News and Updates

Honor homicide victims - oppose death penalty

By: Judy Kerr
San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, September 29, 2010


When someone you love is murdered, life as you know it changes. Your world changes. You change.

I would know; my brother, Bob Kerr, was murdered in 2003. Suddenly, I joined countless victims learning to navigate their way through the criminal justice system on their own.

A stay was issued Tuesday to halt the state of California's scheduled execution of Albert Brown at 9 p.m. on Thursday. As the legal issues may not be resolved until the last minute, the victim's family silently waits, not knowing what lies ahead.

Woman Charged With Murder Campaigns for Innocence

Credit: Photo illustration by: Todd Wiseman
By: Brandi Grissom
The Texas Tribune
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When Sonia Cacy walked out of prison after serving six years of a 99-year sentence for murder, she told reporters that those were just her first steps toward freedom. To be truly free, she told the San Antonio Express-News in 1998, she wanted her name cleared. She wanted to be exonerated of a crime that many experts say she did not commit.

Twelve years later, Cacy is still not free despite multiple expert reports concluding that she did not douse her uncle with gasoline and light a fire that killed him and destroyed the small Fort Stockton home they shared. Now 63, she lives in Fort Worth and is on parole. “I have faith,” she says.

Drug shortage threatens executions, but not in Texas

By: Mike Ward
The Austin American Statesman
Monday, September 27, 2010


Though some executions in the United States have been put on hold because of a shortage of one of the drugs used in lethal injections, Texas officials said Monday they have no such plans.

"We have three executions scheduled through the end of this year, and we have an ample supply to carry those out," said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville. "At the present, we are unaffected by the shortage."

Asheville pastors: SBI crime lab woes show need to eliminate death penalty

By: Clarke Morrison
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ASHEVILLE — North Carolina's criminal justice system is so fraught with cheating that lawmakers should eliminate the death penalty to keep innocent people from being executed, local pastors and an exonerated death row inmate said Tuesday.

Confessing to Crime, but Innocent

Credit: Steve Hebert for The New York Times
Eddie Lowery spent 10 years in prison after confessing to a rape he did not commit. He got a $7.5 million settlement.
By: John Schwartz
New York Times
Monday, September 13, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eddie Lowery lost 10 years of his life for a crime he did not commit. There was no physical evidence at his trial for rape, but one overwhelming factor put him away: he confessed.

At trial, the jury heard details that prosecutors insisted only the rapist could have known, including the fact that the rapist hit the 75-year-old victim in the head with the handle of a silver table knife he found in the house. DNA evidence would later show that another man committed the crime. But that vindication would come only years after Mr.

Shortage of death penalty drug in Oklahoma delays executions

By: Michael Baker
Monday, September 13, 2010

A nationwide shortage of a sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktails has delayed executions, spurred legal battles and prompted state prison officials to try to find substitute drugs.

John Grisham: Teresa Lewis didn't pull the trigger. Why is she on death row?

By: John Grisham
Washington Post
Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Commonwealth of Virginia already has a serious relationship with its death penalty. In the past three decades, only Texas has executed more inmates. But on Sept. 23, the Old Dominion will enter new territory when it executes a female inmate for the first time in nearly a century.

Her name is Teresa Lewis, she is the only woman on death row at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and her appeals have all but expired. If she is executed, she will become another glaring example of the unfairness of our death penalty system.

In Virginia, a Woman on the Verge of Execution

Teresa Lewis was sentenced to death for plotting to have her husband and stepson killed in 2002. Lewis could become the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly 100 years
By: Katy Steinmetz and Alex Altman
Time Magazine
Friday, September 10, 2010

After midnight on Oct. 30, 2002, two men crept into an unlocked trailer in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. A family of three was sleeping. Toting shotguns, the intruders roused Teresa Lewis, now 40, and told her to leave the bedroom she shared with her husband Julian. One of the men shot Julian several times. The other intruder stalked down the hall and put five bullets into Julian's son, C.J., a U.S. Army reservist. The intruders divvied up the cash in Julian's wallet and fled the trailer. About 45 minutes later, Teresa Lewis called the police to report that her husband and stepson had been killed. But when the police arrived, Julian Lewis was still alive.

America's Jim Crow Gulag

Michelle Alexander argues that there's nothing "colorblind" about the U.S. criminal justice system. Ken Richardson reviews her important new book.

Shackled prisoners are led outside to begin a day of labor
By: Ken Richardson
Friday, September 10, 2010

The United States is a country that was built on a foundation of racism. Historically, racism has taken many forms and served different purposes for those at the top of U.S. society. Whether it was chattel slavery or Jim Crow segregation, structural and overt racism have been a major feature of American life for many generations.

Troy Davis Innocence Claim Denied

By: Jean Marlowe
The Nation
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On June 23, outside a federal courthouse in Savannah, Georgia, anti–death penalty activists began arriving at 5 AMfor a critical two-day hearing in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, a prisoner on Georgia's death row. In a highly unusual move, the US Supreme Court had ordered the evidentiary hearing, giving Davis a rare opportunity to clearly establish his innocence. The bar for establishing innocence was high—the burden of proof was on Davis.