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terrible consequences . . . the execution of an innocent man

Fresh doubts over Cameron Todd Willingham's execution (Previously) For more than 20 years, the prosecutor who convicted Cameron Todd Willingham of murdering his three young daughters has insisted that the authorities made no deals to secure the testimony of the jailhouse informer who told jurors that Willingham confessed the crime to him. Since Willingham was executed in 2004, officials have continued to defend the account of the informer, Johnny E. Webb, even as a series of scientific experts have discredited the forensic evidence that Willingham might have deliberately set the house fire in which his toddlers were killed. But now new evidence has revived questions about Willingham’s guilt: In taped interviews, Webb, who has previously both recanted and affirmed his testimony, gives his first detailed account of how he lied on the witness stand in return for efforts by the former prosecutor, John H. Jackson, to reduce Webb’s prison sentence for robbery and to arrange thousands of dollars in support from a wealthy Corsicana rancher. Newly uncovered letters and court files show that Jackson worked diligently to intercede for Webb after his testimony and to coordinate with the rancher, Charles S. Pearce Jr., to keep the mercurial informer in line.
posted by daHIFI on Aug 4, 2014 - 143 comments

Williamsburg, 2021

The Exit Room. "In 2021, an imprisoned journalist facing execution contemplates a desperate escape attempt in order to return to his wife and newborn child." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Apr 19, 2014 - 26 comments

Forgive me for being longwinded, but I was speaking from the heart.

As Gawker has done for a couple years now, they sent letters to all the U.S. death row inmates who have execution dates in the upcoming year. Texas inmate Ray Jasper, who is set to be executed later this month, responded with an incredible letter on his thoughts about the US justice system, race, Christianity, and society as a whole.
posted by gman on Mar 5, 2014 - 84 comments

"...research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing."

The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
posted by zarq on Nov 6, 2013 - 28 comments

Awaken Human Nature and Perceive the Value of Life

For over five years, journalist and TV presenter Ding Yu headed up a  massively popular Chinese TV talk show. Every week, She would sit down with convicted murderers and interview them about their life and crimes, before they were taken out and put to death by either firing squad or lethal injection. The show, "Interviews Before Execution", was taken off the air in March 2012. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Jul 24, 2013 - 18 comments

Lost Words in the Chamber

Lost Words in the Chamber. "This blog will post the last words of criminals executed in the United States, starting with Texas, the state with the highest annual number of executions." Via NYT.
posted by milquetoast on Jul 1, 2013 - 15 comments

His final words were "Set me free."

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.
posted by zarq on Jun 13, 2013 - 161 comments

"We Just Witnessed a War Crime"

The first thing we learned about war re-enactment is that it's fucking terrifying having guns fired at you, even ones loaded with blanks. The second thing we learned is a common re-enactor's dilemma called "The G.I. Effect", which is basically that people playing Americans don't like to die. So sometimes they just don't.
It's Like Vietnam All Over Again, pt 1. Part 2
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Jan 4, 2013 - 61 comments

Now what am I going to do with all these signs

After almost 30 years of appeals and legal maneuvering, Philadelphia prosecutors have abandoned attempts to impose the death penalty on Mumia Abu-Jamal for killing police office Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. Background, previously.
posted by anigbrowl on Dec 7, 2011 - 56 comments

"My dead migrant has fingerprints, but nobody claims her. *I* claim her; she is mine."

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]
posted by zarq on Sep 7, 2011 - 7 comments

They hanged him down by the river.

Seventy-five years ago today, Rainey Bethea was the last person to be publicly executed in the U.S. [more inside]
posted by longsleeves on Aug 11, 2011 - 44 comments

"I decided that forgiveness was not enough."

"I decided I had to do something to save this person’s life. That killing someone in Dallas is not an answer for what happened on Sept. 11." Rais Bhuiyan petitions the state of Texas to stay the execution of a white supremacist who shot him and murdered two others in a hate-motivated crime.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jul 18, 2011 - 87 comments

Mahna Mahna!

A tragically funny (or amusingly tragic) execution. [SLYT]
posted by Hactar on Apr 1, 2011 - 37 comments

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history": Illinois abolishes the death penalty

IL Gov. Pat Quinn—formerly a strong supporter of capital punishment—today signed into law the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois. This comes eleven years after Gov. George Ryan—also a former supporter of capital punishment—signed a moratorium on the death penalty, commuting the sentences of 167 death row inmates to life (including ten men who had made false confessions under torture directed by police commander Jon Burge [previously here and here]). Between 1977 and 1999, Illinois executed 12 inmates, while freeing 13 innocent men from Death Row. [more inside]
posted by scody on Mar 9, 2011 - 42 comments

Drug shortages and lethal injection

Yesterday, the drug manufacturer Hospira ceased its production (corporate statement) of Sodium thiopental, the first drug used in the three drug cocktail for lethal injection. (Sodium thiopental shortages previously) [more inside]
posted by Hactar on Jan 23, 2011 - 61 comments

Lonely Last Suppers

The last meals of executed prisoners - photographs of the final choices of death row inmates.
posted by mdn on Jan 20, 2011 - 75 comments

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

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]
posted by MuffinMan on Jan 7, 2011 - 13 comments

truth hangs by a hair

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]
posted by hat on Nov 12, 2010 - 99 comments

Iranian woman will not be stoned, but may be hanged

After an international campaign was launched by her children, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will not be stoned to death. But she still faces death by hanging. Now she's been ordered to give the names of the people campaigning for her. She has also been advised to tell her children to remain silent, or they will be arrested. [more inside]
posted by lexicakes on Jul 21, 2010 - 43 comments

Maybe the decision to take a human life deserves >140 characters?

Utah Attorney General Announces Execution on Twitter. Today marked an evolution of sorts for Twitter. It’s no longer just for following your favorite celebrity rants or for informing your followers you’re having a ham sandwich or just took a shower. And self-promotion on Twitter seems so yesterday. Consider Friday’s tweets from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Around midnight, he tweeted that he’d given “the go ahead” to execute condemned inmate Ronnie Gardner.
posted by Fizz on Jun 19, 2010 - 84 comments

"Hallmark of a civilised society"

While nobody has been executed in Australia since 1967 and no capital punishments have been on any state books since 1984 there has been the possibility that a state government could reintroduce the death penalty. Today the Australian Senate passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill 2009 without amendment which effectively blocks states from reintroducing the death penalty as soon as the bill received the royal assent. Needless to say, pro-death penalty advocates were up in arms over the vote.
posted by Talez on Mar 16, 2010 - 34 comments

Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew.

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.]
posted by grapefruitmoon on Mar 15, 2010 - 52 comments

21st century executions.

10 executions that defined the 2000s. Ten executions that most palpably captured the decade’s Zeitgeist. Some clips may be NSFW.
posted by stinkycheese on Jan 23, 2010 - 30 comments

Executing Justice

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)
posted by mrducts on Jan 8, 2010 - 50 comments

20 years ago, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were executed.

"The verdict was read out after a few hours. The Ceausescus were sentenced to death. They had ten days to appeal, but the sentence was to be carried out immediately. A nod to Kafka." 20 years ago on Christmas Day, the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were sentenced to death by an impromptu revolutionary tribunal and executed by firing squad. The Times speaks with one of the men who was there that day. Footage of their trial. Translated transcript of the trial, courtesy of the very informative ceausescu.org. [more inside]
posted by Sticherbeast on Dec 24, 2009 - 21 comments

Justice Delayed

Nearly 100 years had passed since nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner's "great-uncles, Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin were wrongfully executed in South Carolina. On Wednesday, a board voted 7-0 to pardon both men, clearing their names in the 1913 killing of a veteran of the Confederate Army. ...It marks the first time in history that South Carolina has issued a posthumous pardon in a capital murder case." [more inside]
posted by darkstar on Oct 15, 2009 - 8 comments

I gotta go, road dog. I love you Gabby.

Expert tells Texas state-sanctioned review that they killed an innocent man. If the commission reaches the same conclusion, it could lead to the first-ever declaration by an official state body that an inmate was wrongly executed. Cameron Todd Willingham was accused of killing his three children in a house fire. There have been doubts about the case for years, thoroughly outlined in this 2004 Chicago Tribune article and this 2005 NPR interview (summarized in this Daily Kos diary). [more inside]
posted by desjardins on Aug 25, 2009 - 92 comments

Because you needed another reason to hate Twitter

Dennis Skillicorn was sentenced to die in 1996 for the murder of businessman/good Samaritan Richard Drummond and two other deaths in connection with a 1994 crime spree. Yesterday morning, local news outlet Missourinet, with a slight time delay, tweeted his execution. Elyria, Ohio's Chronicle Telegram is discussing plans to tweet an upcoming execution, but they are not sure if they should.
posted by cashman on May 21, 2009 - 42 comments

The Torture Colony

The Torture Colony. In a remote part of Chile, an evil German evangelist built a utopia whose members helped the Pinochet regime perform its foulest deeds... [i]nvestigations by Amnesty International and the governments of Chile, Germany, and France, as well as the testimony of former colonos who, over the years, managed to escape the colony, have revealed evidence of terrible crimes: child molestation, forced labor, weapons trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, torture, and murder. It may sound like the farfetched plot of Saw VII (or something out of Kafka) but it's horrifyingly true. [Previously]
posted by dersins on Apr 17, 2009 - 38 comments

Damn you Cromwell!

For all which Treasons and Crimes, this Court doth adjudge that the said Charles Stuart, as a Tyrant, Traitor, Murtherer, and a public enemy, shall be put to death by the severing of his Head from his Body. On January 30, 1649, King Charles I was beheaded on a scaffold at Whitehall. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 30, 2009 - 50 comments

Don't murder me bro.

Early on New Year's Day, Oscar Grant was involved in a scuffle with an older man he hadn't previously met. The fighting continued and when the train reached Fruitvale, BART police stopped the fight and took Grant and several others into custody. The officers were armed with stun guns as well as sidearms. Three BART officers then proceed to place Grant face down to handcuff him, then one of them stands up, draws his weapon and shoots him in the back. Graphic video of the incident.
posted by Mr_Zero on Jan 5, 2009 - 367 comments

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Troy Davis Appeal

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.
posted by x_3mta3 on Oct 14, 2008 - 60 comments

Executed Today

Executed Today offers "each day the story of an historical execution that took place on this date, and the story behind it."
posted by Knappster on Aug 12, 2008 - 19 comments

Life and death of a black and white

Texas executes Mexican national who was denied consul visit. [more inside]
posted by mrducts on Aug 6, 2008 - 121 comments

Iranian man stoned to death for adultery after serving 11-year prison sentence

Iranian man stoned to death for adultery after serving 11-year prison sentence. Unsuccessful, unofficial investigation here. Amnesty International pleads for life of his partner.
posted by shivohum on Jul 20, 2007 - 44 comments

The Life and Death of Gary Gilmore

Thirty years ago today, Gary Gilmore was executed at the Utah State Prison, the first prisoner to be put to death since the moratorium on executions was established four years prior, and the first execution in Utah in sixteen years. His refusal to appeal his death sentence confounded his lawyers and attracted the attention of the ACLU, among others, who fought to keep Gilmore alive, against his wishes. His frustrations with the uncertainty of his sentence led him to attempt suicide in prison twice.

His life and death have been recounted in several books, films, inspired a few songs, and even an SNL skit. His final words, “Let’s do it,” led to a major marketing campaign.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér on Jan 17, 2007 - 24 comments

Saddam Hussein is Dead

Saddam has been executed, Iraqi media reports
posted by pyramid termite on Dec 29, 2006 - 347 comments

An eye for an eye amidst the culture of life

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)
posted by killThisKid on Aug 25, 2006 - 77 comments

Conversation with Stanley Tookie Williams

A Conversation with Stanley Tookie Williams - Amy Goodman had a conversation with Stanley Williams days before he was executed using lethal injection at San Quentin's death chamber. It was good to listen to the audio and following along with the transcript. In listening I kept in mind Williams' violent past, his long incarceration, and his "redemption". I learned something from this. And it was redemption which Ahnold said [PDF] was the reason for no slack. In the end it was Conan the Barbarian who singularly determined Tookie's fate.
posted by rmmcclay on Dec 14, 2005 - 99 comments

A job well done

Woman stoned to death for adultery ...... in Afghanistan.
posted by magullo on Apr 26, 2005 - 63 comments

Cruel and unusual?

The Lancet publishes a research letter that finds inadequate anaesthesia is used in executions by lethal injection
posted by magullo on Apr 15, 2005 - 40 comments

The Serial Killer Who Hugged Me

Life and Death: an extraordinary post from Chris Clarke about his connection to serial killer Stephen Peter Morin. His family chimes in meaningfully in the comments. Morin's execution is often pointed to as proof of the cruelty of lethal injection.
posted by Cassford on Apr 4, 2005 - 20 comments

Another Fan Of Torture Reveals Himself

Another Fan Of Torture Reveals Himself Eugene Volokh, a former clerk to Justice O'Connor and a leading voice in conservative legal circles has some interesting opinions on punishment:

[T]hough for many instances I would prefer less painful forms of execution, I am especially pleased that the killing — and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging. The one thing that troubles me (besides the fact that the murderer could only be killed once) is that the accomplice was sentenced to only 15 years in prison, but perhaps there's a good explanation.
posted by expriest on Mar 17, 2005 - 84 comments

Girl Hanged

A 16 year-old girl was hanged in Iran for having a "sharp tongue," i.e. back-talking the judge.
posted by tbc on Aug 23, 2004 - 137 comments

Off with their heads!

Décolleté takes you on a fascinating guided tour of decapitation through the ages that covers biblical head severers Judith and Salome, the hapless victims of the Tudor axe, as well as the dreaded guillotine. Site contains some mild artistic gore, but nothing too horrendous.
posted by MrBaliHai on Sep 29, 2003 - 3 comments

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots (warning: music) is one of British royalty's most adored and most reviled figures, putting her in the select company of arch-rival Elizabeth I (sigh: music again) and Charles I. (The latter is an Anglican saint, although not everybody is quite so enthused.) Wince at the description of her execution, read some poems about her--or, indeed, some of her own poems--or visit her grave in Westminster Abbey.
posted by thomas j wise on Jun 14, 2003 - 3 comments

the plot sickens

"Mr. Banks, a man with no prior criminal record, is most likely innocent of the charge that put him on death row. Fearing a tragic miscarriage of justice, three former federal judges (including William Sessions, a former director of the F.B.I.) have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to block Wednesday's execution.

"So far, no one seems to be listening." [via atrios]
posted by donkeyschlong on Mar 11, 2003 - 15 comments

You have got to be kidding me series ...

Is forcing a prisoner on death row to take antipsychotic medication to make him sane enough to execute cruel and unusual punishment? (NYT link) A federal appeals court ruled that officials in Arkansas can force a prisoner on death row to take antipsychotic medication to make him sane enough to execute. The problem is that the American Medical Association's ethical guidelines prohibits precisely that. To make the case more surreal, a representative of the Arkansas attorney general's office who argued for the state later said: "The ethical decisions involving doctors are difficult ones, but they are not ones for the courts". Does this mean that COs -Correction Officers- are to figure out for themselves which medication to administer? Do they also call the shots when deciding if the "waiting" patient is sane enough???
posted by magullo on Feb 11, 2003 - 58 comments

Three Supreme Court Justices publicy oppose executing teenage criminals.

Three Supreme Court Justices publicy oppose executing teenage criminals. In a rare move, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens made a public statement in a delay request to state their opposition to executing someone who committed murder before the age of 18. With the Court already banning the execution of the mentally retarded this year, is this another sign of a soon-to-be next step in the abolishment of the death penalty? Or does the average American still believe that regardless of what time, when you do the crime you walk the line?
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Aug 30, 2002 - 49 comments

Supreme Court says no to executions

Supreme Court says no to executions of mentally disturbed people. Wow.
posted by dwivian on Jun 20, 2002 - 72 comments

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