April 19, 2012 |
WASHINGTON — In the more than three decades since the national moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, there is no reliable research to determine whether capital punishment has served as a deterrent, according to a review by the National Research Council. The review, partially funded by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice, found that one of the major shortcomings in all previous studies has included "incomplete or implausible" measures of how potential murderers perceive the risk of execution as a...
October 4, 2013 |
As former attorneys general of Virginia, we come from different political parties but are firmly united on an issue important to all Virginians: If the commonwealth is going to have the death penalty, it needs to get it right. It must ensure that its procedures — from arrest to execution — are fair, and it must minimize the risk of executing an innocent person. We now have extensive evidence documenting the need for modest but vitally important changes to Virginia's death penalty process.
June 30, 2008 |
Although the Supreme Court banned capital punishment for child rape last week, the justices have made it clear that for homicide, states may inflict the ultimate penalty. Last month, capital punishment resumed after a seven-month moratorium. Rapid scheduling of executions followed the Supreme Court's ruling in Baze v. Rees , reaffirming the constitutionality of the death penalty in general and lethal injection in particular. To support their competing conclusions on the legal issue, different members of...
February 10, 2013 |
Jerry Givens executed 62 people. His routine and conviction never wavered. He'd shave the person's head, lay his hand on the bald pate and ask for God's forgiveness for the condemned. Then, he would strap the person into Virginia's electric chair. Givens was the state's chief executioner for 17 years — at a time when the commonwealth put more people to death than any state besides Texas. "If you knew going out there that raping and killing someone had the consequence...
July 17, 2013 |
An unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said. The review led to an 11th-hour stay of execution in Mississippi in May. It is not known how many of the cases involve errors, how many led to wrongful convictions or how many mistakes may now jeopardize valid convictions. Those...
October 14, 2008
I commend Gemma Puglisi, an American University assistant professor, for encouraging her students to learn about the case of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis ["Seeking Justice on Death Row," Close to Home, Sept. 28]. Educating people about the broken death penalty system will ultimately lead to its abolition. Mr. Davis's case exposes one of several flaws in that system: The risk of executing innocent people. Many men and women on death row cannot afford high-quality defense counsel or DNA testing, which isn't obtainable...