Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The African Prisons Project (APP)

The Condemmed Choir

From the website AfricanPrisons.org/ OR GO here

Our mission

To bring dignity and hope to men, women and children in prison through healthcare, education, access to justice and community reintegration.

Our vision

Our vision is that prisons in Africa are places of positive transformation and that entering prison does not mean losing hope. We believe depravation of freedom need not mean deprivation of humanity.

The African Prisons Project (APP) is a group of people passionately committed to improving access to healthcare, education, justice and community reintegration for prisoners in Africa. We aim to restore the dignity of those we serve by providing humane conditions and services which help them to regain their humanity. We build and refurbish prison medical and educational facilities, provide innovative services and work to change the attitudes of the societies serve when it comes to criminal justice issues.

Africa is a continent in transition, and its problems are magnified within its detention systems. The plight of detainees is rarely noticed; therefore they receive little help from charitable organisations. Yet they include the most downtrodden and vulnerable - babies imprisoned with their mothers, the mentally ill, children and the illiterate.

APP ( African Prison Project) Blog

The most vulnerable are often the most victimised

10 April 2012 by Joe Hampton

Growing up in prison is a sad and troubling prospect but unfortunately is not unusual in many parts of Africa. Although there has recently been positive steps taken globally and regionally, child imprisonment remains a major issue in Africa. There are two categories of children in prison: those serving a prison sentence for criminal activity and those living with their mothers. According to official statistics, children make up between 0.5 and 2.5 per cent of the African prison population...

( Above excerpt is from the African Prison Project website -- find more at http://www.africanprisons.org/ as well as a Wikipedia entry at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Prisons_Project . )

In the post just below this one -- also entered today, 24 April, find a recent request for interviews by staff/voluntees working with this project...

A Prison-Death Row Project with Roots in Africa & Texas Wants Interviews

The following project "stems from Mr McLean’s work with prisoners in Uganda, Kenya and Sierra Leone through the African Prisons Project http://www.africanprisons.org . This is an organisation Mr McLean founded, which works to bring dignity and hope to men, women and children in prisons in Africa through healthcare, education, access to justice and community reintegration. Much of APP’s work is with prisoners and staff on death row. Combined with visits to death row inmates in Kenya and Texas..."

Daniel Butler said...
Dear Sirs,

I write in my capacity as research assistant to Mr Alexander McLean, a PhD student at Middlesex University under the supervision of Professor William Schabas.

I am helping Mr McLean with his research into the death penalty, which has a particular focus on the effect, if any, that the death penalty has on those who are most intimately associated with its execution. This group has been identified as being: executioners; lawyers; staff who work on death row; chaplains; doctors and other prisoners on death row.

Much research has been conducted into the death penalty, and its benefits and weaknesses. However, little attention has been paid to the views of those who carry out capital sentences, on behalf of society.

Mr McLean’s desire is to contribute to the ongoing, international dialogue about the death penalty, by raising awareness of the views and impact it has on those that it touches most intimately, other than crime victims and their families, and of course the families of those who are executed.

This interest stems from Mr McLean’s work with prisoners in Uganda, Kenya and Sierra Leone through the African Prisons Project http://www.africanprisons.org . This is an organisation Mr McLean founded, which works to bring dignity and hope to men, women and children in prisons in Africa through healthcare, education, access to justice and community reintegration. Much of APP’s work is with prisoners and staff on death row. Combined with visits to death row inmates in Kenya and Texas, Mr McLean’s desire to learn more about the impact of the death penalty grew. By profession Mr McLean is a barrister. He is a member of the legal committee of the International Corrections and Prisons Association, and is a magistrate at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court in England.

I therefore request you to pass on my contact details to anyone who you think might be able to contribute to this research. I would like to spend about 45 minutes to one hour speaking with them. Interviews will be transcribed, but interview participants may remain anonymous.

I am also approaching others who have worked in a similar capacity to you in prisons all over the world.

Of course, participation in this research is fully voluntary. However, I believe that by sharing the experiences of those closely involved in the implementation of the death penalty with policy makers on an international level, this study will be a valuable tool in the debate about capital punishment.

I would be grateful if you would respond to this post at your earliest convenience (to my email address: danielhebutler@gmail.com), as Mr McLean’s research is now well under way. I would like to conduct interviews in April and May. I will conduct the interview, by telephone or Skype.

A letter of recommendation from Brigadier General H. Szmulewitz, Head of the International Corrections and Prisons Association Legal Committee is available on request.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours in anticipation,

Daniel Butler LLB LLM


If a reader here is able to contribute to this project -- plz reply via
Mr. Butler's email:
email address: danielhebutler@gmail.com

Friday, April 20, 2012

Violent Games & Forensic Psychology: Annual Conference This Weekend in San Francisco

From Forensic Psychology.org/2012program.pdf or GO here

Here is a sample of what this conference offers (and hopefully some archived reports/transcripts and audios later.):

American College of Forensic Psychology -- 28th Annual Symposium
April 19-22, 2012
San Francisco • Stanford Court Hotel (The American College of Forensic Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. ACFP maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program will offer a maximum of 23 hours of Continuing Education credits.)


The practical impact of psychological research on the regulation of video game violence. (Lorna Veraldi, J.D. and Donna Veraldi, Ph.D.)

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court struck down a California
statute regulating sales to minors of video games depicting violence.
Both the majority opinion and a dissent discussed research presented by
the parties about the effects of playing such games, but reached different conclusions about what that research shows. This presentation will assess the research on the effects of video games discussed in the decision and will consider the ways in which professional organizations can better assist the courts and the public in understanding and evaluating such effects research. (Lorna Veraldi, J.D. is Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Florida International University, Miami, Florida. Donna M. Veraldi, Ph.D. has a private clinical and forensic practice in Billings, Montana.)

...Language and thinking style differences between behavioral
scientists and legal professionals will be illustrated with a “translation”
matrix. Participants will be able to discuss 1) the differences between
the thinking style of legal professionals and those of behavioral scientists;

2) the burdens of production and persuasion with video case illustrations; and

3) how to aid legal professionals in the development of their witness examinations. (Dr. Lorandos is a clinical psychologist with over 40 years of experience. He is an attorney, licensed to practice in New York, California and Michigan, and a member of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.)

...The neurotoxicity syndrome describes common nervous system effects
of many neurotoxic substances, including deterioration of learning, memory, emotion, personality, and executive function, along with headache, sleep disorder, fatigue, irritability, chemical sensitivity, and sexual dysfunction. It is likely that most neurotoxic substances will activate the core symptoms of neurotoxicity. Mental illness and the capacity to commit a crime can be affected by neurotoxicity, so it is often valuable to assess cases for this cause. An example of a defendant who went on a killing rampage resulting in multiple homicides will be presented. Learning objectives include identification of the core symptoms of neurotoxicity and common neurotoxic substances, and understanding how neurotoxicity could impair competence to commit a crime. (Dr. Raymond Singer is a neuropsychologist and a neurobehavioral toxicologist (neurotoxicologist) specializing in research, evaluation and consultation regarding the effects of toxic substances, processes and agents on neurobehavioral function.)

Global cyber crimes and autism: Is there a role for forensic psychology?
(David Larson Holmes, Ed.D.)

Computer espionage, cyberhacking and cyberwarfare are global concerns. Many groups and individuals, sometimes referring to themselves as “hacktivists,” engage in computer hacking because they find it entertaining, others have more sinister reasons. The research in education, medicine, psychology and related fields strongly supports the use of evidence based recording and reporting in their clinical/applied methodologies with those on the autism spectrum. With current data supporting the fact that autism can be found as a precipitating factor in cybercrimes, the treatments that have proven effective with mitigating maladaptive behaviors in such individuals and promoting pro-social behaviors can be utilized in preventing cybercrimes. This presentation will address the emerging profile of some computer hackers as being on the autism spectrum and how forensic psychology can be helpful in mitigating this global threat. Dr. David Holmes is Chairman and CEO of Lifespan Services, LLC,helping families and individuals with autism and related disabilities.

Autism spectrum disorders and forensic psychology: understanding youth with ASD as potential perpetrators and/or victims...

...see the LINK above for more information on this conference and names of experts/reports for possible interviews or to receive transcripts.

END NOTE: There are still some days left in this CURRENT conference if any readers happen to be in the San Fran area of California this weekend. OR perhaps the best use of this info is to USE or FILE potential interviewees for our various sites and work toward PREVENTION along with addressing the many layers of issues related to Victims and Crime as well as Punishment in our schools, conferences, books and media sources. IF we ONLY address abolishing the death penalty and NOT various aspects of crime -- we are standing on one leg at best and not doing much to eliminate hate and killing in our societies.

Use of Violent Video Games as Possible Factor in Hate Crimes?

What with the current court events of the "Norway Killer" of 77 people, let's have a discussion about violent video games...do they and WHEN do they encourage violence? The perpetrator himself said he "prepared" for the killing by watching video games. How might cyber and video game violence contribute to hate and pleasure crimes -- especially with those who may have a tendency, history of violence, mental illness yet also with unpredictable violence fueled by hate news broadcasters? Yet even one of the survivors of the Norway massacre said he played violent video games and said this pastime couldn't be used as an excuse.

Is there really a controversy here? What do you think? IF use of violent games IS one possible factor in violent acts, then HOW might we as society and as parents BEST limit of control the use of the same? WHICH way is best in discussions with children, teens and youth? HOW might we encourage self-control -- self policing rather than depending ONLY on our own surveillance and rules? In what ways are BOTH methods needed and with what age/type of persons?

I hope to add several more items here over time. Also suggest your own opinion & reports in the comments section...

Here's one from pbs -- a kind of general short history with essays -- rather "permissive" in MHO yet needs to be added to the "mix" of our discussions for reality behavoirs, commercialization & the way companies -- including news corporations and their lobby groups/ads/politics such as gun lobbying and increased loosening of gun controls continue to support violent games/movies -- the entire industry -- GO here

As the debate rages over Breivik's sanity, one forensic psychologist says video games can make it even harder for some people to sort out reality from fantasy. Seena Fazel, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Britain's University of Oxford and other experts add that the motive, in part, may be to understand what distinguishes a mass killer from the rest of us;

Paul Britton,a Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist who is also a founder weighs in on this topic as does Dr Raj Persaud with his question: where does the secret to the Norwegian Massacre lie? beginning "Does the Secret to the Norwegian Massacre Lie in...at Huff Post 2 days ago under Norwegian Massacre Computer Games.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity (Book for Leaders & Others)

BY Shann Ray Ferch

Due to the price -- you may want to see that your library orders this one?

Book Description -- Five Stars!
Publication Date: November 17, 2011 | ISBN-10: 0739169491 | ISBN-13: 978-0739169490

In a fresh rendering of the role of leaders as healers, Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity considers love and power in the midst of personal, political, and social upheaval.

Unexpected atrocity coexists alongside the quiet subtleties of mercy, and people and nations currently encounter a world in which not even the certainties of existence remain even as grace can sometimes arise under the most difficult circumstances.

Ultimately, Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity is a book about the alienation and intimacy at war within us all. Ferch speaks to categorical human transgressions in the hope that readers will be compelled to examine their own prejudices and engage the moral responsibility to evoke in their own personal life, work life, and larger national communities a more humane and life-giving coexistence.

In addition to a primary focus on servant leadership, the book addresses three interwoven aspects of social responsibility: 1) the nature of personal responsibility 2) the nature of privilege and the conscious and unconscious violence against humanity often harbored in a blindly privileged stance, and 3) the encounter with forgiveness and forgiveness-asking grounded in a personal and collective obligation to the well-being of humanity.

Modernist and postmodernist notions of the will to meaning are considered against the philosophical notion of the will to power. The book examines the everyday existence of human values in a time when we inhabit a world filled as much with unwarranted cruelty as with the disarming nature of authentic and life-affirming love.

The book asks the question: Can ultimate forgiveness change the heart of violence? In Forgiveness and Power, people are challenged not only by the work of profound thought leaders such as Mandela, Tutu, but also Simone Weil, Vaclav Havel, Emerson, Mary Oliver, Martin Luther King, Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Robert Greenleaf.

The hope of the book is that people of all ages and creeds come to a deeper understanding and of personal and collective responsibility for leadership that helps heal the heart of the world.

Find more information and other reviews here

Bob Ray Sanders' Column (Ft. Worth-Star Telegram) Texas

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bob Ray Sanders: Time to end death penalty in Texas
That's the title of Bob Ray Sander's column at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Two events last week -- one in the Connecticut Senate chamber, the other in a Dallas courtroom -- helped once again to focus attention on two of the nation's most glaring flaws: wrongful convictions and capital punishment.

In Dallas, three more men were exonerated for crimes they did not commit, bringing to 30 the total number of exonerations in Dallas County since 2001. One of the men had been sentenced to 99 years in prison for a 1994 violent purse snatching involving a 79-year-old woman.

About 1,600 miles away in Hartford, the Connecticut Senate voted 20-16 to repeal the death penalty based partly on the growing evidence of wrongful convictions and the possibility that an innocent person could be executed. The state's House of Representatives is likely to approve the measure soon, and the governor has vowed to sign it into law.

If the measure is enacted, Connecticut will join a growing number of states (the fifth in five years) to abolish capital punishment. California voters will weigh in on the subject in a ballot initiative in November.

After the Dallas defendants were officially cleared in court, both District Attorney Craig Watkins and District Judge Lena Levario declared that it was time to have a discussion about race and justice, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Actually we need a discussion about much more than that in America.

The latest Dallas case again revealed that prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense and that police, during their initial investigation, subjected the suspects to prejudicial identification tactics. These kinds of injustices cry out for discussion.

How many innocent people are behind bars based on overzealous police work, unethical prosecution or just honest mistakes? How many might be on Death Row?

When it comes to executions, there are signs that the nation's thirst for blood is waning, bringing some hope to those of us who have been fighting against capital punishment for so long.

Even in Texas, which has the busiest death chamber in the country, the numbers are decreasing. Texas juries are sentencing fewer people to death, and the population on Death Row is declining.

Texas executed 13 people last year, the lowest number since 1996 when three people were killed by lethal injection. In 2000, a record 40 executions occurred in the state.

Four people have been put to death this year in Huntsville, bringing the total to 481 since 1982, when Texas resumed executions after the Supreme Court had declared capital punishment "cruel and unusual" in 1972.

Today 298 people are on Texas' Death Row, including nine women. The ethnic breakdown is 29.2 percent Anglo, 40.6 percent black, 28.5 percent Hispanic and 1.7 percent other. At the end of fiscal 2001, the Death Row population was 446.

Those are all good signs, but not good enough.

If more states continue to lead the way, maybe the Lone Star State will eventually follow. New York, New Jersey, Illinois and New Mexico recently repealed capital punishment, and The Associated Press reports that Kansas and Kentucky are considering it.

Many people acknowledge that we have a flawed justice system, and that's understandable with any structure that depends on human judgment and actions.

But it is because of the fallibility of humans that we mortals should not be charged with deciding to take a life -- the one thing we can never give back in case of a mistake -- in the name of the state.

The progress toward abolishment of the death penalty has been steady, but slow. It's now time to pick up the momentum.

I'm ready to see the movement gather steam, wage an all-out legal assault and awareness campaign to change these barbaric laws one state legislature at a time.

We are a nation that should be better than this. Let's vow to end capital punishment in this country, now and forever.

Bob Ray Sanders' column appears Sundays and Wednesdays on the Ft. Worth-Star Telegram.
Twitter: @BobRaySanders

Read more here: here

Posted by Hooman Hedayati on several sites

For earlier stats on exonerees through January 2012 (and due to be updated soon) GO here

NEW Exonerees -- California, Alabama, Texas overturns cases

Just sent out by email from Innocence Matters!

April 2012 Exonerees
Frank O'Connell:
State: California
Convicted: 1984
Overturned: March 29, 2012
Possible Release Date: April 2012

Larry Smith's case:
State: Alabama (death row)
Convicted: 1995
Overturned: 2007
Reversal Affirmed: 2010
Released: April 6, 2012

Shakara Robertson, Darryl Washington & Marcus Smith's case:
State: Texas
Convicted: 1994
Overturned: April 6, 2012

Exoneration: Now What? by Innocence Matters Board Member Dan Finn

What happens when a man who has been incarcerated his entire adult life for a crime he did not commit wins his freedom?What’s the best way for him to return to the “outside world” and reclaim the dignity stripped of him for so long? READ here


Also see this compelling book:

www.innocencematters.us says:

"...we honored Jennifer Thompson, co-author of The New York Times bestseller Picking Cotton, on April 5 and 6 at various Orange and Los Angeles County venues. Jennifer shared her story of the human costs of a flawed criminal justice system and her courageous determination to honor the truth wherever it led."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some State Updates

The following were taken from Death Penalty News & Updates (Dr. Rick Halperin's site -- see link bottom right)


State experiences vary with use of death penalty

First among states for executions is Texas, which has put to death 481 prisoners since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Oklahoma ranks 3rd with 98 executions, including 2 in 2011. Earlier this year, the state of Oklahoma executed Gary Roland Welch at the state penitentiary in McAlester for the 1994 slaying of Robert Dean Hardcastle in Miami, Okla.

Oklahoma’s attorney general’s office also is appealing a stay of execution issued for an inmate who was scheduled to die last week.

Garry Allen was set to die Thursday, but on Wednesday afternoon, federal Judge David Russell issued the stay, ruling that Allen’s claims that he is insane and ineligible for the death penalty should be reviewed.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office immediately filed its notice of appeal with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In the appeal, the state argues that courts have found Allen sane and that he’s capable of understanding his execution is for the 1986 murder of Gail Titsworth.

Allen has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and his attorneys argue his mental state deteriorated on death row.

Missouri has 47 people on death row and ranks fifth in the number of executions since 1976, with 68.

The most recent prisoner to be put to death in Missouri was Martin Link, who was executed on Feb. 9, 2011, for the 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Elissa Self-Braun, of St. Louis.

Chris Collings, of Wheaton, is the most recent Missourian sentenced to death row. On March 23, jurors agreed on capital punishment for his kidnapping, raping and slaying of 9-year-old Rowan Ford.

Others from Southwest Missouri on death row are Cecil Clayton, sentenced in December 1997 by a Jasper County jury for the 1996 1st-degree murder of Barry County Deputy Christopher Castetter, and Mark Christeson, sentenced in September 1999 by a Vernon County jury for 3 counts of 1st-degree murder in the 1998 deaths of Susan Brouk and her 2 children.

Kansas now has 9 people on death row, including Gary Kleypas, who was sentenced to death for the killing of Carrie Williams in 1996 in Pittsburg.

The death penalty was 1st abolished in Kansas in 1907 by Gov. Edward Hoch. In 1935, the death penalty was reinstated, but no executions took place until 1944. The state had the death penalty statute in effect until a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck it down.

After the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the constitutionality of it, numerous attempts were made to reinstate the death penalty. Gov. John Carlin vetoed reinstatement legislation in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1985.

The current death penalty statute was enacted in 1994 when Gov. Joan Finney allowed it to become law without her signature. In 2004, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional, but it was reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Kansas death penalty was constitutional.

In 2010, the Kansas Senate was one vote short of voting to replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole for the crime of aggravated murder.

(source: The Joplin Globe)

Connecticut (Also see post below on the New York Times Editorial)
Fight against death penalty gains momentum in states--Connecticut will be the 5th in 5 years to do away with it. The high cost to taxpayers is increasingly a factor.

The fight against the death penalty is gaining momentum, opponents of the practice say, with Connecticut's decision this month to abolish capital punishment making it the 5th state in 5 years to so do.

"For this to be happening in succession, and coupled with the decline in death penalty convictions, it creates a momentum that other states will at least consider to be a part of," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the independent Death Penalty Information Center.

Connecticut legislators voted to abolish the death penalty Wednesday, and Democratic Gov.Dannel P. Malloyhas said he will sign the bill. Connecticut will be the 17th state to do away with capital punishment and the 7th state to stop the death penalty since it was reinstated as constitutional by theU.S. Supreme Courtin 1976. The District of Columbia abolished it in 1981.

Opponents of capital punishment still cite moral and religious arguments — and last week's vote in Connecticut was preceded by more than 9 hours of gut-wrenching debate. But another force behind the recent trend is cost.

"Right now, budgets are still unbalanced in many states and programs are being cut in many areas," Dieter said. "Schools, libraries and police forces … their budgets are all being cut. Lawmakers are thinking of getting rid of things they might not believe in that are expensive."

California spends an additional $184 million per year total on its more than 700 death row prisoners than if they had been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, according to a comprehensive 2011 study by Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

An Urban Institute study in 2008 found that a single death sentence in Maryland costs almost $2 million more per case than a comparable non-death-penalty case.

"It's not just the cost in a vacuum," said Shari Silberstein, executive director of Equal Justice USA, a national grass-roots organization that opposes the death penalty. "It's not to say that if it was a good economic time, we'd be supporting it. But people are weighing the cost … and realizing that the death penalty is a very ineffective way to keep the public safe, especially for the money."

Supporters of capital punishment say it should remain an option for those convicted of heinous crimes and that the expense problem could be resolved through reform.

"Nobody favors the status quo. The question is, should you give up on justice because you don't have the backbone to pass the reforms that are needed?" asked Kent Scheidegger, legal director for Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which works to ensure what it calls "swift and certain punishment" to those convicted of crimes.

"That's not the way a democracy is supposed to work. What they should be doing is fixing the process," Scheidegger said. "My expectation is that repeal efforts will end [with Connecticut] and reform efforts will work in other states."

But other states are already reconsidering the death penalty.

In California, an initiative on November's ballot will allow voters to decide whether to repeal capital punishment.

Oregon issued a moratorium on executions in 2011 and is conducting a study of alternatives to the death penalty. Pennsylvania also started a study of how the death penalty has been applied there.

Bills proposing the end of capital punishment are pending in Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire and Washington.

Fear of executing innocent people has also driven the trend.

Illinois repealed the death penalty in March 2011 after a 10-year moratorium that was imposed after courts threw out the death sentences of 13 men. By the time the repeal was signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, 20 people had been exonerated.

The exonerations highlighted a number of problems with the judicial system, including wrongful convictions based on false confessions and erroneous eyewitness testimony, the Northwestern University School of Law's Center on Wrongful Convictions reported.

Opponents of the death penalty also argue that the process drags out grief for the victims' families.

"The families don't want to hear about the case over and over again," said Sarah Craft, a spokeswoman for Equal Justice USA. "Life without parole starts immediately."

Some survivors of murder victims have been part of the recent debate over capital punishment. Victoria Coward of Connecticut was one of them. Her 18-year-old son, Tyler, was shot and killed in New Haven in 2007.

"When you lose somebody to homicide, you know what it's like to lose somebody in one of the most hurtful ways possible," Coward said.

Prosecutors told her it would be too difficult to go through a trial and have to see photos of her son's body riddled with bullets, and suggested offering the killer a plea deal, which he took in 2010.

Coward lobbied lawmakers to end the death penalty and watched as state senators voted on the issue. Her son's killer, Jose Fuentes Phillich, was 25 when he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She seems at peace with the decision.

"The death penalty doesn't help at all," she said. "If you have the nerve to kill somebody, you should be able to sit there every day and think about what you did."

Important Short Quote on DP & Value of Human Life

Over reliance on the death penalty diminishes the value of human life. A brutalization effect kicks in that research shows increases incidents of violence after an execution. Murder rates are higher in states with the death penalty. Racial bias taints the pursuit of justice. Tax dollars are wasted on a flawed system and not used to help victims of crime or to make our community safer. It’s time for a change.

(source: ACLU-Delaware)

Top Newspaper Recommends...

A recent editorial in the New York Times called Connecticut's decision to repeal the death penalty part of "a growing movement against capital punishment." The editorial attributed the trend away from the death penalty to new research that shows "gross injustice in its application and enormous costs in continuing to impose it." The problem of arbitrariness recently came to light in Connecticut, where "a powerful, comprehensive study provided evidence that state death sentences are haphazardly meted out, with virtually no connection to the heinousness of the crime." The Times also cited racial bias, inadequate representation, and wrongful convictions as problems inherent to the death penalty, saying that "the system cannot be fixed. It is practically impossible to rid the legal process of biases driven by race, class and politics." Ultimately, the paper concluded, it would be better to abolish the death penalty entirely.

READ more about Connecticut at Death Penalty Information Center

A litle update on JOH connections

EXPECT great things ahead for JOH and all it's links...

I just got the following happy report from the key web folk and will let blog-readers know soon of recent developments:

"See, as the new website is coming round the corner -- I would love to bond our work a little together...links are on the test server...until everything works out fine."

THANX -- so I will wait until the web designer-host gives the go-ahead on details and persmission to offer links, names, etc. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Catch Up on the News & Pending Executions (Various Issues & Controversy)

See and Click on Dr. Rick Halperin's Daily UPdates (Lower Right Column on this the JOH blogsite or mark as favorite: http://people.smu.edu/rhalperi/ )

Here's a sample from Dr. Rick's site with excerpts from TODAY'S News and Updates (several complicated items have been collapsed and excertped here for space & time -- be sure to see his site for the indepth coverage there.
WARNING...many of these articles are not at all prett -- nor do they provide an easy sell for abolishing the DP in every case. But Rick seeks to present all sides & opinions.)

Not in the same order as Rick's site:

NEVADA (ACLU Study: Study lays out costs associated with death penalty in Nevada--The ACLU of Nevada recently highlighted a study conducted by a UNLV professor who found that defending the death penalty in Clark County costs at least $170,000 more than defending cases where life in prison is sought.

Terance Miethe, of UNLV's department of criminal justice, began the study in January and determined that the 80 pending capital murder cases in Clark County will cost approximately $20 million...Miethe's research estimates that public defense attorneys have spent double the time, about 2,300 hours, on capital murder cases as opposed to non-capital murder cases, the report says.

According to the study, 35 cases resulting in the death sentence between 2009 and 2011 took, on average, more than 3 years to complete. The study concluded that life with parole and life without parole cases took 2 to 2 1/2 years...In a Friday media release, the ACLU called for further study on the issue. The group plans to advocate for a moratorium on the state's death penalty during the 2013 Legislature.(source: Las Vegas Sun)


APRIL 10, 2012:
ALABAMA----stay of impending execution -- The scheduled Thursday execution of Alabama death row inmate Cary Dale Grayson has been delayed by the Alabama Supreme Court.
NORTH CAROLINA (Note that NC has also been having heated debates over retaining the Racial Justice Act) Taft murder case is rare capital trial
It has been 2 years since a murder that shocked Raleigh; a seemingly random beating of a state school board member. Monday, jury selection began in the trial of Jason Williford. Police say he raped and killed 62-year-old Kathy Taft as she was recovering from surgery at a friend's house in Raleigh in March of 2010. One of the big breaks in the case, was a DNA link between a cigarette at the scene and Williford. His attorneys unsuccessfully tried to get that piece of evidence thrown out. The murder of Taft lingers in the minds of family and friends like Pat Dunn, a former Greenville mayor who knew Taft well. "Whether it's the death penalty or life in prison without parole, this is what you don't want this person to be out on the street ever with the opportunity to do this again," said Dunn...Though people might think that the death penalty would save taxpayer dollars by taking the criminals out of the prison system, a two-year study out of Duke University found the opposite was true. Death penalty cases actually cost a lot more public money.


Collapsed Excerpt...
Guilty plea expected in threat case----Ex-death-row inmate accused of retaliating against Putnam Co. judge -- Former Ohio death-row inmate Kenneth Richey is to plead guilty Friday to a charge related to threatening a Putnam County judge who was a prosecutor on the 1986 case that landed him on death row. Richey, 47, of Tupelo, Miss., is expected to enter a guilty plea to an unspecified felony that could land him in prison for "no more than" 3 years, said Todd Schroeder, an assistant Putnam County prosecutor. Sentencing is set for May 7. Richey was indicted in January by a Putnam County grand jury on charges of retaliation and violating a protection order. -- Richey was convicted in 1987 of setting a fire at a Columbus Grove, Ohio, apartment that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins. He was sentenced to death, but in 2008 -- after 2 decades on death row -- a federal appeals court overturned Richey's conviction because of problems with the arson evidence that led to his conviction.Richey, a dual U.S. and Scottish citizen who returned for a time to his native Scotland in 2008, is being held in the Putnam County jail. (source: Toledo Blade)
USA: Media Groups File Challenge to Keep Guantanamo Court Open--Several U.S. news organizations have asked a judge in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to keep the court open to the media this week if an alleged al Qaeda chieftain is allowed to testify about his mistreatment in secret CIA prisons--(CIA has admitted to water-boarding here) There are many other complications in this article you may want to read on Dr. Rick's DP News & UPdates in full...Maybe one of the most interesting news according to this item is that "Prosecutors have not commented publicly about whether they want the hearing closed. They have filed what is titled "Motion for Hearing to Identify and Minimize Amount of Closure of Proceedings" in the shackling matter, however it remained sealed on Monday --media groups joining the request were Fox News Network, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The New Yorker magazine, the Tribune Company, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. (source: Reuters)

Special NOTE: if you'd like to follow more on GITMO -- Go to bordc.org ; nomoregitmos.org ; cageprisoners.org and CCR.org as well as The International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent - ICRC/RC - and often the Amnesty and ACLU blogs This note from The JOH blogger, Connie


BELARUS: The authorities of Belarus do not recognize the validity of the decisions of the UN Human Rights Committee on complaints of Belarusian public activists...Belarus is among the top 5 countries in terms of the number of individual complaints to UN Human Rights Committee: from 1992, in the Committee there were 126 “Belarusian affairs” and the 83 of them had not yet been completed. (The Death Penalty is a top issue in this dynamic.)

SRI LANKA: Female applicants for the vacant executioner position in Sri Lanka...Sri Lanka's prisons have vacancies for 2 executioners...The government reinstated the death penalty in 2004 for murder, rape and drug trafficking following the murder of a high court judge -- since 2000 there are 1,164 death row inmates languishing in jails waiting for execution or a final decision for commutation for execution. -- Last execution was carried out in Sri Lanka in 1976...(source: Colombo Page)

END excerpts from Death Penalty News & Updates

Plz be sure to see the short post just below to help us decide whether or not in the age of FB we need this The Journey of Hope Blog? I don't belong to FB & can't access the JOH FB wall and at least some of us abolition bloggers, activists, readers and JOH family can't either nor want to become a FB member. Thanx for coming by!

Saturday, April 07, 2012


Looks like it's no longer possible to see FB wall for JOH without being a member signed up and signed in.

SO, how many readers, supporters, contributors, JOH FAMILY or others really want this blog to continue?

If FB is taking the place of a blog -- there's no apparently no need for this one, right? I could use the extra time elsewhere & would completely understand the need to close this one out.

SO -- plz send your feedback...

What a satisfying experience it's been to do this blog for JOH all these years!



Monday, April 02, 2012

Oakland California Tragedy Today: PRAYERS Needed for All involved

This tragedy took place not that far from where I lived and went to college when I was young and not far from relatives and other loved ones. Many of my friends attended Christian schools -- this will affect so so many people of all ages.

I think it's the 1st or 2nd greatest loss of lives in a school shooting since one years ago -- yet follows a killing of several in an Ohio High School cafeteria recently? (Feel free to correct me since I am writing this rapidly just before I need to close the computer.)

I am just sick to hear that SIX people have been killed and others injured at Oikos Christian College this am! Just as any of us at The Journey of Hope would be if this had taken place at any school ANYWHERE. For one thing, many of the folk represented by The JOH are victims' family members or victims themselves.

Simultaneously we MUST keep working not only on healing and protecting yet also toward PREVENTION...

Mental Illness -- like affected the current man to face the death penalty in Oklahoma -- could be the cause? (See the post just below.)

At any rate - how can we all help our society, our world, our churches and groups, our hurting people everywhere, our young and restless and disenfranchised to find a way out of such horror? (Whether afflicted by someone else of self?)

We know that drugs (even addiction to pain pills) and many other overly accepted problems including alcohol for many who have a family history , gambling, debt, heart-sickness, etc. can lead to such unresolved anger and depression if not worse...

How can we help our families, ourselves and each other to prevent such tragedy?

Let's talk about this over time, shall we?

Let's find the great comfort of PRAYER right now for the victims -- victims' family -- as well as the college staff -- and for the officers who had to take courage to do their jobs and now live with this memory -- and for the perpetrator and his loved ones as well who may have been unable to help their loved one no matter what they did.

Sometimes we need to take a little more time with our loved ones or someone upset at a public place -- if safe -- to listen. Yet even God has plenty of murdurous children he couldn't save.

We need to go to a 12-step group if we or our loved one is addicted. (Believe me, I know it is of immense value to each and all -- the 12 steps are beautiful for anyone.

IF we are lacking in friendships -- why don't we make or nurture some really healthy ones? Or maybe we can help someone else to do the same within safe boundaries, of course.

What about starting a conversation group in our community, neighborhood, school or church, mosque, synagogue or congregation about these issues?

Killing people for killing has never worked although removing and preventing the person out of control from hurting others is necessary.

To forgive is not a contradiction yet this usually takes much time and some are only able to do so without emotion. That's better than carrying venemous hatred and resentment into the rest of our lives.

So let's talk and let's pray...and consider the amazing tools and inspiration to be found in The Journey of Hope stories as well as the following places:

World Without Hate (the movement started by Rais Bhuiyan)

The Parent Circle (where parents who've lost children thru the turmoil in Palestine and Israel come together to forgive, to heal, to love and to seek other options to violence.

Look up Desmond Tutu on Forgiveness

What about the 13th Chapter of Corinthians in the New Testament? What about your favorite Psalm or Surah on God's great mercy and forgiveness?
What about KNOWING prayer gets through?

What sites or activities do you recommend?

Thanx for coming by -- keep in touch.

Pray without ceasing...


The photo above was found at "Sunset of the Day" for April 1st 2012

ACTION: Online Petition from Oklahoma: plz sign

Monday, April 2, 2012 5:32 PM

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has launched an online petition calling for Governor Mary Fallin to reconsider her refusal to follow the recommendation of the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole, which in a very rare move voted four to one to show mercy to Garry Allen. Garry Allen is scheduled to be executed on April 12 for his murder of Lawanna Gail Titsworth.

To learn more and sign the petition, go to the link below.

GO here

FDA Slammed For Allowing Illegal Execution Drugs

Death Penalty, Prisoners and People at Risk, USA | Posted by: Brian Evans, March 28, 2012

The death chamber in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

I’ve written before about how the death penalty degrades everything it touches, and in the words of Thomas Paine, “leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.” Doctors and other medical professionals complicit in the act of execution violate the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.” Drug companies are unwillingly dragged into the business of killing, rather than healing. And now, a recent court ruling exposes how the the FDA, whose stated mission is to keep us safe from bad food and drugs, has abandoned its mandate in order to facilitate state executions.

See the rest of this entry here and more...

On this same Amnesty Blogsite find this one:

The Death Penalty In 2011: Three Things You Should Know

Death Penalty, Prisoners and People at Risk, USA | Posted by: Brian Evans, March 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Every year around this time, Amnesty International releases its annual survey of capital punishment worldwide.

As in previous years, the report – Death Sentences and Execution 2011 – shows that support for executions continued to diminish, and that the U.S. is in the wrong company but moving in the right direction. There are three main takeaways from this years report.

1. Globally, the use of the death penalty remained in decline. At the end of 2011 there were 140 countries considered abolitionist in law or practice (it’s now 141 with the addition of Mongolia), while only 20 countries were known to have put prisoners to death. Only in the tumultuous Middle East was there an increase in executions.

See the rest of this entry here

This site is a good one to bookmark, pass on & save:

blog.amnestyusa.org or click here