Death Penalty

Joshua Witchger 11-23-2011

Yesterday Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced a moratorium on all executions in the state, declaring capital punishment to be a “perversion of justice.”

Oregon has carried out two executions in the last 47 years, both during Kitzhaber's tenure as governor.

With convicted murderer Gary Haugen facing the death penalty on Dec. 6 — coupled with the governor's growing frustration with the death penalty — Kitzhaber had had enough and halted Haugen's execution as well as any in the foreseeable future.

"I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor," Kitzhaber said in The Oregonian.

Sparing Haugen’s life is not only a powerful victory for his family and loved ones, but also for anti-death penalty activists such as Naseem Rakha, who has devoted much of her career to writing about capital punishment as a journalist and novelist.

Maurice Possley 11-09-2011
Scott Dekraai's mug shot after his arrest in the Seal Beach salon slayings.

Scott Dekraai's mug shot after his arrest in the Seal Beach salon slayings.

Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney, held a press conference to announce his intent to seek the death penalty for Scott Dekraai, who killed his ex-wife and seven others at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on Oct. 12.
   
“There are some cases that are so depraved, so callous, so malignant that there is only one punishment that might have any chance of fitting the crime," said Rackauckas. “When a person, in a case like this, goes on a rampage and kills innocent people in an indiscriminate bloody massacre, I will of course seek the death penalty.”

He added, “This is the only way our society can get anything approaching justice for the victims, their families, the town of Seal Beach, and the larger community.”

If justice means putting Dekraai on a gurney and executing him, the victims, their families and everyone else hoping for that outcome should face the cold hard fact that they are in for a long wait.

the Web Editors 10-19-2011

The high cost of anti-immigration laws. Why candidates' faith matters. ABC News' exclusive interview with President Obama. U.S. Hispanics choosing churches outside Catholicism. Three U.S. Congressmen tour the Canadian tar sands. Who are the death penalty's most ardent supporters? Investors worth a collective $20 trillion (with a T!) call for urgent action on climate change. And God's economy.

Jack Palmer 10-12-2011

yusuf-300x225The news cycle often moves so quickly that very often big news stories are forgotten within a day, sometimes even more quickly.

I prayerfully hope that this is not and will not be the case with the story of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian leader who has been sentenced to death for refusing to recant his religious beliefs and convert to Islam.

Arrested in 2009 on a charge of apostasy, he has spent two years in jail, with his wife also being jailed on similar charges last year.

The world's media was watching then.

Joshua Witchger 10-09-2011

naseem_portrait
Naseem Rakha, author of the 2009 novel The Crying Tree sees justice differently. Rakha, an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on National Public Radio and elsewhere, has covered two death penalty cases in Oregon -- the only two in that state's history -- and has spent considerable time exploring the deeper story behind capital punishment, retributive justice and forgiveness.

"What I learned from talking to these victims is that there is a place, not called closure, not called moving on, but there is a place of empowerment," Rakha said in a recent interview with God's Politics. "Crime strips people of power, and there's nothing that the justice system or really even churches can give to you to replace that power. It is an act of wanting to sit down and meet with the person who strips that power from you that has transformed people's lives and gotten them to a point where they can forgive the act, because they see the perpetrator no longer as a monster, but as a human that has made a terrible mistake."

Maurice Possley 10-09-2011

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By the time someone figured out what happened, the deadline to appeal the denial of his post-conviction appeal had passed. So far, the state of Alabama has successfully argued that despite the mail room debacle, Maples should have been aware -- through his local counsel -- that the clock was ticking and that he just blew it.

Courts have struggled for years over the question of who should bear the penalty for a lawyer's mistakes or incompetence and the Maples case represents an extreme example of the problem of imputing the mistakes of a lawyer to the client.

Duane Shank 9-25-2011
The same evening as Troy Davis was killed by the state of Georgia, Lawrence Brewer was killed by the state of Texas.
the Web Editors 9-23-2011

troy-davi-amnest-intl-photo"Continuing a cycle of violence through state-sanctioned actions does not bring justice but only creates a culture of death and retribution. As a pro-life Christian, I believe the execution of Troy Davis shows a failure of moral leadership by both our country and the state of Georgia. The doubt surrounding the case of Troy Davis has served as a wake-up call to many in this country that our justice system is flawed and should not hold the power of life and death over any person. Justice should restore and heal, not destroy." -- Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis statement today, Friday Sept. 23

Maurice Possley 9-16-2011

So what makes the Troy Davis case stand out from most other death penalty cases?

Serious doubt.

Not about whether the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for Davis or has been correctly applied.

The doubt raised in Davis' case is whether he committed the crime at all. And those questions about his guilt have prompted hundreds of thousands of people to raise their voices in opposition to his execution, most recently former FBI Director William Sessions who, in an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday, called on the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Davis' sentence to life in prison.

Shane Claiborne 9-16-2011

Last night, death was interrupted when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for a Texas man convicted of a double murder in Houston in 1995.

Duane Buck was set for execution by lethal injection sometime after 6 p.m., Thursday September 15 in Huntsville, Texas. His execution would have been the second this week and the 11th so far this year in Texas alone. Two more executions are scheduled for next week.

Laurna Strikwerda 7-07-2011

Ten days after 9/11, Rais Bhuiyan, an immigrant from Bangladesh, was working at a gas station in Dallas, Texas when a man walked in with a gun. Thinking the store was being robbed, Bhuiyan opened the cash register

Gareth Higgins 6-29-2011

1100629-gandhifilmAh the joy of watching movies in the summer! Of course, there are a number of summer blockbusters coming out that will woo crowds to the theaters, but with the sky-high prices of theater tickets these days, nobody will fault you for wanting to stay home and kick back with a rental. If you're looking for a film that will entertain and inspire you, consider adding some of these excellent films about social change to your online queue. If you have any other films to add to this list, please contribute your favorites in the comments section below. (To read more of my film reviews, check out my monthly column in Sojourners magazine.)

Andrea Woods 3-03-2010

It is Death Penalty Awareness Week, and supporters of human rights across the country have turned their attention to a uniquely complicated injustice -- the implementation of capital punishment in the United States.

Rose Marie Berger 2-01-2010

In November, 1,150 cities around the world—including 60 capitals—lit up public buildings to support an end to the death penalty.

Aaron Taylor 12-11-2009
As a career missionary to Africa, I fear what would happen to me on judgment day if I didn't speak out against what is happening in Uganda right now in the name of Christ.
Jim Wallis 12-11-2009
There are times in the "culture wars" when a very diverse group of religious leaders can come together across the political spectrum in a common cause.
LaVonne Neff 12-09-2009

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--William Butler Yeats, from "The Second Coming"

Alan Bean 12-09-2009
Mike Huckabee is done as a presidential contender. That's the word on the street.
Logan Isaac 11-09-2009
Like so many across our country, I have been reeling about the news coming out of Ft. Hood, TX.
John Gehring 10-23-2009
Just in time for Halloween, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is once again spooked about all those "radical secularists" lurking ominously behind ever corner.

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