Where the Death Penalty Still Lives. In the U.S., 20 states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment and four others have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 states that remain, only 14 handed down death sentences last year for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just two percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row. [more inside]
The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
A year ago this August, 72 migrant workers -- 58 men and 14 women -- 'were on their way to the US border when they were murdered by a drug gang at a ranch in northern Mexico, in circumstances that remain unexplained. Since then, a group of Mexican journalists and writers have created' a "Day of the Dead-style Virtual Altar" Spanish-language website, 72migrantes.com, to commemorate each of the victims, some of whom have never been identified. The New York Review of Books has English translations of five of their profiles. [more inside]
The last meals of executed prisoners - photographs of the final choices of death row inmates.
176 Horn Lane, Acton, London, probably isn't an address you think of when it comes to death sentences in Arizona and California. It is the home of a small driving school. And Dream Pharma, a mom and pop pharmaceutical wholesaler. [more inside]
A DNA test has proven that a man was executed for murder by the State of Texas on the basis of false forensic evidence. [more inside]
Fun fact: Cannibals didn't necessarily boil people alive, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't been used as a form of execution. [Via AskMe.]
A new study of death penalty deterrence by researchers from Sam Houston State University and Duke University suggests that there is a decline in murders in the month of or after executions. Meanwhile, Kenneth Mosley became the 448th inmate executed in Texas since 1982 on January 7th, 2010. (Last link: previously, previously and previously)
The Supreme Court today issued a one line statement refusing to hear Troy Davis' appeal. Troy Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of a police officer in Savannah, GA, and sentenced to death solely on eyewitness testimony. No murder weapon or any physical evidence linked him to the crime. Since the conviction, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted or changed their stories, and one of the two who haven't changed their stories is the other suspect in the case. Things were looking good for Davis when the Supreme Court issued a stay two hours before his execution last month. Justice may really be dead in this country.
Elijah Page to be executed in South Dakota. On March 12, 2000, Page and two other brutally tortured and killed Chester Poage near Spearfish, SD.(very graphic description of events). It took Page, Briley Piper, and Darrell Hoadley nearly 3 hours to finally kill Poage. This will be the first execution in South Dakota in 59 years. (more inside)
In 1948 Caryl Chessman was awarded two death sentences on two counts of attempted rape. He was probably innocent, yet he was executed in 1960 for more or less "being a smartass." In the years between his sentencing and death, he wrote three memoirs and a novel, which sold well. After the first memoir the prison forbade him to write about anything other than the legalities of his case, so he developed an elaborate code to get his work out to his lawyer. His spirit never broke, as strange as it was. This is his story.
And now for something really depressing - the Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains a database including the 'last statements' of all inmates executed since 1982.