I witnessed Ohio’s execution of Dennis McGuire. What I saw was inhumane – from The Guardian

January 23, 2014 at 5:17 am (Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Foreign News, Human Rights, Uncategorized, United States) (, , )

I don’t know how any objective observer could come up with any conclusion other than that injection was an evil way to go

theguardian.com,              Thursday 23 January 2014 05.51 AEST

The last time I celebrated mass with Dennis McGuire, who was executed by the state of Ohio last week using an experimental two-drug concoction, it was the feast of the epiphany that marks the bringing of gifts to the newborn Jesus by the magi.

McGuire was one of just over a dozen Catholics among Ohio’s 147 death row inmates who come to mass weekly in Chillicothe Correctional Institution. As part of the sacrament of anointing, I asked the others to pass by and lay hands on McGuire as a way of giving our brother back to the Lord as a symbolic gift. When I turned round to face them with the oils, I found the other 12 standing around him, surrounding him as though they were offering him back to the Lord. Tears were streaming down McGuire’s face. That was the first time I’d ever seen him show physical signs of emotion.

I first began to visit Mcguire in November. He told me about the evil act he had committed, the murder in 1989 of a young woman Joy Stewart who was pregnant and whose unborn child also died. He confessed his sin to me, and expressed sorrow for what he had done. I said he should pray for forgiveness from the woman he had killed, and from that unborn child, and over the course of the final eight weeks, I know that he did. Read the rest of this entry »

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Save Australians on death row in Indonesia – Amnesty International

May 7, 2013 at 12:29 am (Amnesty International, Bali Nine, Death Penalty, petitions, Take Action) (, )

Update 6 May 2013: Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s office has made public statements urging Indonesia to grant clemency to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, and pledging to raise the issue again with the Indonesian Government. This is great news and we welcome Senator Carr’s statements.

It’s vital that our Government continues working through all possible means for clemency for Andrew and Myuran, and to promote the abolishment of the death penalty in our region. So we need to keep up the messages to Bob Carr and Julia Gillard, and show them that public support for this is not going away.

Send our Foreign Minister and Prime Minister a message now

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Georgia presses US supreme court to overturn Warren Hill’s stay of execution – the Guardian

February 21, 2013 at 12:45 am (Capital Punishment, execution, Foreign News, Uncategorized, United States) (, , )

State claims mentally disabled prisoner is not entitled to a stay, since his arguments have already been rejected in lower courts

The state of Georgia has applied to the US supreme court to overturn a stay of execution for Warren Hill, the intellectually disabled prisoner who came within half an hour of being put to death on Tuesday night.

Georgia’s attorney general has filed a petition with the highest court in the US, arguing that Hill is not entitled to a stay of execution, because of the fact that he has exhausted all legal remedies. The petition states that his lawyer’s argument that the prisoner is “mentally retarded” is not new, and has been rejected by previous courts.

In a riposte to the supreme court, Hill’s attorney Brian Jammer countered that the appeal is indeed based on new evidence – the decision of three doctors to change their testimony that has transformed the case.

It now remains to be seen whether the nine justices of the supreme court wish to become embroiled in this particular challenge. In similar cases, the court has wished to remain above the legal fray, leaving the argument to be fought out by the lower courts.

Georgia has until 26 February to execute Hill, after which deadline it will have to apply for a new death warrant. That may help explain its urgency in trying to overturn the stay.

Full story here.

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British woman receives death sentence in Indonesia for drug smuggling

January 24, 2013 at 12:03 am (Capital Punishment, Conviction, Foreign News, Indonesia) ()

From The Guardian -

Briton Lindsay Sandiford sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking

Grandmother from Redcar was arrested in May after Bali police said they found £1.6m-worth of cocaine in her suitcase

A British woman has been sentenced to death after attempting to smuggle £1.6m-worth of cocaine into Bali.

Lindsay Sandiford, a 56-year-old grandmother, originally from Redcar in Teesside, was arrested for drug trafficking in May last year after local police said they found almost 5kg of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase.

There were gasps of surprise in Denpasar district court as the sentence was handed down; the prosecution had sought a 15-year prison term, not the death penalty, but the judge ruled that Sandiford’s attempted crime had damaged Bali’s image.

Sandiford wept as judges handed down the sentence, covering her face with a scarf as she left the courtroom to return to prison. She earlier told the court she was forced into taking the drugs into the country by gangsters who were threatening to hurt one of her children, saying “the lives of my children were in danger”.

Full story here.

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Brisbane World Day Against the Death Penalty Dinner

September 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm (Bali Nine, Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Events, Frank Brennan, Stephen Keim, World Anti-Death Penalty Day) (, , )

AUSTRALIANS AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT & AUSTRALIAN LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS invite you to join us at

Date: Friday 12th October 2012
Time: 6.30pm for 7pm start
Venue: Broncos League Club
98 Fulcher Road
Red Hill Qld 4054
Cost: $80 adult, $70 student/conc.
$70 pp for group (table of 10)
Bookings: http://www.stickytickets.com.au/8634
RSVP: Fri 5 October 2012
Enquiries & bookings (plus seating/dietary needs):
Please contact Tina at Justine.hampson@gmail.com

Australians Against Capital Punishment and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights warmly invite you to this year’s dinner in commemoration of the 10th World Day Against the Death Penalty. This Day is recognised globally as a reminder of the inhumanity of the death penalty throughout the entire process, from sentence to execution.

We are delighted to announce that our guest speakers include Fr Frank Brennan SJ, AO and Lee and Christine Rush, with Stephen Keim SC as MC.

We hope you can join us to mark this important human rights event.

For more information email AACP justine.hampson@gmail.com

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The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2010

June 9, 2012 at 6:57 am (Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Uncategorized) ()

PDF document  from Harm Reduction International Website

03 June 2010

Harm Reduction International released a study on the death penalty for drug offences today on the opening day of the 19th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice , taking place in Vienna. The report, titled ‘The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2010’, finds that hundreds of people are executed for drug offences each year around the world, a figure that very likely exceeds one thousand when taking into account those countries that keep their death penalty statistics secret.

The report is the first detailed country by country overview of the death penalty for drugs, monitoring both national legislation and state practice of enforcement. Of the states worldwide that retain the death penalty, 32 jurisdictions maintain laws that prescribe the death penalty for drug offences. The study also found that in some states, drug offenders make up a significant portion – if not the outright majority – of those sentenced to death and/or executed each year.

……….. read more

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Bryan Stevenson’s TED talk on injustice and the Death Penalty

June 2, 2012 at 6:38 am (Capital Punishment, Conviction, Human Rights) (, , , )

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. … In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” (Bryan Stevenson)”

Bryan Stevenson is a public-interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned.

This is his TED speech from March

The whole talk’s worth listening to, but he begins talking about the death penalty around the 8.00 mark.

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Connecticut abolishes the Death Penalty – Amnesty International

June 2, 2012 at 6:08 am (Amnesty International, Capital Punishment, News) (, , , )

Connecticut has ended the death sentence, becoming the fifth state in the U.S. in five years to repeal the cruel and inhuman punishment as the abolition movement progresses worldwide.

“These funds can be better spent to address crime and offer support to victims, rather than on bankrolling a punishment that has been rejected by more than 140 countries and 16 U.S. states.”

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, Amnesty International U.S.A.

We think this is great news and signals a leap forward in our campaign to end death penalty. This move will free resources in Connecticut to be directed toward policies that truly prevent crime, and support the needs of crime victims and their families. The relatives of 179 murder victims signed a letter of support for the bill.

Connecticut’s lawmakers passed the vote after ten and a half hours of debate by 20 votes to 16. The Governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, described the death penalty as one of the “most compelling and vexing issues of our time”, as he signed the bill to replace the death sentence with life without parole for all new cases.

Connecticut joins 16 other states in America – nearly a third of all U.S. states, and 97 countries worldwide – to have now abandoned the death penalty.

More information at Amnesty International’s page here.

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The wrong Carlos: how Texas sent an innocent man to his death – from The Guardian

June 2, 2012 at 5:43 am (Capital Punishment, execution) (, , , )

A few years ago, Antonin Scalia, one of the nine justices on the US supreme court, made a bold statement. There has not been, he said, “a single case – not one – in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred … the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”

Scalia may have to eat his words. It is now clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit, and his name – Carlos DeLuna – is being shouted from the rooftops of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. The august journal has cleared its entire spring edition, doubling its normal size to 436 pages, to carry an extraordinary investigation by a Columbia law school professor and his students.
Full story here.

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Death-row innocents trapped in a living hell – From Port Macquarie News

March 4, 2012 at 9:39 pm (Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, execution) (, , , )

04 Mar, 2012

In his 12 years on death row, Larry Swearingen’s execution date has been set three times. Three times he has known when he would be strapped to a stretcher and put down with drugs: sodium thiobarbital to anaesthetise him, pancuronium bromide to paralyse his muscles and potassium chloride to stop his heart.

In January 2009, he had written his goodbyes and was on his way to the chamber when the stay of execution came through. ”The way I had to look at it was, ‘I’m just gonna lay down and go to sleep,”’ he says. ”I wasn’t gonna grovel. I wasn’t gonna sit there and cry. I can’t be remorseful for a crime that I didn’t commit.”

Swearingen lives at the Allan B. Polunsky unit, an hour or so north of Houston. Along with another 292 men and 10 women awaiting execution for capital crimes committed in Texas, he is kept in solitary confinement. His cell is not quite four metres long and a little more than two metres wide, with a slit above head height, more a vent than a window. He has a toilet, a typewriter, a radio and a hotplate. His daily hour of recreation is spent alone, although he can talk and play chess, through gaps between the cells. Most of his companions are here because they have committed horrendous acts of violence.

Full story here.

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