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Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 10:17

The FBI is reviewing their expert testimony in 27 death penalty cases.

I think it's time to end capital punishment trials and executions. Even one person executed in error, no matter the reason, is too many.

An unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said.

The review terms could have wide repercussions. The FBI is examining more than 21,000 federal and state cases referred to the FBI Lab’s hair unit from 1982 through 1999 - by which time DNA testing of hair was routine - and the bureau has asked for help in finding cases before lab files were computerized in 1985.

Of 15,000 files reviewed to date, the FBI said a hair association was declared in about 2,100 cases. Investigators have contacted police and prosecutors in more than 1,200 of those cases to find out whether hair evidence was used in a conviction, in which case trial transcripts will be sought. However, 400 of those cases have been closed because prosecutors did not respond.

On May 7, Mississippi’s Supreme Court stayed the execution of Willie Jerome Manning for a 1992 double homicide hours before he was set to die by lethal injection.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

I hope that this study, or studies like it, lead to the elimination of the death penalty for once and for all. Even one mistake is too many, as you note.


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

Only 27 wrong?

Eh. Close enough for Government work.


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

wish we had a "liked" button


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

Isn't it enough to be imprisoned for life? I don't think we need to kill people for crimes...

This is something I've wrestled with inside, and didn't have a set opinion on for quite some time... but I think we can do away with this type of punishment as an "enlightened society".


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

Capital punishment is barbaric & usually practiced in barbaric countries!


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

An unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said.

iirc this isn't the first time that FBI labs have been faulted for erroneous findings. I would like to see a time when minimal errors are found due to strict procedures and enforcement of those rules.




Thanks to momj47 for starting this thread.

Here's the link to the WaPo article that has some good information: U.S. reviewing 27 death penalty convictions for FBI forensic testimony errors

From the article:

The death row cases are among the first 120 convictions identified as potentially problematic among more than 21,700 FBI Laboratory files being examined. The review was announced last July by the FBI and the Justice Department, in consultation with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

The unusual collaboration came after The Washington Post reported last year that authorities had known for years that flawed forensic work by FBI hair examiners may have led to convictions of potentially innocent people, but officials had not aggressively investigated problems or notified defendants.


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

I think it's time to end capital punishment trials and executions. Even one person executed in error, no matter the reason, is too many.

I have held this position for many years. In addition to the possibility of executing an innocent person, there are so many cons to this form of punishment and few pros.

I think the primary advantage to the death penalty is that it can be used as a bargaining chip by law enforcement, to extract information from a suspect. The 2nd is that is fulfills the desire for vengeance by the victims' families and society. IMO marginally useful.

Not I don't think there are some heinous criminals that deserve it. But instead, we should use these convicts as "lab rats" - to study and help prevent crime in the future. Think of the data and information that dies with them.


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Beyond the very real possibility of innocent people being executed I like to remind everyone that some one has to do the job. It is a job I would not want to do so how can I pass it on to someone else?


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

  • Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 20:04

Sorry, I meant to post the link when I posted earlier, I don't multi-task well any more!

Here's another story.

The death penalty in Georgia has been thrown into disarray after a court blocked the upcoming execution of Warren Hill and castigated the state for passing a new secrecy law hiding the identity of the pharmacists who have supplied the lethal injection drugs needed to kill him.

The source is likely to have been a compounding pharmacist, most probably in another state, who improvised a stock of pentobarbital on behalf of the corrections department. But the public is not allowed to know the location or identity of the outlet because the new Georgia law renders such information a "state secret".

"The death penalty is the most serious act the government can take. It's imperative that the public has access to the full range of information so that it can know what the state is doing in its name," said Sara Totonchi of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights.

It's kind of sickening.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

I can never reconcile the attitude of those who revere life to the point that they oppose abortion with those....very same people ...who would take anthers life?

Is life sacred or not? Or are just some lives sacred....who gets to pick and choose?

I may be wrong but I believe that the US is the only "civilized" modern democracy that still has capital punishment.

Instead the US aligns it self, in this regard with China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia..etc....


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I can never reconcile the attitude of those who revere life to the point that they oppose abortion with those....very same people ...who would take anthers life?

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While I still wrestle with both abortion and capital punishment, I can tell you that for many, the consideration that the death penalty for a child murderer, torturer and rapist is more palatable than murdering an innocent life.

Many do not consider extinguishing both lives as equal, although they are both extinguishing life. Much like the argument that if a fetus is likely to kill the mother at say 27 weeks along, it is okay to have an abortion to save the life of the mother, but not otherwise.

Death is death, if one views it without qualifiers.

Many people do look at it in this manner and executing murderers, torturers and rapists is just one of those qualifiers.

There aren't too many qualifiers when it comes to extinguishing innocent life other than the health of the growing life or the mother. Otherwise it's just an inconvenient life to be extinguished.

End game still the same, however.


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Your brain your quandary!
Lemon is very much like Peach if you think of it only within the paradigm of fruit!
My brain no quandary I'm pro choice meaning it's one I will not have to make & support women with their ease or difficulty in making that choice for themselves in regards to their bodies.

The death Penalty no qualms here, an individual with experience & possibly with guilt & perhaps a full set of faculties will deprived of their life in my name by the state for the benefit of my community the paradigm here being the nation is my community & this is being carried out in my name against this person with my passive assent.
One is a collective activity done in all our names the other is an individual choice over her body. There is no other legal individual involved as much as anyone else says I say there is.
Good luck with that struggle Demi! Your assertion is a faulty one based on your own agreement with your own resoning please leave me out of it!

This post was edited by labrea on Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 23:24


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Good luck with that struggle Demi! Your assertion is a faulty one based on your own agreement with your own resoning please leave me out of it!

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That is one thing you can take to the bank.

You're left out of anything to do with me.

This post was edited by demifloyd on Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 23:49


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

  • Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 23:53

I agree with labrea, they are not equal.

An abortion is a terrible thing, no matter why it's chosen, but I won't act to prevent anyone from making a choice - I would want the choice women make to be not having an abortion, most times, there are other options. But it's a personal decision.

The death penalty is not a personal choice, though God help us if it's become suicide by death penalty. Capital punishment is the State killing it's own citizens, and I have come to believe that no matter how evil a person is, the state should not be in the business of killing. It's revenge and retribution, and that is not a proper action of any government.

And don't kid yourself that it's "just" punishment. There is no "just" in killing another person. The motivation behind seeking the death penalty is always vengeance, always.


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

. The motivation behind seeking the death penalty is always vengeance, always.

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No, it is not always vengeance.

It's justice, sometimes.

Sometimes it is to prevent recidivism.


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Sometimes it is to prevent recidivism.

A life prison term prevents recidivism very effectively, so capital punishment is revenge.

The state should not be in the business of killing its own. The message is that sanctioned killing belongs to the most powerful, not that killing is wrong.

Amnesty International says it best:

The death penalty, both in the U.S. and around the world, is discriminatory and is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities.


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RE: Reviewing 27 death penalty convictions

Posted by nancy_in_venice_ca SS24 z10 CA (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 19, 13 at 0:39

Sometimes it is to prevent recidivism.

A life prison term prevents recidivism very effectively, so capital punishment is revenge.

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No, it is not always revenge.

Capital punishment can be less expensive than a life time sentence, depending on the age, state, and method of execution.

Capital punishment can be a deterrent to others; however, it is administered so sporadically and seldom that not everyone, including experts, is convinced that it is an effective deterrent.

It's not ALWAYS "revenge"--some consider it punishment, justice, and/or an attempted deterrent.

This post was edited by demifloyd on Fri, Jul 19, 13 at 8:01


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Interesting that countries like Canada , with no death penalty, haven't near the problems with violent crime as the US and absolutely no problem with recidivism as it relates to "capital cases"

In my view capital punishment is a barbaric ritual designed to garner revenge.


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No, it is not always vengeance.

It's justice, sometimes.

Sometimes it is to prevent recidivism.

No, it's not used to prevent recidivism. What a disgusting idea, even on it's face. Think about it, we are going to kill this one so that one doesn't commit a crime? That is sickening. And It's a weak argument that has been used over the years to justify something that can't be justified. And it's not only not true, it doesn't work.

Justice does not motivate condemning someone to death, revenge does. Just listen to people when a terrible crime has been committed and a suspect has been caught. Wanting an "eye for an eye" may be a knee-jerk human response, but, we, as humans, have the responsibility not to act on that response. And for the most part, we don't. Suspects go to trial, and if guilty, to jail.

But, in capital cases, the lawyers portray the suspect and the crime in the worst possible way to incite the jury, and the public, to want revenge, and it works. The lawyers may claim they are seeking justice, but if they were, they would be more dispassionate about the suspect and the crime. But that doesn't satisfy their blood lust.


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Some don't get all emotional and accusatory about the reasons other people do things.

There's nothing like someone arguing with you about what you think, and what others think, and why they think like they do.

I'm glad there are level headed people that control their emotions when making decisions about our criminal justice system and punishment.


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Capital punishment can be less expensive than a life time sentence, depending on the age, state, and method of execution.

You use the cost to incarcerate someone as justification for killing them instead?

What about the chance that an innocent person is put to death? That doesn't change your views on the death penalty?


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Actually, it costs more for a death penalty decision than life in prison. States that want to execute their criminals need to become more cost efficient.

And now they can't get the drugs for lethal injection - back to the electric chair, I guess. Or may hanging - or how about a firing squad. Does Utah still use that?

Here is a link that might be useful: Link


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Capital punishment can be a deterrent to others

Except that it isn't an effective deterrent.

The death penalty fails to deter crime.

The racial and geographical disparities in death penalty sentences also argue for its abolition.

Washington Law Review: THE RACIAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY

Race-based arbitrariness threatens the fair administration of the death penalty. [8] Blacks and other minority group members are over-represented on death rows across the country. [9] Statistics suggest that defendants are more likely to be sentenced to death for killing a white victim than a black victim. [10] Blacks are also executed disproportionately -- and have been since 1976. [11] Again, the federal death penalty is illustrative. Black inmates constitute twenty-eight of the fifty-seven (49%) inmates on federal death row. [12] As then-Assistant Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized in reaction to a September 2000 Department of Justice study of the federal death penalty, these disparities are alarming in a country where blacks constitute less than 13% of the population. [13] [...]

Geographic disparities also persist. To promote uniformity, United States Attorneys submit all death-eligible federal cases to the United States Attorney General for death-authorization. [15] Yet the geography of the federal death penalty is anything but uniform. Six of the ninety-four federal judicial districts account for one-third of death-authorizations. [16] More than half of all death-authorizations come from fourteen federal districts. [17] Seven federal districts are responsible for approximately 40% of the individuals on federal death row. [18] Two-thirds of districts have not sentenced anyone to death. [19] Nearly one-third of federal districts have not sought a death sentence. [20] Fewer than 20% of federal districts have sentenced more than one person to death. [21] [...]

IWhile there is no shortage of death-eligible murders in the United States each year, the number of murders in a particular location bears little relationship to the number of defendants from that jurisdiction who are sentenced to death federally.


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Well, using the death penalty as a viable way to "scare others straight" doesn't seem to work very well, judging by the numbers of criminals that still commit heinous crimes regardless of the harsh punishment they may face. So, the argument of recidivism doesn't hold any water.

And with the privatization of prisons, one would think that the more live prisoners there are, the more money there is to be made, no? One can't very well operate a trade in electrocuted corpses.

And then there's always the possibility that the select few imprisoned are innocent.

Nancy also brings up an interesting point... the racial disparity within our prison system... otherwise known as institutionalized racism... something we know exists but that which we never seem to find any solutions for.


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"I can never reconcile the attitude of those who revere life to the point that they oppose abortion with those....very same people ...who would take anthers life?"

Not your job to reconcile others attitudes particularly when that statement shows little attempt to do so,
It is a rhetorical device in it's usage as far as I can read!


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To me, the idea of saving every fetus, viable or not, wanted or not, can't be reconciled while holding the opinion that's it's okay to murder adults... because they're death row inmates. I don't understand how it's imperative to save one but okay to kill another.


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The Innocence Project has exonerated 310 people and 18 of those people have been on death row-the majority are black.

I think it is also depressing that many of the people who are executed are mentally impaired and some are even insane.


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I am anti-death penalty, and pro-choice, which I realize some consider a contradiction. But I do not equate the life of zygote, embryo, or early fetus - which is a rudimentary human with a rudimentary nervous system - with a fully developed, independently-breathing human.

I believe it is a fundamental right for every woman of reproductive age to control her reproductive destiny, and that right supercedes the right to life of an embryonic human being. And that she should have ready access to reasonable, modern, safe reproductive health care such as birth control, plan b, ru486, or first-term abortion (<12 week gestation or <14 week LMP). After that, I am less sure.

I respect the pro-life position of those who are anti-abortion and anti-DP, moreso than those who are anti-abortion and pro-DP. The former are consistent and the latter feel they are protecting the life of an innocent and vestigial human and yet they or the state are justified in executing a guilty adolescent or adult human. In some cases this is an immature or mentally ill, or rarely, innocent human.

It is especially puzzling when this position is proclaimed by those who call themselves "Christians" (of Jesus Christ). Did Jesus not preach forgiveness up until the point that he himself was executed for reasons determined worthy of capital punishment by the state in his era?

It makes me wonder when is it okay for the state or the average human to become arbiter of human life.


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Well stated, Terrene... I concur.

I don't think there's a comparison between an unformed, fully dependent zygote and an independent adult. I'm pro-choice/anti-DP.

I don't understand why the mentally ill are placed on death row... shouldn't they be treated in a facility dealing with the criminally unbalanced?

I have many problems with the way the US manages its legal, justice, and systems of incarceration.


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It is important to note that the innocence project only deals with cases where there is DNA evidence that can be used and has not been-and they have a backlog of thousands of applicants who want their help. Justice in America.

Though it is a state by state thing in most cases if while insane you commit some heinous crime or other, you can be treated to bring you back to some semblance of normalcy and are then sentenced as if you were sane at the time of your crime. Texas doesn't even bother with that. They don't seem to care one way or the other.


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