Archive for the ‘Death penalty’ Category


The latest monthly death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  There is news of Reggie Clemons who has been on death row for 26 years now and we have heard from a family member.

Death penalty report (Word)

Reggie Clemons (picture Amnesty USA)


Attached is the Death Penalty report for April – May prepared by group member Lesley.  It contains an update on the rush to execute people in Arkansas USA because of the imminent expiry of the drugs used.  There is also an update on the situation with Reggie Clemons.

Report (pdf)

 


Boys at risk of execution in Somalia

This is an all too familiar story of poor justice which has led to the execution already of five boys with two more at risk.

The story is that seven boys were arrested in December 2016 for allegedly killing three high ranking officials.  The boys were held in shipping containers for around 2 weeks before being transferred to a police station.  Two of the boys said they were subjected to various forms of torture including electrocution; burning with cigarettes on their genitals; beatings; drownings and rape.  Confessions were secured.

They were then tried before a military court with no other evidence other than the confessions.  They were denied access to a lawyer.  At the Appeal they were denied access to lawyers as well.

The two remaining boys – Muhamed Yasin Abdi who is 17 and Saud Saied Sahal, 15, are still in detention and are at risk of execution.

If you can spare some time to write or email that would be appreciated.  Full details on the link below.

Urgent Action: Somalia


Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Five reasons to end the death penalty

We are attaching the recent post issued by RightsInfo which gives 5 reasons to end the death penalty.  There is a rising tide of executions around the world as the recent Amnesty report makes clear with China the country which leads the world (if ‘lead’ be the appropriate word) in executing the greatest number which it keeps a secret.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are also major executioners often in barbaric circumstances.

Our local group produces a monthly report and these can be found on this site.

Briefly, the Rights Info report, entitled: 5 Reasons the UK is Trying to Stamp Out the Death Penalty Worldwide, says that the death penalty:

  1. will often execute the innocent.  We have documented many instances on this site where for various reasons, the wrong person has been executed.  Once done, it cannot be undone
  2. is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and often involves people incarcerated for decades under threat of execution
  3. it has no effect on crime rates, indeed there are more murders in those states in the United States where capital punishment is used
  4. it damages international crime fighting because we cannot extradite individualswhere there is the risk of someone being executed

[we were unable to find a fifth in the report]

5 Reasons the UK is Trying to Stamp Out the Death Penalty Worldwide – RightsInfo copy (pdf)


Juvenile due to be executed in Iran

Iranian Mullahs

This is an urgent action for someone who was accused and tried as a juvenile (aged 15 at the time of the alleged murder) and who is now due to be executed on 10 May.  He was held in solitary confinement during his confinement and says he was beaten during his time in prison.

If you can find time to write or email that would be appreciated.

Urgent action: Iran



Petition to the Governor Asa Hutchinson to stop the execution due this week

The rush to carry out executions in Arkansas, USA, continues apace with another one due tomorrow (Thursday 27th).  This is a petition (see below) to send to the Governor asking him to stop.  The panic to get the executions done is because the drugs being used are due to expire.  Adds a new meaning to ‘sell by date’ we see on our foodstuffs.

The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights, as it violates the right to life. It is also a cruel and inhumane punishment that may constitute torture.

Amnesty always oppose the death penalty in every case because it violates rights. The idea of lethal injection as a ‘humane’ form of execution is simply a myth. There have been numerous cases of ‘botched’ executions by lethal injection in the US in recent years, with prisoners failing to die quickly or ‘quietly’.  See our post on the process to be followed in California.

If you get time to send an urgent email that would be appreciated.

 

Petition to Arkansas


UPDATE: two executed today (25 April)

‘Execution by assembly line’

The death penalty saga in Arkansas continues with a blizzard of legal writs and appeals to the Supreme Court.  The heart of the matter was the desire of the Governor, Asa Hutchinson, to execute eight inmates before the drugs run out.  Ledell Lee was executed last Thursday.  States with the death penalty are finding it harder to obtain the medication to carry out the executions.  This is partly due to the activities of anti-death penalty groups, waning support for the penalty with 49% of Americans in favour, and the refusal by drug companies to supply them.  The EU has banned European firms from exporting them.  Indeed, two firms who have supplied drugs – in particular Midazolam – have filed claims against its use on the basis that they were not supplied for that purpose.  These claims have been rejected.

A recent appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected 5 – 4 and key was the vote by the newly appointed Justice Gorsuch.  He was one of President Trump’s appointments.

One of the appeals was to re-examine crime scene materials using modern DNA techniques.  These should prove conclusively either way whether the defendants were guilty or otherwise.  These claims were denied which seems bizarre in the extreme when someone’s life is at stake.  Ledell Lee has now been executed so it is too late for him.  The inadequate nature of trials which lead to the use of the death penalty is describe in Clive Stafford Smith’s book Injustice.   The gruesome process of the death penalty is laid bare in the State of California’s procedure and protocol summarised here.

Arkansa now wants to execute two on the same day which is the first time that will have happened since 1970 in Texas.

This is a fast moving story and no doubt this item will be updated soon.

Sources:

Reuters; BBC; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Time; Arkansas Times; Death Penalty Information Center


 

 

 


Follow the links to Twitter and Facebook on the left.

If you live in the Salisbury (UK) area and are interested in Human rights we would be delighted to see you.  The best way is to keep an eye on events and come along and make yourself known.  See also the Joining tab at the top of the page.


Death penalty report for March – April 2017

This is the death penalty update report for mid March to mid April thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  Some good news – even in China – where the statistics on the use of the penalty are a state secret, tempered by heavy use in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Iran.

Report (Word)



Execution spree in Arkansas, USA

 This urgent action is for Ledell Lee who is one of a number facing imminent execution in Arkansas.  There is a spate of these planned executions in that state due to the imminent expiry of the chemicals used for the execution.  It gives a new meaning to ‘sell by date’.  If you want to read the gruesome details of execution by lethal injection, read an extract from the details sent to us by the state of California.

This case – concerning Ledell Lee – is worth reading even if you do not have the time to write which we hope you will.  It gives a bizarre insight into the legal process and the low standard of defence someone can expect in some states of the Union.  It is just another example described by Clive Stafford Smith in his book on the subject.

The USA is the only state in the Americas which still has the death penalty.

China executes more of its citizens than any other country but the statistics are a state secret.

Urgent Action: Arkansas (pdf)

 


We receive a reply from the state of California

Think of California and we call to mind Hollywood and the film industry, Silicon Valley and major companies such as Microsoft and Google, cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, important universities such as Caltech, the home of surfing, and altogether a state which is a pace setter in the world and one which is much admired.  There have recently been some TV adverts in the UK promoting the state as an exciting place to visit.

But there is a dark side which is that the state is keen on the death penalty.  USA is the only country in the Americas to retain this penalty and California is one of the states which retains it in the Union.  The web site Death Penalty Information Center gives the statistics for those executed and on death row and explains that the county of Los Angeles has more prisoners on death row than any other county in the USA.  California has 741 inmates on death row (2015).

Last year there was an attempt to end it with something called Proposition 62 which failed.  Proposition 66 to retain it was successful.  So the state will continue to execute.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.  It is ineffective as a deterrent, mistakes – and there are many – cannot be undone and it is a barbaric and uncivilised practice.  Juries are less and less willing to convict if they know the defendant may be executed.  During the course of the debate about the propositions Amnesty members wrote in favour of 62 as part of the consultation process.  Anyone who has doubts about its use as a penalty should read Clive Stafford Smith’s book on the subject reviewed here.  Chapter after chapter reveals the unfair processes which lead to someone ending up on death row.  Poor defendants cannot afford proper counsel and failures in the trial can mean avenues of defence are ‘procedurally barred’ at an appeal.

Response

We have just received a reply from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Motto: A Safer California through Correctional Excellence) in the state capital Sacramento with over 30 pages of material.  Essentially it contains detailed information of a bureaucratic nature concerning how the death penalty is to be administered.  There is something ghoulish about such a document and reading the fine grain of how someone is to be put to death.  There are pages and pages of details and we can only provide a short extract here.  Hannah Arendt’s phrase ‘the banality of evil’ springs to mind.   Here are some extracts:

inmates sentenced to death shall have the opportunity to elect to have the punishment imposed by lethal gas or lethal injection.  Upon being served with the warrant of execution, the inmate shall be served with CDCR Form 1801 – B (Rev 10/15), Service of Execution Warrant […]  subsection 3349

the inmate shall be notified of the opportunity to elect lethal gas or lethal injection and that, if the inmate does not choose either lethal gas or lethal injection within ten calendar days after being served with the execution warrant, the penalty of death shall be imposed by lethal injection.  […]

Infusion Control Room means the space allocated for the Lethal Injection Chemical preparation area and is the room designed to accommodated the Infusion Sub-Team designated members of the Intravenous Sub-Team, the Team Administrator Team Supervisor, designated members of the Record Keeping Sub-Team, San Quintin Litigation Coordinator  and one representative each from the Governor’s Office, the Inspector General Office and the Attorney Generals Office.  Subsection 3349

The Team Administrator shall ensure training on the lethal injection process is provided to each Lethal Injection Team member.

Ensure the inmate has a copy of the current California Code of Corrections, Title 15, Division 3, for review of general rules and procedures that shall be utilized during the days leading up to the date of execution.

The Lethal Injection Chemical selection shall be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account changing factors such as the availability of a supply of chemical.  The San Quintin Warden shall make the selection in consultation with medical personnel and notify the CDCR Secretary of the selection.

Inform the inmate that he/she shall be executed by lethal injection, the Lethal Injection Chemical and amount to be used, and document this information on CDCR Form 1801-A (Rev. 10/15), Choice of Execution Method.

Refer the inmate to the Intravenous Sub-Team for a vein assessment to determine the size, location, and resilience of the veins.  The vein assessment shall identify the primary, backup, and alternate backup locations.  […]

[information] shall be used to determine if there is good reason to believe the inmate has become insane, pursuant to Penal Code Section 3701.  […]

Accommodations for the last meal shall be reasonable and not exceed a fifty dollar $50 limit.

Thus far, it has been 20 pages of material concerning the events leading up to the execution.  The document begins to become more gruesome when it starts to describe the actual execution process itself:

After the inmate is secured in the Lethal Injection Room, the Intravenous Sub-Team members shall […] inspect the restraints to ensure they do not restrict the inmate’s circulation or interfere with the insertion of the catheters. p22

#1 -60cc syringe containing the specified amount of the designated Lethal Injection Chemical shall be administered, followed by a consciousness assessment of the inmate; the Intravenous Sub-Team Member shall brush the back of his/her hand over the inmate’s eyelashes, and speak to and gently shake the inmate.  Observations shall be documented.  If the inmate is unresponsive, it will demonstrate that inmate is unconscious.  The process shall continue as follows:

#2 -60cc syringe containing the specified amount of the designated Lethal Injection Chemical shall be administered

[then syringe #3; #4; #5 then a saline flush] p23

If, following the administration of syringe #1 the assessment indicates the inmate is not unconscious, the Intravenous Sub-Team member shall check the catheter for patency.  After checking for patency, syringe #2 shall be administered followed by a second consciousness assessment of the inmate in the same manner [as described earlier] […]

Picture: Boston Magazine

In the event all six syringes from Tray A have been administered, the ten minutes countdown has elapsed and death has not been declared, the Record Keeping Sub-Team member shall advise the Team Supervisor, who will then advise the Team Administrator and the San Quentin Warden.  The San Quentin Warden shall direct the Lethal Injection Chemical administration process set forth in subsections (43) – (8) be repeated, but using the backup intravenous catheter and the six syringes from Tray B.  p24

This paragraph is then repeated and ends with the use of Tray C. It then goes on:

In the event of all six syringes from Tray C have been administered, the ten minutes countdown has elapsed and death has not been declared, the San Quentin Warden shall direct the Infusion Sub-Team to prepare a set of five addition syringes of Lethal Injection Chemical, each containing 1.5 grams of Lethal Injection Chemical.  The Lethal Injection Chemical shall be mixed according to the manufacture’s instructions.  A medically trained Infusion Sub-Team shall prepare the syringes.  A separate medically trained Infusion Sub-Team member or Intravenous Sub-Team member shall verify proper preparation of each syringe.  The Warden shall direct the Record keeping Sub-team member to initiate the ten minute countdown and the Infusion Sub-Team to administer a syringe containing 1.5 grams of the Lethal Injection Chemical in the alternate backup intravenous line, and wait for ten minutes.  If the inmate’s death has not been declared by the end of that ten-minute period, the San Quentin Warden shall direct the same process be followed until five syringes have been administered.  If at any time during this process the inmate is declared dead, the administration of Lethal Injection Chemical shall stop.

This paragraph is then repeated to say that if the inmate is still not dead after another ten minutes then the process is repeated.

In the event that all ten syringes of Lethal Injection Chemical referred to [in the document] have been administered, ten minutes have elapsed, and death has not been declared, the San Quentin Warden shall stop the execution and summon medical assistance for the inmate as set forth in subsection (d) p25

The meticulous detail and the amount of injections which might be necessary and the successive periods of waiting to see if he or she has died – to see it all methodically described and set out in laborious detail is decidedly chilling.


Read our latest death penalty report.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook – salisburyai

Clive Stafford Smith is a member of Reprieve