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Associated Press - November 7, 2007
House lawmakers reject death penalty bill
      House lawmakers overwhelmingly reject a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts. The 110-46 vote effectively kills any chance of the bill becoming law this session and reflects a growing opposition to the death penalty on Beacon Hill... The bill mirrors an earlier bill by former Gov. Romney to create a national death penalty "gold standard."
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Boston Globe - October 23, 2007
The Legacy: The execution of Rachel Meeropol's grandparents in 1953 resonates in her work as a lawyer today
      Her last year at New York University law school, Rachel Meeropol spent a semester working at a legal clinic in Alabama that represented prisoners on death row. Her client, she says, was typical: poor black man, borderline retarded, convicted of killing a white woman, represented by incompetent trial counsel. With Meeropol's help, the inmate is now serving a life sentence without parole. "Given my background, it's not surprising I would be anti-death penalty," she says. "When the state executes anyone, it's simply perpetrating another crime. It doesn't create any justice. I think what happened to my grandparents is criminal."
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Associated Press - October 23, 2007
Death penalty bill facing stiff opposition on Beacon Hill
      The rape and murder of his 10-year-old son Jeffery Curley a decade ago brought Massachusetts to the brink of reinstating the death penalty, but on Tuesday Robert Curley led an impassioned opposition to a capital punishment bill. After his son's killing in 1997, Curley had initially pushed for the death penalty and lawmakers came within a single vote of approving it. But since then, Curley has changed his mind and opposition has steadily grown in the Legislature.
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Boston Globe Editorial - October 8, 2007
Always cruel and unusual
      When Texas, the killingest state in the union, issues a stay of execution for a death row inmate, you know something important is happening. On Tuesday - one day before 28 year-old Heliberto Chi was to be put to death - the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stop order, pending a review by the US Supreme Court on the constitutionality of lethal injection.
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The Birmingham News - Sunday, September 9, 2007
A lethal combination
      Alabama Attorney General Troy King plans to pay a Massachusetts doctor $400 an hour to study the state's lethal injection drugs and help the state fend off a federal court challenge to the way it executes prisoners. That may sound like a lot of money - and it is. But with the problems encountered with executions in other states - and more particularly, with a federal case pending - the state has no choice except to look at its lethal injection procedures.
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The Nation - August 27, 2007
Sacco & Vanzetti Today
      n the night of August 23, 1927, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants and revolutionary anarchists, the former a heel-trimmer and the latter an unskilled laborer, were executed in Massachusetts. It was an awful end to an unprecedented seven-year legal and political battle that put American justice on trial and involved political leaders, social activists, public intellectuals, religious figures, artists, workers and countless ordinary people, Americans and non-Americans.
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Berkshire Eagle Editorial - Monday, June 26, 2006
Killing people softly
      Some medical experts assert that advances in the technique of lethal injection could make execution of prisoners less painful, which in turn could undermine the argument of death penalty opponents that injecting prisoners with fatal doses of drugs is "cruel and unusual" punishment and forbidden by the Constitution. If anything, finding ways to "kill people softly" to make it easier for the state to send people to their deaths only heightens the barbarity of capital punishment.
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The Republican - Monday, June 26, 2006
Moussaoui case evokes past era
By Bob Datz
      When the recent conspiracy convictions against Zacarias Moussaoui did not result in an execution, two Western Massachusetts men had more than passing interest. The parents of Robert and Michael Meeropol were executed in 1953 on a charge of conspiracy to commit espionage. And beyond their many years of studying that case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the Meeropol brothers have become opponents of the death penalty in general.
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Boston Globe - Sunday, July 2, 2006
A failing grade for a `broken system'
By Michael Meltsner
      THE SAME WEEK Americans enjoy the 230th birthday of the Declaration of Independence, they might also consider the meaning of another, less celebratory, anniversary. Thirty years ago, on July 2, 1976, a divided US Supreme Court upheld Georgia, Florida, and Texas laws that promised an end to the arbitrariness and discrimination that had rendered capital punishment unconstitutional four years earlier.
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Harvard University Gazette - May 11, 2006
A call to abolish death penalty
National conference meets at Law School
By Ruth Walker, Special to the Harvard News Office
      The prophets of the "new abolitionism" met in Austin Hall over the weekend, and one of them, Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project at the Cardozo School of Law in New York, predicted "the end of the death penalty within our lifetimes." Considering the unanimity of opinion on this one main point - that capital punishment is a bad idea - the gathering was in some ways more a revival meeting for activists than a debate. But, the devil's in the details and so the conference didn't lack for pyrotechnics.
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Boston Globe - Thursday, February 23, 2006
Not guilty on death row
By Donna Novak
      "Is art simply for aesthetic purposes or is it also to provoke people or incite them to action?" asked Kathleen Sills, who is directing the Exonerated at Merrimack College this weekend. The 90-minute show, written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, examines the true stories of six death-row survivors who were eventually exonerated. The performance includes 10 actors playing the parts of inmates and the people involved in their cases.
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Boston Globe - Thursday, January 12, 2006
Reputed members of gang acquitted
Judge questions US role in case
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
      A day after jurors announced they were hopelessly deadlocked over whether two reputed Dorchester gang members were guilty of federal racketeering charges, a federal judge entered her own verdict in the case yesterday: not guilty on all counts. The judge said her ruling applies only to the case of the two men she acquitted, Jonathan Hart, 24, and Edward Washington, 25, and not the government's racketeering case against codefendants Darryl Green and Branden Morris, who face the federal death penalty if convicted.
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Boston Globe Magazine - Sunday, January 1, 2006
Death Wish
It's been almost 60 years since our last execution. We went to Texas to see what we could learn from a land that embraces capital punishment.
By Karen Olsson
      Because Romney didn't assign anyone to study the necessity, cost, or practical implementation of a death penalty statute, critics believe his proposal was never serious. "It's solely symbolic," says Franklin Zimring, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. "What happened in Massachusetts is the governor said: 'Look, I want to have a death penalty. Go find out for what I should have it.' And they come back and say, 'Practically nothing, but it'll be pretty safe.' " So perhaps Romney did invent the perfect death penalty, one that would never send the wrong man to the execution chamber - a death penalty that's only the idea of the death penalty, never turned into law and therefore never liable to any of the error and injustice that actual death penalties wreak elsewhere.
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Boston Globe
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist

Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Misplaced sympathy for killers
      STANLEY "TOOKIE" Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection in California's San Quentin prison next Tuesday. His death will occur nearly 27 years after he brutally murdered Albert Owens, a 7-Eleven clerk in Whittier, Calif., and three members of the Yang family -- Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin -- at the Brookhaven Motel in Los Angeles. Unlike the peaceful, painless demise awaiting Williams, the deaths of his victims were horrific: He shot each of them at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun, shattering their bodies so that they died in agony. Their suffering amused him.
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Sunday, December 11, 2005
Protecting life by taking it away
      LAST MONTH, by a vote of 237-4, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a pastoral statement calling for an end to the death penalty. The 11-page document makes a number of claims. Among them: that the execution of murderers "violates respect for human life and dignity," that it fuels a "cycle of violence [that] diminishes us all," and that "we have other ways to punish criminals and protect society." The bishops acknowledge in passing that Catholic teaching has never banned the death penalty outright or declared it "intrinsically evil." Nevertheless, they insist, since the modern state "has other nonlethal means to protect its citizens, the state should not use the death penalty."
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Boston Phoenix - Issue Date: December 2 - 8, 2005
NOT YET 1000
A non-execution puts the spotlight on capital punishment
By David S. Bernstein
      Virginia governor Mark Warner postponed on Tuesday the nation's 1000th execution since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, by commuting the sentence of Robin Lovitt to life in prison for the robbing and murder of Clayton Dicks in 1998. Lovitt was due for execution on Wednesday at 9 pm; the dubious honor of number 1000 now shifts to Kenneth Boyd, due for execution in North Carolina on Friday, December 2, at 2 am. Warner's move was celebrated, interestingly, by both supporters and opponents of the death penalty. Conservatives had come to Lovitt's aid behind none other than former Clinton-hounding special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who represented Lovitt on appeal. Starr supports the death penalty, but argued that this was a clear case of injustice: among other things, a county administrator accidentally destroyed the physical evidence in Lovitt's case, making it impossible to do DNA testing.
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Cambridge Chronicle column - Thursday, December 1, 2005
The Demise of the Capital Punishment Bill
By Ian C. Pilarczyk/The Right View
      Last month the Massachusetts House rejected Governor Romney's plan to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts. . . While I am a Republican who is personally against the death penalty, I nonetheless feel that Governor Romney did the right thing in introducing this legislation.
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Los Angeles Times Editorial - Sunday, November 20, 2005
A rush to executions
      CHINA HAS A BRUTALLY EFFICIENT system of capital punishment. Sentences can be carried out within months of conviction, sometimes in mobile lethal-injection vans. The cost is low -- $87 per execution. Appeals are limited and stacked in favor of the prosecution. And although the government does not issue statistics, estimates of the number of executions in China range upward from 3,000 a year. Most Americans would be appalled at China's system, which was described by The Times' Mark Magnier in an article published in September. Yet efficiency is one of the main arguments for proposed federal legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), to limit death penalty appeals in the United States. . . So why are some members of Congress pushing so hard to make executions easier?
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The Pilot Editorial - Friday, November 18, 2005
Death penalty defeated
      Following a year filled with discouraging news from the Statehouse on issues of importance to Catholics such as stem-cell research, cloning, mandated emergency contraception as well as bills currently under consideration that would expand gambling and force religious groups to be treated as any other charitable organization --it is encouraging that Gov. Mitt Romney's so-called "foolproof"death penalty bill was defeated in the House Nov. 15. . . In their fall meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved a statement that calls for the abolition of the death penalty in our country.
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The Republican Editorial - Friday, November 18, 2005
One of life's lessons: Death penalty a risk
      This newspaper has long opposed the death penalty and will continue to oppose any effort to resurrect it here in Massachusetts, one of only 12 states without it. Its defeat on Tuesday in Boston is a victory for Massachusetts.
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Boston Globe - Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Death penalty bill fails in House
Romney initiative roundly defeated
By Scott Helman, Globe Staff
      The Massachusetts House yesterday soundly rejected Governor Mitt Romney's plan to reinstate the death penalty, defeating one of his signature 2002 campaign initiatives and affirming the Legislature's growing opposition to capital punishment. The House vote, 100-53, was widely expected, and it came after Romney declared that the death penalty was no longer among his highest priorities on Beacon Hill.
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Berkshire Eagle Editorial - Saturday, November 12, 2005
Dead on arrival
      Massachusetts has a legitimate claim to being one of the most enlightened states in the country, in part because it does not give the government the power to execute prisoners. Civilized nations have ruled out killing as a form of punishment -- Europe, especially after centuries of unjust killing by its rulers, is wary of any state-sanctioned death penalty. In the United States, however, federal crimes are punishable by death and individual states can opt for the ultimate measure. It should be a source of pride for the commonwealth that it does not carry out executions, which is why it's unfortunate that the debate should even come up again in the Statehouse, prompted by legislation calling for the institution of the death penalty by Governor Mitt Romney.
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Washington Post Editorial - Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Patriot Death Games
      THE USA PATRIOT Act is intended to give the government the authority it needs to prevent terrorism. But the House has larded its version of the bill reauthorizing some of those powers with extraneous provisions that would significantly reshape the federal death penalty -- and not just in terrorism cases. Whatever else happens in the House-Senate conference committee that will meet soon to reconcile differing versions of the bill, these provisions need to be removed.
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New York Times Editorial - Monday, October 31, 2005
The House's Abuse of Patriotism
      In the national anguish after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress rushed to enact a formidable antiterrorism law - the Patriot Act - that significantly crimped civil liberties by expanding law enforcement's power to use wiretaps, search warrants and other surveillance techniques, often under the cloak of secrecy. Now, with some of the act's most sweeping powers set to expire at the end of the year, the two houses of Congress face crucial negotiations, which will also take place out of public view, on their differences over how to extend and amend the law. That's controversy enough. But the increasingly out-of-control House of Representatives has made the threat to our system of justice even greater by inserting a raft of provisions to enlarge the scope of the federal death penalty.
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Washington Post - Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Measure Would Alter Federal Death Penalty System
House Legislation to Renew USA Patriot Act Would Loosen Some Provisions for Execution
By Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer
      The House bill that would reauthorize the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law includes several little-noticed provisions that would dramatically transform the federal death penalty system, allowing smaller juries to decide on executions and giving prosecutors the ability to try again if a jury deadlocks on sentencing. The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty, adding, among others, the material support law that has been the core of the government's legal strategy against terrorism.
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Hartford Courant Editorial - Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Don't Limit Habeas Appeals
      Congress ought to kill a reckless proposal that would severely limit the right of appeal in criminal cases. The Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005 would gut habeas corpus, the hallowed protection that allows prisoners to challenge in federal court the legality of their convictions. Habeas corpus is often the last resort for death row inmates asserting their innocence.
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Washington Post Editorial - Thursday, September 29, 2005
Kill Bill
      TODAY, THE SENATE Judiciary Committee takes up the so-called Streamlined Procedures Act, a bill that radically scales back federal review of state convictions and death sentences. Calling what this bill does "streamlining" is a little like calling a scalping a haircut. A better name would have been the Eliminating Essential Legal Protections Act. What it does, in effect, is curtail the federal role in policing constitutional violations in state criminal justice systems using the venerable mechanism of habeas corpus. Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has moderated some of the worst provisions, but this bill is beyond rehabilitation. If it passes, the chances that innocent people will be executed will go way up.
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Los Angeles Times - Saturday, August 6, 2005
Top Jurists Pan Faster Death Penalty Appeals
By Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
      Chief justices from all over the U.S., with the exception of Texas, call for the Senate not to pass a bill that would streamline the process. Chief justices of state courts from around the country have urged the U.S. Senate not to pass a bill aimed at speeding death penalty appeals. The resolution passed overwhelmingly by the Conference of Chief Justices this week was the latest opposition to the Streamlined Procedures Act, introduced in the Senate by Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and in the House by Dan Lungren (R-Gold River). Only the chief justice of Texas' Supreme Court voted against the resolution, according to several justices who were present.
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Berkshire Eagle Editorial - Monday, July 18, 2005
Don't be fooled by 'foolproof' law
      Several states are considering abandonment of the death penalty because so many innocent men sent to death row because of mistakes or willingly false statements have been released in recent years, but the governor is bucking the tide with legislation he arrogantly believes is foolproof.
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The Standard-Times Editorial - Sunday, July 18, 2005
Romney's folly
      Gov. Romney should be spending more time working with the state's cities to reduce drug and gang-related crime instead of spending far too much time pushing this measure, which does not address the real problems in our communities.
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Boston Herald Op-Ed - Monday, July 18, 2005
Mitt's execution bill should be DOA
By James Alan Fox
      All too often debates about the death penalty dissolve into either emotionally charged arguments over morality or intellectually sterile exchanges of facts, figures and scientific research. Neither type of discussion appears to change many minds on the propriety of state-sanctioned killing. Logic about the utility of capital punishment, however, suggests that legislation proposed by Gov. Mitt Romney to reinstate the death penalty is just a bad idea. Restoring capital punishment makes little sense, especially in light of Massachusetts' distinction as having the lowest homicide rate among the urban states and the lack of consensus in public opinion.
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Boston Phoenix - Issue Date: July 22 - 28, 2005
The sudden death of Romney's dream
What once seemed like a clever ploy has become a political and policy disaster for the governor
By David S. Bernstein
      It seemed like a good idea at the time. When Mitt Romney first announced his desire for a "gold standard" death penalty almost two years ago, it looked like a reasonable bet -- both as politics and as policy. Previous death-penalty bills had lost by close margins in the state, suggesting that a better plan -- and a popular governor -- might swing the vote. The 11 members he assembled on his Governor's Council on Capital Punishment, including respected figures like forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee, Indiana University law professor Joseph Hoffman, and Brigham and Women's pathologist Dr. Fred Bieber, impressed even the most skeptical. . . But by last Thursday, when Romney finally presented the plan to the state legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary, his gamble had crapped out.
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The Republican Editorial - Sunday, July 17, 2005
No guarantees in life - or in death penalty
      This newspaper has long opposed the death penalty, and will continue to speak out against it each time an attempt is made to reinstate it in Massachusetts. The death penalty does not deter violent crime; it unfairly targets blacks and other minorities, and it relies on a judicial system that, while the best in the world, is not perfect.
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Worcester Telegram Editorial - Friday, July 15, 2005
'No-doubt' doubts
Effort to make death penalty foolproof is futile
      The death penalty, last imposed in Massachusetts in 1947, was abolished officially in 1984. The most compelling reason why it should not be reinstated is, simply, that punishing a killing with a state-sanctioned killing is ethically and morally repugnant. With its risk of irreparable harm, it also is dreadful public policy.
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MetroWest Daily News - Friday, July 15, 2005
Thumbs down on Romney death penalty bill
By Emelie Rutherford / Daily News Staff
      MetroWest district attorneys and lawmakers joined a parade of death penalty opponents yesterday in criticizing a capital punishment bill backed by the governor, who said his measure requiring scientific evidence and doubt-free juries would be foolproof. "I would have complete confidence in any judgments that resulted following the enactment of this legislation," Romney said. Yet he hesitated to give a "100 percent guarantee" it would result in no wrongful convictions.
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State House News Service - Friday, July 15, 2005
Romney, Detractors Square Off over "Gold Standard" Death Bill
By Jim O'Sullivan for the State House News Service
      Governor Mitt Romney argued Thursday for a death penalty bill he said could serve as a national model, narrowing the language in previous bills to confine capital cases to a "no doubt" standard for specific types of murder, with an emphasis on scientific evidence that would eliminate uncertainty. "This is as foolproof a death penalty as exists and you will not have false convictions, false convictions and false executions under this. This won't happen," Romney said during a day of testimony on whether or not to restore capital punishment in Massachusetts.
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Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2005
Romney testifies in favor of state death penalty
By Theo Emery, Associated Press Writer
      Gov. Mitt Romney insisted on Thursday that no innocent people would be executed under his plan to return the death penalty to Massachusetts, but acknowledged that he could not guarantee that the plan would be completely foolproof. Romney told the joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee that his proposal would ensure that no innocent people were put to death, by including multiple levels of review and a unique "no doubt" standard of guilt. Romney has said his bill is an answer to death penalty opponents who say that innocent or undeserving people could be put to death, claiming that his plan was a "gold standard" that would not execute anyone who did not truly deserve capital punishment. But when pressed by lawmakers, he acknowledged he could not definitively say that the proposal would be completely foolproof.
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Washinton Post Editorial - Sunday, July 10, 2005
Stop This Bill
      CONGRESS HAS a novel response to the rash of prisoners over the past few years who have been exonerated of capital crimes after being tried and convicted: Keep similar cases out of court. Both chambers of the national legislature are quietly moving a particularly ugly piece of legislation designed to gut the legal means by which prisoners prove their innocence.
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Reuters - Thursday, July 7, 2005
GOP targets inmate appeals
Hopes to speed execution cases
By Alan Elsner
      Republicans in Congress have launched a new effort to speed up executions in the United States by limiting the ability of those sentenced to death to appeal to federal courts. The Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005, introduced in the House by Representative Dan Lungren of California and in the Senate by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have cases reviewed by federal courts in habeas corpus appeals.
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Washington Post Op-Ed - Tuesday, May 17, 2005
In Real Life, a Power We Shouldn't Have
By Richard Cohen
      It would be wrong to say mistakes happen frequently. It would be just as wrong to say they never happen. They happen because lab technicians are sometimes distracted, sometimes rushing to take an early lunch and sometimes just plain inept. They happen, in other words, because human beings are central to the process and we are, I am here to tell you, a bit shy of perfect. Good riddance to Michael Bruce Ross. He killed and he was killed in return -- a facile symmetry that seems both satisfying and self-contained but merely continues the tragedy. Ross killed innocent people. Sooner or later, we will discover, so have we.
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Berkshire Eagle Editorial - Monday, May 16, 2005
Government by laws, not polls
      The fact that 65 percent of respondents to a news poll support Governor Mitt Romney's idea of a "foolproof" death penalty doesn't make it any less of a bad idea. . . No law enacted by a government of men and women can be foolproof; it's a wise government that recognizes the limit of its capabilities
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Boston Globe column - Sunday, May 15, 2005
Romney's flawed death penalty
By Jeff Jacoby
      Massachusetts voters have long backed the death penalty -- in 1982 they amended their Constitution to say so explicitly -- but their wishes have been thwarted by the state Legislature and supreme court. To judge from a poll released by the State House News Service in Boston last week, public opinion hasn't changed: 65 percent of Bay State residents favor Romney's new proposal, against only 33 percent who oppose it. I support capital punishment. But on this one, I'm with the 33 percent. Romney's intentions are admirable, but in his quest to make the death penalty infallible, he has offered a bill that would likely do more harm than good. Under its provisions, most vicious murderers would never face execution, victims and their families would be treated with disrespect, and one of the bedrock standards of the American criminal-justice system -- guilt beyond a reasonable doubt -- would be jettisoned.
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Boston Globe - Friday, May 13, 2005
Court rules pair can't have separate juries
Two could face death penalty
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
      A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that two Dorchester men who could face the federal death penalty if convicted of a gang-related slaying are not entitled to separate juries, one to decide guilt and another to decide punishment. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overturned a decision by US District Judge Nancy Gertner, who had ruled that the practice of a having a single jury consider guilt and punishment in death penalty cases tends to result in a jury that is more prone to convict. Gertner, citing studies presented by the defense, concluded that so-called ''death-qualified" juries are more likely to convict because people who admit they could never vote for death are disqualified from serving. In its ruling yesterday, the appeals court did not delve into the issue of fairness but focused on the wording of the Federal Death Penalty Act and concluded that Gertner had improperly interpreted the law and did not have the power to order separate juries to hear the cases.
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Berkshire Eagle - Friday, May 13, 2005
Poll: Backing is strong for death penalty
By Erik Arvidson, Eagle Boston Bureau
      Gov. Mitt Romney appears to have strong backing among voters for his proposal to reinstate a "foolproof" death penalty system in Massachusetts, according to a poll released yesterday. In a survey of 400 Massachusetts residents, sponsored by the State House News Service and conducted by KRC Communications Research, 65 percent of the respondents said they support Romney's proposal, while some 32 percent opposed it. KRC Communications pollster Gerry Chervinsky said the new poll shows resident support moving the standard for capital cases from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to "no doubt. Traditionally, a majority of Massachusetts residents has been supportive of the death penalty. So it's no surprise that this poll would show a majority supporting it," Chervinsky said. "The only surprise could be in the margin, which is a 32-point spread."
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Boston Herald - Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Innocent cons: Justice blind, slow to pay up
By Ann E. Donlan
      Behind bars for crimes they did not commit, nine men have sued the commonwealth for up to $4.5 million in damages under a much-touted new law, but they have yet to see a dime and accuse Attorney General Tom Reilly of fighting them all the way to the bank. ``All they have to do is use the same kind of expediency it took to convict me,'' said Lawyer Johnson, a 54-year-old black man who was imprisoned for 10 years, including two years on death row, for the murder of a white man. ``They need to make amends to people that were convicted unjustly. They're making something very simple very complex.''
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The Republican - Sunday, May 08, 2005
Foolproof death penalty disputed
By Michael McAuliffe
      For Robert Meeropol, the belief of Gov. W. Mitt Romney that he has introduced a foolproof death penalty law in Massachusetts is simply preposterous. "Can you imagine any state law that's foolproof?" said Meeropol, an Easthampton resident and the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed in 1953 for conspiring to give to the Soviet Union atomic bomb secrets. "This is laughable, if it weren't so deadly serious," Meeropol said during his keynote address yesterday at a workshop titled "The Death Penalty as a Social Justice Issue." The workshop was held at the St. Francis of Assisi Center and organized by the Catholic Charities Agency. Meeropol, who contends that elimination of capital punishment in the United States rests on Americans deciding that the death penalty is an abuse of human rights, said that human error cannot be eliminated in all cases of government-sanctioned execution and that people can tamper with scientific evidence.
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Boston Globe - Sunday, May 8, 2005
Reasonable doubt
Governor Romney wants to create a foolproof 'scientific' death penalty. But it's not clear if either side in the polarized debate really wants one.
By Drake Bennett
      A WEEK AND a half ago, attempting to bring back the death penalty in a state that abolished it in 1984, Governor Mitt Romney introduced what is widely agreed to be one of the most conscientious and strictly limited death penalty bills in history. The bill confines capital punishment to a short list of what Romney called ''the most heinous of crimes'': multiple murders, murders involving prolonged torture, murders committed as acts of terrorism, and murders intended to influence the outcome of a trial. It requires, among other provisions, that there be ''conclusive scientific evidence'' to link the defendant to the crime, that juries be explicitly warned of the limits of eyewitness accounts and the unreliability of jailhouse informants, and that defendants be ensured at least two ''capital-case qualified'' defense attorneys. Perhaps most dramatically, the bill insists that juries be instructed only to hand down a death sentence on the basis of a ''no doubt'' standard of proof that is far stricter than the current ''beyond a reasonable doubt'' standard. All told, Romney argued, these layered protections would make for a nearly infallible system. ''To the extent that is humanly possible,'' he claimed in introducing his bill, ''this would not ever result in a questionable execution.'' The bill's reception, however, has been cold. Death penalty opponents and supporters alike seem equally unimpressed.
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Boston Phoenix Editorial - Issue Date: May 6 - 12, 2005
Still wrong
Mitt Romney's embrace of capital punishment -- and Tom Reilly's craven response -- show why progressives must remain vigilant
      The state does not kill people in Massachusetts. That's one of the things that makes this a special place in which to live. Mitt Romney -- and Tom Reilly, for that matter -- should set aside their shameful posturing and show some respect for the people who elected them.
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The Pilot Editorial - Friday, May 6, 2005
Simply unnecessary
      What makes Gov. Mitt Romney feel compelled to propose the reinstatement of capital punishment in Massachusetts? Critics say that a pro-capital punishment stance may give the governor an edge if he were to enter the 2008 presidential race. Whatever his motivation, Massachusetts does not need the death penalty. This would be true even if, as Romney claims, he is able to establish an "error-proof" system to prevent the wrongly convicted from being put to death. Capital punishment has no place in a civilized society such as ours, not because of the danger of wrongful executions but because it is simply unnecessary.
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Brockton Enterprise Editorial - Thursday, May 5, 2005
Romney goes national in bid for executions
      Some lives are more worthy than others, but no life is so insignificant that it has no value at all and should be canceled. There are enough prison cells to hold people who are dangerous to society, but there is no room in the human soul for the taking of another life.
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Bay State Banner - Thursday, May 5, 2005
Black lawmakers rip Romney's death penalty
By Jeremy Schwab
      Romney asserted that instituting the death penalty for certain crimes would act as a deterrent to would-be criminals. "I hope people would have a higher degree of concern about taking the life of a judge," he said. "I hope it would have a deterrent effect." But opponents questioned the efficacy of capital punishment as a deterrent. "[Romney] hasn't been able to provide any statistics that in states that have the death penalty it makes a difference," said Fox. "People who have testified before our Department of Corrections hearings say it is just the opposite. Most crimes are crimes of passion, and not pre-meditated." Legislators pointed out other perceived holes in Romney's bill. Those convicted of the same crime under Romney's bill could face different penalties depending on whether there is forensic evidence that meets the standards of the bill, noted Wilkerson. "DNA-related murders only make up a small percentage of murders," she said. "I can't imagine the governor is suggesting we have different penalties for people who leave DNA at the scene as opposed to those who don't." Rep. Byron Rushing said the bill would misdirect resources that could be used in other public safety areas. "Even for the people who support the death penalty, the question is why would you spend all this time and energy for the small number of people who could be prosecuted in the law," he said.
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Worcester Telegram & Gazette Editorial - Monday, May 2, 2005
Hardly 'foolproof'
Romney should withdraw death penalty bill
      The quest for a foolproof system misses the most compelling reason why the death penalty should not be reinstated in Massachusetts: Punishing a killing with a state-sanctioned killing is, simply, ethically and morally wrong. It is true that some criminal acts are so atrocious that they demand the permanent removal of the perpetrator from society. A sentence of life without chance of parole fills that requirement. Capital punishment, with its risk of irreparable harm, is dreadful public policy. We urge Mr. Romney to drop his death penalty campaign.
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Berkshire Eagle Editorial - Monday, May 2, 2005
Mitt's morality play
      There is no way Governor Mitt Romney's "gold standard" death penalty bill is going anywhere but down, hard, in the Massachusetts Legislature. The governor, with his eye on 2008, is staging a little morality play for the GOP faithful in which the Republican, somehow elected governor of the bluest state in the Union, tries to restore the death penalty to its flabby justice system. Claims that the law is based on science don't disguise the reality that no government can ever be certain enough of itself to take a life.
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The Republican Editorial - Sunday, May 01, 2005
No-risk death penalty? There is no such thing
      Romney's bill calls for verifiable scientific evidence such as DNA analysis before someone can be sentenced to death, yet he vetoed funds approved by the Legislature two years ago to create a Department of Forensic Sciences. The state's crime laboratory and medical examiner's office currently are not sufficiently funded to provide the "gold standard" for capital punishment that Romney promises in his bill. At a time when the state can barely fund schools, it is difficult to argue that the state should spend money so the governor can make Massachusetts a "model for the nation" on capital punishment.
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Boston Globe - Friday, April 29, 2005
Romney files death penalty bill
Measure sets out tight restrictions
By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff
      Governor Mitt Romney yesterday filed a long-awaited bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts for deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees, murders involving torture, and the killing of law enforcement authorities. The bill, which Romney called ''a model for the nation" and the ''gold standard" for capital punishment legislation, draws entirely from the findings of a special commission that set out 10 recommendations last year. That panel sought to design a virtually ''foolproof" death penalty law by relying on verifiable science and tougher legal safeguards.
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Massachusetts Citizens Against The Death Penalty - April 28, 2005
MCADP opposes Governor Mitt Romney's effort to reinstate the death penalty in the Commonwealth.
      We urge the legislature to renounce the governor's political ploy and once again defeat any attempt to restore the death penalty in Massachusetts.
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The Republican Editorial - Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Arguments die slowly in death penalty case
      Convicted murderer Michael Ross is scheduled to die by lethal injection in the Osborn Correction Institution just over the state line in nearby Somers on May 11, the first execution in New England since 1960. . . We have no sympathy for Ross. He admits he killed eight women in Connecticut and New York in the 1980s, and that he raped most of them. Our sympathy is for the families of his victims. They are also victims. If they wished Ross a slow, painful death, we would not judge them. After all, he will die, but their grief will live on. Yet, even as we condemn Michael Ross, we oppose the death penalty.
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Boston Phoenix - Issue Date: April 22 - 28, 2005
Race matters
The incredible vanishing death penalty
By Adam Reilly
      Last May an 11-member panel, appointed by the governor back in 2003, floated a proposal for an error-free death penalty for especially heinous crimes. The plan, according to the Romney administration, was to file a bill to implement an infallible death penalty early this year. Almost four months into 2005, however, Romney's long-awaited legislation remains exactly that. This winter, Eric Fehrnstrom, the governor's communications director, had suggested a bill would be filed in February or March. Earlier this month, when the subject came up during an interview with the Phoenix, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey said, cryptically, "There will be news on that soon." What gives?
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The Lancet - Volume 365, Number 9468, 16 April 2005

Medical collusion in the death penalty: an American atrocity
      Capital punishment is not only an atrocity, but also a stain on the record of the world's most powerful democracy. Doctors should not be in the job of killing. Those who do participate in this barbaric act are shameful examples of how a profession has allowed its values to be corrupted by state violence.
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Research Letter
Inadequate anesthesia in lethal injection for execution
By Leonidas Koniaris, Teresa Zimmers, David Lubarsky and Jonathan Sheldon
      Anaesthesia during lethal injection is essential to minimise suffering and to maintain public acceptance of the practice. Lethal injection is usually done by sequential administration of thiopental, pancuronium, and potassium chloride. Protocol information from Texas and Virginia showed that executioners had no anaesthesia training, drugs were administered remotely with no monitoring for anaesthesia, data were not recorded and no peer-review was done. Toxicology reports from Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina showed that post-mortem concentrations of thiopental in the blood were lower than that required for surgery in 43 of 49 executed inmates (88%); 21 (43%) inmates had concentrations consistent with awareness. Methods of lethal injection anaesthesia are flawed and some inmates might experience awareness and suffering during execution.
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Boston Globe - Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Judge throws out mobster's sentence
Says prosecutor withheld evidence
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
      US District Judge Mark L. Wolf, continuing his crusade against government misconduct in a series of blockbuster mob prosecutions, threw out the prison sentence of convicted Boston Mafia captain Vincent Ferrara yesterday, after concluding that a prosecutor withheld key evidence during plea negotiations in the case. Ferrara pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges in 1992. But he also admitted then to a 1985 murder he probably didn't commit, Wolf found, because an assistant US attorney failed to disclose evidence that would have helped exonerate him of the slaying.
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Boston Phoenix Editorial - Issue Date: April 8 - 14, 2005
Dubious convictions
The case of Abdul Raheem is further proof that a commission -- with real power -- is needed to investigate our flawed justice system
      A SUFFOLK COUNTY jury may or may not have gotten it right in 2002 when it convicted Abdul Raheem of murdering his mother, Mary Chatman. But as David S. Bernstein reported in the Phoenix last week, Raheem's trial was marred by serious errors of omission and commission on the part of police and prosecutors (see "Did He Murder His Mother?", News and Features, April 1). At best, Raheem was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial; at worst, there was a grave miscarriage of justice. Given the ongoing crisis in prosecuting homicides in Suffolk County, the Raheem case is one more indication of how badly the system is broken. Substantial reforms are needed.
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Reading Advocate - Thursday, March 31, 2005
Friday night vigil spreads the word
By Sarah Shemkus / Special To The Advocate
      Hoping to add momentum to what some see as a national movement away from capital punishment, more than two dozen people gathered in Reading center Friday afternoon for an anti-death penalty vigil. "What we do in Massachusetts has reverberations more broadly," said Lisa Carusone, who traveled from Weston to participate in the demonstration. The event, which takes place annually on Good Friday, was organized by several activist groups including the Boston North Chapter of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, and Amnesty International.
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Boston Globe - Saturday, March 19
Campaign set against executions
Bishops widen effort to end death penalty
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
     The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States plan tomorrow to launch what they are calling a major campaign to end the use of the death penalty. The bishops, according to an aide, have been emboldened by two recent Supreme Court decisions limiting executions, and by polling that they say shows a dramatic increase in opposition to capital punishment among Catholic Americans. Their campaign, which is to be announced by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick at a news conference in Washington, is to include legislative action, legal advocacy, educational work, and a new website to be named, for the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty.
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Melrose Free Press Op-Ed - Thursday, March 17, 2005
No place for the death penalty
By Rep. Mike Festa
     The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that offenders under age 18 cannot be sentenced to death. It's about time. We were the last democracy in the world to end this practice. That said, many states continue to use the death penalty for first-degree murderers, although here in Massachusetts we have not executed anyone since 1947. Attempts to reinstate the death penalty have occurred every legislative session, and most recently Governor Romney has filed a new death penalty bill that purports to limit its application to only "fool-proof" cases. There is no such thing, and even if the criminal justice system were flawless, I believe there are other compelling reasons not to use the death penalty.
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Newsday - Friday, March 4, 2005
A death knell for the death penalty?
Supreme Court's decision concerning those under 18 could clear path for law's abolishment
By Franklin E. Zimring
     For states such as New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, the real choice is between capital punishment lite, a system with huge litigation costs and few or no executions, and a criminal justice process that uses imprisonment as its ultimate weapon. There is no difference between these two systems in keeping the streets safe, but the symbolic attachment to executions still dies hard.
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