Sunday, April 19, 2009

States' Dilemnas & Debates - Snippets from Rick Halperin's DP News & Updates

To read more on these headline items excerpted below, go to Rick Halperin's Death Penalty and Execution News here

Photo taken by AP 2008 CA

The following were posted on Rick's site in full APRIL 18-19, 2009:

April 19th

CONNECTICUT: Find an extremely interesting, if easily arguable opinion by a Connecticut "expert" at Death Penalty and Execution News - Link above.


'Crisis' in death-penalty trial system----Too little money available, attorney says

They involve some of Georgia's most heinous slayings, with death-penalty defendants accused of massacres, child killings, crimes of unthinkable depravity.

Yet almost 1 in 5 of all pending capital cases statewide is stalled because there is no money to pay for the defense of the accused.

Judges and prosecutors are exasperated. Defense attorneys are filing contempt motions and asking to withdraw from their cases.

"It's a constitutional crisis," Forsyth Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley said...

(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Read more on this and the items below at Rick's site!

APRIL 18, 2009:

FLORIDA: (see the article in full at Rick's site and above on this blogsite).

Morals aside, death penalty is flawed---All the Nancy Grace devotees must be thrilled to pieces.

Casey Anthony may die.

For nearly a year now, they've eagerly tuned into CNN Headline News every night where they get to ogle titillating party pics of America's worst mother under the thinly veiled guise of "news."

And now, they may get to watch her die.

Last week's news that the prosecution will seek the death penalty sent online message boards into a joyous frenzy.

"Fry baby Fry!" exclaimed someone named "TWM."

"Bring back the chair. I will pull the switch," said "Grasscutter."

"Justin" directed his fellow celebrants to an online game where they could kill an animated version of Anthony themselves.

"Now you can hang her, inject her or rack her!" he proclaimed.

Welcome to modern-day America, where crime as entertainment is the pastime of choice.

The Romans and their coliseums of death had nothing on us.

Welcome also to America's jury pool.

Lost in all this blood lust is the fact that the death penalty is flawed.

I'll skip over the moral dilemma and leave that to God and his disciples.

Instead, simply look at the facts: This country has executed the innocent.

That's not debatable.

And no rationale — be it revenge or legal strategy — is a valid one to perpetuate such an injustice.

People who have been killed in the name of justice have subsequently been exonerated.

Hundreds more have been sentenced to death, spared only because underpaid activists and lawyers — the truly "pro-life" advocates — worked tirelessly on their behalf.

The latest tally from the Death Penalty Information Center counts 131 people exonerated after conviction.

22 of those have been in Florida — more than any other state.

And those are just mistakes involving the death penalty.

Just this month, authorities in Texas determined that a man who died in jail after 14 years there never committed the rape for which he was convicted.

The judge said the Lubbock police botched the case in many ways. They unfairly lured Timothy Cole into a sting. They used a "suggestive lineup" that led the victim to identify Cole as her attacker. And Cole, the judge said, didn't even fit the profile of the rapist.

DNA later proved Cole was not the culprit.

"The evidence is crystal clear," said District Judge Charles Baird, "that he died in prison an innocent man."

But who really cared about that during the trial? Cole — a college student and military veteran — had been charged. And the community wanted blood.

Sound familiar?

There are other problems with the death penalty...

...There is also the cost and time of prosecution.

Experts say death-penalty cases can require as much as 10 times more money and time. That means justice for others is delayed. Or ignored...

Read the rest on Rick's site!

Execute Casey? Not a chance — but now she might cut a deal

State Attorney Lawson Lamar says he wants to kill Casey Anthony, which I suppose is one way of guaranteeing she dies of old age...

...And Casey now has something new to think about: the image of being strapped down on a gurney, a jail nurse prepping her veins.

Maybe that will make her squirm enough to end this freak show. If this is prosecutorial misconduct, then this one time I can look the other way.

(source for both: Orlando Sentinel) (read both items in full also at Rick's Death Penalty News & Updates site and also find the first below in full on this blogsite.)


Can Oregon afford the death penalty?

A lethal-injection gurney sits ready at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. Oregon juries have imposed 73 death sentences since voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984, but only two inmates have been executed. Both volunteered.In 1988, 18-year-old Randy Lee Guzek became the youngest person in Oregon history on death row.

Today, Guzek has another distinction: Oregon's most expensive death row inmate. The taxpayers' tab for Guzek's legal bills stands at $2.2 million -- and it's still growing.

An-eye-for-an-eye justice is no bargain for Oregon taxpayers. Although Guzek's case is the most expensive, the 34 other inmates on Oregon's death row aren't there cheaply. At just the initial trial court level, the average cost of defending a capital murder case is nearly 10 times the cost of a case without the possibility of a death sentence. And each condemned criminal gets 10 state and federal levels of appeal.

With legal costs mounting and the state in financial distress, questions about the morality of the government executing convicted killers are being shoved aside for a new debate: Can Oregon afford the death penalty?

"It seems doubtful that our taxpayers would continue to support the death penalty if they had any idea of the true costs it imposes on their criminal justice system," Judge Paul Lipscomb, the former presiding judge of Marion County, said in a recent letter to Oregon's Senate Judiciary Committee. "Years and years of criminal justice resources, and millions and millions of tax dollars, are expended again and again in this largely futile attempt."

"Justice system is sick"

Oregon voters overwhelmingly reinstated the death penalty in 1984. Since then, juries have imposed 73 death sentences, but 49 percent have been thrown out. One death row inmate died of natural causes. Only 2 men have been executed -- in 1996 and 1997. Both volunteered to end their appeals and die.

The 35 men sitting on death row are racking up tens of millions of dollars in legal bills and still are several years, in many cases decades, from exhausting their appeals.

Ingrid Swenson, executive director of the state's Office of Public Defense Services, said her office spends $24,876 to defend a murder case at the trial court level, but $213,232 for a case with a possible death penalty.

That doesn't include appeals, Swenson said.

...Long estimates that Guzek's appeals won't be exhausted until 2032 -- 44 years after his 1st conviction. For the money taxpayers will have spent keeping Guzek on death row, he said, "We could have sent 1,000 students to the University of Oregon and paid their tuition."

(source: The Oregonian)


End death penalty in Kansas

Senate Bill 208 has been proposed to abolish the death penalty in the state of Kansas. This bill should be passed not only because those who are convicted and receive life sentences without parole will be punished for the rest of their lives, but also because the death penalty is financially destructive.

The case costs of the death penalty through execution averaged $1.26 million, compared with a non-death penalty case, which averaged $740,000. The money saved on the death penalty could go toward state-funded programs that prevent further crime. Another benefit of abolishing the death penalty is that it protects against the convicted being wrongly accused.

As Kansans we need to come together to advocate for Senate Bill No. 208 and let Kansas residents everywhere know how abolishing the death penalty benefits each one of us.

Whitney Condie----Prairie Village

(source: Letter to the Editor, Kansas City Star)


Death penalty repeal bill still close call in House, King says

A final House vote on repealing the death penalty in Colorado will be close, and the measure might yet fail, said a death-penalty proponent.

The measure passed the House last week on 2nd reading, but 5 Democrats voted against the measure.

That led state Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, to speculate House Bill 1274 might not have the votes it will need on a roll-call vote.

King said he was considering speaking against the measure Monday. It's unusual for legislators to speak before 3rd-reading votes because the votes are usually considered to be decided at that point.

King opposes the measure, citing the arrest of Jerry Louis Nemnich in the 35-year-old killings of Linda and Kelley Benson in Grand Junction. The measure would spare Nemnich the possibility of capital punishment.

The bill, which proposes to divert money from capital prosecutions to solving cold cases, has pitted law enforcement officials against relatives of cold-case murder victims, King said.

"We're seeing a breakdown in the relationship" between those groups, which have worked closely together for years, he said. "Using victims' families to try to push through a repeal sort of creates a rift."

Tying together a death-penalty repeal and additional funding for cold cases "was brilliant strategy," said state Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran.

Much of the House debate on the bill was overshadowed by budget maneuvering, Bradford said.

If it moves through the House, "it needs a good, thorough vetting and debate" on the Senate floor, she said.

Colorado has more than 1,400 cold cases. Legislative analysts said the bill could direct about $883,000 a year toward solving cold-case killings.

(source: Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)


Lethal injection heads for debate

A vote today set the stage for debate on one of this year's most controversial issues for the Nebraska Legislature: Switching the state's method of execution to lethal injection.

The 6-1 vote to advance Legislative Bill 36, the lethal injection bill, from the Judiciary Committee to the full Legislature came almost a month after the committee refused to advance the measure.

Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, committee chairman, said because the death penalty is the most serious topic debated at the Capitol, committee members wanted to make sure all issues were considered before the bill moved forward.

"In the final analysis, it's my view that the bill as is, and the Nebraska death penalty process, is not only constitutional but probably goes overboard in protecting the rights of the accused," Ashford said.

Several amendments designed to make application of the death penalty more consistent were considered, but none was adopted. Those amendments included requiring two aggravating circumstances, instead of just one, to qualify for the death penalty; and having a panel of prosecutors, including the state attorney general, review cases to determine whether or not to pursue the death penalty.

State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha - who questioned the fairness of the death penalty and led efforts to seek amendments - said a meeting last week with Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley convinced him "there's not anything we can do to make it less arbitrary."

...In an interesting twist, the Judiciary Committee today also advanced, on a 6-1 vote, a bill that would repeal the death penalty. LB 306, introduced by Council, cannot be debated until next year because it was not selected as a priority bill.

Ashford said it wasn't inconsistent to vote to advance the lethal injection bill and then vote to advance a bill repealing the death penalty. Both issues, he said, deserve to be debated by the full Legislature.

(source: World-Herald)
The items above are just "snippets". To see the articles in full, please go to Rick Halperin's Death Penalty and Execution News here

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