Senate Judiciary Committee approves bill allowing death penalty by nitrogen asphyxiation

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 12 that would add nitrogen asphyxiation to the death penalty manner choices for condemned felons. SB12 is sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose).

Senator Pittman told the Committee that he wanted to provide condemned individuals more choices in how they meet their end.

Pittman said that currently the only two choices are death by lethal injection or death in the electric chair. Sen. Pittman said that one prisoner asked him to allow him to die in front of a firing squad. Sen. Pittman said that he brought that bill. “I had a lot of people volunteer to be a member of that squad.” But Pittman said that there were issues that came up that resulted in having to remove the firing squad as an option.
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The end to judicial override in Alabama is imminent

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s death penalty sentencing system, which allows judges to override a jury’s recommendation for life in prison, may soon be changing to put the Yellowhammer State in line with all other states that allow capital punishment.

On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would prohibit a judge from overriding a jury’s recommendation on the death penalty through a process known as judicial override. Under the bill passed Tuesday, sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, in the Senate and Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, in the House, a jury will have the final say on whether a defendant receives the death penalty.

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Let judicial override be gone forever

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

Most readers know that I oppose the death penalty. I don’t believe the State should ever take something from somebody it can’t make right.

When the State kills a person, the State can’t take that back. The person is dead.

I understand and, indeed, agree that there are crimes that deserve a death penalty. It’s simply that just because somebody deserves to die for his crimes doesn’t mean he should die for his crimes in a State-sanctioned execution.
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Bill to end judicial override in Alabama clears Senate

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A bill that would end Alabama’s judicial override sentencing system, which allows judges to override juries and impose the death penalty, passed the State Senate Thursday with a near-unanimous vote.

Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery), sponsored the bill, which would prohibit a judge from overriding a jury’s sentence. Under the bill, at least 10 of 12 jurors must vote for death for a defendant to receive the sentence.

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Death to judicial override

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

During my years as an editorial writer for The Birmingham News, I spent much of that time opposed to the death penalty. The death penalty should be abolished; clearly, innocent people have been killed by the State of Alabama. A number have been released from Death Row after being exonerated at some point, barely dodging the electric chair or, now, the needle.

Eventually, my colleagues and I wrote a week-long series telling readers why The News was changing its position on the death penalty. We explained our reason for transforming from a newspaper that supported the death penalty into one that now strongly opposed it. Read More

Brewbaker bill will end judicial override in capital murder cases

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In Alabama, even when a jury recommends someone only receive life in prison, a trial judge in a capital murder case can ignore that recommendation and impose the death penalty. Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) wants to change this practice, known as “judicial override.”

“The US Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that they do not like it and think this is a bad practice,” said Brewbaker in a phone interview with The Alabama Political Reporter. “Now that Delaware and Florida have gotten rid of it, Alabama is the only state that still practices it.”
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Brewbaker Sponsor’s Historic Innocence Commission

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—State Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) has introduced a bipartisan-sponsored bill that would create an Innocence Inquiry Commission.

In 2002, North Carolina was the first state to establish an Innocence Commission to rehear cases where the accused and their advocates claim wrongful conviction.

dick-brewbakerNorth Carolina created its commission after several people in high-profile cases had been wrongly convicted.

“The reason I filed this bill is that Alabama is one of several states that have active death penalty statutes. Other states like North Carolina and Texas that have active death penalty statutes, have found it useful to establish these innocence commissions,” said Brewbaker.
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Strange Blasts US Supreme Court Ruling

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

For decades, in serious cases, Alabama Courts have allowed prosecutors to trial juvenile defendants as adults. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment to execute persons for crimes committed when they were under 18 years of age. Now that has been expanded to include life sentences. On Monday, January 25, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) blasted a US Supreme Court decision to allow potentially thousands of convicted murderers across the country, currently serving life without parole, to receive new sentences because they were juveniles at the time they committed their crimes.
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Byrne Comments on Pope’s Address to Congress

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, September 24, Pope Francis addressed a rare joint session of both Houses of the US Congress.  Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) issued a statement in response to Pope Francis’s speech to the joint session of Congress.

US Representative Byrne said, “As one of the most influential moral leaders in the world, it was an honor to welcome Pope Francis to the Capitol for today’s historic address.  I was pleased Pope Francis addressed a number of important issues like the need to support pro-life policies and stand up for traditional families. I also share the Pope’s concerns about helping Americans who remain stuck in poverty. I believe the time has come to once again reform our nation’s welfare programs to ensure they are actually helping the Americans who need them the most.”
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ACLU of Alabama Challenges the Proposed “Fair Justice Act”

Staff Report

MONTGOMERY—The ACLU of Alabama, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty in Alabama, the NAACP, and the Equal Justice Initiative confronted a Joint House and Senate hearing today regarding the proposed “Fair Justice Act” that would erroneously accelerate the death penalty appeals process and create greater room for serious judicial error.

“Bill supporters claim that the current appeals process takes a long time.  It is true.  It does take a long time.  But that time is absolutely necessary to ensure that mistakes aren’t made and more innocent people aren’t slaughtered,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.
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