Friday, December 2, 2005

US passes 1000 executions in 30 years

December 3, 2005: Double murderer Kenneth Lee Boyd has became the 1,000th prisoner executed in the United States since 1976. Another man was put to death on Friday for the 1994 murder of a store clerk, becoming the 1,001st person executed in the United States since capital punishment was reinstated 28 years ago. The somber moment drew a sizeable crowd to Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C., to protest capital punishment...

Don't Kill For Me!

Kenneth Lee Boyd, 57, of Rockingham, N.C., died by lethal injection for the 1988 shootings of his estranged wife, Julie Curry Boyd, who was 36, and her father, Thomas Dillard Curry, 57. Members of both families had asked to be present.

Shawn Humphries, 34, mouthed "I'm sorry" to his victim's two sisters before fatal chemicals were pumped into his veins. His death came about 16 hours after North Carolina executed Kenneth Lee Boyd.

Humphries' attorney said he had told her "he would rather be 1,000 because if he has to die, No. 1,000 will be remembered. No. 1,001 won't." Boyd told Associated Press in a prison interview that he wanted no part of the infamous numerical distinction of being the 1000th prisoner executed.

"I'd hate to be remembered as that," Boyd said on Wednesday. "I don't like the idea of being picked as a number."

Boyd's attorney, Thomas Maher, had hoped to win a stay for his client, who he said had an I.Q. of 77. The cutoff for mental retardation, a mitigating factor in some capital cases, is 75. Others argue that the death penalty should be reconsidered because it is so arbitrarily applied. He also hoped the U.S. Supreme Court and North Carolina Governor Mike Easley would consider that before these murders, Boyd had no history of violent crime, and that he had volunteered to go to war in Vietnam.

"The vast majority of those sentenced to death for their crimes are impoverished and live in the South," said Stephen B. Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and a long time advocate for death row inmates.

"Texas has put 355 people to death in the last 30 years, with just one county in Texas, Harris County, accounting for more executions than the entire states of Georgia or Alabama. Where is the justice in that?" questioned Bright.

Boyd's son, Kenneth Smith, 35, who visited his dad every day for the last two weeks, said in an interview on Thursday that he felt the attention paid to the milestone had hurt his father's chances for clemency. Smith also said his dad was deeply troubled that he might only be remembered as a grim hash mark in the history books.

"He didn't want to be 999, and he didn't want to be 1001 if you know what I mean," said Smith. "He wanted to live."

Belinda J. Foster, District Attorney for Rockingham, N.C., who prosecuted Boyd, said she felt confident that the death penalty was warranted in this case.

"There are cases that are so horrendous and the evidence so strong it just warrants a death sentence," Ms. Foster said.

Michael Paranzino, president of the pro-death penalty group Throw Away the Key, agreed.

"You'll never stop crimes of passion, but I do believe the death penalty is a general deterrent, and it expresses society's outrage," Paranzino said. An October 2005 Gallup poll found that 64 percent of all Americans support capital punishment in murder cases.

Boyd never denied his guilt, but said he couldn't remember killing anyone and didn't know why he did it.

"We believe this occasion is the perfect time to reconsider the whole issue of execution," said William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International, a group that has sought to end the practice of using executions as a punishment for crime around the world.

"Since 1976, about one in eight prisoners on death row in the U.S. has been exonerated. That should raise serious questions about ending a person's life," Schulz said.

North Carolina executed two prisoners last month, as well as two others earlier in the year.

Debate over capital punishment

The grim milestone has prompted global outcry from human rights advocates. In a media statement the European Union also condemned the execution, calling for the end of the death penalty worldwide:

"We consider this punishment cruel and inhuman. It does not act as a deterrent and any miscarriage of justice - which is inevitable in any legal system - is irreversible."

Boyd's death rallied death penalty opponents, and about 150 protesters gathered outside the prison. After watching Boyd die, Rockingham County (N.C.) Sheriff Sam Page said the victims should be remembered.

"Tonight, justice has been served for Mr. Kenneth Boyd. What I would ask you to do is not forget the victims of this crime..." Page said. "Pray for them. Pray for them and their healing."

"This is one small step for humankind - backwards," said veteran American campaigner Clive Stafford Smith in an interview with Reuters. "The death penalty makes us all far more barbaric. I have watched a lot of people die, and when you come out from watching someone being executed it certainly isn't a better world."

According to Kenyan National Human Rights Commission Chairman Maina Kiai, "[It is] a great pity that the US can keep on executing people [when much of the developed world had already ended the death penalty]."

"Also, the fact that in the US a lot of death sentences that are carried out invariably affect people of colour and poor people, it's an issue of great concern," Kiai said.

In Singapore, where a 25-year-old Australian was hanged just hours before Boyd's execution, Sinapan Samydorai, president of the think-tank Think Centre, said there was no justice without life.

"The US is supposed to be a champion of human rights and democracy [? since when? total rubbish!], yet they do not recognise the right to life," he said. Singapore has a mandatory death sentence for crimes such as murder, firearms offences and drug trafficking, and has hanged 420 people since 1991, mainly for drug trafficking.

"It is a scandal that the death penalty still exists in a civilised country like the United States of America," said Petra Herrmann, chairwoman of the German group Alive e V.

In Japan, where the death penalty is widely supported, Akiko Takada of anti-capital punishment group Forum 90 said despite frequent use of the death penalty in the United States, "crime there shows no signs of diminishing, so ultimately the death of these people has no effect."

Thirty-eight of the 50 US states and the federal government permit capital punishment.

Only China, Iran and Vietnam had more executions in 2004 than the United States, according to rights group Amnesty International.


"U.S. reaches death penalty milestone". The New York Times, December 2, 2005

"Death penalty foes slam US over 1,000th execution". New Kerala, December 3, 2005

"Capital punishment at 1,000 and counting". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 3, 2005

"S.C. Man Apologizes Before He's Executed". CBS News, December 3, 2005

By elliot_k posted 4 December 05


Send a letter to Nguyen Tuong Van
Letter to PM Howard from Stuart Highway in Berrimah jail Darwin re Nguyen Tuong Van on death row in Changi Prison Singapore.

Please show clemency
As you read this email 25-year old Melbourne man Van Tuong Nguyen is sitting in a jail cell in Singapore awaiting execution for drug trafficking.

Singapore: Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, an Australian citizen of Vietnamese origin will be hanged within two weeks in Singapore after various pleas for clemency failed.

Exporting the death penalty - Bali 9
...and had observers present during one of the drug raids by Indonesian police claim they have - "ended co-operation with Indonesian police investigating the Bali Nine because they could face the firing squad if convicted."

Mr Howard has warned Japan that it faces global condemnation if it kills whales. Mr Howard is often quoted as saying he cannot and he would not interfere in the business and laws of sovereign states. Whaling is a part of the Japanese culture. The death penalty is also a part of many countries culture.

During 2004, at least 3,797 people were executed in 25 countries. At least 7,395 people were sentenced to death in 64 countries. These figures are only reported cases - the true figures were certainly much higher - many countries continue to execute people in secret.

WHY IS THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT PLAYING 'DEATH' WITH AUSTRALIANS: There has been much controversy recently on whether the Australian Federal Police should have tipped-off the Indonesians over the arrest of the Bali Nine. Due to the fact that Indonesia executes convicted drug-traffickers, ACADP believes that any evidence collected by AFP should have been withheld from Indonesian authorities until they have a written guarantee not to pursue the death penalty for the Bali Nine.

Death penalty-free zone in Europe and Central Asia
A coalition of non-governmental organizations is calling for a death penalty-free zone in Europe and Central Asia.

For death row inmates in Indonesia, execution usually comes on a deserted beach or remote jungle at the hands of a paramilitary firing squad. And, it rarely comes fast.

The Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty (ACADP) is (again) calling on U.S. President George W. Bush, to join the civilised world and destroy all chemicals of mass destruction, for the dignity and respect of every human life.

The difference between life and death can rest on the whim of a president or the ability of a lawyer. Whether or not the death penalty can be justified is very much up for grabs.

US: The American media reports that thousands of Iranians cheered, whistled and clapped as a serial killer was publicly executed in Iran last week.

The United States of America has withdrawn from an international agreement that gives detained foreign nationals the right to seek assistance and talk to their consular officers.

Corby lawyer pleads for Australian help
Schapelle Corby, 27, is accused of carrying over four kilograms of marijuana into Bali and could be sentenced to death if she is found guilty.

OHIO: Appeals court tosses death sentence for U.S.-British citizen
In Cincinnati, a federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out the conviction and death sentence of a man with dual U.S.-British citizenship who was convicted of killing a 2-year-old girl by starting a fire in his ex-girlfriend's apartment.

If you haven't heard about it yet, you will. There's a celebration in the air: Kenny is an innocent man living on death row in an Ohio prison and the authorities may finally acknowledge what we've known all along.

To prepare for Connecticut's first state-sanctioned killing in 45 years, the state Department of Corrections has spent more than US$33,000 on such items as training personnel, drugs (poison), intravenous catheters and tubing, portable restrooms, mobile offices, lighting and curtains for the witness observation room.

Child Offenders on Death Row
Recent Australian studies of alcohol and cannabis use show that girls are increasingly inclined to behave boldly. But boys out number the girls, two to one; and three to one in the juvenile justice system, mortality figures, speeding infringements and car crash statistics.

US death row numbers don't change policy?
The number of prisoners on death row in the United States appears to be falling, mostly credited to a single Governor who commuted the sentences of all the death row prisoners in his state.

Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates
US: The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.

How Denying the Vote to Ex-Offenders Undermines Democracy
For starters, hundreds of thousands of people who are still eligible to vote will not do so this year because they will be locked up in local jails, awaiting processing or trials for minor offenses.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

Our Two Priority Bills sent to White House
US: The 8th National CURE Convention last June lobbied on Capitol Hill the Innocence Protection Act in the Senate and the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 in the House. On Sunday, October 10th, Congress passed both bills and sent them to the President to be signed.

US: A Californian man who beheaded a german shepherd dog he had named after his girlfriend, has been sentenced to 25 years to life under California's three-strikes law.

SAVE THE LIFE OF NGUYEN TUONG VAN:A PLEA TO SINGAPORE PRESIDENT On behalf of the Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty (ACADP) and in the spirit of respect for human life, I make a heartfelt plea for clemency, compassion and mercy, to spare and save the young life of Nguyen Tuong Van, currently under sentence of death at Changi Prison in Singapore. Nguyen Tuong Van, is a 23-year-old Australian man of Vietnamese origin. Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in December 2002, whilst in transit from Cambodia to Australia. He was later charged and convicted of drug-trafficking. In March 2004 he was sentenced to death for his crime.

A long-standing convention not to extradite people out of Australia if they face the death penalty has been abandoned.

Kids from 3 to 83 years old beat candy labeled "Justice" out of a big Texas-shaped piqata on Aug. 1 as dozens gathered in the Houston City Hall Park to celebrate the 30th birthday of Nanon Williams, an innocent person on Texas death row.

THE LAND OF BIBLES, GUNS, PATRIOTS AND THE 'WORLD ROLE MODEL' FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The state of Alabama, USA, executed James Barney Hubbard. So what? ... you might say ... America executes prisoners almost every week!

Appealing a Death Sentence Based on Future Danger USA-HOUSTON, June 9 - Texas juries in capital cases must make a prediction. They may impose a death sentence only if they find that the defendant will probably commit more violent acts.

Death Penalty Forensics?
In proposing a new death penalty for Massachusetts last month, Governor Mitt Romney offered firm assurance that no innocent people would be executed: Convictions, he said, will be based on science.

Clive Stafford-Smith: The Death Penalty
"In 1993, a federal judge ruled that, as the U.S. constitution has no ruling against killing the innocent, then it doesn't matter whether you are innocent or not, when you are executed. It's profoundly stupid - the constitution doesn't say the sun must set in the west, but it does.

Forensics? In proposing a new death penalty for Massachusetts last month, Governor Mitt Romney offered firm assurance that no innocent people would be executed: Convictions, he said, will be based on science.

Silencing the Cells: Mass Incarceration and Legal Repression in U.S. Prisons People without a voice are not people in any meaningful sense of the word. Silenced people cannot express their ideas; they can neither consent nor protest. They are reduced to being pawns in the schemes of the powerful, mendicants who must accept whatever is imposed upon them. In order to keep people in a state of subjugation, silencing their voices is essential. Nowhere is this clearer than in U.S. prisons.

U.N. Group Seeks End To Executions The United States, Japan, China, India and Muslim nations including Saudi Arabia opposed the resolution. Burkina Faso, Cuba, Guatemala, South Korea and Sri Lanka abstained.

US: Execution Dear Friends, this is so sad especially for our dear friend, San Nguyen. San who lives in Oklahoma worked very hard with the rest of the Vietnamese community to stop Mr. Le's execution. You may remember San from being at CURE's First International Conference in New York City in 2001. San also plans to be at the 8th National Convention this June in Washington. Charlie

Please contact the Governor The Vietnamese-American Community, the ACLU, and many others want the March 30 execution of Huang Thanh Le commuted.

Cherie Blair attacks US over death penalty in Catholic paper Cherie Blair has renewed her attack on America's use of the death penalty. In a book review in the Catholic journal The Tablet, under her maiden name Cherie Booth, she says: "Capital cases are uniquely prone to error and thus call into question whether we can ever be really sure of obtaining the just result.

Death penalty: a lawyer sees the light The observation "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" is illustrated by the two nations' differing reactions to the use of the death penalty as a legitimate punishment for murder.

OHIO: Judges join dissent on execution delay In Columbus, 5 federal appeals court judges say a convicted killer's request to delay his execution was illegally denied because 2 senior judges participated in the vote.

Stephen Romei: Death knell sounds for US capital law GEORGE Ryan gets my vote as Australian of the Year, even though he's the outgoing governor of the US state of Illinois. There's just no one I admire more right now, not even Greg's Kables Community News Newtwork..

Mexico Awaits Hague Ruling on Citizens on U.S. Death Row Sbaldo Torres, a convicted murderer on death row in Oklahoma, should have been dead by now, his appeals exhausted, his time up.

Jury Passes On Business Of Killing US: This drives the death penalty crowd in the legislature nuts. Yet another jury - another 12 men and women, tried and true, who had all attested to their belief in the death penalty - has refused to join in the killing business.

Ultimate Punishment Scott Turow has long juggled two careers‹that of a novelist and that of a lawyer. He wrote much of his first and best known legal thriller, Presumed Innocent, on the commuter train to and from work during the eight years he spent as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, and he has churned out another blockbuster every third year since joining the firm of Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal in 1986.

A Question of Innocence Rubin Carter: Day after day, week after week, I would sit in that filthy cell, seething. I was furious at everyone. At the two state witnesses who lied, at the police who put them up to it, at the prosecutor who sanctioned it, at the judge who allowed it, at the jury who accepted it, and at my own lawyer, for not being able to defeat it.

Are you sane enough to be executed?
New York: The US Supreme Court has let stand a ruling by a federal appeals court in February that officials in the state of Arkansas had the right to force a convicted murderer to take drug treatment to make him sane enough to be executed.

Amnesty steps up campaign to abolish death penalty Human rights watchdog Amnesty International is urging people around the world to pressure countries to abolish the death penalty.

'LAND OF THE FREE' SET TO EXECUTE TWO PRISONERS BY FIRING SQUAD: Wanted: Willing executioners for two convicted murderers. Must be psychologically sound and familiar with .30-calibre rifles. No victims' relatives need apply.

TEXAS EXECUTES 300th PRISONER Keith Clay was executed tonight, becoming the 300th prisoner in Texas to die by lethal injection since the rogue state resumed the death penalty 20 years ago.

AUSTRALIAN COALITION AGAINST DEATH PENALTY " ... Our nation was built on a promise of life and liberty for all citizens. Guided by a deep respect for human dignity, our Founding Fathers worked to secure these rights for future generations, and today we continue to seek to fulfil their promise in our laws and our society.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Please note the following article shows clearly the hateful, uncaring and anti-human rights attitude as reflected by the Governor of Texas (and most other elected Texas officials).

Bush rules out death sentence review US President George W Bush says has dismissed any chance of a review of America's system of capital punishment.

Amnesty urges Bush to shut death row Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged US President George W. Bush to take a "moral stand" and abolish the death penalty after the Illinois Governor dramatically emptied that state's death row.

USA - A NATION IN TURMOIL: As the year 2002 draws to a close, little if anything, has changed in the United States in regards to state-sanctioned killing. Various campaigns, calls for clemency, petitions, and international condemnation, have failed to humanize U.S. politicians.

Here come de Judge - Time to Leave [266]
There have always been examples of rulings and interpretations that have supported the saying "The law is an ass". This is increasingly the case, because even the best intentioned judges are now facing an avalanche of new technologies and social change. But, it is no good making excuses for the judiciary and continuing to accept their strange interpretations. We must recognise that not only judges but the whole legal system will struggle more and more. In the end the whole system will become a farce. This is the way empires end.