December 2017: While we’re on the subject . . .

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In “Two Murder Convictions for One Fatal Shot,” in the November 13 issue of the New Yorker, Ken Armstrong examines a disturbingly frequent practice by prosecutors in which they present contradictory theories of how a crime was committed. “The most common scenario involves a fatal shot: the prosecutor puts the gun in the hand of one defendant, then another,” he writes. “At least twenty-nine men have been condemned in cases in which defense attorneys accused prosecutors of presenting contradictory theories. To date, seven of those 29 have been executed.”

In the Austin American-Statesman, Peter V. Berns and Ana Martinez argue that Bobby Moore, who is intellectually disabled, and whose death penalty case was sent back to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year because of Texas’ outdated system of evaluating intellectual disability, should be removed from death row and its attendant solitary confinement. “Research shows that for people with intellectual disability, being held in solitary confinement is particularly damaging and destructive,” they write.

In his article, “Inconsistent Rationales for Capital Punishment Plus,” in the University of Illinois Law Review, Russell L. Christopher argues that of the three rationales that courts employ to justify what he calls “capital punishment plus” — impending execution plus decades of post sentencing, pre-execution incarceration — “at least one is incorrect, and all three are suspect.” As a result, he writes, “While not conclusively establishing that capital punishment plus is unconstitutional, this article erodes the foundations of its constitutionality.”

On his website, the Sacred Eye of the Falcon, Steve Champion, who has been on San Quentin’s death row since 1982, posts his essays, poems, and thoughts. A high school dropout, and former member of the Los Angeles Crips gang, Champion has also published a memoir, “Dead to Deliverance: A Death Row Memoir.” In it, Champion writes, “Proponents of capital punishment freeze condemned-to-die criminals at the worst moments of their lives; to justify their execution, they must be barred from redemption. But history is full of individuals who have made major mistakes but manage to turn their lives around and make significant contributions to humanity.”

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