Death Penalty

Deena Guzder 5-24-2017

Image used with permission from Mitchell McCoy / KARK.

Griffen is still flummoxed how a ruling on a routine property case coupled with participation in his church’s Good Friday prayer vigil put him in the eye of a political storm — one that may now cost him his job. But he suspects the issue goes deeper than whether or not he impartially followed the law.

Karen Clifton 5-08-2017

Image via RNS/Arkansas Department of Corrections

You might think these men were sentenced to death and slated for execution simply because of the gravity of their crimes. You’d be wrong.

There is something beyond the terrible crimes that determined their fates even more so: poverty. The death penalty preys on poor and vulnerable populations.

Bobby Ross Jr. 5-03-2017

Image via RNS/Bobby Ross Jr.

“Many of the findings of the commission’s year-long investigation were disturbing, and led commission members to question whether the death penalty can be administered in a way that ensures no innocent person is put to death,” according to the in-depth report.

On the Monday after Easter, as the state of Arkansas fought a stay of execution for seven prisoners in order to put them to death, I meditated on a simple truth: When people are executed, Christ is crucified all over again.

Jack Jones (left) and Marcel Williams, image courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS

Arkansas carried out back-to-back executions on Monday night, administering lethal injections to two men convicted of rape and murder to become the first U.S. state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day in 17 years. Marcel Williams, 46, was pronounced dead at 10:33 CDT, a little more than three hours after the execution of 52-year-old Jack Jones, according to officials at Cummins Unit prison, about 75 miles southeast of the state capital, Little Rock.


Inmates Bruce Ward(top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason Mcgehee are shown in these booking photo provided March 21, 2017. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS
 

Arkansas, which has not conducted an execution in 12 years, at one point had planned to execute eight inmates in 11 days, the most of any state in as short a period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

the Web Editors 4-18-2017

Image via Rainier Martin Ampongan / Shutterstock 
 

Rutledge claims that nothing is in place preventing the next five executions, according to the AP. She says she will continue to fight against any legal challenges hindering the executions.

the Web Editors 4-15-2017

Inmates Bruce Ward(top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams, and Jason Mcgehee. Scheduled to be executed in Arkansas, beginning April 17. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS

A U.S. judge in Little Rock on Saturday temporarily blocked plans by Arkansas to hold a rapid series of executions this month, after the inmates argued the state's rush to the death chamber was unconstitutional and reckless.

Brian McLaren 4-07-2017

Image via RNS 

Indeed, a comprehensive analysis of deterrence studies by the National Academy of Sciences found no evidence that the death penalty impacts murder rates in either direction. Ayala emphasized that her office pursues evidence-based practices, not policies such as the death penalty whose deterrent effect rests on faith alone.

Inmates Bruce Ward(top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams, and Jason Mcgehee. Scheduled to be executed in Arkansas, beginning April 17. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS

The last time a U.S. state tried to execute two inmates on the same day, a poorly secured intravenous tube popped out, lethal injection chemicals sprayed in the death chamber, and staff said the pressure of dual executions exposed flaws in the protocol. That scenario in 2014 in Oklahoma, where executions are now on hold, has not stopped Arkansas from pursuing an unprecedented plan to put eight inmates to death in back-to-back lethal injections on four days this month.

Shane Claiborne 3-03-2017

Shane Claiborne and others are arrested on the steps on the Supreme Court, Feb. 2017

Law enforcement shackled us with chains on our hands, waist, and feet, and held us in jail for more than 30 hours. While we were there, the government that imprisoned us for holding a banner executed Ricky Gray. It does raise the question of what is right and what is wrong, doesn’t it?

Tobias Winright 1-30-2017

Image via Missouri Department of Corrections

As ​a ​Catholic ​moral ​theologian​ (and a former corrections officer and reserve police officer)​, ​I​ urge you to stay Mark Christeson’s execution, scheduled for Jan. 31. There are still ongoing federal appeals concerning Christeson’s right to representation by competent and adequately funded counsel.

Shane Claiborne 1-25-2017

Photo by JP Keenan/Sojourners

They removed all the black folks from the pool of potential jurors.

In the trial of a black man convicted of killing two white folks.

Not in 1950 ... but in 2002.

Dhanya Addanki 1-17-2017

Photo by JP Keenan / Sojourners

“We are standing with families who have had their loved ones murdered and families who have had their loved ones executed or put on death row,” said Shane Claiborne, co-director of the Red Letter Christians, who was arrested during the protest.

“Violence is a disease not the cure,” he continued, “as families themselves say, remember our loved ones but not with more killing. That’s our message today.”

Shane Claiborne 1-12-2017

We march on Jan. 17 because it is the 40th anniversary of the first "modern-era" execution, after our courts ruled in favor of the death penalty following a decade-long moratorium. On that day, Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in Utah in revenge for his murders of Max Jenson and Ben Bushnell. Since then there have been 1,442 other executions. We will hold 40 signs, one for each year since 1977, with the names of those executed each year. We will also carry roses for the victims — both those who have been murdered and those who have been executed — declaring that violence is the disease … not the cure.

the Web Editors 1-10-2017

Image via Charleston County Sheriff's Office

On Jan. 10 a federal jury sentenced Dylann Roof to death for the fatal shooting of nine African American parishioners, reports CNN. The shooting took place in the basement of the parishioners' church — the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. — in June 2015.

Roof’s sentencing comes after family and friends of the nine churchgoers publicly expressed their forgiveness of his actions, and others called for Roof to not receive the death penalty.

the Web Editors 12-15-2016

Image via Charleston County Sheriff’s Office

A federal jury found Dylann Roof guilty on all 33 counts of hate crimes, religious obstruction, and firearms violations, reports the Post and Courier. The jury will return Jan 3. to deliberate whether Roof's charges warrant the death penalty or life imprisonment. 

Lindsey Paris-Lopez 11-08-2016

All over the nation, stress levels are in the stratosphere as the election season comes to its frantic conclusion. The choice for president feels like life and death to many of us, and may indeed affect our lives in profound ways. But certain votes will have a direct impact on whether others live or die. If you live in California, Nebraska, or Oklahoma, you have a chance to vote for life, human dignity, and redemption by rejecting the death penalty.

Shane Claiborne 9-14-2016

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, Texas has had 537 executions — that’s over 400 more than any other state. But it has been more than five months since Texas has had an execution — 161 days to be exact. And that’s a record worthy of news. There’s only one other time in the past two decades that the death chamber has been that quiet in Texas.

But what’s happening in Texas reveals something deeper that’s happening all over the country. The death penalty is dying.

Darlene Nicgorski 9-06-2016

SIsters Paula Merrill, SCN, (left) and Margaret Held, SSSF. Via the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

The human faces of the poor in Mississippi called to Paula and Margaret to love and serve. They responded and found the Divine. While they remained faithful to their Roman Catholic traditions and religious congregations, they needed the “other.” As Emmanuel Levinas, the French philosopher, has taught, “The Divine can only be accessed through the human other to whom the self is infinitely responsible.” With their advanced degrees, years of exceptional service and dedication, they could have gone anywhere. But they needed the people of Mississippi. And the people of Mississippi needed them. “The dimension of the divine opens forth from the human face."

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