Extra Extra : Prisons

Records show mistakes, questionable evidence in woman's overturned murder case

In light of the recent exoneration of Michelle Murphy, who spent 20 years in prison on a wrongful conviction for killing her baby, the Tulsa World investigated the elements that led to Murphy's 1995 conviction in the first place.

The investigation shows the state of Oklahoma relied on faulty blood analysis, the dubious testimony of a troubled 14-year-old neighbor and an unrecorded, incriminating statement to convict Murphy. All three elements were so problematic they should have been challenged in court. Also, jurors never heard other evidence that might have given them reasonable doubt about convicting Murphy.

To read the ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Ray Rice and the NFL, sexual assaults at the University of South Florida, a questionable robbery conviction

A stickup. A manhunt. A mistake? | The Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A long time ago, a family was robbed. The police pounced. A man went to jail. A lot of people wondered if the law got it right. It sure doesn’t look like it.

The Herald-Tribune spent nine months examining the case against Andre Bryant, now 28 and serving his seventh year in a Panhandle prison. New evidence suggests Bryant is not the robber and shows how lawmen developed tunnel vision during their inquiry, dismissing clues and other suspects during an abbreviated investigation.

 

Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation ...

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Missouri swore it wouldn't use a controversial execution drug. It did.

Missouri is using the same controversial drug to execute inmates on death row that has been used in a number of botched executions this year, a St. Louis Public Radio investigation has found. Use of Midazolam as a sedative in those botched executions prompted questions earlier this year to Missouri Department of Corrections officials, who said under oath that the drug would never be used.

But documents obtained by St. Louis Public Radio show that the drug has been administered in each of the state’s last nine executions. After refusing comment before the story ran, a Corrections spokesperson eventually ...

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In rush to find lethal injection drug, prison officials turned to a hospital

When the Louisiana Department of Corrections didn’t have the drugs it needed to execute inmate Christopher Sepulvado this January it turned to an unusual source: a hospital.

According to The Lens, the state bought 20 vials of hydromorphone from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital a week before Sepulvado’s execution. The hospital typically uses the drug to ease the suffering of patients. The private, nonprofit hospital didn’t know the drug was going to be used for an execution.

Read the story here.

 

Want to learn more about covering execution secrecy?

Journalists from four states recently joined IRE to discuss ...

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For a million fugitives, freedom starts at county line

Across the United States, local police are routinely allowing well over a million fugitives to escape justice simply by moving to another county in the same state, often just a few miles from where they allegedly committed their crimes, a USA TODAY investigation shows. The fugitives include thousands wanted for domestic violence, sexual abuse, manslaughter, repeat drunken driving and even rape.

 

Learn more about this series

Go behind the story and learn how USA TODAY reporter Brad Heath pieced together a confidential FBI database to count fugitives who go free.

Secretive system keeps parole-eligible inmates behind bars

"About 400 minimum security inmates are eligible for parole but remain in prison. The taxpayer cost to keep them there is more than $15 million a year — part of a skyrocketing corrections budget that now surpasses that of the University of Wisconsin System.

A secretive system that robs the parole board of its power is to blame."

Read the full story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.

Extra Extra Monday: Investigations highlight problems at homeless shelters, group homes, jails

Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t | The New York Times

A New York Times examination of the case, based in part on hundreds of pages of disciplinary proceedings — usually confidential under federal privacy laws — offers a rare look inside one school’s adjudication of a rape complaint amid a roiling national debate over how best to stop sexual assaults on campuses.

Whatever precisely happened that September night, the internal records, along with interviews with students, sexual-assault experts and college officials, depict a school ill prepared to evaluate an allegation so serious that, if proved in a court of law ...

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Sentences challenged for Maryland prisoners deemed to have violent pasts

"A little-noticed and highly technical Supreme Court decision is opening the way for dozens of federal inmates from Maryland to seek reduced sentences — even though trial judges found they had violent criminal pasts.

For some, the high court decision has already meant that sentences of 15 years and more have been cut substantially. One inmate, for example, saw his sentence reduced from 15 years to about six years; he was released in February."

Read the full story from The Baltimore Sun here.

Gov. Jerry Brown's prison reforms haven't lived up to his billing

"Nearly 15 months after launching what he called the "boldest move in criminal justice in decades," Gov. Jerry Brown declared victory over a prison crisis that had appalled federal judges and stumped governors for two decades.

Today, California is spending nearly $2 billion a year more on incarceration than when Brown introduced his strategy in 2011. The prisons are still overcrowded, and the state has been forced to release inmates early to satisfy federal judges overseeing the system."

Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times here.

Extra Extra Monday: Fatal flaws in Oklahoma’s execution system, absent city council members, teacher misconduct

Fatal Flaws: How Oklahoma’s lethal injection process went wrong | Tulsa World

Nearly 15 years after Stephanie’s murder, Lockett lay dying as her family watched along with a gallery of law enforcement officials, prison administrators and journalists through the window of Oklahoma’s execution chamber.

State officials had promised in court records and interviews that Oklahoma’s new execution protocol would dispatch him swiftly and painlessly. They were so confident in this assurance that Gov. Mary Fallin ordered Lockett to be executed April 29, the same night another convicted killer was set to die.

Lockett’s death didn’t ...

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