Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Death Penalty Focus & Death Penalty Updates

It’s Black History Month, and we’re honoring a man whose life and work was devoted to criminal justice, and a woman who bucked all the odds to expose the racist violence of the Deep South in the wake of the Civil War.

We feature five states that are taking a hard look right now at repealing their death penalty, and in some cases, with support from conservative lawmakers.

Florida isn’t one of those states, and we examine how legislators are still trying to keep their death penalty intact in the wake of last year’s Hurst v. Florida ruling.

We wrote about the horribly botched execution of Clayton Lockett almost three years ago, and now we’re discussing how U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was one of the 10th Circuit Court judges who found Lockett’s painful death "an innocent misadventure."

In our "In Brief" section, we look at how differently states are dealing with the death penalty, with seven considering laws that would prohibit prosecutors from filing capital charges against the mentally ill, to Missouri, which just executed a man whose case was never fully reviewed in a federal court.

We introduce one of our board members, who has just helped formed a Muslim-Latino Collaborative, and in our "Voices" section, a retired Miami-Dade homicide detective calls for an end to the death penalty because it’s "torture."

Late last month, after serving several years on Delaware’s death row, Isaiah McCoy was released and acquitted of the murder for which he was originally convicted. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and the testimonies that were used against him were inconsistent. Despite this, McCoy was sentenced to die, but after receiving a new trial, he was acquitted of murder. Upon hearing the news, McCoy wept and said that he plans on spending the coming days with his daughters. McCoy is the 157th person to be released from death row due to a wrongful conviction.

The inherent risk to innocent lives is one of the primary factors driving conservatives’ opposition to the death penalty, and this was on display in Montana earlier this month. Conservative State Representative Adam Hertz sponsored a bill to repeal capital punishment, and a host of conservatives assembled at the capitol to participate in a press conference to urge the legislature to end the state’s death penalty. Many others also testified in support of repeal during the bill’s hearing. While the measure ended up being one vote shy of passing, this is additional proof that the conservative movement to repeal the death penalty is not only being sustained but it is growing.
Conservatives Concerned in the media
There were plenty of stories covering recent CCATDP press conferences in Montana and Georgia as well as our other activities:
• The Associated Press reported on the developments in Montana, and more than a dozen other outlets syndicated the story. The Missoulian also covered the events, and the article was reprinted elsewhere too.
• The Georgia press conference is still generating significant interest as well. The Blaze, Insider Advantage Georgia, Better Georgia, and NPR recently reported on it.
• Our past Charles Koch Institute Communications Intern, Katherine Dwyer, authored an article describing why it’s unjust to execute the mentally ill.
• I presented the conservative case against the death penalty when I was a guest on the Wake Up Call and Thinking It Through podcasts.
• I penned two op-eds during the past month too. One explained why Georgia’s death penalty is dying, while the other highlighted how conservatives are key to the death penalty’s demise.
• I was also quoted in an article in which the author explained why conservatism and the death penalty are inconsistent with each other.
For the 5th year in a row, CCATDP will be returning to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and conservatives from Georgia, South Carolina, Michigan, Utah, and Missouri will join CCATDP at the conference. It will be in National Harbor, Maryland, from February 22-25. If you plan on attending, then make sure to drop by our booth!

Next month, I will travel to Virginia where I will be speaking at the College of William and Mary about how the death penalty is nothing more than a failed government program. The event will occur on March 22. I hope to see you there!
Share your concerns
The fact that at least 157 individuals have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die is a terrifying reality. What’s even worse is that others have been executed even though their convictions were in doubt. Let your friends and family members know that the death penalty is dangerously error-prone by sharing the article about Isaiah McCoy on Facebook by clicking here!

Black History Month: Thurgood Marshall & Ida B. Wells Remembered

He was one of the most well-known U.S. Supreme Court Justices in history. She was an obscure former slave who became an investigative reporter and exposed the ugly violence behind lynchings. We pay tribute to Thurgood Marshall and Ida B. Wells in honor of Black History Month.
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Five States Put Repeal on the Table

Five states around the country are looking at repealing their death penalty, and many of these efforts are being fueled by conservatives.
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Florida's Continuing Problem with the Death Penalty

Since January 2015, Florida has been tinkering with its death penalty scheme, only to be overruled by the state Supreme Court. But even faced with the possibility they will have to re-sentence at least 200 of its death row inmates, legislators and prosecutors still seem determined to keep the system in place.

Neil Gorsuch and the Execution that Was an "Innocent Misadventure"

The President's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court last week was an unwelcome reminder to many that he was one of the judges on the 10th Circuit who found the seriously botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma an "innocent misadventure."

Mike Farrell on Trump and Gorsuch

DPF President Mike Farrell shares his thoughts on what the Trump Administration's "law and order" rhetoric, and the nomination of Nield Gorsuch for the US Supreme Court, might mean for the future of bi-partisan criminal justice reform efforts moving forward.
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In Brief

We look at how different states are dealing with mental illness and the death penalty, while others, like Missouri, are in a rush to execute.

Board Member Shakeel Syed and the Muslim-Latino Collaborative

In a new feature, which we will run periodically to introduce you to our board members, we talk to Shakeel Syed, who, with a group of others, has stood up to the anti-immigrant stance of the new Administration by founding a Muslim-Latino Collaborative.

Voices: Marshall Frank

Retired Miami-Dade Police homicide detective Marshall Frank has seen it all in his years in homicide, and he still is opposed to the death penalty, and he has six reasons why.