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  1. Tim Cooke Hurle BW

    Publish the UK torture rules

    Tim Cooke-Hurle on 23 February 2010


    All too often, in the torture chambers of the "war on terror", a prisoner's most desperate moment came when he discovered that the questions his torturers put to him came not merely from Pakistan or Morocco or even the US, but from his home country – the UK.

    Reprieve is back in court this week, demanding that the court investigate secret UK policies that might have allowed this – and worse – to happen. If our suspicions are correct, the court will find that government guidelines were unlawful, because they enabled systematic complicity in torture.

    It is nearly a year since Gordon ...

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  2. Linda Carty: Cartoon by Lewis Peake

    The trouble with Jerry

    Aimee Griffin on 22 February 2010

    Linda Carty has been described as the unluckiest woman on death row. Why? Because she was unfortunate enough to be appointed the notorious defence attorney Jerry Guerinot by the state of Texas.

    Carty's federal petition cites numerous examples of poor work by Guerinot in other capital murders, which reveal, it claims, a 'pattern'. Jerry Guerinot has acted for 39 capital murder defendants, of which twenty were sentenced to death. This is more than the entire death row population of New Mexico, South Dakota, Maryland and Montana combined.

    Michael Goldberg, of Baker Botts law firm who now represent Linda, has ...

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  3. Caroline Morten BW

    Help save lives

    Caroline Morten on 19 February 2010

    The most important factor in determining whether a defendant will receive the death penalty is not the nature of the crime they are alleged to have committed but rather whether they can afford a lawyer or not.

    It is a well-known fact that almost all prisoners on death row are impoverished and unable to pay for legal representation. The tragic truth is that all too often lawyers appointed to defend these cases are overworked, underpaid, lacking in experience or are simply downright incompetent. Take, for example, the case of Linda Carty: Linda’s court-appointed attorney Jerry Guerinot did almost no ...

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  4. Emmanuelle Purdon 2009 BW

    250th person exonerated by DNA testing in the US.

    Emmanuelle Purdon on 17 February 2010

    Freddie Peacock of Rochester, N.Y., was convicted of rape in 1976. Last week he became the 250th person to be exonerated by DNA testing since 1989. According to a new Innocence Project report, those 250 prisoners served 3,160 years between them, with 17 on death row. Remarkably, 67 percent of them were convicted after 2000--a decade after the onset of modern DNA testing. The glaring question here is: How many more are innocent? That's the title of Radley Balko's post from last week at his blog. It's subtitled, "America's 250th DNA exoneration ...

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  5. Clive Stafford Smith

    A stuffed toy can't stop prisoner abuse, Mr Howells

    Clive Stafford Smith on 15 February 2010

    It is said that the very existence of the Security Services (SyS) involves violating, if not our own laws, the laws of other countries. We do not need to look at the excesses of the past eight years to know that, notwithstanding the best intentions of those involved. In a crisis, the temptation to sail close to the moral line and, often, across it, may prove too strong to resist.

    It is for this reason that there must be strong, independent oversight of the SyS. It is hard to think of an area of government where such review is more ...

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  6. Emmanuelle Purdon 2009 BW

    Louisiana sues all its own death row inmates

    Emmanuelle Purdon on 14 February 2010

    Last Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections decided to sue every inmate on death row -- in an effort to prevent them from challenging the state's lethal injection procedures. 

    Each of the 84 prisoners in the "death house" at Angola State Penitentiary was personally served papers in the suit, said Nick Trenticosta, who has represented numerous clients on Angola's death row.

    Trenticosta, who is also director of the non-profit Center for Equal Justice in New Orleans, knows of no other instance in which a state sued its death row inmates en masse over legal questions relating ...

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  7. Obama Needs EU to Close Guantanamo Bay

    The 'Obama needs EU' tour provides a perfect solution to Germany

    Aimee Griffin on 11 February 2010

    The final destination for the ‘Obama needs EU’ tour is Germany. In the past Germany has condemned the existence of Guantánamo Bay. Now we are asking Germany to actively contribute to making this happen by accepting inmates who are in desperate need of assistance.

    Of the 196 prisoners remaining in Guantánamo, approximately 50 face torture or persecution if returned to their home country. These men are refugees from known rights-abusing states like Algeria, China, Libya, Russia, Syria and Tunisia. Germany can provide a safe and appropriate residence for detainees from Guantánamo, giving them a chance to rebuild their lives.

    Chancellor ...

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  8. Alex Grace BW

    The Proclaimers and Billy Bragg sing out for Reprieve

    Alex Grace on 11 February 2010

    Reprieve is delighted to announce a spectacular night of music magic, as two iconic British acts appear in Dorset for one night only on Friday 26th March.

    The line-up includes national treasure Billy Bragg whose musical career has spanned over two decades; his songs notorious for their passionate political overtones. He will be joined by chart-topping dynamic duo the Proclaimers.

    Craig and Charlie Reid of the Proclaimers said: “"We are absolutely delighted to be alongside Billy Bragg, supporting Reprieve again through our live work. The charity does fantastic and much needed work that needs to be highlighted and supported."

    These ...

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  9. Emmanuelle Purdon 2009 BW

    Former death row inmate speaks out against the death penalty

    Emmanuelle Purdon on 07 February 2010

    Juan Roberto Melendez-Coln has lived the American nightmare: He was convicted and sentenced to death in Florida for a crime he didn't commit.

    17 years later, he was exonerated and released from death row.

    He testifies to the Death Penalty Study Commission in New Hampshire:

    "At that time, I became the 99th person in the United States to be released from death row with evidence of innocence since 1973. Today, there are 139 of us. I suppose you could call us "the lucky ones." I wonder how many of the 1,193 who have already been executed, were not ...

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  10. Emmanuelle Purdon 2009 BW

    Gabriel Gonzales on Texas Death Row writes about the healing power of compassion

    Emmanuelle Purdon on 05 February 2010

    In a letter to the Journey of Hope organization, Gabriel Gonzales writes about his ill-fated life before being sent to Death Row in Texas, and describes how forgiving his own abuser has changed him:  

    "When I first heard of the Journey of Hope I was blown away at the very powerful message you all are bringing to the world despite being victims of murderous violence.

    We live in a world where being quick to judge and ruling with an iron fist has become the social norm, and understanding love and compassion have become foreign concepts that are considered week and ...

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