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March 9, 2014

LDF releases latest, greatest accounting of death row populations

As reported here by the Death Penalty Information Center, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has just released its latest version of its periodic accounting of capital punishment developments in the United States. This document, available here, is titled simply "Death Row, USA," and reports on data though July 1, 2013.  Here is how DPIC summarizes some of its key findings:

The latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Death Row, USA shows the total death row population continuing to decline in size. The U.S. death-row population decreased from 3,108 on April 1, 2013, to 3,095 on July 1, 2013.  The new total represented a 12% decrease from 10 years earlier, when the death row population was 3,517.  The states with the largest death rows were California (733), Florida (412), Texas (292), Pennsylvania (197), and Alabama (197).  In the past 10 years, the size of Texas's death row has shrunk 36%; Pennsylvania's death row has declined 18%; on the other hand, California's death row has increased 17% in that time.  

The report also contains racial breakdowns on death row. The states with the highest percentage of minorities on death row were Delaware (78%) and Texas (71%), among those states with at least 10 inmates. The total death row population was 43% white, 42% black, 13% Latino, and 2% other races.

March 9, 2014 at 09:24 AM | Permalink


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After losing out on the Civil Rights Division nomination (in a bipartisan fashion, I might add), perhaps Debo Adegbile can go back to his old job.

Nice to see this less than talented hack get some comeuppance.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 9, 2014 9:05:39 PM

federalist, it's too bad we don't know who you are in real life, so we could compare your accomplishments and legal acumen to Mr. Adegbile's.

Among other things, he helped get a death sentence overturned for one of the most hated/well publicized defendants in the country, so he must know something about advocacy. Of course, I'm sure that's not his primary accomplishment, but since it's the one that got him in the most trouble, let's at least acknowledge that it was an impressive piece of work from an advocacy perspective. (As an aside, while I take a dim view of the defendant's innocence claims or political activism from prison, from what I know about the proceedings in that Philadelphia trial in the early 80s, I think Mr. Adegbile and the other lawyers on that legal team served justice. Seemed to me that the process used to get that death sentence fell *far* short of constitutional requirements. Cutting through the politics and outside-the-record factors and getting a court to do what the law required despite the notoriousness of the case is the kind of thing good lawyers do.)

As for my reaction to the actual post above -- my first thought was "wow, Alabama is really punching above its weight when it comes to death sentencing." It must have like a third of the population, if that, of the other states on that list.

Posted by: anon | Mar 10, 2014 11:01:33 AM

There is not a lot on this forum that makes me laugh, but I had to when I saw that this line, "federalist, it's too bad we don't know who you are in real life, so we could compare your accomplishments and legal acumen to Mr. Adegbile's" was written by someone who signs himself, "anon."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 10, 2014 11:34:23 AM

anon, getting the Third Circuit to toss Mumia's death sentence was not that hard. As for comparing my skills with Adegbile's--he couldn't do my job, but I could easily do his.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 10, 2014 9:48:48 PM

Anon: What's even more impressive about the Alabama numbers is that about 15 counties in Alabama have not one person on death row. So that rather impressive number is from about 75% of the state. I think that more that 1/3 of them were sentenced at a time when counsel got a whopping $1,000 for representing a capital case. Also, about 1/3 of them are there by judicial fiat. It's an interesting place to practice!

Posted by: Ala JD | Mar 11, 2014 3:40:23 PM

Well to all you death penalty proponents, here's the strongest argument against your position:

NEW ORLEANS, March 11 (Reuters) - A Louisiana man who has spent nearly three decades on death row was slated to walk free on Tuesday, after prosecutors asked a judge to set aside his first-degree murder conviction and death sentence, citing new evidence in the case that exonerated him.

Glenn Ford, a black man, was convicted by an all-white jury in the 1983 robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman, a 56-year-old Shreveport watchmaker, who was found shot to death behind the counter of his jewelry shop.

Acting on new information that exonerated Ford, a judge in Shreveport ordered him released from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where he has been held on death row since March 1985.

"We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free," said Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, attorneys for Ford from the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.

Prison spokeswoman Pam Laborde said shortly before 5 p.m. local time (2200 GMT) that Ford was being processed, but she had not yet received confirmation of his release.

Ford, a California native who did occasional yard work for Rozeman, was found guilty in 1984 and was sentenced to die by electrocution, then the state's method of execution.

For three decades, Ford has maintained his innocence and filed multiple appeals, most of which were denied.

But in 2000, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing on Ford's claim that the prosecution suppressed favorable evidence related to Jake and Henry Robinson, two brothers initially implicated in the crime.

According to the Shreveport Times, court records show that an unidentified informant in 2013 told prosecutors that Jake Robinson admitted to shooting and killing Rozeman.

Last Thursday, prosecutors filed a motion to vacate Ford's conviction and sentence, saying that in late 2013 "credible evidence" came to their attention "supporting a finding that Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman."

If prosecution had been privy to the information initially, the motion said, "Ford might not even have been arrested or indicted for this offense."

Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Catherine Estopinal declined on Tuesday to elaborate on what she termed "a recent development" that prompted prosecutors to reverse course.

"I can't go into it," she said. (Editing by Brendan O'Brien, G Crosse and Lisa Shumaker)

Posted by: Dave from texas | Mar 11, 2014 10:53:12 PM

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