Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Death Penalty Focus for June 2017, More Exonerations & Concerned About the Death Penalty, more...

Hello, and welcome to this month’s issue of the Focus. The California Supreme Court heard oral argument this week on Briggs v. Brown, the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 66, which passed in November. The State of Virginia plans to execute a mentally ill man next month, in what his lawyers say is a miscarriage of justice because his jury never was told of his psychosis. Florida is still grappling with its death penalty law, including the possible resentencing of 200 condemned inmates. Arizona, Texas, and Alabama are just a few of the states that tinkered with the machinery of death in the past month. A law school professor argues in his new book that the death penalty in the United States violates international law. And we have a few reading suggestions in a new feature, “While We’re on the Subject…

In the past month, we’ve been confronted with our death penalty system’s dangers and flaws again. Rodricus Crawford was released from Louisiana’s death row in April and Ralph Daniel Wright Jr. from Florida’s death row just days ago because they had both been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die. Regrettably, this isn’t a rare occurrence. In fact, these exonerations bring the total number of wrongful capital convictions in the US since 1973 to 159, while others have been executed who might have been innocent.

The Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission concluded its year-long examination of the state’s capital punishment program, and their findings reflected what has been discovered in many other states. Oklahoma’s death penalty is dangerously flawed, has led to wrongful convictions, and it costs far more than life without parole.

Conservatives Concerned in the field
On April 19, I presented the conservative case against the death penalty to the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The room was packed, and I was approached by many attendees after the event who said that while they believe the Bible permits capital punishment’s use, our government runs it too poorly to retain. If you missed the event, you can watch it here.

The following evening, I traveled to Tulsa where I spoke to Oklahoma’s largest College Republican chapter – the University of Tulsa College Republicans. The room was near capacity, and many turned against the death penalty by the end of the presentation.
On April 22, I exhibited at the Young Americans for Liberty Atlanta Summit where I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of pro-liberty activists who oppose the death penalty and were interested in becoming involved.

Conservatives Concerned in the media
• While in Oklahoma, I was a guest on the Pat Campbell and the Trent England radio shows to discuss why Oklahoma conservatives should oppose the death penalty, and I also weighed in on a story for Reason Magazine about the Oklahoma death penalty commission's findings.
• Friend of CCATDP, Brian Empric, and our current intern, Kelli Huck, both penned op-eds describing the many problems with Florida’s death penalty system.
• As the spate of executions proceeded in Arkansas, we were included in articles in the Washington Post, US News, and Reason Magazine.
• Our work to get Ivan Teleguz’s death sentence commuted was featured prominently in the New York Times, ABC News, and Christian News Network.
• CCATDP’s Heather Beaudoin was interviewed for a piece for the NC Register about the death penalty’s stark decline.
• Our past Charles Koch Intern, Katherine Dwyer, authored an article for the Idaho Statesman in which she presented the reasons why conservatives should oppose executing the severely mentally ill.
• I was interviewed for a segment on CBS 46 Atlanta, and the host and I systematically debunked many death penalty myths.
• We were also featured by a host of other media outlets, including the Libertarian Session, Craftsmanship, the Conversation, West Virginia Gazette, Columbia Tribune, and the Italian publication il Tascabile.
Call to action
Educate your friends and family members by sharing the CBS 46 segment in which TV anchor Ben Swann examines whether conservatives should support the death penalty. Click here to share it on Facebook!
Petition Pakistan to end the death penalty as an available punishment for minors
The death penalty is an immoral and illogical form of punishment for capital crimes. It is incredibly costly, does not deter capital crimes from being committed, has killed innocent people wrongly convicted of crimes, and often puts to death those with mental illnesses and those who have experienced (or are experiencing) horrific traumas.

Pakistan, like other countries, still uses the death penalty as a punishment for capital crimes. But what’s even worse is that the Pakistani government allows children who commit capital crimes to be executed.

Children deserve to be loved, nurtured, and given opportunities to make mistakes so that they can grow. Executing them when they have not fully developed their moral compass is abominable. Together, we can pressure the Pakistani government to stop this incredible injustice.

California Supreme Court Holds Oral Argument in Proposition 66

The day after Proposition 66 passed by a slim margin last November, two death penalty opponents filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. The state Supreme Court stayed implementation, and this week, the justices heard oral argument from the two sides on the validity of the initiative.
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He’s Mentally Ill, but the State of Virginia Plans to Execute Him Anyway

A mentally ill man on Virginia’s death row is scheduled to be executed next month. William Morva suffers from three psychotic disorders, something his jury never knew. We talk to Morva’s attorney about her attempts to get the governor to commute his sentence because of his incapacity.
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Florida’s Death Penalty Troubles Continue

Sixteen months after Hurst v. Florida found the state’s death penalty unconstitutional, officials are still dealing with the aftermath.

In Brief

From Arizona to Alabama, the death penalty was at the center of debates in state houses around the country.

Voices: John Bessler

In his new book, “The Death Penalty as Torture: From the Dark Ages to Abolition,” law professor John Bessler argues that the death penalty violates international law, and on that basis, should be found unconstitutional.
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While We’re on the Subject . . .

The death penalty was the subject of so many interesting articles and books in the past few months, we thought we’d share some suggestions of what to read.