Top Stories This Week on the Justice Newsladder, 4.10.08

Here are the top stories in criminal justice reform, taken from the Justice Newsladder.

The state's district attorneys want to abolish a 16-member committee charged with reviewing how Tennessee carries out the death penalty, and the Legislature should take their concerns seriously. (

Dr. Hayne has responded in Jackson's Clarion-Ledger to a complaint filed by the national and Mississippi Innocence Projects to revoke his medical license. And to vouch for his credibility, he has summoned none other than District Attorney Forrest Allgood--the same guy who has had three murder convictions overturned, and who continued using "bite-mark expert" Dr. Michael West more than a decade after the disgraced dentist was exposed as a fraud. (

While a federal judge has ordered death row inmate Paul House to be released from jail while appeals proceed in his case, it appears he won't be released anytime soon. (

The Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty
was approved by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Phil Bredesen, who supports the death penalty. They have introduced legislation to extend the committee for an additional year, to October 2009. (

  When the door closes and the interrogation begins, the quest for truth can run tragically off course. Clemency petitions on Gov. Tim Kaine's desk raise disturbing questions about false confessions. (

The Justice Project, an organization which aims to address unfairness and inaccuracy in the American criminal justice system, is proud to sponsor the Justice Newsladder, a new tool to find the top news and articles about criminal justice reform.

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Obama Campaign Refuted on IL Questionnaire

Politico, a blogsite which has been pretty neutral during this campaign, has essentially accused the Obama campaign of lying about a crucial questionnaire Obama filled out when he was getting started in Illinois politics. 8/9269.html

During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion- positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he's projected during his presidential campaign.

The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group's detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.

Late last year, in response to a Politico story about Obama's answers to the original questionnaire, his aides said he "never saw or approved" the questionnaire.

They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who "unintentionally mischaracterize(d) his position."

But a Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago non-profit group that issued it. And it found that Obama - the day after sitting for the interview - filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama's own handwritten notes adding to one answer.

This story will be something the Obama campaign will have to deal with between now and November.  Even a liberal, mostly pro-Obama blog like TPM has taken notice:

One member of the organization, the Independent Voters of Illinois - Independent Precinct Organization, was upset about the Obama camp's treatment of the subject, arguing Obama's 1996 answers reflected his actual opinions, while his current stances are tailored for a national audience.

http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsm _1996.php

The problem is that some of the views will be viewed as extreme by the general electorate, such as the facts that he opposed parental notification on abortions, later amending this to say that he might possibly support it for 12- or 13-year-olds, but no older. Obama unconditionally opposed the death penalty. And, he supported bans on the sale, possession, and manufacture of guns.

Many of us might think some or all of these positions are the correct ones.  Personally, I favor banning the possession or sale of all non-hunting weaponry (except for law enforcement).

But it raises the question once again - who is the real Obama?  What does he really believe?  

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Death for Marijuana ; Man weeps in court

 title=Razali Ahmad , 33 , of  Gombak , Malaysia

Drug trafficker breaks down in court

THIRTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Razali Ahmad wept in court yesterday, when the Shah Alam High Court sentenced him to the gallows after finding him guilty of drug trafficking.

Razali, a despatch rider, was charged under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act with trafficking 858 grams of cannabis at a house in Jalan Dewan Gombak Setia on Aug 6, 2003, at 5.45pm.

 title=DEATH Penalty for DRUGS also here in USA

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Ending the Real Culture Of Death

Cross-posted at The Great Orange Satan (DailyKos)

The faux religious zealots like to go around spouting about a "culture of death" in our country because we let women make their own decisions about their bodies. However the real culture of death in this country is the unjust death penalty. We join beacons of justice China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan in accounting for 90 percent of all executions. 133 countries around the world have abolished the death penalty. And yet we stick on to this culture of death. However great news has been coming out in recent days for those who wish to end this injustice. Two days ago New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine on Monday signed a law abolishing the death penalty, the first state to ban it in 42 years. And then yesterday on a 104 to 54 vote, with 29 abstentions the U.N. General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.

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Why We'll WIn

I am working on a book that I believe is very relevant to this forum and was hoping that you all could look into it and provide some feedback. I represent the book, "Why We'll Win: Left Edition" by Malcolm Friedberg, which explores the constitutional contentions behind hotpoint issues such as abortion, the pledge of allegiance, gun control, and gay marriage along with perspectives written by liberal leaders.

The book is written from a bipartisan perspective with the aim to inform the average political junkie of the legal and constitutional arguments that are made and heard within the confines of the Supreme Court. For instance, the chapter on abortion draws the distinction that the constitution lays out (and the courts have specified) between the state rights to protect the unborn and a woman's right to choose. While, of course, there is no easy mediation between the two sides, this book is designed to make readers aware of the LEGAL contentions behind the debate and prepare them to argue their case.

I thought that this book would be of interest to this community. What do you all think?

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