuse to cooperate with a defense lawyer's requests for
information as part of the trial process. Cooley said provisions
prohibiting inmates from questioning victims at parole hearings would
likely be struck down in court.
In an interview, he called the proponents "very well-motivated people who
suffered incredible tragedies in their life," but he said "huge chunks" of
their initiative are unconstitutional.
"We don't like to have the public think they're getting something when
they're not," Cooley said. "We don't want victims to think they're getting
some special right, and it may be unenforceable."
The measure, if passed, probably would face litigation over its clauses
stripping ex-convicts' right to have state-funded lawyers in revocation
hearings unless they are indigent, and increasing from 35 to 45 days the
period they can be held in custody before revocation hearings. The state
agreed to the current timeline and to provide lawyers in all cases as part
of a court-ordered settlement of a federal lawsuit called Valdivia vs.
Ernest Galvan, a San Francisco-based lawyer for inmates in that case, said
he would go to court if the initiative passed to try to get that part of
it invalidated. Galvan said that the initiative, a "personal project" of
Henry Nicholas, is ill-conceived.
"I know a terrible thing happened to his family many years ago, and my
heart goes out to him," Galvan said. But he called it "costly, disruptive
and bad for public safety . . . when we make law on the fact that somebody
happens to be a billionaire."
Marcella Leach acknowledges that her battle is indeed personal -- so much
so that she can still describe in minute detail the night of her
daughter's murder and the days afterward, when she ran into Conley,
temporarily released on bail, in a grocery store.
The death of Marsy's killer in prison last year, a few months after his
final parole hearing, was such a consolation that Leach spoke of it to
comfort her husband as he lay dying in April.
"I said, 'Well, one thing we accomplished is God took him,' " Leach said.
"Somewhere about a week before Christmas. Best present I ever got."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
The LAPD and racial profiling----African Americans and Latinos in L.A. are
'over-stopped, over-searched and over-arrested,' an ACLU study charges.
On monday, the ACLU of Southern California released a report analyzing
more than 700,000 cases in which Los Angeles Police Department officers
stopped pedestrians and/or drivers of motor vehicles between July 2003 and
The study, which I wrote with my research assistant, Jonathan Borowsky,
asked not simply whether African Americans and Latinos are stopped and
searched by the LAPD more often than whites -- it's clear that they are --
but the more complex question of whether these racial disparities are
justified by legitimate policing practices, such as deciding to police
more aggressively in high-crime neighborhoods.
We found persistent and statistically significant racial disparities in
policing that raise grave concerns that African Americans and Latinos in
Los Angeles are, as we put it in the report, "over-stopped, over-frisked,
over-searched and over-arrested." After controlling for violent crime
rates and property crime rates in specific neighborhoods, as well as a
host of other variables, we found the following:
For every 10,000 residents, about 3,400 more black people are stopped than
whites, and 360 more Latinos are stopped than whites. Stopped blacks are
127% more likely to be frisked -- and stopped Latinos are 43% more likely
to be frisked -- than stopped whites.
Stopped blacks are 76% more likely to be searched, and stopped Latinos are
16% more likely to be searched than stopped whites.
Stopped blacks are 29% more likely to be arrested, and stopped Latinos are
32% more likely to be arrested than stopped whites.
Now consider this: Although stopped blacks were 127% more likely to be
frisked than stopped whites, they were 42.3% less likely to be found with
a weapon after they were frisked, 25% less likely to be found with drugs
and 33% less likely to be found with other contraband. We found similar
patterns for Latinos.
Not only did we find that African Americans and Latinos were subjected to
more stops, frisks, searches and arrests than whites, we also found that
these additional police actions aren't because of the fact that people of
color live in higher-crime areas or because they more often carry drugs or
weapons, or any other legitimate reason that we can discern from the rich
set of data we examined.
Police Chief William J. Bratton quickly rejected these findings, primarily
because the study used data that was more than 4 years old. This is a fair
point. But we had no other choice: The department has not released the
more recent stop data that it has been collecting, nor has it analyzed the
more recent data to test for racial disparities. If Bratton is truly
confident that unjustified racial disparities are a thing of the past, he
should be able to show the change in the current data. I would be happy to
organize a group of respected academics to help analyze it.
Bratton also asserted that the report was flawed because we failed to
control for the race of both officers involved in the stop. On this point,
Bratton is simply wrong about how to conduct a statistical analysis. When
testing for unjustified racial disparities in who is stopped by the police
in cars and on the street, it's inappropriate to control for the race of
either of the officers. The likelihood of being stopped, frisked or
arrested shouldn't turn on whether a black, Latino or white officer was
As an ancillary test -- after we'd calculated the general disparities --
we did look at the officers involved, and we found that the racial
disparities in the likelihood of arrest were substantially lower when at
least 1 of the stopping officers was the same race as the suspect.
For example, we found that the black arrest disparity was 9 % points lower
when at least one of the stopping officers was black. Bratton should be
troubled that there is less disparity when the officer is the same race as
the person stopped, as that result adds credibility to the idea that the
disparities in different-race interactions may be because of racial bias.
The president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Tim Sands, even
more harshly rejected the results of our report. Sands said I appeared to
start with my conclusions and then "worked data to fit." This is a vague
charge, but one way to respond to the concern is with transparency. I've
posted the data I used in the report and the associated statistical files
to the Internet so that other academics can easily double-check the
Sands has argued that the results are not valid because officers often
don't know the race of the suspect when they decide to pull over a car.
That may or may not be true. But our study looked not just at motor
vehicle stops but at pedestrian stops as well, which also showed racial
disparities. We also found that, once people were stopped, officers were
more likely to frisk, search or arrest African Americans and Latinos than
whites. At the point of making these decisions, officers can certainly see
the apparent race of the suspects.
It is particularly telling that neither Bratton nor Sands responded to the
evidence that the frisks and searches of minorities systematically
produced less evidence of crime than the frisks and searches of whites. It
is implausible that higher frisk and search rates are justified by higher
minority criminality, when these frisks and searches are substantially
less likely to uncover weapons, drugs or other types of contraband.
Independent of racial disparity, it is a sign of ineffective policing to
have officers engage in such a large number of fruitless searches.
Sands charges that I cannot use data to "prove what 9,700 individual
officers are thinking when they make traffic stops." But if he thinks that
is what I tried to do, he seriously misreads the report. I never suggested
that the data show what an officer might be thinking, and I was careful
not to attribute the disparities to conscious discrimination on the part
of individual officers.
What the report finds is that there are statistically significant racial
disparities in a variety of police behaviors that are not explained by
legitimate police concerns such as the local crime rate -- or, in the
cases of frisks and searches, the likelihood of actually uncovering
My inability to probe the minds of officers does not make my results less
important. The report shows that people of color in Los Angeles experience
harsher treatment by police that doesn't appear to be justified by any
legitimate law enforcement concerns. The LAPD can't just deny that racism
is involved and let the matter rest; it should take steps to address that
So what does this all mean? The LAPD should be more open to evidence-based
policing. Bratton, with good reason, extols data-driven policing when it
comes to detecting emerging patterns of crime. The department already has
an early warning system to identify officers with troubling patterns of
uses of force or civilian complaints, but that system doesn't address
racial disparities, even though the data to do so are available. The
department must be as open to the same kinds of statistical analysis when
it comes to tests of racial disparity.
(source: Opinion--Ian Ayres is a professor at Yale Law School; Los Angeles
Alabama Attorney General Troy King has asked the state Supreme Court to
set new execution dates on 4 death row cases----Death Row cases halted by
Alabama Attorney General Troy King has asked the state Supreme Court to
schedule the executions of 4 death row inmates.
King on Wednesday asked the court to schedule an execution date for James
Callahan, convicted of the 1992 murder of Rebecca Suzanne Howell in
Calhoun County. Callahan came within about an hour of being executed for
the crime on Jan. 31 before the U.S. Supreme Court ordered his execution
delayed while it considered a Kentucky challenge to lethal injection.
Executions were effectively halted nationwide while the court considered
the Kentucky case. The court has since ruled lethal injection to be
constitutional, and executions have resumed in most states.
King on Tuesday also asked the court to schedule the executions of:
Willie McNair, on death row 17 years for the 1990 murder of Ella Foy Riley
in Henry County.
Phillip D. Hallford, on death row 20 years for the 1986 murder of Charles
Eddie Shannon in Dale County.
Danny Joe Bradley, on death row 25 years for the 1983 murder of Rhonda
Hardin in Piedmont.
King has already asked the state Supreme Court once to schedule Callahan's
execution since executions resumed nationwide this spring. King said in a
prepared statement that the state Supreme Court did not respond to a
request for an execution date he made 4 months ago.
"There can be no dispute that this case is one of the most important on
the docket of this court and demands an expeditious ruling," King said in
the motion filed Wednesday. "Every day that goes by is denying the state's
duty and obligation to carry out Callahan's duly-adjudicated sentence."
Efforts to reach officials with the state Supreme Court for comment were
not successful late Wednesday.
Callahan's execution had been delayed once before he won the stay from the
U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the
11th Circuit previously issued a stay to give him time to argue that
lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. The circuit court
ultimately ruled against Callahan in that appeal.
Alabama has scheduled just 1 execution since the U.S. Supreme Court
allowed executions to resume after deciding the Kentucky case of Baze v.
Rees. Convicted killer Thomas D. Arthur was scheduled to be executed on
July 31, but the state Supreme Court issued a stay after another inmate
claimed it was he, and not Arthur, who committed the murder for which
Arthur was convicted.
A hearing has been scheduled in that case in Jefferson County Circuit
Court on Feb. 17.
(source: Birmingham News)
Jury finds Youngstown man guilty in 1985 murder
A jury relying on DNA evidence has convicted a Youngstown man of killing a
woman whose body was found in a river nearly 23 years ago.
Bennie Adams was found guilty of aggravated murder today in the
strangulation death of Gina Tenney on Dec. 29, 1985. Her frozen body was
found in the Mahoning River the following day. Tenney was a 19-year-old
Youngstown State University student and Adams' upstairs neighbor.
The 51-year-old Adams was indicted about a year ago after police said his
DNA matched evidence they had preserved for 22 years.
The jury will return to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday for
the trial's sentencing phase. Adams could receive the death penalty.
(source: Associated Press)
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