Friday, October 24, 2008

Troy Davis Update

Troy Davis will not die on Monday. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on execution for Troy so that lawyers from both sides can draft briefs regarding whether Troy meets the requirements for further Federal review. This is EXCELLENT news!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Troy Davis - Execution Date Set

The State of Georgia wasted no time in setting an execution date for Troy Davis. Troy lost his appeal opportunity with the United States Supreme Court earlier this week and the State has already set his execution date for October 27. There is plenty on this blog regarding Troy's story, so I will not go into it more (tag: Troy Davis). Suffice it to say that the State of Georgia may be executing an innocent man.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power to stop this execution. For more on that, see Amnesty International's death penalty blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Richard Wade Cooey III - Ohio

The State of Ohio executed Richard Cooey yesterday. He was 41 years old at the time of his death.

Richard Cooey was convicted of the rape and murder of two college women in 1986. The women, Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery were in their early twenties at the time of their murders. Cooey's accomplice, Clint Dickens, was 17 at the time of the crime and, as such, was granted life in prison. Cooey has denied killing the women and claims that Dickens performed the murders.

Richard Cooey was not a repentant man. By most accounts, he was vulgar and obscene to the end. Still, life is fundamental right that no society, not even the State of Ohio, should have the right to take away.

An AP article on the execution is available here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

USCC Ruling on Troy Davis

Here is an article from the Associated Press on the USSC's ruling as to Troy Davis. Troy Davis sits on Georgia's death row. His case has received a lot of attention because of what appear to be credible claims of innocence. I have posted on Troy many times before (tag = Troy Davis), and I believe his case is a prime example of why the death penalty should be abolished.*

Sadly, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Troy's case. The Court had granted him a last minute (quite literally) stay on September 23 when he was last scheduled to be executed to determine whether it should hear his case regarding his innocence claims. It appears that not enough of the Court's members agree that review is necessary.

In light of the USSC's decision, Georgia will now schedule another execution date for Troy. It remains to be seen if there are any more options for Troy. It may be up to the Governor (or perhaps his defense team has another option in mind). I will keep you posted.

*There are many reasons I believe the death penalty should be abolished. The primary reasons are (1) the fact that State killing is bad public policy, generally, and does not jive with any of the theories of our justice system (save for perhaps retribution and revenge); (2) our justice system is full of too many holes to assure that the death penalty is applied only to the guilty or applied uniformly and consistently (i.e. without concerns over race, class, or other "status"); and (3) the killing of any human being is a moral outrage and no person should be murdered by the government, no matter how guilty. Troy's case is a prime example of the failures of the death penalty for all three of these points (and many more).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Perspective from a Former Warden

I strongly encourage you to read the Op-Ed by Jeanne Woodford in yesterday's LA Times. Woodford is a former warden of California's San Quentin prison, which is where California's death row is housed. She presided over 4 executions as warden and has come to believe that the death penalty does not keep us safer, is more expensive, and is generally not good public policy.

A couple of snippets of the piece stuck out to me in particular:

"As I presided over Massie's execution, I thought about the abuse and neglect he endured as a child in the foster care system. We failed to keep him safe, and our failure contributed to who he was as an adult. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to kill him, what if we spent that money on other foster children so that we stop producing men like Massie in the first place?"

What if? Woodford focuses much of the Op-Ed on the outrageous additional expenses involved in imprisoning a death row inmate. Studies show that California alone spends an additional $100M per year to house and process death row inmates than it would if those inmates were merely confined to prison for life. Just imagine how much we could do with $100M! What if we used it to develop programs that might help prevent some of this crime in the first place? What if we used it to feed people, create jobs, develop infrastructure, improve education, or mentor at-risk kids? What if we spent it on programs to rehabilitate those guilty of petty crimes that might be at-risk for escalating to violence? What if...

She ends with this poignant statement:

"To say that I have regrets about my involvement in the death penalty is to let myself off the hook too easily. To take a life in order to prove how much we value another life does not strengthen our society. It is a public policy that devalues our very being and detracts crucial resources from programs that could truly make our communities safe." (emphasis added)

What do we have when the executed are gone? Are we safer? Are we more at ease? Right now, as Woodford notes, what we have is a public policy "that devalues our very being."

Woodford's piece is well taken and gut wrenching. It is well worth the read.

Kennedy v. Louisiana Take II

The United States Supreme Court "affirmed" its decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana earlier this week by refusing to rehear the case. As you may recall, the Kennedy case reviewed the constitutionality of executing someone who was "only" guilty of child rape and had not also committed a related murder. The Supreme Court found such executions unconstitutional during its last session. It now upholds that decision. You can read about the update on CNN here.

I despise child rape with everything in my core and, in some cases, I believe its punishment should equal that of many forms of murder. Still, as you know, I vehemently oppose the death penalty. I believe the death penalty should be abolished. As such, I am pleased with the Court's decision in this case. It will make fewer individuals eligible for State murder, and the fewer murders the State commits, the better.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Letter from Troy Davis

Amnesty International published a letter Troy Davis wrote to his sister for her to share with his supporters. He wrote the letter the night before his scheduled execution. It provides a nice glimpse of the man Troy Davis is today. You can find the letter here.