Louisiana Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, April 24, 2008, 04:27:26 AM

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April 24, 2008, 04:27:26 AM Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 05:10:37 AM by Jeff1857
The US Supreme Court has ruled that lethal injection, the current method of carrying out the death penalty in most states does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

As a result, Louisiana is one of a handful of states that has reinstated the death penalty. In fact, two convicted murderers are slated for execution this July.

One is Antonette Frank, a former new Orleans Police Officer who shot her own partner and another person in the face during the course of an armed robbery.

The other is Darrell Robinson an Alexandria man who shot and killed four people, including a ten month old baby.
After reading the execution articles about these 2 scumbags, I don't think they are going to happen. I believe that Louisiana is required to set dates to set off their remainings appeals (I.E. federal)

ScoopD (aka: Pam)

ahhhhhhh  so there's 2 down for ya!  I'm closer to winning my beer!   ;D
<br /><br />If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. -Thomas Paine<br /><br />My reason for supporting capital punishment: My cousin 16 yr. old Amanda Greenwell was murdered in March of 2004 at the hands of serial killer Jeremy Bryan Jones.


April 24, 2008, 02:50:55 PM Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 05:11:42 AM by Jeff1857
25 huh? You lose.  ;)


Is there any updates on the appeals for the two that got stayed?  I'm new to this board.  thanks in advance Eric


Hi Eric welcome to off2dr. Both were stayed to pursue additional federal appeals. I believe Louisiana law required an execution date to be formally set to start off those appeals. I also believe the 2 have 120 days to start them as well.


Thanks Jeff.  I hope they get on with some executions.  I live in Louisiana and we send more a year to death row then we execute makes no sense they need to get the appeals over in a more timely manner for the victims Family's so they can get some peace if any. 


Does anyone know who's furthest along in the appeals process in Louisiana?


well i would say do not hold your breath. i googled them both and nothing new. It is time for LA to shit or get off the pot though. Which i do not see that happening anytime soon.
Justice is not about bringing back the dead. It is not about revenge either. Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. We cannot expect anyone to take responsibility for their own actions if these consequences are not enforced in full.

heidi salazar

Louisiana Sues Its Own Death Row Prisoners

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections last Friday sued every inmate on death row, in an effort to block any one of them from challenging the state's lethal injection procedures. Each of the 84 prisoners in the "death house" at Angola State Penitentiary was personally served papers in the suit, said Nick Trenticosta, who has represented numerous clients on Angola's death row.

Trenticosta, who is also director of the non-profit Center for Equal Justice in New Orleans, knows of no other instance in which a state sued its death row inmates en masse over legal questions relating to their execution. "I've been hanging around death penalty cases for 25 years," Trenticosta said in a phone interview this morning, "and I have never seen anything like this."

The Corrections Department's litigation is a countersuit, filed in response to an earlier lawsuit claiming that Louisiana's lethal injection procedure is in violation of state law. That suit was filed by the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana (CPCPL) on behalf of death row prisoner Nathaniel Code. It stated that Louisiana had not met the requirements of its own Administrative Procedures Act in creating guidelines for execution by lethal injection. The state procedure ought to specify exactly what drugs should be used to kill prisoners, the CPCPL argued, rather than simply calling for the administration of drugs. Without such stipulations, Trenticosta said, "They're saying if we want to pour boiling oil into your veins, we can do it."

Just over a month ago, on January 8, a state district court in Baton Rouge dismissed Nathaniel Code's suit, which would have halted all executions in Louisiana until the Corrections Department brought its procedures in line with state law. Attorneys for the state argued that Louisiana's three-drug lethal injection protocol was not subject to the Administrative Procedures Act; the judge agreed, and threw out the suit.

All this happened the day after Gerald Bordelon was executed by lethal injection in Angola's death chamber for the murder of his 12-year-old stepdaughter. The execution on January 7 was the first to take place in Louisiana for eight years, and proceeded after Bordelon chose to waive post-conviction appeals. According to the Associated Press, the hearing on Code's suit "was purposely scheduled the day after Gerald Bordelon's execution," because Bordelon's attorneys had told the judge "he did not want anything to disrupt his execution."

Nathaniel Code's attorneys said they would appeal the judge's ruling to Louisiana's First Circuit Court of Appeal. "The law is being violated. It was violated yesterday," CPCPL director Gary Clements said, referencing Bordelon's execution.

The state of Louisiana, however, has already initiated offensive maneuvers against further challenges to its methods of execution. Immediately after the ruling in Code's suit, the Corrections Department filed its countersuit against all death row inmates. The department's attorney, Wade Shows, told the Baton Rouge Advocate that Louisiana was asking the court "to formally declare--'once and for all'--that the state's lethal injection protocol is not subject to the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act." Such a ruling, Shows said, "'means you don't have to go through the rule-making process....It's sort of an internal management decision.'"

Similar challenges in other states have yielded mixed results. According to the AP, "Courts around the country have split over whether states should have to follow the administrative procedures in adopting a lethal injection protocol." Courts in Maryland, Nebraska, California, and Kentucky have ruled that the procedural requirements do apply to the execution method. In these states, executions were suspended while proper procedures were carried out, often including public hearings. Courts in Missouri and Tennessee have ruled that the procedures do not apply. Only Louisiana, however, has dealt with the issue by suing the residents of its own death row.

On a larger scale, execution by lethal injection-which is used in 35 states-has faced several legal challenges in recent years, on the grounds that it violates the Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. These challenges were propelled in part by several horribly botched execution attempts, in which prisoners were stuck with IV needles numerous times over periods of up to two hours, and in a few cases returned to their cells when attempts failed. Opponents have also argued that the later drugs in the three-drug protocol may cause excruciating pain, which dying prisoners cannot express because the initial drugs have paralyzed them.

In April 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that lethal injection was not unconstitutional; it is the "method of execution believed to be the most humane available," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "If administered as intended, that procedure will result in a painless death." The decision put an end to a de facto six-month moratorium on death by lethal injection, but some states have yet to resume their execution schedules.

Louisiana seems determined to have the choice to execute if and when it wants to, without interference from prisoner lawsuits alleging administrative technicalities. This despite the fact that in recent years, the state has shown relatively little zeal for carrying out executions, compared to neighboring Texas. While Angola's death chamber has been made famous by the films Dead Man Walking and Monster's Ball, only three executions have been carried out there in the last ten years.

Angola Warden Burl Cain, who oversees all executions in Louisiana, has indicated that it causes him pain to put prisoners to death. But Cain, famously, appears more focused on heavenly justice than on the earthly variety. Cain executed his first prisoner in 1995, and later said, "I felt him go to hell as I held his hand." He told the Baptist Press, "I decided that night I would never again put someone to death without telling him about his soul and about Jesus."

If executions were ever to resume in Louisiana at the rates common in the 1980s, heavenly justice might be all that's available to some of the inmates on death row. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "Since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Orleans Parish juries have condemned 38 defendants to death. But a recent tally by attorneys for death-row inmates calculated that courts have found errors in 25 of those sentences, or nearly two-thirds. In some cases defendants were retried, resulting in convictions on lesser charges, while in others defendants were released."


heidi salazar

Witness rules for state executions could change

A Terrebonne Parish lawmaker advanced legislation this week that could eventually allow out-of-state residents to serve as witnesses to death-row executions in Louisiana.

State law currently permits only Louisiana residents to participate in this final step of the justice process, for which lethal injection is the prescribed method.

Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma, is hoping to have that restriction lifted with his House Bill 22.

"It may cause some controversy one day if a witness or a sibling lives outside of the state," he said. The House Criminal Justice Committee, on which Baldone serves as vice chairman, unanimously approved the legislation Wednesday and sent it to the full House for further consideration.

Louisiana hasn't seen an execution since Jan. 7, when convicted murderer Gerald Bordelon was killed by injection.

He was the 3rd murderer executed in America this year and the 28th in Louisiana since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme reinstated the death penalty.

Witnesses to the Bordelon execution included family members of his victim, 12-year-old stepdaughter Courtney LeBlanc, as well as the warden, local coroner, a doctor, minister and 3 members of the media.

State law allows 5 to 7 witnesses, not including those mandated to attend. That list includes the warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the West Feliciana coroner, a doctor chosen by the warden, a priest or minister and the person responsible for administering the lethal injection. Baldone's legislation would not change that line-up.

(source: Houma Today)

heidi salazar

Right to die bill passes through House committee

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill to expedite the right to die passed out of a Senate committee Tuesday. The bill provides notification to convicted death penalty defendants of their right to waive their appeals.

Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, sponsored the bill. It now heads to the full Senate for debate. The case of Gerald Bordelon, a man convicted in the death of a young girl in Livingston Parish, made history when he effectively waived his rights to appeal and was executed this year.

Opponents of Claitor's bill argue it would actually slow the execution process, while supporters say it's only a matter of information.

"That never dawned on me that folks couldn't waive their rights to appeal on a death sentence," said Claitor. "So, if you want to meet your maker, there's an opportunity for that."

"Since he had already been sentenced to the death penalty and he did not want out of prison," said Alethea Bordelon, the mother of Gerald Bordelon. "He was afraid of killing someone else."

The Bordelon bill notifies the offender in person and in written form shortly after the initial conviction.

Click here for more on SB 774


heidi salazar

June 09, 2010, 10:40:52 AM Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 05:35:20 PM by Heidi
A bill that attempts to undercut one path of legal argument against the death penalty in Louisiana is nearing final legislative passage.

The proposal (Senate Bill 554) would establish that rules governing the way death sentences are carried out aren't subject to the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act, which requires a comment period and legislative review. It also would remove rules governing the daily operations of a prison from that required review as well.

The Senate-backed bill by Rep. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, was approved Tuesday by the House and Governmental Affairs Committee in a 12-2 vote. It heads next to the House for debate.

A recent lawsuit filed on behalf of Nathaniel Code, of Shreveport, who was sentenced to death for the 1985 murders of 4 people, argued Louisiana's rules for execution by lethal injection didn't properly follow the Administrative Procedure Act. The lawsuit sought to stop all executions until the corrections department reworked its execution guidelines, but a state judge in January dismissed the lawsuit.

Courts in at least four states have ruled that the administrative procedures requirement applies to lethal injection, while courts in two states have ruled it does not apply.



Attorneys argue death policy

Attorneys for many of Louisiana's 84 death-row inmates argued Thursday it would be premature for a judge to validate the state's current lethal injection procedure for future executions because the rules governing executions have changed numerous times over the last 20 years.

Lawyers representing the the Department of Public Safety and Corrections countered there is no evidence the rules will be altered again, and they said a judicial finding that the current rules are appropriate would save time and money.

Michael Rubenstein, who represents condemned killer Jimmy Ray Williams, told state District Judge Mike Caldwell there is no need for such a judicial declaration now because there are no scheduled execution dates in Louisiana.

"We don't even know what challenges might be raised. Who knows what those issues will be when the matter becomes ripe?'' Rubenstein said.

Wade Shows, a DPSC attorney, said the declaratory judgment sought by the state would give families of victims in death-penalty cases comfort that a scheduled execution date is a "date certain.''

Caldwell did not immediately rule on the prematurity argument.

Thursday's arguments came during a hearing in a lawsuit that condemned killer Nathaniel Code filed against DPSC in December, less than a month before fellow convicted murderer Gerald Bordelon was put to death.

Code, who claims Louisiana failed to follow proper administrative procedures before putting its lethal injection procedure in place, sought to halt all executions in the state until DPSC changed its procedures.

Caldwell ruled Jan. 8 -- the day after Bordelon's execution -- that Code failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit.

Then, on Jan. 25, DPSC essentially filed a countersuit against every Louisiana death-row inmate, asking the judge to declare that the state's lethal injection rules and regulations meet statutory and constitutional muster.

Rubenstein said it is "truly improper'' for the state to attempt to "flush out'' the objections that death-row inmates might raise to the lethal injection protocol.

"It's kind of a 'speak now or forever hold your peace,' '' he told the judge.

Capital Appeals Project attorney Elizabeth Cumming, who represents condemned mass murderer Anthony Bell and 16 other death-row inmates, noted the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 and 2005, respectively, that mentally retarded people and juveniles could not be executed.

"A lot can and does happen to people on death row,'' she argued.

Bell is on death row for fatally shooting four of his in-laws inside a Dallas Drive church in Baton Rouge in 2006, and then shooting his wife to death outside a nearby apartment complex.

Williams was convicted and sentenced to die for killing an auto-parts delivery man in a 1994 robbery on Government Street in Baton Rouge.

Shows accused attorneys for death-row inmates of trying to "lay in wait'' so they can attempt to derail each scheduled execution.

DPSC attorney Jacqueline Wilson said the state is trying to avoid 84 different lawsuits and rulings, which she said would be a waste of judicial resources.

Caldwell found the state's request for a declaratory judgment to be vague, and gave the state's attorneys three weeks to amend it.



Judge to consider death date for child killer
8:40 AM, Nov 19, 2012

MANSFIELD -- A Mansfield man who killed his stepson more than 20 years ago soon could have a date with death.

DeSoto District Judge Robert Burgess has set a Dec. 12 hearing to consider lifting a stay of execution and setting a date for lethal injection for Christopher Sepulvado.

"We are strongly in favor of the stay being lifted. It is time for justice to be done. This was one of the first death penalty cases that I worked on, and it left a lasting impression on me. We intend to argue vigorously that the stay should be lifted," District Attorney Richard Johnson said in response to a court order Burgess signed Thursday setting the hearing date.

Sepulvado has been on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola since his conviction in April 1993 for the death of Wesley Allen Mercer, 6, on March 8, 1992. Allen's mother, Yvonne, was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to 21 years.

"Horrific" was the description used by those involved with the case when describing Allen's death. The quiet, small-framed child endured days of abuse leading to his death on a Sunday afternoon.

Sepulvado tried to excuse Allen's death as an accident. But the jury didn't buy it and often wept after hearing how Allen was punished when he returned home from school Friday, March 6, 1992, with soiled pants. He was denied food and forced to sleep for two days on a trunk in his bedroom.

As the family prepared for church Sunday, March 8, 1992, Allen hesitated when Sepulvado told him to wash his clothes in the toilet and take a bath. Sepulvado hit the child so hard in the head with a screwdriver handle that it rendered Allen unconscious.

He then immersed Allen in a bathtub of scalding water. It was so hot that Allen suffered third-degree burns that sloughed off the skin below a visible demarcation line along his body.

Sepulvado and Yvonne Mercer waited three hours before seeking medical treatment. Physicians testified Allen had been dead at least a half-hour or hour before being taken to the hospital, but life-saving efforts were attempted at no avail.

In the years since his conviction, Sepulvado's case has gone through multiple state and federal appears and lawsuits, none of which was successful. The last execution date set in 1997 was stayed by a federal court judge five days before Sepulvado was to die.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Louisiana death row inmate freed after 15 years - with a little help from DNA

Damon Thibodeaux has been proved innocent of a crime for which Louisiana has spent 15 years trying to kill him. In his first interview since being freed, he talks to Ed Pilkington

Friday 7 December 2012

Every morning Damon Thibodeaux wakes up in his temporary digs in Minneapolis and wonders when his new-found freedom is going to come crashing down. "You think you're going to wake up and find it was just a dream," he says.

When he stepped out of Angola jail in Louisiana, several guards were at the gate to wish him well, addressing him for the first time in 16 years as "Mr Thibodeaux". "No offence," he said, "but I hope I never see you again."

He walked out as the 300th prisoner in the US to be freed as a result of DNA testing and one of 18 exonerated from death row. With the help of science, he has been proved innocent of a crime for which the state of Louisiana spent 15 years trying to kill him.

For those years Thibodeaux was in a cell 1.8m x 3m for 23 hours a day. His only luxury was a morning coffee, made using a handkerchief as a filter with coffee bought from the prison shop; his only consolation was reading reading the Bible; his only exercise pacing up and down for an hour a day in a the "exercise yard" - a metal cage slightly larger than his cell.

Like most death rows in the United States, the prisoners in Angola are treated as living dead things: they are going to be executed so why bother rehabilitating them? He watched as two of his fellow inmates were taken away to the death chamber, trying unsuccessfully not to dwell on his own impending execution. "It was like, one day they may be coming for you. At any time, a judge can sign an order and they can come and take you and kill you."

At the lowest point, he says he felt such hopelessness that he considered dropping all his appeals and giving up. He would become a "volunteer" - one of those prisoners who are assumed positively to want to die but so often simply lack the will to live. He read the Bible some more, shared his fears with other prisoners through the bars and found a new resolution. "I came to terms with the fact that I was going to die for something I didn't do. Truthfully, we're all going to die anyway; it made it a lot easier."

With little hope, he pressed on with his appeals and, almost imperceptibly at first, fortune's wheel began to turn. A lawyer assigned to his post-conviction appeal became concerned by his case, and she in turn enlisted the help of the Innocence Project in New York, a national group devoted to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.

Also drawn into the fray were a pair of Minneapolis-based lawyers from the commercial firm Fredrikson & Byron. In his day job, Steven Kaplan works on mergers and acquisitions, not rape and murder, but he threw himself at the Thibodeaux case pro bono.

As soon as Kaplan began reading the legal papers relating to Thibodeaux's death sentence, he was astonished. He had never worked on a capital case before and, like most people unversed in the finer details of the death penalty in America, had assumed that the judicial process must have adhered to the very highest legal standards. After all, a man's life was at stake.

"When I read the transcript of the trial for the first time, I thought to myself that the high school mock trial team that I coached of 15- to 17-year-olds would have run rings around the lawyers in that courtroom," said Kaplan. "We put more energy into a $50,000 contract dispute than went into the defence at the Damon Thibodeaux trial."

The sequence of events that put Thibodeaux on to death row began on 19 July 1996. He was 22 and worked as a deckhand on Mississippi river barges.

Two weeks earlier he had moved back to New Orleans, where his mother and sister lived, to help out with his sister's wedding. He started hanging out with the Champagne family, distant relatives, who had a flat in a neighbouring suburb.

He spent 19 July at the Champagne home with the father, CJ, mother, Dawn, and 14-year-old daughter, Crystal. At about 5pm Crystal asked Thibodeaux to go with her to the local Winn-Dixie supermarket, but he was busy mending CJ's watch. She left the house on her own at 5.15pm.

When she was not back more than an hour later her mother became alarmed and they began a search, Thibodeaux joining the effort. They called the police and searched through the night and through the following day.

It was not until after 6pm on 20 July that Thibodeaux went back to his mother's house and lay down to rest. He was just falling asleep when police arrived and asked him to come with them.

That was at 7.32pm. At 7.40pm Crystal's body was found on the banks of the Mississippi, about five miles from the Champagne home. The news was transmitted to the detectives quizzing Thibodeaux and instantly a routine missing-person interview became a homicide interrogation.

It started lightly, then the detectives began piling on the pressure. They repeatedly told him he was lying, putting their faces close up to his. When he gave them the names of the people he had been with over the previous 24 hours as alibis, the officers said they had talked to the individuals who had denied it. "That felt like I was being abandoned, because they were the only people who could put me in their presence away from the crime scene," Thibodeaux said. The police gave him a lie-detector test. When they returned to the interview room and told him he had failed, he fainted.

Several hours into the interrogation, they delivered the coup de grace: they warned him what would happen if he kept on lying. "They described to me death by lethal injection: organs collapsing, the brain shutting down, extreme pain. That's what they said would happen to me if I didn't give them what they wanted."

The detectives who interrogated Thibodeaux have consistently denied using techniques that put pressure on him. But having studied the case for years, his current lawyers are convinced he was subjected to a prolonged questioning that interacted with his vulnerabilities and broke down his resistance. About 4am on 21 July he gave the police what he thought they wanted. He had been under interrogation for nine hours, and had no meaningful sleep for 35 hours. "I had no sleep, I was hungry, I was tired of it. At that point I didn't care, I just wanted to stop it."

He began to confess, repeating details of the crime scene that the detectives had given him. "I'm not the smartest person on the planet, but I was able to figure out how Crystal died and how she was found from what they were telling me. I just put the pieces together and gave them the confession they wanted."

He told them how he had picked up Crystal in his car and driven her to the crime scene. They began having sex, then she asked him to stop and he refused. He raped her, hit her on the face with his bare hand, squeezing her neck and strangling her with a length of white, grey or black speaker wire that he procured from his car.

At one point Thibodeaux told his interrogators: "I didn't know that I had done it, but I done it." Case closed.

Within three hours of his confession, details emerged that refuted key aspects. Examination of the crime scene determined the cord that had been wrapped around Crystal's neck was a red electrical conductor wire that had been hanging on a nearby tree, and not the speaker wire Thibodeaux had confessed to. Crystal's mother also told investigators within three hours of the confession that Thibodeaux had been with her in the their flat when she called the police to report her daughter's disappearance - undermining any possibility of him getting to and from the crime scene in time to have murdered Crystal.

Further evidence came out that punctured his confession. The autopsy found that Crystal had been hit around the face with a blunt object, not Thibodeaux's bare hand as he had testified. Contrary to his statement that he had had sex with her and then raped her, the forensic examiner observed no injuries consistent with violent rape. More than that, he concluded that Crystal had had no sexual intercourse of any kind, consensual or otherwise, for at least 24 hours before she died.

All those discrepancies were known to the authorities before Thibodeaux was put in the dock for murder and rape. They also knew that there were other potential suspects who conceivably merited further investigation.

One individual was a local man with a conviction for paedophilia. Another was a relative of Crystal's who lived in a flat two blocks from the crime scene - a paranoid schizophrenic with a long history of drug abuse and violence against women.

Being poor, Thibodeaux could not afford his own lawyer and was assigned a public defence attorney by the courts. His attorney happened to be a former detective who had retrained as a lawyer, and this was his first murder case. At the time of the trial he was, unbeknown to Thibodeaux, applying for a transfer to the same district attorney's office that was prosecuting his client.

"I was willing to overlook the fact that he was an ex-detective," Thibodeaux says now. "But if I had known my lawyer was filing to be transferred to the DA's office I would have asked to have him removed from my case."

The trial lasted just three days. Over the course of it the prosecution tried to explain away the lack of any evidence of sexual intercourse or rape on Crystal's body by speculating that "semen-destroying maggots" had been at work.

Thibodeaux's lawyer, for his part, did not even refer to the confession. "You will read the entire trial transcript and he never utters the word 'confession', as though if he didn't mention it, it would go away," Kaplan says.

The jury was out for just 45 minutes before they delivered a guilty verdict. The next day the same jury sentenced Thibodeaux to death for murder and aggravated rape, even though no rape - indeed no sexual contact of any sort - had taken place.

It took Kaplan and the other lawyers just a few days to spot the glaring problems with the prosecution of Thibodeaux. It took them a further 12 years to free him. With the full co-operation of the current district attorney for New Orleans, they carried out a fresh round of DNA tests using world-renowned forensic scientists, such as Dr Henry Lee, who heads a forensic science school at the University of New Haven, and Dr Edward Blake, of Forensic Science Associates. They looked again at all the physical evidence, particularly the clothing of Crystal and Thibodeaux on the day of her murder. They found there was no evidence of Thibodeaux's tissue, blood or fluids on Crystal's clothing and none of hers on his - a significant finding as had Thibodeaux been the murderer and/or rapist, such evidence would certainly have existed.

In addition, witnesses were tracked down who gave him a watertight alibi for all but five minutes of the period between Crystal's disappearance and the time of her death. And lest there be any remaining doubt, a forensic expert on maggots - such people do exist - testified that the theory of "semen-destroying maggots" was balderdash.

Since his release Thibodeaux has travelled to the other end of the Mississippi to rebuild his life with the help of his new lawyers in Minneapolis. The town has a good rehabilitation programme that should provide a cheap home, renewed education and job training.

His 15 years on death row opened his eyes, he says. "We tell the world that our system is the best in the world, and it's not." But he says he still supports capital punishment in America for the most heinous cases - with the proviso that the conviction is sound.

Not so Steven Kaplan. He cites academic studies that suggest that 2% to 4% of death-row inmates are probably innocent. "If that was the rate of failure of airplanes," he says, "would you fly?"

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

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