In a guest editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stephen Cooper calls on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who late last month stayed the execution of Marcellus Williams, not only to commute Williams’s sentence to life without parole, but that of every condemned inmate in Missouri, and declare a moratorium on the death penalty. “The history of the death penalty in America is hewn from the hell of slavery, subjugation and the suffering of black people,” Cooper writes, and the “unacceptable racial bias that persists in capital punishment,” makes it imperative that it be abolished.
In his article, “Comity, Finality, and Oklahoma’s Lethal Injection Protocol,” in the current Oklahoma Law Review, Jon Yorke focuses on the botched execution of Charles Warner, and the almost-botched execution of Richard Glossip, whose execution was stayed when it was discovered that the same wrong drug administered to Warner was about to be injected into Glossip. “The continuation of botched executions, inappropriate alterations to the protocol, and the claims of punishment experimentation on non-consenting human subjects is contributing to a growing lack of confidence that Oklahoma can maintain a humane form of capital punishment through lethal injection,” Yorke writes.
Amnesty International’s new report, “Death in Florida,” examines that state’s death penalty. It looks at the controversy surrounding Gov. Rick Scott’s removal of 29 murder cases from the jurisdiction of State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s office because of her opposition to the death penalty, and the resumption of executions after an 18-month hiatus; in particular, the recent execution of Mark James Asay, the first white man to be executed in Florida for killing a black man. “This is a moment to reflect upon an often overlooked aspect of Florida’s history – that it was a leader in lynching in the South and slow to eradicate this phenomenon in the 20th century – and upon the all too often ignored fact that today it remains a diehard death penalty state even as political support for this cruel, racially biased, error-prone and unnecessary punishment has waned elsewhere in the USA,” the report says.
Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project released a study, “Prisoners on Ohio’s Execution List Defined by Intellectual Impairment, Mental Illness, Trauma, and Young Age,” that focuses on the 26 men the state plans to execute between now and 2020. It finds that “these men are among the most impaired and traumatized among us — a pattern replicated across America’s death rows.”