April 22, 2013 |
The 17th-century mathematician and religious thinker Blaise Pascal believed we are our worst enemy, our own undoing. "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone ," he wrote, referring to our anxiety over the prospect of having to face ourselves one to one, without any external distractions. What if we were forced to sit quietly in a room, alone, for weeks, months, years? So lived Daniel Holden for 19 years on death row, a veritable purgatory of isolation where, under the shadow of death, one has nothing but oneself to contemplate.
March 28, 2013 |
DOVER, Del. - The Delaware Senate narrowly approved a bill Tuesday repealing the death penalty. The 11-10 vote came after lengthy and sometimes emotional debate from lawmakers on both sides. Before debating, senators voted overwhelmingly to remove a provision to spare the lives of 17 killers on death row, a point of contention for some lawmakers. The measure, opposed by Attorney General Beau Biden, now goes to the House. Gov. Jack Markell has refused to say whether he favors it.
March 22, 2013
The pragmatic case that Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley made in getting his state to join the growing number repealing the death penalty should also appeal to Gov. Corbett and his Republican colleagues in Harrisburg. "Capital punishment is expensive, and the overwhelming evidence tells us that it does not work as a deterrent," O'Malley said after the Maryland General Assembly's vote last week to repeal capital punishment. It became the sixth state in recent years to scrap executions, following the progressive example of New Jersey by instead providing life sentences without the possibility of parole in capital cases.
February 8, 2013 |
IF YOU'RE ever wrongly convicted of murder and sent to death row, having director Peter Jackson and his screenwriter wife Fran Walsh on your side would be a very good thing. They're not only mega-rich, but their "Lord of the Rings" trilogy shows them as filmmakers with an obsessive attention to detail. The case of the West Memphis Three needed such obsessive attention from the outsiders, because in West Memphis, Ark., nobody gave a damn. The case began in May 1993, when three 8-year-old boys were found dead in a creek there.
January 29, 2013
Social Security chief is quitting WASHINGTON - Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue says he will step down in February after completing his six-year term. Astrue's departure gives President Obama the opportunity to name a new head to the federal government's largest program. Astrue's term was marked by increasingly dire warnings about the long-term financial health of the massive retirement and disability program. He worked to reduce backlogs of people applying for disability claims, despite a big surge in applications since the recession.
December 14, 2012 |
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A judge on Thursday commuted the death sentences of three convicted killers, including two who killed law-enforcement officers, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after ruling that race played an unjust role in jury selection at their trials. Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Weeks based his ruling on evidence presented over four weeks of hearings that he says showed prosecutors in each case made a concerted effort to reduce the number of black jurors.
November 1, 2012 |
During the 18 years that Damien Echols lived in an Arkansas prison, many of them spent in a solitary death-row cell for 23 hours a day, he often saw writing as a way to maintain his connection to a world that was slowly fading from memory. Echols entered prison at 19, after he and his codefendants, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., were convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis, Ark. The friends had said from the start that they were innocent, and their convictions became widely viewed as a miscarriage of justice.
October 26, 2012 |
HARRISBURG - Lawyers for a death-row inmate who could be the first person executed in Pennsylvania since 1999 asked a federal judge this week to reopen the case and stop the plans to put him to death in two weeks. Hubert Lester Michael Jr. pleaded guilty to the July 1993 murder of Trista Elizabeth Eng, 16, after kidnapping her in northern York County, about a half-hour south of Harrisburg. Michael, 56, has repeatedly changed his mind about pursuing appeals. His lawyers said he suffers from mental-health problems that were aggravated by life inside Graterford Prison, and have gotten better since he was transferred to the state prison in Greene County.
October 17, 2012
ALL THESE YEARS later, and something is still getting lost in translation. Three decades after Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered Danny Faulkner, and nearly a year since the case finally - really - ended in the courts, comes another street renaming in the suburbs of Paris. It's always been the case that the further you get from Philadelphia, the more support grows for Abu-Jamal. Close to where the murder took place, people know the facts and have never bought into the bunk. I remember interviewing Joe McGill, Abu-Jamal's prosecutor, while researching the book I wrote with Maureen Faulkner, Murdered by Mumia . McGill has often impressed upon me that this was far from the most complicated case he'd tried in his illustrious career in District Attorney Ed Rendell's office.