Crime Media Issues

Texas executes Canadian Stanley Faulder

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

The stun belt: Torture at the push of a button

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

Justice Denied: The Hurricane Carter Story

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.

Virginia to execute juvenile offender

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.

Illinois prosecutors and police acquitted despite evidence they framed defendant

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.

Taped address from Mumia Abu-Jamal at college commencement sparks right-wing protests

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"

New York's top cop quits after brutality trial

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.

Twelfth death row prisoner released in Illinois after being proven innocent

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.

The brutal society: A police manhunt in Pittsburgh

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.

Philadelphia mayor witch-hunts supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal

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.

Louima trial: New York cop pleads guilty to immigrant's torture

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.

Snapshots of a brutal society—one week in America

By Kate Randall and John Andrews, 29 May 1999

Fairfield, Connecticut—Ecuadoran family run down on railroad tracks

Los Angeles police kill homeless woman

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.

Jury hears tale of torture, brutality by New York City police

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.

California executes mentally ill Vietnam veteran

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.

The Columbine High School massacre: Letters from readers

30 April 1999

To the editors of WSWS,

Regarding "Columbine High School Massacre: American Pastoral...American Berserk"

28 April 1999

Dear editors,

The social tensions underlying the Colorado school shooting

28 April 1999

Dear Editor:

The Columbine High School massacre: American Pastoral ... American Berserk

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.

Letters from readers: "The Littleton school killers were bred in this society"

24 April 1999

To the editor,

The fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the defense of democratic rights

Socialist Equality Party US, 23 April 1999

Also available in PDF format

On the Colorado school shooting

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.

Reaction to school shooting in Littleton, Colorado

23 April 1999


Society, politics and the school shooting in Littleton

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.

Philadelphia officials lift restrictions on march for Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

A nation at war ... with itself

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.

Live from Death Row: Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal speaks from prison

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

Michigan court to allow 11-year-old's confession, upholds first-degree murder charge

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

Spotlight on NYC police brutality throws Mayor Giuliani in crisis

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.

Widespread opposition to death penalty legislation in Michigan

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.

Texas executes inmate on death row since 1974

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

Amnesty International condemns US for executions and police brutality

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.

Death penalty opponents speak in Detroit

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.

Texas sets date for execution of Canadian Stanley Faulder

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

The social underpinnings of the murder of Amadou Diallo

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.

Despite growing protests, US states execute two more men

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.

1,700 at New York rally to defend Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

Mike Tyson thrown in solitary confinement after being denied psychiatric medication

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.

The political issues in the fight to defend Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

Racist killer sentenced to death in Texas murder

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.

New York: Long record of abuse at Nassau County jail

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.

Ohio carries out first execution in 36 years

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.

Immigrant killed by New York City police buried in Guinea

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.

New York City police execute Guinean immigrant in a hail of bullets

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.

New date to be set for execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

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.

Despite court ruling of unfair trial, Texas executes Troy Farris

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

Appeals court hearing on Nathaniel Abraham confession

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

Alienation, adolescence and violence

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

The prosecution of Nathaniel Abraham and the lessons of the James Bulger case in Britain

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.

Tens of thousands of children tried as adults in US

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

Trial delayed as state appeals ruling on murder confession

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

The system puts one of its victims on trial

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

Second immigrant executed in US

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.

US execution proceeds despite world condemnation

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.

Five-year-old arrested in Florida on felony charges

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.

Asylum seekers testify of brutality by jail guards 

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.

The Brutal Society

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.