About ND ASK

Notre Dame Against State Killing (ND ASK) is a campaign for a moratorium on executions in Indiana. We work to inspire discussion and action on the death penalty on the Notre Dame campus and across Indiana.

For more information or to join ND ASK, please fill out the form above or e-mail us at NotreDameASK@gmail.com. Thank you for visiting.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Supreme Court: Death Penalty Applies Only to Murder

On June 25, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down Louisiana's law allowing a death sentence for those guilty of child rape. The Kennedy v. Louisiana opinion additionally extended the current understanding of death-eligible crimes, clarifying that the death penalty is “for crimes that take the life of the victim."

Read full coverage on the InCASE blog.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Innocence Project channel on YouTube

The Innocence Project has a great account on YouTube where you'll find many interviews with exonerees, as well as video of events like the April 2007 ceremony (embedded below) where 17 people who served decades in prison for crimes they did not commit are honored. Please watch the video below for an introduction to their stories, and visit the Innocence Project on YouTube here.

See www.innocenceproject.org for more.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

NPR: Father Finds Peace in Forgiveness

Hector Black's daughter was murdered seven years ago in Atlanta.

In this NPR story, he tells the story of her death and his decision not to seek the death penalty in the case. He briefly details how he forgave the man who killed his daughter.

Listen to this moving, 4-minute piece here.

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Nebraska Newspaper Calls for Abolition

Days after Nebraska's Supreme Court struck down its electrocution statute, the Lincoln Journal-Star published an editorial calling for the end of the death penalty there. The state was left without a means of carrying out executions--as the electric chair was its sole method.

The Journal-Star editorial asserts, "The time is ripe to abolish capital punishment in the state...Instead of rushing to pass a new means of capital punishment, the Legislature should take this opportunity to finally get rid of the death penalty."
Read the full editorial here.

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Historic Texas Case Ends with Life Sentence

From the Death Penalty Information Center and AP:
On February 15, a mentally retarded man in Texas accepted a life sentence for a murder that occurred over 28 years ago. Johnny Paul Penry was originally sentenced to death for the sexual assault and murder of Pamela Mosley Carpenter. Penry's death sentence was overturned twice by the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to the plea agreement, the prosecution was insisting on a fourth capital sentencing hearing for Penry.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that although the execution of the mentally retarded was not constitutionally banned, the law in Texas did not give mentally retarded defendants sufficient protection to ensure that their disability was considered as a mitigating factor (Penry v. Lynaugh). Penry was again sentenced to death and again the sentence was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 (Penry v. Johnson). In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia held that the execution of defendants with mental retardation was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Texas continued to seek a death sentence for Penry, whose IQ has been measured between 50 and 63, well into the mental retardation range. In 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Penry's latest death sentence.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nebraska Strikes Down Electrocution

The Nebraska Supreme Court declared electrocution unconstitutional on Friday, Feb. 8, striking down the electric chair in the only state that still used it as its sole method of execution.

In a 6-1 ruling, the Court said evidence shows that electrocution inflicts "intense pain and agonizing suffering" and that "(electrocution) has proven itself to be a dinosaur more befitting the laboratory of Baron Frankenstein than the death chamber" of state prisons.

Get more coverage on the InCASE blog, "End of Nebraska's Electric Chair." Also see New York Times Legal Columnist Adam Liptak's analysis here: "Electrocution is Banned in Last State to Rely on It."

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The Death Penalty in 2007

According to the 2007 annual report of the Death Penalty Information Center, 2007 had 42 executions - the lowest number in 13 years. This decrease is due in part to the de facto moratorium imposed while the Supreme Court considers a challenge to lethal injection procedures.

62% of executions in 2007 were in Texas, while 86% were in South states.

There were approximately 110 death sentences - the lowest number in 30 years.

2007 saw three exonerations, in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Carolina, while eleven inmates had their sentences commuted.

Both New Jersey and New York ended their death penalties, with the New Jersey legislature passing an abolition bill just before Christmas.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Lethal Injection is the Wrong Debate"

This is the opinion of Ray Krone, who spent ten years in prison for a murder he did not commit before becoming the 100th American exonerated and released from death row since the 1976 reinstatement of capital punishment.
In a January 14 op-ed in the San Fransisco Chronicle, Krone writes, "While the court wrestles with technical issues concerning the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, there's a much larger reason our country is rethinking the death penalty: the possibility of sentencing to death and executing an innocent human being." Krone notes: "Unlike almost any American, I speak from experience."
This is a great piece that indicates some of the flaws in the American death penalty that run deeper than method of execution. Read the full text here.

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Jan. 7 NYT Editorial

As the Supreme Court prepared to hear arguments in Baze v. Rees, a case out of Kentucky that challenges the constitutionality of lethal injection, the New York Times published an editorial titled "Cruel and Far too Usual Punishment."

The piece focuses on the lethal injection debate, but the paper makes some powerful statements and observations about the death penalty in its entirety:
"We believe that the death penalty, no matter how it is administered, is unconstitutional and wrong."

..."Popular support for capital punishment is, thankfully, declining in this country. The growing number of exonerations of innocent people on death row has shown that the system cannot be trusted to make such an irrevocable decision. There is considerable evidence of racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty. After years of botched electrocutions and other horrors, it is clear that the methods of taking life are barbaric."
..."In 2007, executions in this country dropped to a 13-year low, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. We believe that use of the death penalty will continue to decline, and we hope that it will eventually be banned completely. Until that time, however, the Supreme Court has a duty to ensure that it is not administered in a cruel way. Kentucky’s ill-conceived and haphazard administration of lethal injection does not meet that constitutional requirement."
Read the full editorial here.

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Supreme Court to Examine Child Rape and the Death Penalty

In early January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Kennedy v. Louisiana, in which the justices will decide whether the Constitution allows death as a punishment for the rape of a child.

According to the New York Times, of the 3,300 inmates currently on death row across the U.S., only two face execution for crimes that did not involve a killing. Both men are in Louisiana. The Court will hear the appeal of Patrick Kennedy, who was sentenced to death in 2004 for the rape of his 8 year-old step-daughter.

No one in the U.S. has been executed for a crime other than murder since 1964.In 1977, the Supreme Court decided in Coker v. Georgia that "a sentence of death is grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment for the crime of rape and is therefore forbidden by the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment." But concluding that the "rape of a child under the age of 12 years of age is like no other crime," the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that death was not disproportionate for Kennedy.

In an important amicus brief to the upcoming hearing of Kennedy's case before the Court in April, the National Association of Social Workers and a group of crisis centers argued that allowing the death penalty for rape will encourage offenders to kill their victims to prevent them from reporting the sexual assault.

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