Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Roundup

That has a strange ring to it.

You'll have to forgive me, I was in Durham, North Carolina this last weekend for the Full Frame documentary film festival. There were scores of intensely beautiful and moving films there, several that focused on human rights concerns around the world. But there were two in particular that are appropriate fodder for the blog:

  • The Visitors follows a bus-full of women who travel from New York city upstate to visit their loved ones in prison every weekend. It was a powerful portrayal of love, devotion, and loneliness, as one of the women remarks, "I'm doing my time, too."
  • Unit 25 (Unidad 25) follows Simon Pedro, an Argentinian convicted of stabbing a man. What makes Simon's story interesting is that he has the right to choose where he will serve out his sentence. His family convinces him to choose Unit 25, which gives prisoners "relief from customary prison horrors" in exchange for their embrace of Christianity while in prison.
I just discovered the website, a dialogue project dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system, thanks to Twitter user @prettytoes.

Miguel Roman was exonerated in Connecticut after serving 20 years for a murder DNA now proves he didn't commit. He's the 235th person exonerated by DNA testing nationwide.

The Connecticut legislature's judicial committee voted to approve a bill to abolish the death penalty in that state. The bill will be sent to the floor for a vote. Connecticut and New Hampshire are the only two states in New England that still have the death penalty.

SentLaw reports that Ohio's death row is getting smaller, noting that the row shrunk by 15 people last year, either through executions or successful appeals. Related to that, Brett Hartmann was scheduled to die tomorrow in Ohio for a murder, but his execution was stayed. The three-judge panel that granted his reprieve specifically mentioned that they were awaiting the outcome of Osborne in the Supreme Court, which will determine whether inmates have the right to post-conviction DNA testing.

Finally, as you probably already know, Iowa's Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. (File this loosely under Constitution and it's okay to blog about it here.)

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