Join all three co-authors in celebrating the national launch of Queer (In)Justice at Creating Change, February 2 - 6 in Minneapolis Minnesota http://www.creatingchange.org/! They will be hosting a workshop on policing, prosecution and punishment of LGBT people and developing responses to violence against queers on Friday, February 4 from 10:45 am - 12:15 pm and joining Queers for Economic Justice for an evening reception celebrating QEJ's achievements and the book's publication at 8:30 pm. Both events at the at the Hilton Minneapolis,1001 Marquette Avenue South, see conference signage for room locations.
Kay Whitlock and Joey Mogul will also be appearing at University of Minnesotal-Twin Cities on February 4 from 3:00PM to 5:00PM in Room 609 Social Sciences,and at St. Catherine's Universityfrom 11:30 - 1:00 pm on February 3 at the Department of Sociology/Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity.
This past month, both houses of the Illinois General Assembly passed bill SB 3539, which would repeal the death penalty in Illinois. The bill is now awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature. If he signs the bill, Illinois will become the 16th state to repeal the death penalty in the United States and the third to do so in the past three years; it would also take its place alongside 95 countries that have abolished the death penalty.
Quinn has not decided whether he will sign the legislation, and has indicated that he wants to hear from the people of Illinois before making his final decision. Here are the reasons you should make that call urging him to sign the bill.
In addition to repealing the death penalty, the bill would redirect its necessary funding toward services for murder victims' family members and for law enforcement. The funds currently spent on the death penalty are quite significant, particularly in light of the crushing budget crisis we are facing in Illinois. According to the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP), more than $100 million in taxpayer money was spent on the death penalty in 2003 alone. It is well known that implementation of the death penalty is far most costly than imprisonment.
The passage of this legislation is the culmination of a mammoth effort led by the ICADP. It follows decades of litigation, investigative journalism and organizing that have uncovered mountains of evidence demonstrating that the death penalty is fatally flawed and beyond repair. (Read more...)
(The ALI is a supposedly elite group comprised of around 4000 lawyers, judges, and academics. I say "supposedly" because I am a member, and so I think I can say that membership has a lot to do with whom you know. As a federal judge whose name I will not reveal once said, the major qualifications for getting appointed to the federal bench are: (i) having a law license, and (ii) being friends with your U.S. Senator (or being a friend of a friend). The same might be said for membership in the ALI. But I digress.)
Liptak points out that when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, after a brief four-year hiatus, the framework shared by the death penalty laws that the Court upheld was created by the ALI. Essentially, this framework was designed to insure that the death penalty be reserved for the so-called worst of the worst.
Over time, a deep fissure developed in death penalty law. On the one hand, defendants facing the death penalty were allowed to place before the jury any and all so-called mitigating evidence -- that is, evidence that would warrant a life sentence, rather than a death sentence. On the other hand, juries could not be given too much discretion, because the consequences of too much discretion tend to be impermissible discrimination. So states had to channel the jury's discretion to try to wall off the factors juries were not supposed to take into account, while permitting them to take into account everything else.
In short, death penalty law had at its very heart a fundamental contradiction. Juries were to base their decision on personal characteristics of the defendant so as to identify the worst of the worst. Yet certain personal characteristics (like race and sexual orientation, for example) are irrelevant. Consequently, basing a decision on personal characteristics of the defendant is a recipe for all kinds of impermissible discrimination.
TIN and other groups like it have helped to overturn numerous death penalty convictions, but earlier this week, one of Dow's clients, Michael Richard, was executed when a judge refused to accept a last-minute appeal. Dow weighs in on this case, and about the Kentucky lethal injection challenge before the Supreme Court, which has prompted a virtual moratorium on lethal injection, in the Washington Post. While the judge in question, Sharon Keller, has rightly come under fire, Dow asserts that there is plenty of blame to go around.