Today’s Death Row News, Nov. 14

  • Florida prisoner’s lawsuit calls soy meals ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment: While the inmate in this story, Eric Harris, is not on death row, his complaint is one that is often sounded on the blogs from death row inmates. Harris is bringing a suit to stop Florida from feeding inmates the soy-based meat substitutes. His suit claims the processed foods have caused painful cramping, threaten the health of his thyroid and immune system and constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Harris’s claims are being supported by the Weston A. Price Foundation in Washington, a group that describes itself as the leading voice on the dangers of soy foods. The soy-based meals were instituted to cut costs, but the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation suggests prisons could reduce costs more if they cut the soy meals and raise their own fruits and vegetables, a practice that used to be the norm at many southern prisons.
  • Death penalty opponents ask Kitzhaber to stop Gary Haugen execution: Anti-death penalty activists are asking Oregon’s governor to stop the execution of Gary Haugen, who has volunteered for execution and asked his lawyers not to prevent his death. The activist groups are asking Gov. John Kitzhaber to delay the execution until the state conducts a thorough review of Oregon’s death penalty system, which according to a letter the groups wrote “simply creates an unacceptable risk of a botched execution.”
  • Claim that Ariz. execution drug was illegally obtained grows: The Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix filed documents inU.S. District Court furthering allegations that the Arizona Department of Corrections obtained the drugs used for lethal injection illegally. Allegedly, the Department of Corrections ignored advice to avoid a British drug exporter because it was not licensed to export the drugs used in executions.
  • Executing Those Who Do Not Kill: A new article to be published in the American Criminal Law Review explores the constitutionality of the death penalty for those convicted of felony murder, i.e., those who participated in a serious crime in which a death occurred, but were not directly responsible for the death.

“We know there is nothing we can say or do to console their families or understand the pain they have endured all of these years. We want them to know that Paul is not the same man he was in 1987. We want them to know that over the past 24 years, he has returned to being the same caring and unselfish person he was before we lost him to drugs. And we want them to know he has taken responsibility for his actions, and he is doing everything in his power to make up for what he did…Despite all the heartbreak that has come from this, as a mother, I am proud of the steps my son has been taking to be the best person he can be,” wrote Rhoades’ mother. “I don’t want him to die. I don’t think it makes sense to kill him now. And I still hope and pray that his life will be spared.”

  • Community Petitions For Death Penalty to be reinstated: In Illinois, the latest state to abolish the death penalty, the fatal stabbing of a Chicago teenager has caused some community members to rally for its reinstatement. High school freshman Kelli O’Laughlin, 14, was found by her mother late last month after being stabbed multiple times in her home. Police believe John L. Wilson Jr. was robbing the home when O’Laughlin walked in.
  • Granny could face death sentence in Florida: German grandmother Marianne Bordt, who allegedly drowned her grandson in a bathtub, could face the death penalty in Florida if she is found well enough for trial and is not extradited for trial under German law. The German government has applied for her extradition, however discussions with American officials are ongoing according to Stuttgarter Zeitung. Bordt has been examined by psychologists but there are disputes among them about whether she is capable of standing trial. Bordt had traveled to the U.S. with her husband to visit their daughter and grandson, when Bordt is alleged to have drowned the five-year-old boy in a bathtub while her husband was out shopping, before trying to kill herself. She had said she could not bear the fact that the child was growing up in a broken family.
  • Patrick Evans’ mother: ”Please don’t take his life”: Florida’s death row gained another inmate, as a jury recommended a sentence of death for 44-year-old Patrick Evans, who was convicted of shooting his estranged wife and her new boyfriend in December 2008 when he found them in bed together. It was an emotional day on all sides, as Evans’s mother broke down while begging the jury for his life, and the father of Evans’s wife cried while talking to reporters after the verdict. Click to read more about the case and the reactions to the verdict.
  • Rodney Alcala Wants to Stay on Death Row: In another example of the problems within the system of capital punishment, California inmate Rodney Alcala wants to stay on death row. Not because he has accepted his fate or because of remorse, but because he doesn’t want to be extradited to stand trial in New York.
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One thought on “Today’s Death Row News, Nov. 14

  1. Gerald says:

    I feel so sorry for Mr Harris because he doesn’t like the food in prison. Perhaps he should have thought of that before he put himself there. If he was protecting our country’s freedoms like our soldiers they would tell him that MREs and the food they get is not exactly gourmet either. Heck for that matter if he ever ate at a school cafeteria when I was growing up he would really have something to gripe about. So, sorry if I don’t shed any tears on his behalf.

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