Death Penalty

May is Older Americans Month. In 2017, Georgia ranked 41st in the nation for senior health. GPB Special Correspondent Celeste Headlee talked about the state of our elder care system with Kathy Floyd, executive director for the Georgia Council on Aging, and Glenn Ostir, director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Georgia.

Pollution and global warming rank near the top of environmentalists' growing list of concerns. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, another menace to the environment is in many people's own backyards. Over a two day period, the EPA studied waste from 100 dogs. The findings were alarming; there were enough bacteria to force the closing of a city’s watershed. Anna Truszczynski from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division explains how dog feces is an environmental hazard.

For nearly three decades, Anthony Ray Hinton lived on Alabama's death row. 

When he was convicted in 1985 for allegedly murdering two restaurant managers, there were no witnesses. There were no fingerprints. And Hinton always maintained his innocence. 

In April 2015, the state of Alabama overturned his conviction and dropped all charges against him. He had spent nearly half his life in prison. 

We spoke with Hinton about his wrongful incarceration, what kept him fighting for justice and life since his exoneration. 

Leighton Rowell / GPB

Today in the Breakroom we talked about this week's top stories.

Supreme Court Grants Temporary Stay Of Execution In Georgia

Sep 26, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution Tuesday night for a Georgia inmate whose attorneys argue that the 59-year-old black man's death sentence was tainted by a juror's racial bias.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, known as "Bo," was set to be put to death at 7 p.m. EDT at the state prison by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital, but the hour came and went as the justices considered his case. Just before 11 p.m. EDT, the court announced the temporary stay.

Georgia Plans To Execute Man Who Killed Sister-In-Law

Sep 26, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

A man who killed his sister-in-law 27 years ago is scheduled to die Tuesday as Georgia carries out its second execution of the year.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59 and known as "Bo," is set to be put to death at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. He was convicted of murder and two counts of kidnapping in the September 1990 slaying of Jaquelyn Freeman.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles — the only authority in Georgia with the power to commute a death sentence — declined on Monday to spare his life.

Lawyers Ask Panel To Spare Life Of Inmate Set For Execution

Sep 25, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

A Georgia prisoner scheduled for execution this week has spent the last 27 years regretting the decisions that led him to kill his sister-in-law as she was on her way to work with his estranged wife, his lawyers said in a clemency application.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday at the state prison in Jackson for the September 1990 shooting death of Jacquelyn Freeman.

Daniel LaChance

A new book by Emory History Professor Daniel LaChance tackles the changing perception of capital punishment in America. He argues the court trial, the sentencing, and the execution process are all deeply societal events that reflect the public’s relationship with government. Daniel LaChance joins us in studio.

A federal appeals court paved the way on Wednesday for Ohio to resume executions by lifting a lower court's decision to halt the state's lethal injection process.

It was a contentious decision that split the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges in an 8-6 vote.

In the case brought by death row inmates, the judges focused on the effects of the sedative midazolam, one of the three lethal injection drugs used by Ohio.

Georgia Executes Man Who Killed Elderly Neighbor In 1992

May 17, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

Georgia on Wednesday carried out its first execution this year, putting to death a man convicted of killing his 73-year-old neighbor 25 years ago.

J.W. Ledford's time of death was 1:17 a.m. after an injection of compounded barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson, Warden Eric Sellers told witnesses. Ledford, 45, was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of Dr. Harry Johnston in Murray County.

Georgia Department of Corrections

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to commute the death sentence of J.W. Ledford. His execution is scheduled to be carried out Tuesday, May 16. It will be the first one this year. Georgia has long played a central role in the death penalty debate.

Georgia Department of Corrections via AP

Lawyers for a Georgia inmate scheduled for execution next week are asking the state parole board to spare his life, citing a rough childhood, substance abuse from an early age and his intellectual disability.

J.W. Ledford Jr., 45, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday. He was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, 73-year-old Dr. Harry Johnston, near his home in Murray County, in northwest Georgia.

Georgia Sets Execution For Man Convicted Of Killing Doctor

Apr 27, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections via AP

A Georgia death-row inmate convicted of killing a 73-year-old doctor 25 years ago is set for execution next month, the state's attorney general said Wednesday. He would be the first inmate executed in the state this year.

Updated 11:40 p.m. ET

Arkansas executed two inmates on Monday night, the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000.

The second inmate put to death was Marcel Williams. He and the prisoner executed just before him, Jack Jones Jr. — both convicted murderers — had filed last-minute appeals that were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Updated at 2 a.m. ET

Arkansas has carried out its first execution since 2005, just minutes before the expiration of the inmate's death warrant.

Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection minutes before midnight Friday Central time in Grady, Ark. at the Cummins Unit facility, shortly before the warrant was set to expire.

Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, NPR member station KUAR Public Radio reports.

Faced with an expiring supply of a controversial sedative, the state of Arkansas plans to execute eight men over 11 days — a pace that is unprecedented in recent U.S. history and that has been criticized by lawyers and former corrections officials.

The state is set to carry out the executions two a day on four days between April 17 and April 27. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over the schedule, citing concerns about the speed. Arkansas' governor and attorney general say the deaths will bring closure to victims' families.

Courtesy of Lauren Knapp

A doctor who kills people intentionally, that’s the subject of a new documentary film called “The Sandman.” Dr. Carlo Musso has been helping the state of Georgia execute inmates by lethal injection since 2003. The film explores his justifications for doing no harm as a physician, and serving as an executioner. We speak with the filmmaker Lauren Knapp.

The Associated Press

Georgia led the nation last year in death row executions. Nine men were put to death by lethal injection in 2016. That’s more executions than any other year since capital punishment was reinstated nationwide 40 years ago.

In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed.

Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty.

The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s.

Georgia Department of Corrections

Update 12/07/2016:

 

 The Supreme Court of Georgia and U.S. Supreme Court denied Sallie’s attorney’s requests for a stay of execution Tuesday. Sallie was executed at 10:05 p.m. Tuesday evening. 

Original Story:

On Tuesday night, Georgia plans to carry out its ninth execution of the year, the most since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976.

 

At the same time, new death sentences are getting rarer and rarer. It’s been more than two years since a Georgia jury handed one down.

 

Getting inside the state’s capital punishment contradiction, means getting inside the cases of the condemned. 

 

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