19 Oct 08
When Everybody Wants You Dead
I was mentioned briefly in this recent article in The Guardian Weekly.
Oddly enough, the article also mentions Ray Krone, an innocent man who my attorney, Alan Simpson, helped save from death row.
Grisly tales of prison this week as we mark International Day Against the Death Penalty, writes website editor Anna Bruce-Lockhart
October 10 was International Day Against the Death Penalty, and to mark this significant event I thought I would point you towards a host of relevantly themed stories right here on this website.
But first, some news: only this week an appeal was rejected by the US supreme court to save the life of death row inmate Troy Davis. He was charged with the murder of a police officer more than 20 years ago, and a date is now being scheduled for his execution. This is going ahead in spite of there being no DNA evidence to link him to the killing, no murder weapon, and seven of the nine witnesses who originally testified against him having since recanted. I'm having trouble working out why this man absolutely must be killed.
One person who knows all about cruel twists of fate is Ray Krone. Arrested one night as he pulled up outside his home and charged with a murder he didn’t commit, he spent 10 years on death row. You can read an interview with him here. When I spoke to Krone over the phone what really struck me as he told his story was his lack of bitterness – he didn’t even seem angry with the man who got him wrongly convicted, a prosecutor who knew there was evidence to prove him innocent but called for his execution anyway.
For a taste of what it’s like to do time in an Arizona prison, and for those of you with a strong stomach, why not take a look at the harrowing story of Shaun Attwood, a British stockbroker charged with drug offences while in the US. He spent two years in an especially rough county jail being crawled over by cockroaches and venomous spiders, and fed a red-hued slop whose only easily identifiable ingredients were human and animal hair. Well worth a read. Honestly.
The US ranks fifth in the whole world for the number of executions it carries out, but the vast majority of sanctioned deaths take place on the other side of the Pacific. China executes more people each year than all other countries in the world combined. Iran isn’t far behind. In a country where sodomy is punishable by death, homosexual men make up a significant portion of those put to death each year. Here you can read our interview with an Iranian man who narrowly escaped execution for being gay.
Anti-death penalty campaigners are great, aren’t they? And none more so than the heroic Clive Stafford Smith, who is also a human rights lawyer who provides free legal aid to prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. He, in a cheering conclusion to this collection of grisly death stories, gives an account of what it’s like to ‘kick the asses’ of corrupt justice systems and defend death row inmates who can’t afford to pay for legal aid.
Here’s the link to the article: http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=766&catID=21
To read what I wrote about Ray Krone’s case and how the State of Arizona purposefully set up an innocent man to be executed click here: http://jonsjailjournal.blogspot.com/search?q=ray+krone
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Shaun P. Attwood