Author: Fair Punishment Project

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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Harris County’s Marijuana Diversion Program an Important First Step Towards Community-Centered Justice Reform

On Thursday, February 16, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced the formation of the Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP), which is a pre-charge diversion program for individuals who meet certain criteria and are in possession of four ounces or less of marijuana. Previously, those found with four ounces or less of marijuana faced criminal charges and jail time. The policy shift means that fewer low-level offenders will languish in jail and that they instead can continue working, caring for their families, and playing a productive role in their community. Importantly, Ogg’s decision helps align Houston’s marijuana policy with...

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New Report: Death Penalty Disproportionately Used Against Persons with Significant Mental Impairments in Five Florida Counties

Introduction The Florida Supreme Court recently held that the state’s capital punishment statute is unconstitutional. Approximately 380 people sentenced to death under the now-invalidated sentencing scheme remain on death row.[1] While litigation is still pending over whether the decision applies to all Florida death sentences, the Court has clarified that the approximately 150 people who were convicted after the Ring v. Arizona decision in 2002 must have their sentences reconsidered. Roughly one-third of these individuals convicted since 2002 come from just five of Florida’s 67 counties: Duval, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Orange, and Pinellas. This report examines the 48 invalidated death...

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