Women On Death Row: A Scary, Scary Thing

§ November 12th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

womenondeathA clear double-Plexiglass window separates us, with little holes at mouth level to speak through. This is the first time we’ve met, though we’ve been corresponding for more than a year. As she brushes a strand of her long sandy-brown hair from her eyes, I notice that her arms are horribly scarred, and some of her fingers are missing.

“The fire happened when I was five years old,” she explains. “The house burnt to the ground. My mother and I were the only two they couldn’t get to. I tried to beat the fire off of her, and ended up with burns on my face, arms, hands, back, buttocks, and thighs. She died of smoke inhalation and severe burns. She was twenty-four.”

Speaking about her mother’s death recalls the grief Kelley feels about her own children. At the time of her incarceration, they were nine, seven, five, three, and eight months. Three now live with relatives, one with a friend, and the youngest was put up for adoption. “I’ve made some bad choices in my life. I’ll admit that. But I was a good mother. I always watched after my kids and provided for them.”

Kelley’s children still visit occasionally, but she believes they are “pulling away.” She tells me …

What To Do When Stop Snoring Mouthpieces And Devices Aren’t Enough

§ November 9th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § 1 Comment

I know that a lot of us have snoring issues, and for some it is more extreme than others. This article speaks to the latter group of people – where there may be a danger to overall health.

snoring-xraySnoring mouthpieces can be effective for snoring. But these can only be truly effective for mild to moderate situations. If the snoring is severe and frequent, the doctor may suggest a surgical procedure that should eliminate snoring. Most surgical procedures for snoring can be relatively invasive so the patient may have to take off some time from work or school. This is to give time for recovery.

After the surgery, the doctor will give instructions that the patient should follow carefully. It is important for the patient to adhere with the doctor´s orders to avoid complications. The patient has to lessen his or her physical activities after the surgery. He or she can only increase his or her activities after obtaining permission from the doctor.

The patient should also ask the permission of the doctor before taking any type of medication or trying any kind of natural remedy, such as an anti snoring mouthpiece (some mouthpiece reviews are located here). The patient should also follow the diet regimen recommended by the doctor. He or she must call the doctor if there is bleeding or fever. The results of surgery for snoring are § Read the rest of this entry…

A Community’s Odd Choice

§ September 16th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

communityoddA community’s sense of justice is such an odd thing. In the Philippines there is currently a debate raging over capital punishment. The death penalty was reinstated approximately two years ago and since that time hundreds of people have been put on death row. The first prisoner to be executed in over a decade was scheduled to die at the beginning of January.

The newspapers are constantly quoting numbers of people who support the death penalty. Almost every Filipino I speak to is for it. The president is adamant about the need for this kind of “justice.” The lone group that seems to speak out against it is the Catholic Church.

For those who don’t know, the Philippines is an extremely catholic country. My co-workers – the ones who support capital punishment – always attend mass on Sundays and high holidays, and often on Wednesdays to boot! In the shopping mall at 6:00 PM everything stops for the evening prayer which is piped in over the intercom. Every person, all transactions. Catholic morality is evident in many of the county’s laws – no divorce or abortion for example. And yet people are marching in the street demanding blood. Even though the Philippines will use lethal injection, the streets are filled …

Death Continues, Unabated

§ September 12th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

dethconFor the most part, executions these days pass with scarcely a murmur. By last week, 612 people had been put to death in the United States since capital punishment was brought back 24 years ago — 206 of them in Texas alone. Aside from Goss and Beets, three other inmates are set to die this week, one in Ohio and two in Florida (where Bush’s kid brother, Jeb, another unblinking advocate of the ultimate punishment, is governor).

Now, for the first time in a generation, there are signs of a shift in the public mood. The biggest came on Jan. 31, when the governor of Illinois, an old-guard Republican named George Ryan, halted all executions in his state. Illinois, he admitted, has a “shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row.” Since 1976, the state has executed 12 men. Over the same period, 13 condemned men were exonerated. Three were freed after journalism students dug up evidence that someone else had committed the crime. In other cases, the Chicago Tribune documented gross legal lapses. “I cannot support a system,” Ryan concluded, “which has proven so fraught with error.”

Other signs of change: 12 of the 38 states with capital punishment have bills pending to stop executions

Challenging A Hard System

§ September 8th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § 3 Comments

challengingAs a younger man, I went to Atlanta, Georgia, and worked with the Southern Prisoners’ Defense Committee, a group that represented death row prisoners.

I was very affected by my experiences and felt a calling to return to that office when I graduated. So after graduating in 1985, I went down and soon began handling a lot of cases out of Alabama, where there is no public defender system, no real public-interest litigation in the criminal-justice area. There were so many unmet needs. In 1989, we decided it made sense to start a project in that state.

When you speak to a general audience about capital punishment. I’ve noticed that you often focus less on the absolute question of the morality of the death penalty than on the abuses and problems in its application. Why?

Our society is so polarized on issues like the death penalty. I don’t think we can just stand up and say: “This is the right position. All of you folks way over there need to come over here on our side.” As a Christian with an evangelical heritage, I think you have to go and get people, meet them where they are.

In the United States, what has been most effective, at least in …

Canadians Can’t Support State-Sanctioned Murder

§ September 4th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

cpunishmentNot too long ago, as the Earth turns, they still held public hangings in England — for such minor offences as pickpocketing. As the slavering crowds gathered round the gallows, hooting in glee, pickpockets worked the crowd, as was their profession. As the last two men ever executed by state murder in Canada hanged back-to-back in the Don Jail in Toronto, John Diefenbaker said quietly that there never again will be capital punishment in Canada. As any civilized person knows.

And the death of Stockwell Day as a prime ministerial candidate — a glib, attractive man who did not have the resolve to finish either the university or the Bible college he dabbled at — came when he actually included in his Alliance platform a national referendum on capital punishment. The new President of the United States, the richest nation in history, the only superpower left in the universe, is promoting “compassionate conservatism.” The greatest oxymoron since “military intelligence,” “giant shrimp,” “airplane meals” and “journalistic ethics.”

The new president of the greatest empire since Rome has been elected — leaving aside the pregnant chads — on a platform that included the death penalty. In his six years as governor, Texas not only led the nation but, considering its population, …

EU Takes Its Activism Seriously

§ August 31st, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

eutakesitsIn February, representatives of the EU presidency presented a demarche to US Undersecretary of State for Human Rights Frank Loy, outlining special concerns regarding certain executions carried out in the United States. These include cases involving individuals who were younger than eighteen years old when they committed their crimes, those who suffer from mental illness, and those who were unable to prove their innocence due to the lack of adequate legal assistance. As of last month, EU representatives had appealed for the commutation of eleven such death sentences, eight in Texas, two in Virginia, and one in Georgia.

The EU presidency followed the demarche with an appeal to state governors, asking them to emulate the example of Illinois Governor George Ryan, who imposed a moratorium on the use of capital punishment after questions arose over the guilt of some Illinois death row inmates. In its letter, the EU pointed out that “while more than 600 people have been executed [in the US] since the reinstatement of the penalty in 1976, as many as eighty-one people in twenty-one states have been found innocent and removed from death row.” Such instances, they emphasized, reflect the inherent risk attached to carrying out a punishment that cannot be reversed.

In July, Ambassador Francois Bujon …

Exoneration: A Valuable Redemption

§ August 27th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

governorgeorgeIn 1893 John Peter Altgeld, the reform Democratic Governor of Illinois, made a decision that ended his career: to pardon three anarchosyndicalists convicted on spurious grounds in the famous Haymarket bombing of 1886. Four of their comrades had already been hanged. “Much of the evidence given at the trial was a pure fabrication,” Altgeld found. “No greater damage could possibly threaten our institutions than to have the courts of justice run wild or give way to popular clamor.”

Today, “pure fabrication” and “courts run wild” are routine descriptions of Illinois murder trials. That is the conclusion reached by Altgeld’s current successor, Governor George Ryan. Ryan does not exactly have Altgeld’s probity profile: He is mired in a spectacular bribery scandal involving the state’s issuing of driver’s licenses and his campaign fund. But in the Altgeld tradition, Ryan refuses to avert his eyes from what he calls “a shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row,” and on February 1 he imposed a moratorium on his state’s executions, the first like it in the nation’s history. “I cannot support a system, which, in its administration, has proven so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state’s taking of innocent life,” he …

Capital Punishment Is An Awful Tradition

§ August 21st, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § 3 Comments

capitalpunishmentNearly always it is a Supreme Court decision that sparks debate and political action which define us as a free people and a democratic nation. The Court’s recent denial of two petitions to review death- sentence cases has put international focus on a truly contentious issue: the often decades-long delay between conviction and execution in the United States. Normally, petitions for certiorari are denied in one sentence (for example, “The petition for writ of certiorari is denied”). But in Knight v. Florida and Moore v. Nebraska, two Supreme Court justices heatedly clashed over whether the death-sentence cases should even be reviewed.

The two petitions (consolidated by the Court) requested that the Supreme Court consider whether the Eighth Amendment prohibits as “cruel and unusual punishment” the execution of prisoners who have spent nearly 20 years or more on death row. The quick reaction to this question, by some, is that a prisoner should not be allowed to take advantage of the “full and generous avenue of appeals” (which often take years, even decades, to exhaust) and then turn around and complain that the delay in execution violates his fundamental rights. Indeed, both Knight and Moore took full advantage of every appellate right they had. Nearly half their time on death row …

Can Anything Kill The US Death Penalty?

§ August 18th, 2015 § Filed under Uncategorized § No Comments

usdeathpenaltyThe reforms that death-penalty opponents cheer might actually strengthen Americans’ faith in the practice they so despise.

It wouldn’t be the first time. In the early ’80s, when states began abandoning the electric chair for the more humane method of lethal injection, some anti-death-penalty activists cheered. But, by sanitizing capital punishment, states robbed the abolitionists of one of their strongest arguments: the practice’s barbarity. Henry Schwarzchild, the late dean of the American anti-death-penalty movement and a fervent opponent of lethal injection, used to quote the critic Alexander Woollcott: “The worst sin of all is to do well that which shouldn’t be done at all.” Perhaps not surprisingly, the first state to use lethal injection–Texas–now accounts for more than one-third of all the executions in America.

Something similar happened during the previous decade as well, when opponents of the death penalty, by challenging its constitutional basis, achieved a nationwide moratorium on capital punishment, beginning in 1967. In 1972, with its ruling in Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court lent its imprimatur to the halt in executions, declaring that the arbitrary and discriminatory implementation of the death penalty constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.” University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Anthony Amsterdam, a leading death- penalty abolitionist who argued the case before the …

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