February 06, 2009
Breaking Ohio death penalty news (allowing more "who" analysis)
While we were starting to work through some "who" issues in class today, an Ohio agency made a notable decision in a notable death penalty case. Here are the basics from this Columbus Dispatch article:
A Hamilton County man who stabbed his 62-year-old mother to death while he was on a crack-cocaine binge should not be executed and should be released in as little as seven years, the Ohio Parole Board recommended to Gov. Ted Strickland.
Jeffrey Hill, 44, is scheduled to be lethally injected March 3 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville unless Strickland or a court intervenes. Parole board members were clearly impressed with what a report released today called the "compelling and unanimous opinion" of the family of victim Emma Hill that her son and killer should not be executed. "They have suffered tremendous loss, and execution would add further to their suffering," the board said.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters, a strong capital punishment supporter, opposed clemency. But he said today he will no longer pursue it given the parole board recommendation and strong support from the family. "I would have preferred he stayed in jail the rest of his life," Deters said. "We've done our job. Part of the law says this is something the governor can do."
The board recommended to Strickland that Hill's death sentence be commuted to life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years, meaning he could be released in as little as seven years.
Hill was high on crack cocaine on March 23, 1991, when he stabbed his mother 10 times in the back and chest, stole $100 and made two trips to buy cocaine. In a letter to the editor last month [available here], Hill's uncle, Eddie Sanders of Mount Healthy, urged public support for clemency....
All county, state and federal courts have upheld Hills conviction and death sentence.
Though everyone is encourage to comment on any aspect of this story, I would be especially interested in whether anyone might be able to develop a viable argument suggesting that Governor Strickland ought not follow the parole board's recommendation.
UPDATE: I just found this link to the Ohio Parole Board's full order in this case.
January 31, 2007
Should former Illinois Governor George Ryan get the Nobel Peace Prize?
Soon we will discuss the role of executive clemency, focused in part on the speech (which is at the end of our reading packet) delivered by former Illinois Governor George Ryan to support the "mass clemency" at the end of his term of given to everyone then on Illinois' death row. In light of that reading and our coming discussion, I thought everyone might find this press release interesting:
University of Illinois College of Law Professor Francis A. Boyle has nominated former Illinois Governor George Ryan for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize because of his courageous and heroic opposition to the death penalty system in America.
Despite tremendous opposition and criticism, Ryan single-handedly started what he calls a "rational discussion" on capital punishment in 2000 when he declared the Illinois death penalty moratorium. To this day, despite paying a heavy personal price for his courage, integrity, and principles, Ryan remains committed to the principle of seeking justice for the poor and oppressed. Ryan now takes his message globally, recently speaking before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Switzerland, continuing to initiate dialogue against the barbaric use of capital punishment around the world....
As Governor Ryan exposed to the country in 2000, the burden of capital punishment consistently falls upon the poor, the ignorant and the forgotten underpriviledged members of society, and is often used as a racist institution against people of color. The United States' attitude towards capital punishment is undeniably changing, and as a direct result of Ryan’s historical acts as former Governor of Illinois.
Ryan exposed capital punishment to be a distorted means of justice rife with flaws and defects, and he began the dialogue that will one day abolish capital punishment in America. Professor Francis A. Boyle has stated that, "George Ryan is the beginning of the end of the death penalty in America," and it is for this reason that he richly deserves to win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
This press release seems notable not only for what it says, but also for what it does not say. There is no discussion of wrongful convictions or innocence issues, even though it was innocence concerns that first drew Ryan's attention to the death penalty. Also, the press release also does not mention that Ryan is now a convicted felon recently sentenced to more than six years in federal prison.