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June 20th, 2002 - US Supreme Court banned the execution of the mentally retarded

Scheduled Executions

08/07/2002 Richard Kutzner 999227
08/08/2002 T.J. Jones 999133
08/13/2002 Brian Davis 999036
08/14/2002 Javier Medina 944
08/20/2002 Gary Etheridge 986
08/28/2002 Toronto Patterson 999178
09/10/2002 Tony Walker 999082
09/17/2002 Jessie Patrick 975
09/18/2002 Ron Shamburger 999167
From Karl P. Keys, Esq.
Capital Defense Weekly 

The Innocent Protection Act has hearings slated for next week. Please contact your state's senators to encourage passage. It may well pass this year as the house has enough cosponsors to guarantee it makes it to the floor.  You can find out how to contact your Senator by using this link.

From The Death Penalty Information Center:

Congressional Hearings to Examine Innocence Protection Act
The Senate Judiciary Committee will review the Innocence Protection Act (S. 486/H.R. 912) and other death penalty reform proposals during a hearing at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18. Later that afternoon, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will also review the bill during a 4 p.m. hearing. The Innocence Protection Act, which has the bipartisan support of 235 cosponsors in the House and 26 cosponsors in the Senate, aims to reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed by granting greater access to DNA testing by convicted offenders and by helping States improve the quality of legal representation in capital cases. For more information, please see the press release from The Justice Project below.


Press Release from The Justice Project

MOMENTUM IN CONGRESS FOR DEATH PENALTY REFORM
Back-to-Back Hearings in Senate and House on Tuesday
Washington, DC - The Innocence Protection Act (IPA - S 486 / HR 912) and other death penalty reform proposals will be the subject of back-to-back hearings before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on Tuesday, June 18, 2002.
Congress is responding to the growing concern over flaws in the capital punishment system voiced by both opponents and supporters of the death penalty. All sides agree that when a life is at stake measures must be taken to guarantee fair and just procedures. Rarely have Democrats and Republicans come to such a working consensus on the need for change.
Death penalty reform proposals have been introduced in the Senate by Senators Patrick Leahy, Arlen Specter, Dianne Feinstein, Russell Feingold and others. The bi-partisan IPA has 26 cosponsors in the Senate.
Representatives William Delahunt and Ray LaHood are the lead sponsors of the IPA in the House which has majority support of 235 cosponsors. The IPA will ensure that people facing a death sentence will be represented by qualified and experienced counsel, and the bill will increase access to DNA testing for both capital and non-capital cases.
WHAT: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Death Penalty Reform Bills
WHEN: 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18, 2002
WHERE: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
WHO: Witness List will be posted:
http://judiciary.senate.gov/schedule.cfm
--AND--
WHAT: House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Hearing on the Innocence Protection Act
WHEN: 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, 2002
WHERE: 2237 Rayburn House Office Building
WHO: Witness List will be posted:
http://www.house.gov/judiciary/schedule.htm
 



Texas prisons planning improvements

Letter sent to inmates' attorneys explains upcoming changes 06/15/2002 By ED TIMMS / The Dallas Morning News

Steps that will be taken to improve prison conditions are outlined in a letter sent this week to attorneys who represented Texas inmates in a landmark civil rights lawsuit.

That lawsuit, filed on behalf of inmate David Ruiz and others who complained of widespread abuses, led to federal oversight of the state's prison system for more than two decades. But last week, inmates' attorneys told U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, who in 1980 had ruled that confinement in Texas prisons constituted cruel and unusual punishment, that they did not plan to contest the termination of the case.

The letter was a response to concerns raised by the attorneys for Texas inmates during the lengthy negotiations that preceded the June 7 announcement.

"The parties continue to disagree about whether systemic, current and ongoing constitutional violations exist in TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice] at this time," Assistant Attorney General Sharon Felfe wrote. "They do share a common goal that TDCJ be a secure, safe, and humane institution for staff and offenders, and they broadly agree on practices and conditions that characterize decent and humane prisons."

To read the all article of the Dallas Morning News web site you'll be asked to sign up. it is a free service.


Killer is executed despite dad's plea
By Zeke MacCormack
San Antonio Express-News 
Daniel E. Reneau was executed Thursday in Huntsville for the 1996 murder of Kerrville convenience store clerk Kriss Keeran despite a last-minute appeal by the victim's father to spare the killer's life.
Charles Keeran called Gov. Rick Perry's office shortly after 4 p.m. to ask for a halt to the execution.
"This thing has really been eating at me, and I just think there's got to be a better way" than capital punishment, Keeran said.
"Texas is just becoming a slaughterhouse."
The 64-year-old truck driver from Las Vegas said he initially supported the death sentences returned against Reneau and co-defendant Jeffrey Wood.
But he said months of reflection about capital punishment have convinced him that "it's not going to do any good.
It won't deter a thing." The governor's spokeswoman said Perry would be advised of Keeran's call, which was referred to the office of general counsel.

 

National

June 15

Muzzled Outside the Supreme Court

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down a ban on demonstrations on the sidewalk of the Capitol's east front [front page, June 1]. While sidewalk demonstrations had been banned, demonstrations were permitted on the steps of the Capitol. Across the street at the Supreme Court, however, the opposite is true: Protests are allowed on the sidewalk but not on the steps. A Supreme Court police officer has actually said to us, and we quote, "Where the marble starts, free speech ends." Later this month, 7 anti-death penalty demonstrators will go on trial at D.C. Superior Court for the crime of unfurling a banner reading "Stop Executions!" at the top of the Supreme Court steps on Jan. 17, the 25th anniversary of the resumption of executions under contemporary law. Peaceful, nonviolent dissent in this country is a right and a citizen's duty. It is inexcusable for the government to send conflicting messages to individuals who engage in such protest based solely upon the location of such activity.

ABRAHAM J. BONOWITZ---Jupiter, Fla.

RICK HALPERIN---Dallas

(source: Letter to the Editor, Washington Post)


International

June 15

TURKEY: Death penalty may be resolved in collaboration with the opposition Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk said he believed the government would reach an agreement with the opposition parties on the death penalty problem if parties did not insist on abolishing it with a constitutional amendment.

Responding to questions from reporters following the Prisons Monitor Boards Seminar held in Istanbul yesterday, Turk stated that Parliament might legislate a law amendment subjecting crimes of terrorism to life sentence.

Turk said that coalition senior partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) would be disturbed if the draft law transforming the death penalty into a life sentence in various laws, were amended with motions in Parliament...


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