Capital punishment

Scalia Once Pushed Death Penalty For Now-Exonerated Inmate Henry Lee McCollum

Supreme Court Justices like Scalia, Roberts and Thomas can literally do whatever they want politically and judicially with impunity…

The Huffington Post

A North Carolina death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence on Tuesday was once held up by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as an example of someone who deserved to die.

When the court declined to review an unrelated death row case out of Texas in 1994, Justice Harry A. Blackmun issued a dissenting opinion arguing that capital punishment is cruel and unusual, and therefore unconstitutional.

Scalia answered back with an opinion of his own:

“For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat,” Scalia wrote in Callins v. Collins. “How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”

He was referring to Henry Lee McCollum, who at the time had already been on death row for 12 years. McCollum’s conviction was overturned on Tuesday when DNA evidence implicated another man in the case.

McCollum had been on death row for almost 30 years.

Superior Court Judge Douglass Sasser also overturned the conviction against McCollum’s half-brother, Leon Brown, who has been serving a life sentence in connection with the case.

Blackmun later responded to Scalia, writing of the flaws in the case as well as McCollum’s mental capacity.

“That our system of capital punishment would single out Buddy McCollum to die for this brutal crime only confirms my conclusion that the death penalty experiment has failed,” he wrote. “Our system of capital punishment simply does not accurately and consistently determine which defendants most ‘deserve’ to die.”

Scalia has been a frequent and vocal supporter of the death penalty and even once suggested that an innocent man had never been put to death, at least in recent years.

“It should be noted at the outset that the dissent does not discuss a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit,” Scalia wrote in the 2006 Kansas v. Marsh case. “If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it;  the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops by the abolition lobby.”

Rick Perry On Clayton Lockett Execution: ‘I Don’t Know Whether It Was Inhumane Or Not’

I’m confused by Gov. Perry’s well publicized  “pro-life philosophy:  In the case of terminating a pregnancy, to him the loss of life is abominable.   Yet, the whole capital punishment debate is cut off before it begins.    Not to mention the cost to human lives in his state for refusing to accept (at no charge to the state) Medicaid Expansion.  

Right-wing Philosophy:  Life for some but not for thee?

The Huffington Post

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) defended the use of capital punishment and lethal injections Sunday, after the disastrous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on Tuesday renewed a national debate on the practices.

Perry, whose state has put more prisoners to death than any other since 1976, acknowledged that Lockett’s execution was “botched” but stopped short of calling it “inhumane.”

“I don’t know whether it was inhumane or not, but it was botched,” Perry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There’s an appropriate way to deal with this and obviously something went terribly wrong.”

Lockett’s execution took more than 40 minutes after his lethal injection went awry. According to witnesses, he twitched and gasped and said “oh man” after officials deemed he was unconscious. Lockett was found guilty of shooting a 19-year-old woman and burying her alive in 1999.

Texas has executed more than 500 people since the Supreme Court affirmed the practice’s constitutionality in 1976. Perry himself has been a staunch defender of executions, and he’s closely linked with capital punishment in the public mind. During a 2011 Republican presidential primary debate, Perry was applauded for the amount of people Texas has put to death.

On Sunday, Perry said that Texas had “an appropriate process in place” and that the state’s procedures were “very different” from those in Oklahoma.

“In Texas, our citizens have decided that if you kill our children, or kill our police officers, for those very heinous crimes the appropriate punishment is the death penalty,” Perry said. “I think we have an appropriate process in place, from the standpoint of appeals, and the process of the actual execution is very different from Oklahoma. We only use one drug. I’m confident that the way that executions are taken care of in the state of Texas are appropriate and humane.”

In Colorado, Blacks Make Up 4 Percent Of The Population And 100 Percent Of Death Row

The reality is this:  The stats in the title of this article are not surprising to the African American community because:

-  54% of African Americans graduate from high school, compared to more than three quarters of white
and Asian students.

-  Nationally, African American male students in grades K-12 were nearly 2½ times as likely to be suspended from school in 2000 as white students.

-  In 2007, nearly 6.2 million young people were high school dropouts. Every student who does not complete high school costs our society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.

-  On average, African American twelfth-grade students read at the same level as white eighth-grade students.

-  The twelfth-grade reading scores of African American males were significantly lower than those for men and women across every other racial and ethnic group.

-  Only 14% of African American eighth graders score at or above the proficient level. These results reveal that millions of young people cannot understand or evaluate text, provide relevant details, or support inferences about the written documents they read.

-  The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.


Think Progress

In March, Colorado came close to becoming the 19th state to abolish the death penalty, but the bill failed after Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) voiced opposition and suggested a possible veto. A few months later, Colorado’s death penalty is still firmly in place, and the state is poised to complete what would be only the second execution in 45 years (the last was in 1997). Few dispute that Nathan Dunlap committed a horrific crime and murdered several people at a Chuck E. Cheese. But judges, university professors, and other prominent state leaders are urging Gov. Hickenlooper to commute Dunlap’s sentence, both because crucial errors that defined his trial may have led him to get a harsher sentence than others, and because killing anyone under the perverted state system would be a miscarriage of justice. According to letters filed with Hickenlooper’s office:

  • All three people on death row are black men. In a state that is only 4.3% African American, Colorado’s death row is 100% African American.
  • All three men on death are from the same one county, out of Colorado’s 64.
  • All three men committed their crime when they were under the age of 21.
  • Two law professors who studied Colorado’s application of the death penalty concluded it was unconstitutional, after finding that prosecutors pursue the death penalty in less than one percent of the cases where it is an option, and that the state failed to set “clear statutory standards for distinguishing between the few who are executed and the many who commit murder.”

“It appears that race, geography and youth largely determines who gets the death penalty in Colorado,” wrote a group of NAACP leaders in a letter urging Gov. Hickenlooper to grant clemency. They note that not a single black juror served on the panel that sentenced Dunlap to death.

In addition to the injustices that define the Colorado system, a group of former Colorado judges also point out that Dunlap’s bipolar disorder and psychotic tendencies were not even mentioned at trial. In fact, according to their letter, Dunlap’s lawyer told the jury that there was no explanation for his violence.

The judges add that “no clear evidence exists that the death penalty deters violent crime. What it does in our current system, as in this case, is to drain our judicial system of millions of dollars as mandatory appeals drag on for decades.” Studies have shown that the death penalty does not lower the homicide rate. In fact, the murder rate is lower in states without the death penalty. Hickenlooper says he continues to wrestle with the death penalty, and whether to commute Dunlap’s sentence.

10 things you need to know today: May 10, 2013

The Week

Prosecutors consider seeking the death penalty for Cleveland abduction suspect, hackers loot $45 million from ATMs, and more

A global gang of cyber thieves stole $45 million from thousands of ATMs in a matter of hours, authorities in New York said Thursday. The thieves allegedly withdrew $2.4 million from 2,904 machines in New York City alone after hackers wiped out withdrawal limits on stolen prepaid debit cards. The details were revealed when federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against eight members of a street crew that allegedly went around the city withdrawing cash and stuffing it into backpacks. [New York Times]


Cuyahoga County, Ohio, prosecutor Thomas McGinty said Thursday he might seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of kidnapping three women, then raping and imprisoning them at his home for a decade. Castro, who’s being held on $8 million bail, could face hundreds of charges — even thousands. McGinty says he might file charges of aggravated murder, a capital offense, because the women say Castro beat them when they were pregnant to force them to have miscarriages. [CBS News]


The body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a shootout with police, has been buried following a lengthy search for a cemetery willing to take his remains. Worcester, Mass., police declined Thursday to disclose the location of the grave, although they said it was not in their city. “A courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance to properly bury the deceased,” said Worcester Police Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst. [Boston Globe]

State Department officials on Thursday ordered Defense Distributed, a Texas nonprofit, to take down online instructions on making its 3D-printed plastic gun, which can evade metal detectors. Government regulators argued that making plans for the pistol available worldwide amounted to illegal weapon exports. Defense Distributed complied — but not before the blueprint for the fully functional firearm, The Liberator, was downloaded more than 100,000 times. [New York Daily News]

Minnesota’s Democrat-led House of Representatives approved a bill legalizing gay marriage on Thursday. State senators plan a vote on Monday, and supporters of the proposal say they have the votes to pass it. If they succeed, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has vowed to sign the bill into law. Minnesota would become the 12th state to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, and the third state to do so this month, after Delaware and Rhode Island. [Reuters]

Rescuers pulled a woman alive from the rubble of a Bangladesh factory building on Friday, 17 days after the structure collapsed. The death toll has climbed to 1,038, and crews are still searching for more bodies. Hundreds of relatives remain camped out around the Rana Plaza complex, which housed four garment factories, awaiting word on workers still missing in the worst industrial accident since India’s 1984 Bhopal disaster. [Associated PressReuters]

Rescuers in Australia suspended a search on Friday for two Carnival Australia cruise ship passengers who fell overboard on the last night of a Pacific islands tour on Wednesday. Footage from security cameras reportedly shows the couple — Paul Rossington, 30, and Kristen Schroder, 27 — going over the side of the Carnival Spirit one after the other at 8:50 p.m., although they weren’t discovered missing until the ship docked in Sydney 12 hours later. [The Australian]

North Korea on Friday resumed its bellicose rhetoric after a brief lull, calling this week’s meeting between President Obama and his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye,”a curtain-raiser to a dangerous war to invade” the North. Pyongyang called Park’s visit to Washington a “despicable sycophantic trip to please her master.” Obama and Park urged Pyongyang to join talks on dismantling its nuclear program, as a nuclear-powered U.S. carrier headed to South Korea for joint naval exercises. [Associated Press]

A 36-year-old British sailor was killed on Thursday when the high-tech catamaran he was on capsized in San Francisco Bay while he was practicing for this summer’s America’s Cup, sailing’s most prestigious trophy. Andrew “Bart” Simpson, an Olympic gold medalist who was serving as race strategist for the Swedish team, was trapped underwater for 10 minutes by the capsized yacht’s platform. One other sailor in the crew of about a dozen suffered minor injuries. [Associated Press]

Randy Jackson, the last original judge remaining on American Idol, says he’s leaving next season. The announcement comes following reports that Fox wants to replace all four judges on the reality singing competition TV show, which suffered a 25 percent ratings drop this season. Jackson, who helped launch the once-hot show on a panel with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, says he plans to focus on his record label, Dream Merchant 21, and other projects. “It is time to leave,” he said. [E Online]

James Holmes offers guilty plea to avoid death penalty


USA Today

Attorneys for Denver-area theater shooting suspect James Holmes have offered to have him plead guilty and be jailed for life to avoid the death penalty, KUSA-TV is reporting.

The prosecution has not yet responded to the offer, which came in a court filing Wednesday.

“Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion,” the filing reads.

The defense team said the case could end Monday if the Arapahoe County district attorney accepts the deal. Prosecutors planned to announce Monday whether they would seek the death penalty.

Holmes, 25, is charged with first-degree murder for the July 20 rampage that killed 12 moviegoers and wounded nearly 60 others at the premiere of the latest Batman film at a multiplex in Aurora.

On March 12, a judge entered a not guilty plea on Holmes’ behalf but said Holmes could enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity later.

Trial is set for Aug. 5.

KUSA, a Denver TV station owned by Gannett, USA TODAY’s parent company, notes that a similar plea deal was offered to Jared Loughner, the man charged in a Tuscon mass shooting. The federal government withdrew the death penalty after he pleaded guilty to killing six and wounding 13, including former U.S. congresswoman Gabby Giffords, in January 2011.

Loughner was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms and an additional 140 years.

Arizona authorities have just released crime reports from the case, which had been sealed by court order.

All In Favor Of Public Hangings, Say “Aye”

As usual Mario Piperni sees things more clearly and logically than the Republicans he draws in his illustrations.   He writes about their weird and sometimes crazy antics and depicts it perfectly with his drawings.

There’s no secret that I am a die-hard Piperni fan.  Here’s yet another example…

Mario Piperni

From the compassionate conservative wing of the Republican party, Rep. Larry Pittman of North Carolina  speaks out .

“We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,” Pittman wrote in the email. “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”

How long before execution by guillotine for liberals and atheists is proposed by Republicans?

The surprise or concern is not that wingnut politicians say stuff like this. Republicans have been running on CRAZY for a while now. No, the real worry should be that enough Americans voted for this guy to get him elected.

Newt Gingrich Proposed the Death Penalty for Pot — Even Though He Admitted to Smoking It

English: Former Speaker of the House at CPAC in .

Image via Wikipedia

This is just one example of Newt Gingrich’s outrageous proposals.  This particular one is  from 1997…


Newt Gingrich proposed the death penalty for marijuana in 1997, and yet he is one of the 100 million Americans who have smoked marijuana.

Over the weekend, struggling Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson reminded MSNBC viewers that GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich had once to called to punish some drug offenders with death.

“Newt Gingrich, in 1997, proposed the death penalty for marijuana — for possession of marijuana above a certain quantity of marijuana,” Johnson explained. “And yet, he is among 100 million Americans who’ve smoked marijuana.”

“I would love to have a discussion with him on the fact that he smoked pot, and under the wrong set of circumstance he proposed the death penalty for, potentially, something that he had committed. I have troubles with that,” he added.

Johnson, a former New Mexico governor who has advocated for marijuana legalization since 1999, is at least partially correct about Gingrich’s position.

As Speaker of the House, Gingrich introduced the “Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996.”

The bill would have required a “sentence of death for certain importations of significant quantities of controlled substances.” It would have applied to anyone convicted more than once of carrying 100 doses — or about two ounces  — or marijuana across the border. Defendants would have had a window of 18 months to file their one and only appeal.

Related articles

Herman Cain Claimed That A ‘Liberal Court’ Killed Jesus

The news highlighting the Right’s many positions on a host of issues get more absurd every day, but this is particularly troubling, coming from a presidential candidate!

Think Progress

Daily Kos’s bernardpliers recalls a Herman Cain column from December 2010 where the GOP presidential primary candidate appears to complain that Jesus was killed by liberals.

In a column and blog post titled “The Perfect Conservative,” Cain makes the claim that Jesus was politically conservative and that he “helped the poor without one government program.” After running through a list of reasons Cain believes Jesus to be a model right-winger, the presidential contender concludes that the “liberal court” was responsible for his death:

The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12. His death reset the clock of time. Never before and not since has there ever been such a perfect conservative.

Cain does not explain why he finds the Roman court that sentenced and executed Jesus to be “liberal.” But his claim is baffling for all kinds of reasons, only one of which is the fact that liberals tend to be ideologically opposed to capital punishment while conservatives tend to favor it.

Related articles

In Georgia, Killer spared from death hours before execution

Samuel David Crowe in an undated photo. The parole board in the state of Georgia spared a convicted killer from execution hours before he was due to die by lethal injection on Thursday and commuted his sentence to life in prison.

I’m sure they’ll “explain” that this case had mitigating circumstances.  Whatever!  


The parole board in the state of Georgia spared a convicted killer from execution hours before he was due to die by lethal injection on Thursday and commuted his sentence to life in prison.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles made its decision less than three hours before Samuel David Crowe, 47, was to be executed, according to a spokeswoman for the state’s prisons.

“After careful and exhaustive consideration of the requests, the board voted to grant clemency. The board voted to commute the sentence to life without parole,” the parole board said.

Crowe’s death would have marked the third execution since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty last month.

Crowe was not present at the parole board hearing in Atlanta. He had already eaten his last meal and was preparing to enter the execution chamber at the prison in Jackson, Georgia, Mallie McCord of the Georgia Department of Corrections said.

In March 1988, Crowe killed store manager Joseph Pala during a robbery at the lumber company in Douglas County, west of Atlanta. Crowe, who had previously worked at the store, shot Pala three times with a pistol, beat him with a crowbar and a pot of paint.

Crowe pleaded guilty to armed robbery and murder and was sentenced to death the following year.

“David (Crowe) takes full responsibility for his crime and experiences profound remorse,” according to Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an advocacy group, who welcomed the board’s decision.

At Thursday’s hearing, his lawyers presented a dossier of evidence attesting to his remorse and good behavior in jail, according to local media reports. The lawyers also said he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine addiction at the time of the crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 16 rejected a challenge to the three-drug cocktail used in most U.S. executions, which opponents claimed inflicted unnecessary pain. Georgia then conducted an execution on May 5.

Georgia has executed 41 men since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973 and this week it had 109 prisoners on death row. 

In memoriam: Troy Davis, Oct. 9, 1968 – Sept. 21, 2011

The inscription Equal Justice Under Law as see...

Image via Wikipedia

The Raw Story

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday night refused to temporarily halt the execution of death row inmate Troy Davis, giving Georgia officials clearance to carry out his death sentence.

The court had no comment on the order, which it made about four hours after Davis’ attorneys had filed the motion. His sentence was carried out at 11 p.m., and he was dead eight minutes later.

Davis had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Georgia authorities from executing him in an eleventh-hour plea after the Georgia’s Supreme Court upheld his execution.

“The application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal is denied. The motion for stay of execution is denied,” read a unanimous ruling from Georgia’s Supreme Court, upholding a lower court’s earlier decision.

Davis, 42, was convicted of murdering Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. Since his conviction, seven of the nine people who testified against him have recanted or changed their testimonies.

No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie Davis to the crime, and some witnesses have since said the murder was committed by another man — a witness who testified against Davis.

With his death in Georgia on Wednesday night, the sad, savage story of Troy Davis appears destined to become one of the leading cases cited by the movement to abolish capital punishment in the United States and abroad.

This video was published to YouTube on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011.