Crime Media Issues
By Kate Randall, 19 June 1999
Stanley Faulder, a 61-year-old native of Jasper, Alberta, was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas on Thursday. His final appeal to the US Supreme Court was rejected 75 minutes before he was put to death. Faulder became the first Canadian executed in the US since 1952.
The brutal society
By Elisa Brehm, 19 June 1999
“I woke up a short time later to very intense shocking pain running through my body. This electrical current was so intense that I thought that I was actually dying. I had not been causing any trouble, I was belly chained, shackled, seat belted in, and there was a fence between the officers and me, so there was absolutely no reason for them to be using this device on me... I think they shocked me a second time while I was still in the van. When we arrived, I was unloaded from the van and taken to a holding cell.... Once I was in the cell, several officers came into the cell and again I was shocked by the stun belt. This electrical blast knocked me to the floor, and I could hear the officers laughing and making jokes.”—testimony of an inmate as he was transported in a prison van to a mental health unit
A & E television series examines wrongful conviction and incarceration in the US
By Kate Randall, 17 June 1999
The A & E cable television network is airing a five-part series entitled "Justice Denied" as part of its "American Justice" program, hosted by Bill Kurtis. The series investigates wrongfully accused and convicted individuals in the American judicial system.
By David Walsh, 17 June 1999
In violation of international law, the state of Virginia was scheduled Wednesday to put to death a man who was only seventeen years old at the time of his alleged crime. Douglas Christopher Thomas was convicted of murdering his girlfriend's parents in 1990.
By Alden Long, 16 June 1999
A DuPage County, Illinois prosecutor and four sheriff's officers were acquitted by a county judge and jury June 4 of charges that they conspired to frame up and convict Rolando Cruz for murder, rape and kidnapping.
By Jerry White, 15 June 1999
Students at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington heard a 13-minute taped address from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal at their commencement ceremony June 11, despite demands by right-wing politicians and police organizations that school officials cancel the speech.
Fall of the "Dark Prince"
By Bill Vann, 15 June 1999
The resignation of the top-ranking officer in New York City's police department June 10 underscores the continuing crisis over acts of brutality and the systematic violation of democratic rights that have taken place under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
By Alden Long, 4 June 1999
Ronald Jones became the twelfth prisoner released from death row in the state of Illinois when prosecutors in Cook County decided on Monday, May 18, not to try him for a second time.
By Paul Scherrer, 4 June 1999
In an example of the way in which society is being brutalized—and repression and force used as the solution to all problems—a massive 20-hour manhunt conducted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ended when the suspect, Francis Paul Weber, 49, took his own life.
By Tom Bishop, 4 June 1999
Right-wing political forces in Philadelphia have escalated their campaign against supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radio journalist and well-known opponent of police brutality and racism who has spent more than 17 years on death row. On May 28 the Philadelphia Inquirer announced that Mayor Ed Rendell's office had sent a letter to the Black United Fund of Pennsylvania, Inc. notifying the fund that it has been dropped from the city employees' annual charity appeal because of its support for the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
By Bill Vann, 31 May 1999
Justin A. Volpe entered a guilty plea Tuesday May 26 to all the charges against him in connection with the stationhouse torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in August 1997.
By Kate Randall and John Andrews, 29 May 1999
Fairfield, Connecticut—Ecuadoran family run down on railroad tracks
By John Andrews, 25 May 1999
Last Friday the Los Angeles Police Department committed an atrocity beyond the pale of even its usual brutal standards. At 4:30 in the afternoon Officer Edward Larrigan shot and killed a still unidentified homeless black woman weighing less than 70 pounds.
By Bill Vann, 6 May 1999
A story of depraved police brutality against a defenseless immigrant worker was told in grim detail to a federal jury in Brooklyn May 4 as opening arguments were made in the trial of five New York City cops charged in connection with the August 1997 beating and torture of Abner Louima.
By Jerry White, 5 May 1999
The state of California put to death Manuel "Manny" Babbitt, a mentally disturbed Vietnam veteran, early Tuesday morning. On death row for 18 years, Babbitt, a 50-year-old grandfather, was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin prison after last ditch appeals to state and federal courts failed to win a stay of execution.
30 April 1999
To the editors of WSWS,
28 April 1999
28 April 1999
By David North, 27 April 1999
Columbine High School appeared to be, at least in the view of its administrators and the county school board, such a lovely place for young people to grow up and learn. In its official profile, the institution boasted of its "excellent facilities" and "long history of excellence in all areas." Nothing seemed to be lacking--Honors and Advanced Placement classes, foreign language instruction in Spanish, French and German, and an artistic program that included ceramics, sculpture, acting, choir and no less than five bands and one ensemble. There were even "Cross-categorical programs for students with significantly limited intellectual capacity." And, of course, there was no shortage of athletics.
24 April 1999
To the editor,
Socialist Equality Party US, 23 April 1999
Also available in PDF format
23 April 1999
Jeez, guys, what a poor article you have pinned in the wake of the shooting in Colorado. Talk about spreading the blame -- I think you need to look a little deeper at what is going on inside a high school kid's head.
23 April 1999
By David North, 23 April 1999
This following was written in response to a reader who objected to the relationship drawn by the WSWS between Tuesday's school shooting in Littleton, Colorado and the policies of the US government, the bombing of Yugoslavia, and the general political environment in the United States. As the reader put it: "They [the students who carried out the shootings] weren't yelling about bombs falling in Belgrade. So stop blaming the government." The full text of the reader's letter is linked following the conclusion of David North's reply.
By Shannon Jones, 22 April 1999
The administration of Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell has backed down on plans to restrict planned protests against the execution of radical journalist and former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu-Jamal. The decision comes as solidarity for the framed activist is growing, with rallies and other activities set this week across the United States and internationally.
15 dead in Colorado school shooting
the Editorial Board, 21 April 1999
The killing of at least fifteen high school students and teachers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado has left America stunned and sickened. Scenes of wounded and bloodied youth carried away on stretchers, images of terrified young girls describing how fellow students around them were systematically murdered in a school library -- all of this provokes horror, sadness and, yes, anger.
By Helen Halyard, 21 April 1999
Live from Death Row by Mumia Abu-Jamal , Addison-Wesley, 1995, 241 pages, $20.00; Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Plough Publishing, 1997, 185 pages, $12.00
By Elisa Brehm, 7 April 1999
Nathaniel Abraham, now 12 years old, is one of the youngest people in the United States to be tried as an adult on murder charges. On April 1 the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's findings and will allow the child's "confession" to be used against him at his trial. The same court also ruled to uphold first-degree murder charges against the youth. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.
Diallo murder charges, Louima assault trial
By Fred Mazelis, 6 April 1999
The four New York City policemen who mowed down an unarmed immigrant, Amadou Diallo, in a fusillade of 41 gunshots were arraigned March 31. Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon all pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder.
By Elisa Brehm, 1 April 1999
"The killing business," is how many described the death penalty at a public hearing in Pontiac, Michigan last week. Several speakers passionately opposed the death penalty in their testimony March 23 before the state Senate Judiciary Committee, which is debating legislation to resume executions in Michigan for the first time in 153 years.
By Jerry White, 1 April 1999
A 61-year-old man who spent nearly a quarter of a century on death row was executed Tuesday at a prison in Huntsville, Texas prison. Robert Excell White was put to death by lethal injection for the 1974 killing of a country storeowner during a robbery that netted $66.
Testimony before United Nations Human Rights Commission
By Kate Randall, 31 March 1999
At the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Commission's annual session last week, the human rights group Amnesty International denounced the United States for police brutality and its violation of human rights standards through the use of the death penalty.
By Jerry White, 23 March 1999
On March 18 speakers from the anti-death penalty organization "The Journey of Hope ... from Violence to Healing" addressed law students and others at Detroit's Wayne State University. The organization presented a unique perspective of those who have experienced the murder of a family member, but who strongly oppose the death penalty.
By Kate Randall, 13 March 1999
The state of Texas has set June 17 as the date of execution for Canadian death-row inmate Stanley Faulder. If executed, the 61-year-old native of Jasper, Alberta would be the first Canadian citizen executed in the United States since 1952.
Inequality and police brutality in New York City
By Fred Mazelis, 12 March 1999
More than one month has passed since the police killing of Amadou Diallo. The gunning down of this 22-year-old West African immigrant in the doorway of his Bronx home horrified millions in New York City and around the world. The almost daily protests since the shooting are only a pale reflection of the feelings among very broad layers of working people. There is a growing awareness that this incident reveals something deeply sick about social and political life in America's greatest metropolis.
By Jerry White, 11 March 1999
Early Wednesday morning the state of Missouri put 46-year-old Roy Roberts to death at the Potosi Correctional Center. Only a few hours earlier George Adrian Quesinberry Jr., 37, was executed at a Virginia prison. The two were the 524th and 525th victims of the death penalty since the US resumed judicial killings in 1977. For the past six years, the US has killed an average of one condemned prisoner a week.
By David Walsh, 3 March 1999
Some 1,700 people filled Town Hall in midtown Manhattan last Friday night to oppose the execution of former Black Panther and MOVE supporter Mumia Abu-Jamal. Framed up because of his political convictions and activism, Abu-Jamal has been on death row in a Pennsylvania prison for more than 16 years. His motion for a new trial was rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in October. Governor Thomas Ridge is expected to set a new execution date within the next few months.
An example of the sadistic treatment of US prisoners
By Jerry White, 27 February 1999
Jail officials in Montgomery County, Maryland on Wednesday ordered Mike Tyson to remain in solitary confinement another three weeks because the former heavyweight boxing champion erupted in anger after being denied antidepressant medication for two days.
26 February 1999
The following statement was issued February 25 by the Socialist Equality Party of the US.
Biography of John William King highlights brutalization of American society
By Jerry White, 26 February 1999
The gruesome details surrounding the racist murder of James Byrd Jr. have evoked widespread anger and an understandable popular revulsion towards John William King, the young white man convicted earlier this week for the dragging death of the 49-year-old black man last June in Jasper, Texas. On Tuesday the jury, made up of 11 whites and one black, convicted King, 24, after deliberating little more than two hours. Two days later the same jury sentenced him to death.
By Allan Whyte, 24 February 1999
Over 100 inmates have filed complaints against prison guards at the Nassau County jail in Garden City, Long Island over the past eight years, according to a report in the New York Times. The report is based on information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the newspaper after the death of Thomas Pizzuto, an inmate who was beaten to death by prison guards on January 13.
By Larry Roberts, 23 February 1999
On Friday, February 19 Wilford Berry Jr., a mentally retarded man, became the first person to be put to death in the State of Ohio in 36 years.
By Helen Halyard, 18 February 1999
Amadou Diallo, the Guinean immigrant gunned down by New York City police on February 5, was buried in his native village of Djountou on February 17. Hundreds of Guineans stood in the blazing heat to console Amadou's family as they returned from New York with the body.
By Alan Whyte, 6 February 1999
Four New York City police officers fired a total of 41 bullets at an unarmed man in front of his residence at 12:44 a.m. Friday. The victim, who died immediately at the scene, was Amadou Diallo, 22, a documented immigrant from Guinea who was living and working as a peddler for more than two years in New York City. Relatives and friends described him as a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day and was quiet and hard working.
By Fred Mazelis, 30 January 1999
A new date for the execution of former Black Panther and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is expected to be set some time in the next month. Abu-Jamal's attorney Leonard Weinglass estimates that all appeals could be exhausted by this coming May. Abu-Jamal, convicted in the shooting death of a Philadelphia policeman, has already spent more than 16 years on death row.
By Shannon Jones, 15 January 1999
Troy Farris, a 36-year-old Texas man, was put to death Wednesday after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to grant a stay of execution. The same court had ruled in 1994 that it had "wrongly decided" to reject his appeal of trial irregularities.
Justices hostile to lawyer for 12 year old charged with murder
By Larry Roberts, 15 January 1999
A three-judge panel of the Michigan State Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the admissibility of a confession obtained by Pontiac police from Nathaniel Abraham, the 12-year-old boy who is one of the youngest children in the US to be charged as an adult for murder.
The shooting in Oregon
By David Walsh, 23 May 1998
[Click here for WSWS statement on the April 20, 1999 school shooting in Littleton, Colorado. Click here for a list of all WSWS articles on this and related subjects.]
US courts try children as adults
By Barry Mason, 19 May 1998
The prosecution in the US of twelve-year-old Nathaniel Abraham as an adult on first degree murder charges is indicative of a change in official policy that is by no means limited to America. It is part of an international development which is bound up with the dismantling of welfare programs and social reforms associated with the post-World War Two period.
By Jerry White, 16 May 1998
Twelve-year-old Nathaniel Abraham is awaiting trial in Pontiac, Michigan, soon to become the youngest child in the state and possibly the country to be tried as an adult for murder. The four-foot, eight-inch boy who psychiatrists say functions at the level of a six-year old could be imprisoned for life if convicted.
The case of Nathaniel Abraham
American court tries twelve-year-old as an adult
By Larry Roberts, 9 May 1998
On May 7 an Oakland County, Michigan judge ruled that the prosecution could not use the confession which police extracted from Nathaniel Abraham, a twelve-year-old learning-impaired child who is being tried as an adult for first degree murder in Pontiac, Michigan. The decision by Probate Judge Eugene Moore means the trial, which was set to begin Monday, May 11, will be postponed for three months as prosecutors appeal the ruling.
Twelve-year-old faces murder charges in the US
By David Walsh and Barry Grey, 7 May 1998
The trial of the youngest person ever to be prosecuted in the US as an adult on first-degree murder charges begins May 11 in Pontiac, Michigan. Nathaniel Abraham is 12 years old and a student in the sixth grade. He stands four feet, eight inches and weighs approximately 93 pounds. On his visits to the court he wears leg irons and handcuffs.
Despite international protests
By Martin McLaughlin, 23 April 1998
For the second time in two weeks an American state rejected international protests and carried out the execution of an immigrant prisoner. Jose Roberto Villafuerte, 45, a citizen of Honduras, was put to death in Arizona April 22.
By Martin McLaughlin, 16 April 1998
Defying a decision of the World Court and other international protests, the state of Virginia carried out the execution of Angel Francisco Breard, a 31-year-old immigrant and citizen of Paraguay, on April 14.
By Walter Gilberti, 25 February 1998
The felony arrest of a five-year-old kindergarten student in Florida, Chaquita Doman, accused of biting and scratching a support teacher, once again throws the spotlight on the ignorance and callousness that characterizes official social policy in the United States.
By Jerry White, 7 February 1998
Immigrant asylum seekers gave testimony this week detailing the brutal treatment they received from New Jersey correctional officers at the Union County Jail in June 1995. The group of immigrants was transferred to the jail after an uprising by hundreds of detainees against abusive and inhumane conditions at the nearby Immigration and Naturalization Service Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
By the Editorial Board, 4 February 1998
The execution of Karla Faye Tucker on Tuesday evening has evoked intense feelings of revulsion all around the world, and a fair amount of shame among not a few Americans. Throughout the day countless millions of people followed the news reports of the last desperate and futile legal maneuvers to save Tucker’s life, horrified by the relentless and remorseless determination of the federal and state authorities to put this woman to death.