January 12, 2018
IDPN 2018 Issue 02
Brazil: In the last nine years, support for the death penalty in the nation has risen 10 percent, from 47 percent to 57 percent. The last execution in the nation occurred in 1861, and currently the death penalty is only applicable during times of a declared state of war. The last declared state of war was during World War II.
Egypt: On Monday, January 8, 2018, the parliament approved a legislative amendment that toughens penalty against those who kidnap children. If the abduction is linked with assault or rape, a penalty of death or a 25-year prison sentence. Additionally, all kidnappers will spend at least 10 years in prison. If the kidnappers issue a ransom demand, they will spend 15-20 years in prison.
Indonesia: After much international outcry, politicians have agreed to work at softening the nation’s harsh death penalty laws. The new proposed law would impose a 10-year stay on all executions, after which, the sentence could be commuted to a prison term. This would grant authorities the freedom to avoid executing prisoners who have demonstrated that they have reformed. While such changes have been approved by legislators, they are part of a larger criminal code reform that will not be enacted for many years.
Iran: A new law regarding drug crimes will spare the lives of over 5,000 individuals already on death row, and thousands more who will be convicted in the future of drug related offenses. Most of the executions that take place in Iran are for drug related offenses. The new law greatly increases the amount of drugs a person must be carrying in order to be sentenced to death. Some crimes, such as leaders of drug trafficking gangs, exploiting minors, and carrying or drawing a firearm while committing a drug related crime, remain eligible for the death penalty.
On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, Sae’ed was executed at Qazvin Central Prison. He was convicted of murder, although he claimed it was in self-defense. The murder occurred in the Zaqeh Village in Abyek, where Sae’ed and the victim lived.
On Thursday, January 11, 2018, 39-year-old Hossein was executed by public hanging in Salmas in West Azerbaijan Province. Hossein was convicted of murder. A large crowd gathered to watch the execution, including children.
Iraq: Following the fall of the Islamic State in Iraq, several thousand fighters have been arrested and are quickly being sentenced with trials that last less than 20 minutes. Over 6,000 have been sentenced to death by hanging. Many of those captured and sentenced are from non-Arab countries. So far, the Justice Ministry has refused to provide a breakdown of nationalities to the United Nations.
United States of America: Keith Tharpe, a death row inmate in Georgia, will have his appeal heard before the Supreme Court of the United States. Keith and his lawyers are arguing that he should receive a new trial after a juror expressed racist views and opinions in an affidavit, several years after the original trial. The juror later stated that Keith’s race did not influence his vote during the trial. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeal previously refused to hear the appeal. Keith is convicted of murdering his estranged wife’s sister, Jaquelin Freeman, while kidnapping and raping his wife. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch filed a dissent against the taking the case.
The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to review the case of 82-year-old Walter Leroy Moody, Jr., a death row inmate in Alabama. Walter is convicted of the murder of Robert S. Vance, a federal appeals judge, by using a pipe bomb. The Supreme Court justices did not give a written opinion explaining their refusal. Walter is the oldest death row inmate in Alabama. His appeal is regarding his decision to represent himself at his 1996 murder trial and the court’s refusal to grant him a continuance.
Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General for the United States, has, twice in the last month, authorized federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty in two murder cases. The Justice Department is also considering seeking the death penalty against at least one other. Sessions has previously stated that the death penalty is a “valuable tool in the tool belt.” A senior Justice Department official has stated that they expect more death penalty cases under the Trump Administrations, as opposed to the previous administration.
James Brady, the US District Judge who issued the court order halting all executions in Louisiana in 2014, has died after a brief illness. The order was due to expire before the end of the month, however, with his death, US District Judge Shelly Dick has extended the order until another judge can be assigned to the lawsuit. There are over 70 death row inmate in Louisiana. The last execution occurred in January 2010.
Judge Brantley Clark Jr., has signed an order that commutes Kevin Jeffries’ death sentence to life in prison. Kevin was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2013 robbery, torture, and murder of Wallace Scott, a World War II veteran, in Lynn Haven, Florida. The jury voted 10-2 for the death sentence. The state chose not to purse another death penalty case, following the Supreme Court ruling that jury decisions had to be unanimous.
Twenty-eight-year-old Isiah McCoy was sentenced to death in Delaware in 2012 for the murder of Jame Mumford on May 4, 2010, during a drug deal gone bad. During a retrial in late 2016/early 2017, he was found not guilty of the murder and released. Following his release, he moved to Hawaii. Now, Isiah has been arrested by the Hawaiian police, accused of attempting to build a prostitution ring - by threatening, beating, and raping women in order to force them to cooperate.