Thursday, June 08, 2006

Death penalty news

New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty reports that the State Senate will vote on reinstatement of the death penalty early next week.

The Senate will vote on two bills. One is for broader reinstatement of the death penalty (S2727) and the second is for reinstatement of the death penalty for the intentional murder of a police officer, peace officer or correctional official (S6771).

Recent developments in New York include the exoneration of Douglas Warney, convicted of a Rochester murder he did not commit. Mr. Warney has a borderline IQ, is subject to delusions and his conviction was apparently based on a confession that was manipulated and coerced by investigators. He served 10 years before DNA evidence proved him innocent. His case shows that New York's criminal justice system is not immune to the kinds of error that have led to wrongful convictions in other states.

Moreover, there is no provision in the proposed reinstatement bills that would exclude people suffering with mental illness from execution. The New York Times recently wrote about a Texas man, facing imminent execution despite clear evidence that he has a long history of mental illness and insists that Texas is working in
cooperation with Satan to execute him as a way to keep him from preaching the gospel. In New York, as in other states, potentially mitigating evidence of mental illness has been kept from juries at the insistence of the defendants.

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