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Death Penalty

Strangers

Anniversary Episode: Strangers Revisited

Friday, December 13, 2013

An online dater finds love after 16 years, and an exonerated prisoner goes to see the former District Attorney. - Get the full story here.

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Life of the Law

Judging Steinbeck’s Lennie

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute people with mental disabilities. But the Court left it up to individual states to define mentally disabled. After the Texas legislature failed to agree on a definition,

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WNYC News

Interview: Federal Prosecutors Try Again for Death Penalty for Cop Killer

Friday, July 12, 2013

No one has been executed in New York State in 50 years, but federal prosecutors are determined to change that.  They returned to court this month to try for a death sentence for Ronell Wilson.  

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Werner Herzog on the Death Penalty

Thursday, November 24, 2011

German film director, producer and screenwriter, Werner Herzog, explores the American death penalty in his new documentary, Into the Abyss, about a triple homicide in Texas.

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The Takeaway

Filmmaker Werner Herzog Goes 'Into the Abyss'

Friday, November 11, 2011

In a small town in Texas, two young men knock on the door of a woman’s house as she's making cookies. They ask to use her phone. But as her back is turned, they kill her and then two other innocent bystanders all so they can enjoy a brief joyride in her car. In the end, one murderer is sentenced to life in prison. The other is given the death penalty.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Werner Herzog on the Death Penalty

Thursday, November 03, 2011

German film director, producer and screenwriter Werner Herzog explores the American death penalty in his new documentary Into the Abyss, about a triple homicide in Texas.

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The Takeaway

Illinois on Brink of Abolishing Death Penalty

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Illinois General Assembly has approved a measure that would abolish the death penalty in the state. Governor Pat Quinn seems ready to sign it. But what will the change of law mean for the 13 people on Death Row right now? We're joined by Ray Long, Statehouse reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and Rob Elder, author of "Last Words of the Executed," for a report from Illinois.

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The Takeaway

Debating the Death Penalty after Verdict in Grisly Connecticut Murders

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Yesterday a jury handed down a death penalty sentence for Steven Hayes, who was convicted in a brutal triple murder case and a violent home invasion at the home of Dr. William Petit and his wife, Jennifer, in 2007. All of the victims were tied up, Dr. Petit was severely beaten and his wife Jennifer, along with their two daughters Hayley and Michaela were murdered. Two of the three were sexually assaulted. The assailants then attempted to burn the Petit house down as they fled. These murders were so violent that even some ardent anti-death penalty advocates have been asking whether there are times when the death penalty is appropriate 

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The Takeaway

Fire, Death and Looking for Posthumous Innocence

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by the state of Texas in 2004. He was tried, convicted, and executed by lethal injection for setting fire to his home and killing his three young daughters, on December 23, 1991.

But forensic investigators have called the facts of the case into question – most notably whether the fire was arson, or an accident. (Willingham maintained his innocence to the very end, passing up a chance to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.)

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The Takeaway

Shortage of Lethal Injection Drug Sees Prisons Scrambling

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A major shortage of a drug called sodium thiopental is hampering the ability of states to put inmates to death. The first execution in California in four years was postponed this week, and it's likely not to be the last. Though nine states across the nation have 17 lethal injections scheduled between now and the end of January, it is uncertain whether they will be able to perform the executions due to the shortage.

State prison systems are scrambling to find supplies of sodium thiopental, but they have competition in their search. Over the last few years, the drug has become popular with hospitals, where it is used as an anesthetic for surgery and to induce medial comas. Hospitals had previously used a drug called propofol, though that too has become scarce.

 

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The Takeaway

North Carolina Law Allows Death Row Inmates to Claim Racial Bias

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For years, people have claimed a racial bias in our country’s death penalty system, based on the statistics of who winds up on death row. But, now, a law in North Carolina aims to do something to address such bias when it comes to capital prosecution.

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The Takeaway

Pending Ohio Execution May Spur Review of Death Penalty System

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Sept. 15, Ohio death row inmate Kevin Keith is scheduled to be executed, unless his defense team can get clemency granted to their client before then. Keith was convicted of murdering three people in February of 1994. He maintains he is innocent, has alibis who confirm his story, and some question the testimony delivered by the key eyewitness. His execution, plus another scheduled to take place today in Ohio, would put that state on track for having the second most executions this year, after Texas. 

But cases like Keith's have prompted several high-level officials to call for a comprehensive review of Ohio's death row cases.

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The Takeaway

Last Words of the Executed: A Cultural History of Dying Words

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

From telling a joke to talking to their families to denying their crimes, the last words of death row inmates tend to center on similar themes throughout history. Why are these words so compelling? And what do they say about humanity?

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WQXR News

Federal Appeals Court Voids Death Penalty for Killer of 2 NYPD Officers

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A federal appeals court on Wednesday tossed out the first federal death sentence given in New York in five decades.

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The Takeaway

Deep Cuts: In Georgia, Not Enough Money for Executions

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A case brought to the Georgia Supreme Court this Tuesday might decide whether Georgia can afford to levy the death penalty any more. Jamie Weis has been sitting in jail for four years waiting for a trial because the state can’t afford to give him adequate representation or his Sixth Amendment-guaranteed right to a "speedy and public trial." Yesterday, Jamie presented a pre-trial appeal — drop his charges, or at least the possibility of the death penalty. 

To find out more we spoke with Emily Green, a reporter covering the justice system for Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Robert McGlasson, an attorney at law who represented a previous death-penalty defendant in one of the most expensive cases in Georgia history. (You can read other stories in our "Deep Cuts" series on states' budget shortfalls.)

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The Takeaway

DC Sniper John Muhammad to be Put to Death

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Allen Muhammad, the "D.C. Sniper," is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight in Virginia. In October 2002, Muhammad and a then-teenaged accomplice terrorized the Washington D.C. area with a series of shootings. Cheryll Witz's father, Jerry Taylor, was killed by the snipers in March 2002. She will attend the execution tonight, and says a confession by one of the killers helped her get closure. We'll put the search for closure to Dr. Sindey Weissman, a psychiatrist and professor of psychology at Northwestern University.

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