Mimi Kennedy (actress, Midnight In Paris) makes a point about how Hollywood exports violence abroad, and Jordan Zakarin (writer/editor, The Huffington Post) shares his thoughts on the cozy relationship between the film industry and the Pentagon. The final point is on what may be the most controversial moment in Oscars history involving Marlon Brando and Native Americans. Cenk Uygur (host, The Young Turks) leads the discussion with Mike Farrell (actor/activist/writer - president, Death Penalty Focus), Tina Dupuy (managing editor, CrooksandLiars.com), and Ed Rampell (film critic and author, 'Progressive Hollywood').
56 documents found in 0.001 seconds.
- Academy Award
- Antonin Scalia
- Catholic Church
- Cenk Uygur
- GOP Debate at Reagan Library
- Gov. Rick Perry
- John Kitzhaber
- Mike Farrell
- Reginald Clemons
- Ron Reagan Jr.
- Supreme Court
- The Young Turks
- Tina Dupuy
- Troy Davis
- capital punishment
- reasonable doubt
- right wing lunacy
More governors need to take the courageous step that Governor John Kitzhaber took this week. Telling Oregonians he's still haunted by the two executions he approved during his earlier terms as governor, he declared an end to capital punishment for the duration of his term on Wednesday.
Via Common Dreams:
Calling Oregon's death penalty scheme "compromised and inequitable," the Democratic governor said Tuesday he'll issue a reprieve to a twice-convicted murderer who was scheduled to die by lethal injection in two weeks. He said he'd do the same for any other condemned inmates facing execution during his tenure in office.
"I simply cannot participate once again in something that I believe to be morally wrong," the governor said in uncharacteristically emotional remarks during a news conference in his office.
"It is time for this state to consider a different approach," he said.
It's time for all states to consider a different approach, not just Oregon. This was not an easy choice for Kitzhaber, but he made it with a conscience apparent.
Oregon has executed two men since voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984, one each in 1996 and 1997. Both inmates, like Haugen, had voluntarily given up their appeals. Kitzhaber declined to intervene in their cases, however, citing his oath to uphold the constitution.
But the governor now says he's long regretted his decision to allow those executions, and he's come to believe that Oregon voters did not intend to create a death penalty scheme in which the only inmates who are put to death are those who volunteer.
"The reality is that, in Oregon, our death sentence is essentially an extremely expensive life prison term," Kitzhaber said. "Far more expensive than the terms of others who are sentenced to life in prison without parole, rather than to death row."
Kitzhaber fought tears as he said he spoke to relatives of Haugen's victims, saying they were difficult discussions and his "heart goes out to them." He declined to discuss them further, calling them "private conversations."
Many of you knew I grew up a Catholic. Being Italian with ancestors from Sicily, I had no choice. I'm not hostile to religion per se, but as I've grown older I'm able to make my own mind up on many issues like choice, poverty and the death penalty. Obviously the rise of the religious right in this country has had a huge negative impact overall in American society. The televangelists made billions of dollars off our teevees and turned con men, liars, hypocrites and circus performers into mega millionaires. PFAW was Norman Lear's response after he saw some of these charlatan's become beltway darlings. Antonin Scalia is one of these religious frauds. He espouses that he is a devout Catholic, but when faced with a true tenet of Church doctrine, which is against the death penalty, he shrivels up into a typical movement conservative player:
That Justice Antonin Scalia believes in execution as a moral form of punishment is a well-known fact. That he is an observant, traditional Roman Catholic is, similarly, well-known. That he appears to believe his church supports the death penalty and that he’s willing to stake his job on that conviction is nothing short of astonishing. But there it is: “If I thought that Catholic doctrine held the death penalty to be immoral, I would resign,” he told an audience at Duquesne University Law School last month. “I could not be part of a system that imposes it.”
Let’s start with Scalia’s implication that the Roman Catholic Church supports the death penalty. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. In 2005, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement saying that “ending the death penalty would be one important step away from a culture of death and toward building a culture of life.” In 2007, the Vatican said that capital punishment is “an affront to human dignity.” Both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II, have consistently voiced their opposition to the death penalty and praised governments and leaders who abolished it.
In 2007, Benedict sent a letter through an emissary pleading for clemency in the Georgia capital case of Troy Davis. On Sept. 21, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Davis’s petition for a stay of execution and Davis was killed by injection. One doesn't know how Scalia voted. But in any case, that justice’s professional and democratic obligations overrode the express wishes of his pope that night.
I don't pretend to speak for Catholicism at all or claim to be an expert on it either. I do know that it did help me in my own way, but I like to keep what religious or spiritual beliefs I have to myself. I know atheists who have more common decency in their pinkie finger than many supposedly devout Christians. When I was fifteen I made a conscious decision that the death penalty was nothing more than revenge. If one person was executed unjustly then the whole ball of wax comes crashing down. When I started really dating I began to think about what would happen if I got a a woman pregnant. I decided that I would be a stand up guy and do the right thing no matter what, but I made a decision that a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her own body. I was still going to church on Sunday's with my first girlfriend at the time. If I were to have become a devout Catholic, there would be no room for my feelings about the death penalty. I don't think an average working class Catholic living in America was trying to find loopholes in how the church felt about the death penalty even back then.
On the question of doctrine, though, Scalia is out on a limb, and like a cartoon bunny, he’s sawing it off behind him. In 1995, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical — an official document of the utmost importance — called “Evangelium Vitae,” in which he weighed in on the death penalty.
“The nature and extent of the punishment,” he wrote, “ought not to go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible to defend society.” In today’s societies, the pope said, “such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
Death penalty opponents celebrated, saying that “Evangelium Vitae” voiced the church’s near total opposition to capital punishment. Although important theologians disagreed, saying the encyclical falls short of calling the death penalty immoral, Scalia was not one of them.
In a 2002 speech at the University of Chicago, Scalia said “Evangelium Vitae” reversed centuries of Catholic tradition by making capital punishment — his word — “wrong.”
This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.
I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,
“I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”
I want to take him at his word, and as it turns out, right after I wrote my final post about Troy's execution, someone suggested I look at Reginald Clemons' case, pending in Missouri.
The more I look at it, the more I'm gobsmacked by the idea of this man ending up on Death Row when he was never convicted of the crime committed -- the rape and murder of two white teenagers. Under the prosecutor's theory of the case, Clemons was an accomplice. It is a case with a lot of twists and turns in it, but there are facts which have been clearly established. The fact sheet with the entire story is here. I suggest you read it before going further.
Here's some of what you will learn:
- At the time of the crime, Reggie Clemons had a clean record, was in school studying to become a mechanic. There does not appear to be any common link between the victims, Clemons, or his friends.
- The original suspect was a cousin of the victims, Thomas Cummins, who eventually implicated himself in the crime after his initial story came up short. Charges against Cummins were dropped and charges brought against the three African-American teenagers who were in the area that night. Clemons was one.
- Police beat Clemons, denied him an attorney after he asked for one, and coerced a statement from him, admitting to rape of the girls but not pushing them off the bridge.
- Thomas Cummins retracted his confession, claiming it had been beaten out of him. He settled his police brutality complaint and prosecutors dropped all charges. They ignored Clemons and his co-defendants' claims of police brutality, dropped the rape charges, and charged them all with capital murder. Clemons charges stemmed from their theory of the case; namely, that he was an accessory to murder by virtue of being in the same location.
- Reggie Clemons had extraordinarily ineffective attorneys. One of them was practicing tax law in California while returning to Missouri for court appearances.
- The prosecutor improperly excluded African-American jurors from the panel. It was so egregious he was later sanctioned for it.
- One of his co-defendants, Marlin Gray, was executed in 2009.
There's more. But this gives you a flavor of what this case is about. As if all of that isn't bad enough, there's this nugget, discovered after 8th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed his execution: There is a rape kit from one of the victims in the police evidence room that has never been tested and was never brought forth at trial. A rape kit! Something that would have proven or disproven Reggie Clemons' coerced confession.
UPDATE: Denied by SCOTUS.
UPDATE: Officer MacPhail's mother told CNN that SCOTUS says she will have a decision by 8:30 pm.
Lawyers for Troy Davis report that a seven-day reprieve was granted while the Supreme Court examines the petition for a stay of execution. He can, however, still be executed during that time if the Georgia authorities so choose:
ATLANTA — Troy Davis, the condemned inmate who convinced hundreds of thousands of people but not the justice system of his innocence, filed an eleventh-hour plea Wednesday asking the United States Supreme Court to stop Georgia authorities from executing him for the murder of an off-duty police officer, The Associated Press reported.
His execution had been set to begin at 7 p.m., but as the hour arrived, Georgia prison officials were still waiting for the high court's decision.
The appeal to the Supreme Court was one of several last-ditch efforts by Mr. Davis on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, an official of the N.A.A.C.P. said that the vote by the Georgia parole board to deny clemency to Mr. Davis was so close that he hoped there might still be a chance to save him from execution.
Edward O. DuBose, president of the Georgia chapter, said the organization had “very reliable information from the board members directly that the board was split 3 to 2 on whether to grant clemency.”
“The fact that that kind of division was in the room is even more of a sign that there is a strong possibility to save Troy’s life,” he said.
The N.A.A.C.P said it had been in contact with the Department of Justice on Wednesday, in the hope that the federal government would intervene on the basis of civil rights violations, meaning irregularities in the original investigation and at the trial.
I was a little shocked to see the riot police surrounding the prison tonight, ready to move against anti-death penalty protesters. We really are seeing the increased militarization of the police.
Troy Davis is scheduled to be murdered by the state of Georgia tonight at 7pm EDT. I say "murdered" rather than "executed" because murder is what it really is. It is the intentional taking of another person's life by the state. There is no bigger government than this. None. And yet, it is because Georgia is a conservative state that it is more or less assured that a man who may possibly be innocent, around whose guilt there is much doubt, will not receive any mercy from the state.
The Troy Davis case was staged—pure theater. I do not mean "staged" because the case has attracted worldwide attention and high-profile supporters. Nor do I refer here to the drama surrounding the Georgia Board of Pardons, which at the 11th hour denied clemency again this morning, so that Davis faces execution tomorrow—despite powerful evidence of his innocence. By "staged" I mean that the eyewitness evidence at the core of his original criminal trial was, quite literally, staged by the police.
The federal court that finally reviewed evidence of Davis' innocence agreed "this case centers on eyewitness testimony." Yet that court put to one side the fact that seven of the nine witnesses at the trial have now recanted, and new witnesses have implicated another man. The court did so while failing to carefully examine how eyewitnesses ultimately came to identify Davis as the man who shot a police officer intervening in a fight at a Burger King parking lot. The Troy Davis case—which raises a wide array of flaws in our death penalty system, our post-conviction system, and the politics of criminal justice—is thus also a case about malleability of eyewitness memory and police misconduct.
I will personally attest to the fallibility of eyewitness testimony. I had the order of events right, I had one of the players right, but I had the victim wrong. And I had pictures taken in real time!
Progressive rapper Jasiri X released a new video on September 15, "I Am Troy Davis (T.R.O.Y.)," highlighting the plight of a man who is scheduled to be executed on the 21st by the state of Georgia. While tea party "patriots" are cheering the death penalty at Republican presidential debates, this case highlights the primary problems with the death penalty -- the possibility of executing an innocent and the racial disparities in the application of the penalty.
It is clear that there is a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Davis -- so much so that one of the jurors in the original case has publicly stated that if she knew then what she knows now, she would've voted "not guilty." Among the key problems with the case:
The case against him consisted of witness testimony that was full of inconsistencies. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted their testimony — and many have sworn in affidavits that police pressured or coerced them into testifying or signing statements.
You can learn more about the case at www.TroyAnthonyDavis.org and take action at Color of Change sending a letter to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. Act quickly, the execution is scheduled for next week.
I want to tell you a story. It isn't about Troy Davis, but it is about Troy Davis. It is about murder, loss, vengeance, and victims. It is about how our justice system treats defendants of color and about how our justice system does not necessarily deliver justice. It is my plea to you as a family member of a murder victim not to become what you loathe.
On May 29, 1971, Charles Hayes got up, got dressed, brushed his teeth and kissed his wife goodbye. It was their 40th wedding anniversary that day, but he had a full day of work as a Southern Pacific railroad clerk in South Central LA to put in before they could celebrate that night.
At 5:45 that evening, my grandmother called, hysterical. My grandfather, Charles Hayes, had not returned from work at 5:00 as he had every Saturday for 40 years. Something was wrong. I was 12 years old at the time. I handed the phone off to my parents, who suggested calling the police. You had to understand this about Charles -- he was as reliable as the sunrise and sunset. He was a creature of habit, of routine. The only reason he would possibly have not been home on their 40th wedding anniversary was because something had happened, though we fiercely hoped it hadn't.
I was the only one of us to remember the license plate of his car. I remember it like it happened yesterday. The police were skeptical that a twerp kid would have a clue as to the license, but I still remember it. KAH204. A brown Chevy Impala, the car he always wanted. Enough room for passengers, but lots of muscle, too.
On June 1, 1971, the car was found several blocks away from where he worked, and so was he, or at least his body. Shot twice through the neck on one side and then the other, life drained away in the spare tire well of the trunk of his car.
The world stopped for awhile. Nothing seemed especially right, but we spent a long time pretending it was anyway. We still moved through the days, pretended like it wasn't really as awful as it was and tried to manage my grandmother, who quite nearly lost her mind. There were days where I hated that unknown person who had taken a gun and put it point-blank to my grandfather's neck. The same man who had shown me how to hit a baseball and mow a lawn. The same man who could dance his way across a floor like he was still 20 and who had such a gentle laugh you had to lean in to hear it.
They did arrest a man. They arrested him while he was in the process of kidnapping a woman and shooting her boyfriend. Ultimately they pinned three murders on him. The judge in the case railed against the jury for sentencing him to life in prison instead of the death penalty in January, 1972. The LA Times article I found 20 years later said the judge called his case "one of the most brutal, one of the most vicious cases ever to come to [his] attention. If ever there was a reason to justify capital punishment, this is the one."
Perhaps that judge was right, but the same jury who had convicted Hendrix of three premeditated, cold-blooded murders felt otherwise. There was something there, some reason which I will not ever know, that caused them to choose life over death.
Over time, we got on with life, graduated from high school, went to college, had careers, but I was always haunted by the question of why. Detectives assured my parents that John Philip Hendrix was, indeed, the man who pulled that trigger twice. Case closed. Closure. If you think closure means accepting something without evidence, then yes. I suppose it was closure. Except it wasn't.
20 years later, I did my best to track down the police records on the case, only to discover they had been destroyed. I went to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office and begged them to pull the court records. Internet friends reached out to their contacts there, too, but as it turns out, the files were destroyed -- court, police and evidence records. All gone. Since there was no direct linkage on the record from Hendrix to Hayes, my grandfather's case was closed but not solved. Closed for them, but not for me. Not by a long shot. How could it be closed on the word of police who weren't even part of the investigation or trial?
There was a lot not to like during the Reagan Library GOP Debate last night, where presidential candidates attacked science, 999, and called Social Security a Ponzi scheme among a host of other insane ideas, but nothing shocked me more than when the audience started cheering Rick Perry's appalling record of executions in Texas.
Republican voters at Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate expressed their approval of the death penalty by giving Gov. Rick Perry's record on executions some of the loudest applause of the night.
"Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times," NBC's Brian Williams told Perry as the conservative audience broke into cheers and applause. "Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?"
"No, sir, I've never struggled with that at all," Perry flatly stated. "In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you're involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed."
The audience again cheered at Perry's mention of "the ultimate justice."
"What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?" Williams asked.
"I think Americans understand justice," Perry explained. "I think Americans are clearly in the vast majority of cases, supportive of capital punishment. When you have committed heinous crimes against our citizens, and it's a state-by-state issue, but in the state of Texas, our citizens have made that decision, and they made it clear, and they don't want you to commit those crimes against our citizens, and if you do, you will face the ultimate justice."
We've written about how death penalty-happy Rick Perry is. But bless him, guest host Ron Reagan really narrowed down the question that we must address if we want to be honest about having a death penalty:
How many innocent people is it permissible to kill in order to exact vengeance on the guilty?
There's no easy answer for that if you're still advocating for the death penalty.
Personally, I'm against the death penalty. I've participated in protests and vigils against it. It horrifies me that we're one of the only Western nations still acting so barbarically. But besides that, the death penalty has inherent flaws:
[The application of the death penalty is often] racist, unfair to poor and the mentally retarded, and often ends in the state sanctioned murder of innocents.
Less than 1% of all murderers are condemned to death
2% of death row inmates are actually executed
Over 113 people on death row have been exonerated since 1973
68% of the death penalty convictions between 1973 - 1995 were reversed
Today more than 75 death row inmates have spent 20 years on the Row.
Capital punishment is applied to a higher percentage of minorities than whites.
It is not cost effective: Capital murder trials threaten to bankrupt townships costing taxpayers:
$2 million in legal fees to try a death penalty case, nearly 4 times higher than comparable murder trials.
The automatic appeal process costs up to $700,000 in legal fees.
$1.2 million in execution costs.
1973 -1998, Florida spent $57 million on 18 executions.
It is does not deter crime: The European Union (EU) is opposed to the death penalty in all cases and is "deeply concerned about the increasing number of executions in the United States of America (USA), all the more since the great majority of executions since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 have been carried out in the 1990s. Furthermore, in the US, young offenders who are under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime may be sentenced to death and executed, in clear infringement of internationally recognized human rights norms." Russia and Turkey have abolished the death penalty which is condemned by the European Union and the World Court, which claimed that the U.S. violated the rights of 51 Mexicans on death rows in eight states. Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ban, Texas has continued to send mentally retarded criminals to death row. Will a Mexican immigrant's case correct this injustice? The two states with the most executions in 2003, Texas 24, and Oklahoma 14, saw increases in their murder rates from 2002 to 2003. Both states had murder rates above the national average in 2003: Texas - 6.4, and Oklahoma - 5.9. The top 13 states in terms of murder rates were all death penalty states. The murder rate of the death penalty states increased from 2002, while the rate in non-death penalty states decreased.Death Penalty Information Center
So it's ineffective as a deterrent, applied inequitably, unfairly focusing on the poor, mentally challenged and minorities, costs more than life in prison and we're basically applying the same punishment that countries we hold up as barbaric do?
What exactly is the benefit of the death penalty except for Rick Perry's bloodlust?