[DP] Fwd:Number of executions dropping in United States
carole646 at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 16 06:56:00 CDT 2003
>>From: Rick Halperin <rhalperi at mail.smu.edu>
>>Reply-To: TCADP-BOARD01 at yahoogroups.com
>>To: TCADP-BOARD01 <TCADP-BOARD01 at yahoogroups.com>
>>Subject: [TCADP-BOARD01] death penalty news---USA, TEXAS
>>Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 15:29:21 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)
>>Number of executions dropping in United States---Juries increasingly
>>looking at other sentencing options
>>In the midst of a noisy debate over capital punishment in the United
>>States, a quiet change may have settled in: The number of new death
>>penalty sentences being imposed each year has dropped by nearly 1/2.
>>Juries are looking more closely, as an alternative, at life in prison
>>without the possibility of parole.
>>Prosecutors mindful of the cost death penalty trials entail and the
>>minefield of legal challenges that can get them reversed in court may be
>>choosing their cases more carefully.
>>"The point we're coming to in America is that we are going to keep
>>refining and refining and refining those who are eligible for the death
>>penalty," said Josh Marquis, a death penalty proponent who chairs the
>>Capital Litigation Committee of the National District Attorneys
>>"It should really be reserved for people like (Oklahoma City bomber)
>>Timothy McVeigh," added Marquis, the prosecutor for Clatsop County in
>>According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, an average of 296
>>people were added to death row each year from 1994 to 2000. The actual
>>number of new death sentences in 2000 was 226, well below the average, and
>>the beginning of a decline. The number fell to 155 in 2001, the lowest
>>recorded since 1973.
>>A continuing trend
>>The bureau says it has not yet compiled statistics for 2002. But Richard
>>Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says
>>his analysis of the total death row population numbers leads him to
>>believe the 2002 figure will again be around 155.
>>"There is a reluctance by juries," he said. "The states we've heard from
>>say that cases where the death penalty is sought are more likely to get a
>>life sentence now. For one thing, juries are being told about this
>>3 U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1993 have said jurors must be told
>>that life without the possibility of parole is available as an alternative
>>to the death penalty, if the state involved has such a law on its books,
>>36 of the 38 states which have death penalty laws also have life no-parole
>>statutes, he said.
>>"Our sense is that there is also hesitation among juries because of all
>>the stories about innocence or unfair treatment (of those on death row).
>>For whatever reason they're returning more life sentences," he added.
>>The American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project said in a
>>recent report that 108 people have been released from death row since 1973
>>after evidence of their innocence was uncovered.
>>That problem was painfully obvious in Illinois where investigations found
>>13 innocent prisoners awaiting execution. Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan
>>imposed a still-standing moratorium on executions and before leaving
>>office early this year emptied the state's death row, granting clemency to
>>167 condemned prisoners and pardoning 4 others who had been convicted of
>>Ryan's move touched off a renewed debate over capital punishment in the
>>United States, which is alone among western democracies in still carrying
>>Illinois lawmakers revamped the state's laws but Ryan's successor has yet
>>to decide on the changes. They include such measures as reducing the
>>number of factors that can trigger the death penalty and allowing judges
>>to file dissents when they disagree with a jury's imposition of the death
>>penalty, making it easier for a prisoner to appeal.
>>Dieter says the debate prompted legislative proposals for similar changes
>>or studies in about 17 states. While none has come realistically close to
>>a moratorium on executions, there will probably be studies of reform
>>measures in a dozen more states, he added.
>>Costs are a factor
>>Marquis, the Oregon prosecutor, said the cost to the justice system is a
>>factor. While prosecution costs rarely go beyond $10,000, he said, it's
>>not unusual for a defense to cost a half million dollars since "we require
>>not just due process but super due process in capital cases."
>>"The goal is to seek the death penalty only for the worst of the worst,"
>>U.S. opinion polls have shown support for the death penalty rising in the
>>last few years -- except when respondents were offered the option of life
>>sentences without parole. A Gallup poll in May found 74 % of respondents
>>favored the death penalty for murderers but that fell to 53 % if life
>>without parole was available as an alternative.
>>Given growing support for what Marquis called "true life" -- laws that
>>provide no parole options, even Texas -- which has executed more in the
>>modern era than any other state -- has begun to move toward a
>>life-with-no-parole option, he said.
>>Darin Routier Returns To Lubbock
>>Darin Routier and his 1 surviving son, Drake, now live in Lubbock.
>>"Drake's asking a lot of questions now," said Darin, in an exclusive
>>interview with CBS 13 Monday evening. "We need a little bit of structure."
>>"He's 7 years old now, so he's full of questions. I just want to be able
>>to answer them as honest as I can, but at the same time not impress on him
>>fear of police or authority or anything like that."
>>Drake's older brothers died a gruesome death. The question now is: at
>>whose hands? Drakes' mother, Darlie Routier, or as Darlie says, a man who
>>broke into the family home when they lived in Rowlett.
>>Darin remains committed to Darlie's innocence and critical of Rowlett
>>Police. "They're fighting on every piece of evidence we want to test, or
>>have retested," he says. "They've fought us on every step of the way. We
>>can't get anything moving in the direction that we need in order to try
>>and prove her innocence."
>>Routier spoke about several issues, including the addition of attorney
>>Richard Burr to the case. Burr is known for his work for Oklahoma City
>>bomber Timothy McVeigh and well-respected among attorneys nationwide.
>>"He's dedicated all of his life to working on death penalty cases and
>>that's a good thing at this point," says Darin.
>>Prior to June 6, 1996, the Routier family family seemed to be doing very
>>well in Rowlett.
>>So why are Darin and Drake back in Lubbock? "I just needed to come back
>>home," he says. "This is where I was born and raised. Dallas just kind of
>>gobbled me up."
>>Ironically, the Dallas Morning News says the new high powered nationally
>>known lawyer in the case might point to Darin as a possible suspect. He
>>says he's not worried about it.
>>For more information, you can visit Darlie Routier's website.
>>(source: KLBK News)
>>Woman, cradling assault rifle, describes double slaying
>>A young woman cradled an assault rifle Monday and described to a Bexar
>>County jury how 22-year-old Adam Cordova gunned down her ex-boyfriend and
>>another man last year as they sat unarmed in a car near her South Side
>>Cordova is charged with capital murder in the March 9, 2002, deaths.
>>Cordova announced "Bin Laden doesn't have anything on me" when he showed
>>off his semiautomatic AK-47 prior to killing the 2 men, eyewitness Melissa
>>Hours after making the statement, Cordova approached Torres' ex-boyfriend
>>Albert "Rocky" Arriaga, 19, and his passenger Ralph Rivas Jr., 26, after
>>they drove to her house, she testified.
>>Cordova raised the semiautomatic assault rifle and pumped armor-piercing
>>rounds into Arriaga's car, hitting the two men inside, said Torres,
>>"He was shooting at the car. He was losing control of (the gun), but he
>>was pointing it in there," she testified. "I think when he got shot, Rocky
>>pushed on the gas pedal to leave, but he didn't have a chance."
>>If Cordova is convicted, prosecutors will ask for the death penalty.
>>The other victim, Rivas, was the ex-boyfriend of Torres' friend Teresa Del
>>Moreno, 26, who testified that she was intimately involved with Cordova
>>and was drinking beer with him on the porch that night.
>>"I started hearing gunshots," Del Moreno said. "I (saw) Adam shoot that
>>gun down towards the car, very fast. I went into a shock, and I just stood
>>Prosecutors said the weapon fired steel-tipped rounds that could shoot
>>holes through a bulletproof vest.
>>Defense attorneys chose to reserve their opening statement until later in
>>However, during questioning, defense attorneys repeatedly asked the women
>>if they saw Arriaga holding a weapon prior to the shooting.
>>"Rocky wasn't going to hurt them," Torres testified. "Come on, he
>>(Cordova) killed them."
>>(source: San Antonio Express-News)
>>Senate bill seeks justice-related changes, state-agency
>>overhauls---Houston Democrat proposing board to review clemency cases
>>Senators moved forward Monday with a retooling of state agencies that
>>includes an Innocence Commission to review criminal justice problems and
>>an overhaul of the state parole board's clemency process.
>>Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, has championed the justice-related changes
>>and included them in a 114-page government reorganization package, which
>>contains a mix of proposals favored by the governor.
>>The House already has approved 19 government reorganization bills that
>>don't include the Innocence Commission or clemency review. The Senate
>>Government Organization Committee, chaired by Mr. Ellis, bundled the
>>proposals in one large bill, which the panel sent to the full Senate on a
>>"We're here, you know, spending $1.7 million" on a special session to deal
>>with congressional redistricting, Mr. Ellis said Monday. "I want to make
>>the most of the time that we're here."
>>Under the bill, the governor could create a 9-member Innocence Commission
>>to examine cases in which convictions were erroneously obtained. The
>>commission would have broad authority, including subpoena powers, to
>>determine defects in the prosecution and to suggest ways to prevent
>>The clemency proposal was added to a larger bill that reconfigured the
>>Board of Pardons and Parole, chopping the governing board from 18 members
>>to seven, who would hire "parole commissioners" to help make parole
>>Currently, parole board members do not meet as a group to discuss cases.
>>Instead, they review a packet of materials individually and fax their
>>votes to a central office.
>>Criminal justice experts and federal judges have criticized the procedure
>>as barely meeting the standards of due process.
>>Under the proposed Senate bill, the new seven-member governing board would
>>have to meet as a group to discuss clemency cases and formally announce
>>its decision afterward.
>>A similar bill passed the House and Senate during the regular session but
>>was derailed in the session's final hours by disagreements over the
>>The Senate bill also has other differences from what the House has
>> Requiring voters to approve a referendum to increase or modify
>> Abolishing the Sunset Commission, which reviews the effectiveness of
>>state agencies and replacing it with the Performance Review Commission,
>>which would have more authority to perform financial audits.
>> Mandating that university athletes and coaches take a safety training
>>course and encourage athletes to undergo heart screening.
>>Mr. Ellis acknowledged that opponents of some of the provisions might
>>endanger the omnibus bill, which could be debated on the Senate floor as
>>early as Wednesday. He said he was continuing to work on language that
>>might build consensus.
>>"The clock is ticking. I'm committed to getting a bill through the
>>process," Mr. Ellis said.
>>The Senate bill includes several provisions passed by the House that would
>>give governors more authority, such as the ability to appoint the
>>presiding officer of boards and commissions and allowing the governor to
>>present a budget later in the legislative session, which would increase
>>its reliability and importance.
>>The House and Senate also have proposals that would eliminate the State
>>Aircraft Pooling Board an agency that provides air transport to state
>>officials and the Commission on Private Security, which oversees private
>>investigators. Those duties would be transferred to other agencies.
>>(source: Dallas Morning News)
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