Minutes after the United States Supreme Court threw out the juvenile death penalty in March, word reached death row here, setting off a pandemonium of banging, yelling and whoops of joy among many of the 28 men whose lives were spared by the decision.
But the news devastated Randy Arroyo, who had faced execution for helping kidnap and kill an Air Force officer while stealing his car for parts.
Mr. Arroyo realized he had just become a lifer, and that was the last thing he wanted. Lifers, he said, exist in a world without hope. "I wish I still had that death sentence," he said. "I believe my chances have gone down the drain. No one will ever look at my case."
Mr. Arroyo has a point. People on death row are provided with free lawyers to pursue their cases in federal court long after their convictions have been affirmed; lifers are not. The pro bono lawyers who work so aggressively to exonerate or spare the lives of death row inmates are not interested in the cases of people merely serving life terms. And appeals courts scrutinize death penalty cases much more closely than others.
The above is from Adam Liptak's "Serving Life, With No Chance of Redemption" in this morning's New York Times which continues his look at prisons in the United States. I never did have time to write anything regarding Adam Liptak's "Locked Away Forever After Crimes as Teenagers" which ran on Monday. The gist of that story was that tougher sentencing meant that people arrested at young ages (such as a male who was fourteen) were sentenced life in prison. Liptak's will be our spotlight story from the Times as recommended by Eli.
We'll noteTom Engelhardt's "Our Imploding President" (Mother Jones):
Tomdispatch: You've said that the failed bookends of George Bush's presidency are Iraq and Katrina. And here we are with parts of New Orleans flooded again. Where exactly do you see us today?
Cindy Sheehan: Well, the invasion of Iraq was a serious mistake, and the invasion and occupation have been seriously mismanaged. The troops don't have what they need. The money's being dropped into the pockets of war profiteers and not getting to our soldiers. It's a political war. Not only should we not be there, it's making our country very vulnerable. It's creating enemies for our children's children. Killing innocent Arabic Muslims, who had no animosity towards the United States and meant us no harm, is only creating more problems for us.
Katrina was a natural disaster that nobody could help, but the man-made disaster afterwards was just horrible. I mean, number one, all our resources are in Iraq. Number two, what little resources we did have were deployed far too late. George Bush was golfing and eating birthday cake with John McCain while people were hanging off their houses praying to be rescued. He's so disconnected from this country -- and from reality. I heard a line yesterday that I thought was perfect. This man said he thinks Katrina will be Bush's Monica. Only worse.
TD: It seems logical that the families of dead soldiers should lead an antiwar movement, but historically it's almost unique. I wondered if you had given some thought to why it happened here and now.
CS: That's like people asking me, "Why didn't anybody ever think of going to George Bush's ranch to protest anything?"
TD: I was going to ask you that too?
CS: [Laughs.] I don't know. I just thought of it and went down to do it. It was so serendipitous. I was supposed to go to England for a week in August to do Downing Street [Memo] events with [Congressman] John Conyers. That got cancelled. I was supposed to go to Arkansas for a four-day convention. That got cancelled. So I had my whole month free. I was going to be in Dallas for the Veteran's for Peace convention. The last straw was on Wednesday, August 3 -- the fourteen Marines who were killed and George Bush saying that all of our soldiers had died for a noble cause and we had to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by continuing the mission. I had just had it. That was enough and I had this idea to go to Crawford.
Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Wal-Mart Turns in Student’s Anti-Bush Photo, Secret Service Investigates Him" (McCarthyism Watch, The Progressive):
Selina Jarvis is the chair of the social studies department at Currituck County High School in North Carolina, and she is not used to having the Secret Service question her or one of her students.
But that's what happened on September 20.
Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says. One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb's down sign with his own hand next to the President's picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster."
According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent.
But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect.
An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service.
On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High."At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had taken his poster," Jarvis says. "I didn't believe him at first. But they had come into my room when I wasn't there and had taken his poster, which was in a stack with all the others."
The issue of "balance" on PBS is addressed in Katrina vanden Heuvel's "'Are You Going to Provide $5 Million for The Nation?'" (Editor's Cut, The Nation) and we'll note the conclusion where she's building on the issue of where is the balance to the Wall St. Journal editorial board's program:
While the core issue remains restructuring CPB's role, we know that will take many years--and a Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress. Right now, I urge all who believe in the importance of a vigilant, independent press to click here to e-mail the CPB's Board (or call 202-879-9600 or mail to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 401 Ninth Street, NW Washington, DC 20004-2129) and urge it to live up to the CPB's stated mandate of restoring real balance to PBS's airwaves by taking Durbin up on his suggestion and providing funding to develop a real roster of balanced and hard-hitting programming--spearheaded by a weekly Nation program.
Dear CPB Board,
As you may recall from the testimony in the Senate on July 11, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois inquired as to whether CPB had any immediate plans "to provide $5 million for The Nation magazine." We are writing in the hopes of taking you up on what we think was a fine idea on Senator Durbin's part.
We're serious. With the departure of Bill Moyers from NOW, PBS has no outspoken liberals at all offering commentary. And yet the Wall Street Journal editorial page, owned by the billion-dollar Dow Jones Corporation, receives a $5 million taxpayer subsidy from CPB to offer its editors' opinions on a weekly basis with absolutely no input from the other side. While Now continues to operate, it does so exclusively as a news and interview show, with only half the weekly air-time it previously received.
Because we have frequently heard former CPB Chair Kenneth Tomlinson and others speak of the need to offer "balance" to PBS viewers, we think a show featuring Nation editors, columnists, writers and invited guests would provide just the balance a far-right institution like the Wall Street Journal editorial board invites. Unlike most voices in the mainstream media, The Nation has been consistently skeptical of George W. Bush's foreign policy, his tax cuts, his social agenda, indeed, even his alleged "victory" in the 2000 election. Surely PBS viewers cannot be said to benefit when they hear only one side of the story. And yet since CPB began subsidizing the Wall Street Journal's show, that is all they get.
Many people associated with The Nation are seasoned television performers. We would be happy to work with you and your staff in creating a show that underserved viewers will find interesting, enlightening and entertaining, and will help CPB meet its stated mandate of restoring a much desired sense of "balance" to PBS, so that not only conservative opinions are the ones to which viewers are treated on a weekly basis.
We eagerly await your response.
Katrina vanden Heuvel,
Editor, The Nation
Rod e-mails to note today's Democracy Now!:
Wednesday, October 5:* Legendary broadcaster Studs Terkel joins us in our Firehouse studio for the hour.
And remember that today the Un-Embed The Media Tour continues :
* Amy Goodman in Poughkeepsie, NY:
Wed, Oct 5
*TIME: 5:30 PM
The Villard Room, Main Building
Event is free and open to the public
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