Monday, December 8, 2008

Death Penalty and Clemency 2008

Prof. Berman, at Sentencing Law and Policy estimates that there were 37 executions in the United States this year. The Death Penatly Information Center also provides the following information on clemency and the death penalty for the year 2008:

John Spirko (OH) - Gov. Ted Strickland reduced Spirko's death sentence to life without parole. In his statement granting clemency, the governor cited "the lack of physical evidence linking him to the murder, as well as the slim residual doubt about his responsibility for the murder that arises from careful scrutiny of the case record." (Warrant of Commutation, Governor of Ohio, January 9, 2008)

Samuel David Crowe (GA) - The Board of Pardons and Paroles did not provide a reason for commuting Crowe’s sentence to life without parole. However, considerable testimony from friends, pastors and even a former corrections officer was presented to the board emphasizing his exemplary behavior and deep remorse while on death row. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 23, 2008).

Percy Walton (VA) - Gov. Timothy Kaine commuted Percy Walton’s death sentence to life in prison without parole, citing his serious mental illness that rendered him incompetent to be executed. The governor said that Walton was not cognizant of his impending execution and the reason for it. Gov. Kaine had twice previously stayed Walton's execution in order to evaluate his mental condition and competency. The governor said that he also considered other factors such as his age at the time of the crime and evidence of mental retardation. (Washington Post, June 10, 2008; Governor Kaine's statement of clemency, June 9, 2008).

Kevin Young (OK) - Following the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Gov. Brad Henry granted clemency to Kevin Young, commuting his death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Board's recommendation of clemency was based on several factors, including the disproportionality of the punishment, questionable witnesses, and a decision during the original trial to turn down a plea bargain that would have resulted in a life sentence. (The Oklahoman, July 24, 2008.)

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