Today’s Death Row News, Oct. 18

  • Much has been made about the results of a new Gallup poll that shows more than one-third of Americans now oppose the death penalty. This is the highest amount of opposition in nearly 40 years. Gallup found that 35 percent of those polled oppose the death penalty, the highest amount since 1972, when the Supreme Court ruled in Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty was unconstitutional. Read more about the poll and its results here.
  • I’ve mentioned before that Texas is doing away with last meal requests for death row inmates. One former Texas inmate who was a jailhouse cook and prepared last meals for 218 death row prisoners offered to prepare meals for the condemned for free. Texas said thanks, but no thanks.
    Read more about the former jailhouse chef’s experiences cooking last meals here.
  • Attorneys for Ohio death row inmate Lamont Hunter are trying to get his death penalty overturned, because, they argue, his old attorney was too concerned about going to prison himself to give Hunter an appropriate defense. Hunter was sentenced to death 6 days before his attorney pled guilty to making illegal financial transactions. Read more here.
  • Remember Gary Haugen in Oregon, the inmate who is volunteering for execution? Contrary to Haugen’s wishes, the Oregon Capital Resource Center is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn the circuit judge’s ruling that Haugen is competent to be executed.  More details can be found here.
  • I’ve mentioned before that Florida’s death row is the second largest in the nation, with 395 inmates currently housed there. The state with the most is California, which has a whopping 714 death row inmates. Apparently, the system has become so clogged that some criminals, like the one detailed in this article from The Atlantic, actually request a death sentence, because the odds are that he might never be executed. And what’s even crazier is California taxpayers spend approximately $144 million annually to keep the death penalty. According to the article, “If juries continue to send an average of 20 convicts to San Quentin’s death row each year, and executions continue at the present rate, by 2030 the ranks of the condemned will have swelled to more than 1,000, and California’s taxpayers will have spent $9 billion to execute a total of 23 inmates.”
  • An editorial in the Hartford Courant suggests that a man convicted of triple murder, arson and sexual assault should not be given the death penalty, not because he is innocent or because his crimes are not heinous, but because the death penalty in Connecticut is a “hoax.”

“Connecticut carries the ultimate punishment on its books, but won’t carry it out unless the perpetrator insists on dying. The result is endless pain for the victims’ families and huge court costs borne by the public as appeals drag on for decades.”

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