Posts tagged death penalty

Nobody knows , says Lubarsky. “We’ve turned this into a circus of experimenting on prisoners,” he says. “The state is playing doctor without any regard for efficacy.”
Regarding if midazolam is appropriate for lethal injections following another propofol shortage. Death row incurs drug penalty. Experimenting on prisoners: file under unintended punishment.
Missed one: false confessions.
Most of us are familiar with certain legal, psychologically coercive interrogation techniques that elicit false confessions - like bold face lies from detectives (“we found your DNA on the knife”), as well as ones that fall under police misconduct like lengthy interrogations without food or water, pursuing custodial interviews with juveniles without an interested guardian present or physical abuse, but we shouldn’t let uneducated juries slip under the radar when speaking of wrongful convictions and confessions. Some of the findings juries come up with despite reason, evidence or just common sense, are outrageous. 

Shockingly, there are times when a confession even trumps irrefutable scientific physical evidence. Kassin notes that there are 19 cases on record ­— and perhaps many more — where there is a confession followed by DNA that contradicts that confession. One South Carolina case, where he was an expert witness, was featured on “Dateline” last July. Billy Wayne Cope was accused of murdering his 12­ year ­old daughter, Amanda. He had been isolated for three days and interrogated. Transcripts of the interrogation show that he denied killing his daughter 650 times. He was told he failed a lie detector test that he in fact had asked for. Ultimately, he confessed to committing the murder. The lab results, which came back several weeks later, showed that the girl was also sexually assaulted and the semen and saliva did not match Cope. Sometime after that, the DNA was run through CODIS, a computer software program that operates local, state and national databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence and missing persons. A match was made to a known sex offender, James Sanders, who was in the area. Yet Cope was prosecuted and convicted anyway, as a co­conspirator with Sanders, even though Sanders had no idea who Cope was. That was six years ago. Cope remains imprisoned. [via]

I sat down with Saul Kassin when he first came to John Jay to talk about his work, he’s a long time major player in this area. Here he is talking about the ramifications of false confessions at the Vera Institute. Definitely worth a watch.
img: California Innocence Project via MJ

Missed one: false confessions.

Most of us are familiar with certain legal, psychologically coercive interrogation techniques that elicit false confessions - like bold face lies from detectives (“we found your DNA on the knife”), as well as ones that fall under police misconduct like lengthy interrogations without food or water, pursuing custodial interviews with juveniles without an interested guardian present or physical abuse, but we shouldn’t let uneducated juries slip under the radar when speaking of wrongful convictions and confessions. Some of the findings juries come up with despite reason, evidence or just common sense, are outrageous. 

Shockingly, there are times when a confession even trumps irrefutable scientific physical evidence. Kassin notes that there are 19 cases on record ­— and perhaps many more — where there is a confession followed by DNA that contradicts that confession. One South Carolina case, where he was an expert witness, was featured on “Dateline” last July. Billy Wayne Cope was accused of murdering his 12­ year ­old daughter, Amanda. He had been isolated for three days and interrogated. Transcripts of the interrogation show that he denied killing his daughter 650 times. He was told he failed a lie detector test that he in fact had asked for. Ultimately, he confessed to committing the murder. The lab results, which came back several weeks later, showed that the girl was also sexually assaulted and the semen and saliva did not match Cope. Sometime after that, the DNA was run through CODIS, a computer software program that operates local, state and national databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence and missing persons. A match was made to a known sex offender, James Sanders, who was in the area. Yet Cope was prosecuted and convicted anyway, as a co­conspirator with Sanders, even though Sanders had no idea who Cope was. That was six years ago. Cope remains imprisoned. [via]

I sat down with Saul Kassin when he first came to John Jay to talk about his work, he’s a long time major player in this area. Here he is talking about the ramifications of false confessions at the Vera Institute. Definitely worth a watch.

img: California Innocence Project via MJ

When an execution is stayed anywhere in the world, the Colosseum in Rome is illuminated in gold lights.
We will not see this for Troy Davis, as his execution is scheduled for the next 30 minutes. There are still more death row inmates, more like Troy Davis. Let’s not just sweep this under the rug as disappointing news tonight, but build upon it to abolish the death penalty.
Image
Source: “Over the past decade, every time a convicted person receives a stay of execution or a government abolishes the death penalty Roman officials change the Colosseum’s night illumination from white to gold.”  Via

When an execution is stayed anywhere in the world, the Colosseum in Rome is illuminated in gold lights.

We will not see this for Troy Davis, as his execution is scheduled for the next 30 minutes. There are still more death row inmates, more like Troy Davis. Let’s not just sweep this under the rug as disappointing news tonight, but build upon it to abolish the death penalty.

Image

Source: “Over the past decade, every time a convicted person receives a stay of execution or a government abolishes the death penalty Roman officials change the Colosseum’s night illumination from white to gold.”  Via

I'm asking for a favor, Tumblr

psydoctor8:

In repsonse to aatombomb’s and approachingsignificance’s post about Troy Davis, I propose we DO SOMETHING about it that takes 30 seconds.

We’ve all seen Tumblr do some amazing things ranging from donating thousands of dollars to friends in need, raising tens of thousands for countries who faced disaster to finding a place for friends to live, finding them a job or just giving moral support everyday. I’m not asking for money, but how about signing a petition that may save an innocent man from the death penalty?

From the Innocence Project:

Davis was convicted almost exclusively on the basis of eyewitness identification testimony, which has been shown through DNA exonerations and thousands of academic studies to be unreliable. Seven of the nine witnesses who testified at his trial have since recanted and strong evidence points to another person as the real perpetrator in the case. 

The only man that can stop the execution scheduled for tonightSeptember 21 at 7pm, is GA District Attorney Larry Chisolm and he needs to hear from us asap.  And so does Mr. Davis.

 ——-> Sign here. Reblog.  

Until the needle is pushed in, there is still time. They are delivering the next batch of petitions at 4pm EST.  

People outside of the US: you can sign too.

 

What 1 point means

Tennessee Supreme Court Says Expert Testimony Needed When Determining IQ

Besides an IQ test score, testimony from mental health experts should be considered when determining if a prisoner is intellectually disabled, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today.

The decision, according to the Memphis Daily News, deals with the appeal of Michael Angelo Coleman, who is on the state’s death row for robbing and murdering a man in 1979.

“Ascertaining a person’s IQ is not a matter within the common knowledge of laypersons. Expert testimony in some form will generally be required to assist the trial court in determining whether a criminal defendant is a person with intellectual disability,” Justice William C. Koch Jr. wrote for the Tennessee Supreme Court. The trial court isn’t required to follow an expert’s opinion, the court held, but must give the opinion “full and fair consideration.”  VIA

Many states “ban the execution of people who are intellectually disabled.” meaning an IQ score of 70 or below is usually the bench mark of that determination. That 1 point difference seems extremely daunting and unreliable given the plethora of variables (personal to tester and testee, circumstantial, environmental, internal/external) that can effect it.  It’s hard to believe the test (one or a battery) results were used alone without professional explanation/interpretation.

Will this complicate things? Of course. What’s worse is the alternative of what we have been doing (possibly executing people who may have mental retardation or cognitive deficiencies) with virtually no upset. I refuse to side with legal experts who say neuroscientific  developments,  that will eventually advance our understanding of blameworthiness, undermine the legal system and is out to destroy it. Perhaps we need to work to make it right, not easy.  

If we are judging a person’s life and/punishment on a point system, the least that can be done is to get priorities in order.

A Texas criminal defense lawyer has had 20 of his clients sentenced to death, a possible record.

The New York Times profiles the lawyer, Jerry Guerinot, talks to his critics, and looks at one of his recent cases involving a British woman who recently lost a bid for U.S. Supreme Court review.

“A good way to end up on death row in Texas is to be accused of a capital crime and have Jerry Guerinot represent you,” the Times reports.

 But “the Constitution does not require perfection in trial representation,” the judge said. Carty’s new lawyer, Michael Goldberg of Baker Botts, views the case differently. He says mistakes made were egregious enough to merit a new trial, the Houston Chronicle reports.

In the case of Daniel Plata, a Mexican immigrant featured in the Observer expose, Denkowski used this clinical judgment technique to raise Plata’s adaptive-behavior score from 61 to 71, and his IQ score from 70 to 77. Antonin Llorente, a neuropsychologist who evaluated Plata in his native Spanish, reported Plata’s IQ score as 65. Even in Texas courts, it’s generally accepted that IQ scores include a “standard error of measurement” of five points up or down. This means a person’s IQ score falls within a range; a person who tests at 75 could still be considered retarded. Plata’s 65 was a strong indication that his intellectual abilities were below average and met the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard for mental retardation. source

Cracked

According to an excellent investigative article in the Texas Observer by reporter Renee Feltz, 17 men currently on Texas’ death row were evaluated by a forensic psychologist using “junk science” who improperly inflated IQ scores to make them eligible for the death penalty despite Supreme Court caselaw banning execution of the mentally retarded.

George Denkowski of Fort Worth. Denkowski’s career stretched back 30 years to when he directed a 15-bed group home for mildly retarded adolescent offenders in Houston, teaching them adaptive skills that would improve their behavior. He’d also been the chief psychologist at the Fort Worth State School, a 365-bed facility for people with all ranges of mental retardation. Since 1989 he’d been in private practice conducting psychological evaluations. Denkowski had also directed a national study of mentally retarded people in state prisons. Last February, the state Board of Examiners of Psychologists upheld the complaint, finding that Denkowski had made “administration, scoring and mathematical errors” in all three cases.