Death Penalty Wrongful Conviction in North Carolina

 
 
Image from NCCADP.ORG:  Henry McCollum, right after he’s been exonerated.
  
DNA Frees 2 Brothers After 30 Years Behind Bars
 
Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are brothers.  
 
For the past 30 years, McCollum has lived on North Carolina’s Death Row after being convicted of murder and sentenced to death back in 1984. Brown lived on Death Row, too, until his murder conviction was tossed.  The crime happened when Henry was 19 and Leon was only 15 years old.  
 
These two men have literally grown up from boys to men behind the bars of a North Carolina prison facility.  And they are innocent of the crimes for which they were charged.
 
They were accused of raping and murdering an 11 year old girl, Sabrina Buie, and each did sign a confession to the crime.  However, both have low IQ scores which immediately bring the “confessions” into question.  (McCollum tests at 60 IQ; Brown at 49).
 
Confession debates can be put aside, however.  DNA testing done by the Innocence Project has proven that these two men are innocent, and that a man named Roscoe Artis — on Death Row for a similar murder — has a match to the DNA found at the scene of Sabrina Buie’s murder.
 
McCollum holds the record as the longest-serving inmate on death row in North Carolina.  Both of the brothers have now been freed.   
 
Another example of the need for warriors like Terry Lenamon out there in the trenches when the Death Penalty is on the table.    
 

 

Great Documentary on the Death Penalty Available on Netflix

Now available on Netflix (streaming) is an amazing documentary on the death penalty that delves into capital punishment through the eyes of the "death house" chaplain -- a man who witnessed nearly 100 executions in his role as chaplain.  

You can watch "At The Death House Door" 24/7 online or via your streaming TV device if you have a Netflix subscription.  

It also discusses the case of Carlos DeLuna (see our post last month on a new book, The Two Carlos, that deals with the travesty of an innocent man being executed in Texas).

Great documentary for anyone interested in death penalty issues:

 

 

 

 

Lethal Injection: If It's Not the Chemicals, It's the Method

Last week, a report was released over in Oklahoma that confirmed that the botched execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett wasn’t the result of any drug or combination of drugs. Nope.

Apparently, the horrific execution of Mr. Lockett was the result of how the IV was inserted into his arm.

You’ll recall that it was only after 45 minutes of obvious pain where the man writhed and struggled against his restraints there on the table that he finally passed away last April.

Now we know that the executioner was not a physician or even a paramedic. In fact, under the current Oklahoma laws, no formal medical training is required for the persons who are responsible for the lethal injection method of execution in that state.

Of course, Oklahoma isn’t alone in horrific executions. Arizona took almost 2 hours to execute Joseph R. Wood III this past July.  

Read the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Report on the Execution of Clayton D. Lockett here. 

Texas Has A Top-Secret Execution Method

 

 
 
This week, the Associated Press did a nice job of listing the various problems that the lethal injection method of execution has had since it was first used by the State of Texas in 1982.  You can read this reporting here, “Some Lethal Injection Problems in US Executions.”
 
Needless to say, the botched executions that have happened in 2014 are far from the first problems that have resulted while executing a human being by injecting them with chemicals.  It’s an execution method that may be viewed in future years as heinous, cruel, and just plain wrong.  Hints of this include the growing alarm being voiced by medical professionals to lethal injections.  
 
Terry Lenamon has had a longstanding concern about this method of execution — especially when states turned to drugs that vets commonly use to put down pets. See our earlier posts for more on this, including “As These Words Are Being Typed, Ohio Is Killing Ken Biros in an Unvetted Execution Method, Unless You Count Euthanasia of Dogs as Vetting.
 
However, instead of halting executions it appears that capital punishment continues in Texas, Florida, and other states without apparent concern for these lethal injection methods.   Texas has scheduled another execution using lethal injection - the first since April 2014.
 
 
As for what is going to be used for execution?  We don’t know.  
 
 

Is anyone else concerned about this?  

Is anyone else thinking that there’s a constitutional problem with both the secrecy as well as the methodology?
 

 

Doctors and the Death Penalty: Dr. Marc Stern Speaks

Several years ago, Dr. Marc Stern resigned from the Department of Corrections for Washington State, where he worked as its chief medical officer, because he could not jive his professional ethics as a physician with the state’s use of capital punishment.  
 
It’s a big dilemma in the use of lethal injections, particularly, as a means of execution since physicians are committed to health and saving lives, not ending them.  
 
 
 
Image:  States in red have had an execution since 1976.
 
Doctors are against the death penalty, and as Dr. Stern personifies, many also stand against physicians being involved in the supervision of others in any form of execution process (not just lethal injections). 
 
Dr. Stern Explains The Doctor's Dilemma Regarding the Death Penalty
 
 
You can read about Dr. Stern’s resignation in an 2008 piece written by Adam Wilson for the Seattle Times here.
 
To learn more about Dr. Stern’s position on the Death Penalty, particularly in light of recent botched executions, read his Op-Ed piece published last month in the Guardian, “I was told to approve a lethal injection, but it violates my basic medical ethics.”
 
 
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