A U.S. Supreme Court decision this month to ban execution of juvenile offenders is finding strong support among some national religious groups.
The 5-4 decision will remove from death row about 70 individuals who were convicted of murders committed before they turned 18. Prosecutors will also be prevented from seeking the death penalty in future cases of juvenile capital crime.
The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment says its national clergy sabbatical program will continue for a sixth year in 2005. Recently the foundation announced 132 recipients, who will receive up to $45,000 each. The 2004 winners represented 23 Christian denominations in 37 states.
George Ryan, until last month the Republican governor of Illinois, has revolutionized the debate over capital punishment. His genius, such as it is, has been to ignore the great moral and philosophic questions that surround the topic and focus on the pragmatic ones.
In the death chamber at San Quentin just after midnight on January 28, a confessed killer was executed by lethal injection. He was convicted two decades ago for the murder of an 81-year-old woman during a botched burglary in which he cooked noodles in her kitchen as she died.
Dear Timothy, As I was preparing a brief meditation on the “last words” of Jesus, I thought of you. The rector of my church asked me to speak about the “second word”: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” If you know your Bible you will remember that Jesus said this to one of the criminals who was crucified with him.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).