Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 9.1.21

We discussed the Guest Commentary in the Gadsden Times by Stephen Cooper written in 2016 “Opioid addiction at root of many crimes” which is once more topical as a U.S. judge in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case ruled on Friday on the OxyContin maker's request to approve its settlement of opioid-related litigation. We quote Cooper “Opioid addicts overpopulate our nation’s prisons and death rows; more often than not, addiction was the root of their crimes.” So our question is will those of us who were addicted receive a settlement at least in the form of sentence mitigation? As addiction is a major contributing factor to crime and as it is an illness it must be considered as such at the time of sentencing and if not then, at least now. We hope that the publicity of the Purdue case will be a first step in promoting at least some understanding of this issue by judges and justices who all too often appear to be trapped in the last century when it comes to psychiatric insights.

Thanks to the Death Penalty Information Center we discussed the reference to a new article, Death Penalty Exceptionalism and Administrative Law, by University of Richmond law professor and capital punishment scholar Corinna B. Lain who argues that in the context of administrative law, the doctrine has been “turn[ed] … on its head.” Apparently in the 1970s, the United States Supreme Court had declared that “death is different” from all other punishments and, as such, required the provision of heightened procedural safeguards to ensure that its application was not cruel or unusual. In other words, when the state is going to kill, its victims need more protection not less. Although this article was written with reference to lethal injection it applies equally to the gas chamber. Certainly from our own experience and those of our brothers no longer with us we know that Alabama has no interest in “procedural safeguards.”

We were delighted to receive congratulations on our organization’s 32nd birthday from the Human Writes Organization and we certainly appreciate all that its members do for us.

In closing and as always, we continue to thank all our generous donors who either gave by going to our website and using the “donate” button or who gave directly. Thank you also to all who took the time to read our notes, commented, liked and shared them on Facebook. You encourage us and make all the difference. Stay safe and wear a mask!


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