Photos: Ten prisoners whose death penalties were switched to life
Yesterday's decision by Governor John Hickenlooper to grant murderer Nathan Dunlap a reprieve from the death penalty -- one that will stand as long as Hickenlooper is in office but can be reversed by successors -- doesn't stand alone. As noted by the Death Penalty Information Center, more than 270 death row inmates have been granted clemency since 1976 -- and before then, a Supreme Court ruling nixed many more. Below, see ten examples, featuring photos and text from the DPIC and another source explaining why the executions were converted. Ronald Post
Clemency granted 2012 in Ohio.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Governor John R. Kasich commuted the death sentence of Ronald Post to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kasich followed a recommendation of mercy by the state parole board, which said there were too many problems with how he was represented 30 years ago. (Associated Press, December 17, 2012)."
Clemency granted 2012 in Georgia.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Greene's sentence was commuted to a sentence of life without parole by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Evidence presented to the board included testimony from the prosecutor that that he would have sought life without parole rather than the death penalty if life without parole had existed at the time Greene was sentenced, testimony from community members and prison officials that the crime was an outlier of the otherwise peaceful and upstanding life and that Greene was intoxicated at the time of the crime. (Savannah Morning News, April 20, 2012)."
Clemency granted 2012 in Delaware.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Gov. Jack Markell cited the "unusual and perhaps historic" recommendation of the Delaware Board of Pardons, in a 4-1 vote, to commute Gattis' sentence after considering disturbing accounts of physical and sexual abuse that Gattis claims to have suffered as a child and which his attorneys argued have never been properly considered by the courts. (The Republic, January 17, 2012)."
Clemency granted 2010 in Tennessee.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Governor Phil Bredesen commuted the sentence of Gaile Owens to life in prison based partly on a plea bargain offer that was later rescinded, and partly to make the sentence consistent with verdicts delivered in similar cases in Tennessee. (The Tenneseean, July 14, 2010)."
Clemency granted 2008 in Oklahoma.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Following the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Gov. Brad Henry granted clemency to Kevin Young, commuting his death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Board's recommendation of clemency was based on several factors, including the disproportionality of the punishment, questionable witnesses, and a decision during the original trial to turn down a plea bargain that would have resulted in a life sentence. (The Oklahoman, July 24, 2008.)"
Clemency granted 2008 in Virginia.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Gov. Timothy Kaine commuted Percy Walton's death sentence to life in prison without parole, citing his serious mental illness that rendered him incompetent to be executed. The governor said that Walton was not cognizant of his impending execution and the reason for it. Gov. Kaine had twice previously stayed Walton's execution in order to evaluate his mental condition and competency. The governor said that he also considered other factors such as his age at the time of the crime and evidence of "mental retardation". (Washington Post, June 10, 2008; Governor Kaine's statement of clemency, June 9, 2008)."
Clemency granted 2007 in New Jersey.
Death Penalty Information Center: "On December 16, Gov. Jon Corzine commuted the sentences of everyone (8) on death row to life without parole. On December 17, he signed the bill abolishing the death penalty in New Jersey. (CNN, December 17, 2007)."
Clemency granted: 1991 in Ohio.
Death Penalty Information Center: "Citing a 'disturbing racial pattern' in death sentencing, Gov. Richard Celeste granted clemency to 8 death row inmates as he was leaving office. Celeste stated that he selected cases based on the inmates' crimes, the fairness of sentences, mental health and IQ, and length of time served."
Death sentence commuted to life in prison 1972 in California. Charles Manson
Death sentence commuted to life in prison 1972 in California.
From the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law: "The United States Supreme Court handed down its own death penalty decision in Furman v. Georgia. The Court held that the death penalty in Georgia and Texas was unconstitutional as applied. The dominant reasoning in the nine separate opinions in Furman was that the administration of the death penalty in those two states was arbitrarily imposed in violation of the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. The decision effectively invalidated the death penalty systems in all state and commuted all outstanding death sentences. In California, 107 individuals on death row had their sentences commuted from death, including both Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy, and Charles Manson. Subsequently, however, in 1976, the U. S. Supreme Court clarified the Furman decision by holding that, while the death penalty cannot be imposed arbitrarily, the death penalty itself is not unconstitutional."