Abolition is the logical alternative.

LATIMES – As death row runs out of room, Brown eyes space of those newly sprung. By PAIGE ST. JOHN. March 30, 2015

“With no executions in nearly a decade and newly condemned men arriving each month, the nation’s largest death row has run out of room.

Warning that there is little time to lose, Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the California Legislature for $3.2 million to open nearly 100 more cells for condemned men at San Quentin State Prison. The proposed expansion would take advantage of cells made available as the state releases low-level drug offenders and thieves under a new law voters approved last year.

California’s death penalty has been the subject of a decade of litigation. One case led to a halt to executions in 2006. Another resulted in a federal judge’s ruling last July that the state’s interminably slow capital appeals system is unconstitutionally cruel. Through it all, the death row population has grown from 646 in 2006 to 751 today…”

And this is truly a creepy proposal … Still, I kind of agree with the LA TIMES here.

LA TIMES Editorial: ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’ is no reason for radical initiative reform

This kerfuffle over a creepy, long-shot proposal aside, the real abuse of the citizen-initiative process comes at the hands of monied interests, including corporations, … wealthy individuals and others with $10 million or more to forward their own agendas.”

[SLATE has an interesting alternative take — “The problem here is so foreseeable that it’s hard to believe California hasn’t fixed it before. Under state law, any citizen who properly submits an initiative (and pays the $200 fee) is entitled to gather signatures for their pet proposal. The attorney general is tasked with penning an official title and summary for the measure. She does not, however, have any discretionary authority to nix even the most absurd and sadistic of proposals. This rule, initially promulgated by the California Supreme Court, was designed to prevent partisan attorneys general from scrapping proposals for political reasons. But by refusing to give the attorney general any discretion over what measures pass the first hurdle, the court inadvertently protected crackpot proposals like McLaughlin’s.

The Crime Report (TCR) — ‘Troubling’ Use of Solitary in Federal Prisons” ( March 16, 2015)  By Cara Tabachnick

“Inmates in the federal prison system who suffer from mental illness are routinely kept in solitary confinement for extensive periods without proper treatment, according to the first-ever audit of the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) segregation policies. The 250-page-plus report, completed in December, but not made public until now, detailed numerous areas in which the BOP was failing its mentally ill inmates, but did not offer concrete solutions on how to alleviate the use of solitary confinement…”


If interested at all in capital punishment as currently practiced in the United States, you should read David R. Dow’s work. The SLATE article sums up nicely the Kafkabsurdity of the State of Texas (of all jurisdictions) suspending Dow from his zealous defense of the condemned …

SLATE. Revenge, Not Justice – Texas’ brazen attempt to silence one of its most effective death penalty defense lawyers.   By Dahlia Lithwick

“One of the sad truths of the capital defense business is that some trial lawyers who show up to defend their clients have been known to sleep through their trials, fail to interview witnesses, or are too drunk to do their jobs. And yet reviewing courts almost invariably determine that such lawyers provided perfectly competent defense. As one Texas judge put it in the face of such allegations: “The Constitution does not require perfection in trial representation.” So, for instance, judges in Houston continued to appoint lawyer Jerome Godinich to represent capital defendants even as he missed one filing deadline after another, depriving his clients of crucial judicial review.  That there is really no such thing as an ineffective lawyer is one of the cardinal rules of the death penalty machine. But dare to be an effective one? Well, that’s another story…”

Capital punishment erodes our society’s “evolving standards of decency“, can we agree? The minutia of the death penalty (it’s collateral, incessant “tinkering“) can seem so very tired ~ Simply Abolish Capital Punishment. Ahh, but this is the United States. Even though U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently endorsed a moratorium, the death process moves forward in select states … like Florida:

“The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] inHurst v. Florida [docket; cert. petition, PDF ] to determine “whether Florida’s death sentencing scheme violated the Sixth … or Eighth Amendment.” This court granted certiorari in light of its decision in Ring v. Arizona [opinion], in which it held that a sentencing judge, sitting without a jury, may not “find an aggravating circumstance necessary for imposition of the death penalty.” In the case at hand, Timothy Hurst was convicted and sentenced to death in 1998 for one count of first degree murder. It was found that the murder was “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel,” and thus justified the sentence. Although it was found that Hurst suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and thus was of “limited intellectual capacity,” the court did not consider this as mitigation, and thus did not assign it any weight…”   DeGeer, Laura. “JURIST – Supreme Court to Rule in Florida Death Penalty Case. UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH SCHOOL OF LAW, 09 Mar. 2015.




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