While we’re on the subject . . . .

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In her article, “This Is What Wrongful Conviction Does to a Family,” in Politico, Lara Bazelon looks at the arrest of two men for the 1982 rape and murder of Debbie Sue Carter in Oklahoma. But after Ron Williamson was sentenced to death, and Dennis Fritz to life without parole in 1988, DNA evidence exonerated both, and implicated another man, who was eventually sentenced to life without parole. The case rocked the small Oklahoma community for years, and forever changed the lives of the wrongfully convicted, as well as Carter’s family members. Through the lens of this one case, Bazelon brilliantly conveys that, “When the truth erupts with all of its outsize consequences, exposing a system that is rife with venality, bias, and cruelty, the revelations are not freeing. A wrongful conviction is a psychological prison for everyone it impacts directly.”

In his article, “Neuroscientists Make a Case against Solitary Confinement,” in Scientific American, Dana G. Smith discusses the extreme damage solitary confinement inflicts on prisoners, noting that it’s estimated that 80,000 people, mostly men, are being held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. “They are confined to windowless cells roughly the size of a king bed for 23 hours a day, with virtually no human contact except for brief interactions with prison guards,” he writes. As University of Chicago assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience Stephanie Cacioppo tells Smith,”We see solitary confinement as nothing less than a death penalty by social deprivation.”

In their article, “Intellectual Disability in Capital Cases: Adjusting State Statutes After Moore v. Texas,” in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy, Alexander H. Updegrove, Michael S. Vaughn, and Rolando V. del Carmen examine the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Moore (2017), which came 15 years after the Court’s landmark finding in Atkins v. Virginia that executing the intellectually disabled was cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and three years after it clarified how states should classify intellectual disability in Hall v. Florida. “In the years since the Supreme Court first established the intellectually disabled as a special class protected from execution, the Court has offered little guidance on how states should assess intellectual disability. Moore v. Texas continues this tradition,” the authors conclude.

In her article, “America is in the Middle of a Death Penalty Crisis,” in the Huffington Post, Hannah Riley maintains that “Capital punishment has a sordid history in this country. . . .” and “if ever there was a time to unearth the past and do away with the death penalty entirely, it’s now.” Riley argues that there are many factors that led her to that conclusion, including the problem states have in procuring lethal injection drugs and the resulting decision by some states to “return to methods once thought too barbaric to endure, the number of botched executions that have occurred recently, and the racism of the death penalty. At what point do we accept that the death penalty has no place in a democratic country that professes to follow the Constitution and care about human rights? Now. That point is now,” Riley concludes.

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