Author: Fair Punishment Project

Arkansas Executes Ledell Lee Despite Disability, Innocence Questions

On Friday, April 21, the state of Arkansas executed Ledell Lee despite serious concerns about his intellectual functioning. It is possible Lee suffered from a disability that should have excluded him from the death penalty. There were also concerns raised about the fact that he had not been able to test crucial evidence which could have exonerated him. Read our Amicus Brief on the case here.  You can also see more about the egregiously ineffective assistance of counsel he received in our report...

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Five Criminal Justice Reforms the Louisiana Legislature Should Pass Immediately

  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Louisiana locks up more people per capita than anywhere else in the country — nearly double the national average. It sends people to prison for drug, property, and other low-level offenses at an alarming clip. This desire to lock people up and throw away the key has strained the state’s finances while failing to make communities safer. In just over a year’s span, credit agencies have downgraded Louisiana’s credit three times, and it is facing an over $300 million budget shortfall. But the state is not without a path forward. Several reforms currently before the Louisiana...

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New Report: Prisoners on Arkansas’s Execution List Defined By Mental Illness, Intellectual Disability, and Bad Lawyering

Introduction Since the Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty in 1976, Arkansas has executed just 27 people.[1] It has not sent an inmate to the death chamber since 2005.[2] But beginning on April 17, Arkansas intends to execute an unprecedented eight men in just ten days.[3] This report examines the cases of those condemned men, and what we found is devastating.[4] At least five of the eight cases cases involve a person who appears to suffer from a serious mental illness or intellectual impairment. One of these men was twenty at the time of the crime, suffered a serious...

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Aramis Ayala Becomes First Elected State Attorney in Florida to Refuse to Seek Death Penalty

The Fair Punishment Project applauds Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s decision to refrain from seeking any death sentences during her tenure. Robert J. Smith, the Project’s director, issued the following statement in support of her decision: “Florida’s death penalty is deeply flawed. Not only have innocent men and woman been sentenced to death, but individuals with crippling mental impairments have also faced capital punishment. It is refreshing to see a prosecutor acknowledge these troubling defects and commit to halting death penalty prosecutions in light of these problems. Aramis Ayala should be commended for her commitment to justice, fairness, and...

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Introducing Trials and Error, a partnership with Slate Magazine

Starting this week, the Fair Punishment Project will be teaming up with the online news magazine Slate to create a series called Trials and Error. It is a collaboration aimed at illustrating the reality of the justice system, and how to fix it. Much of what happens in the criminal justice system is shrouded in secrecy, and many of its players operate without transparency or accountability. Focused on providing thorough, fair, and accurate investigative journalism and policy analysis, Trials and Error aims to tell stories that reflect and preserve human dignity—stories that are honest, truthful, and thorough. This partnership...

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