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Garrett: Virginia ‘Encapsulates the Slow Death of the American Death Penalty’ | Time

Virginia’s use of the death penalty dates back over 400 years—to 1608, when Jamestown settlers carried out the first recorded execution in the then-European colonies. In the centuries since, amid periods of slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow segregation, Virginia has executed hundreds of people; since 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people, a higher percentage of death row inmates than any other U.S. state, and the highest number of state executions second only to Texas.


Garrett: The Supreme Court’s COVID Cases Show That One Part of the Constitution Gets Extra Special Attention | Slate

During the course of this pandemic, the Supreme Court has been generally reluctant to enjoin public health measures adopted by local and state actors, whether they relate to public gatherings, voting, or jails. Yet in its recent Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo opinion, the court voted 5-4 to enjoin enforcement of a New York rule concerning occupancy limits for religious services. Now the court has again stepped in, with two more unsigned orders, to strike down Colorado and New Jersey restrictions.


In the News


Garrett: The Biden administration has options to end federal death sentencing and executions, which have been falling at the state and local level | The Appeal

On July 6, 2017, William Morva was killed by lethal injection in a Virginia prison. He had been convicted of killing Derrick McFarland, a hospital security guard, and a sheriff’s deputy, Eric Sutphin. No one in Virginia has been executed since.

State legislators, the U.N. special rapporteur for arbitrary executions, the European Union, the U.N. special rapporteur for mental health, and one of Sutphin’s daughters asked then-governor Terry McAuliffe to stop the execution.


Life Without Parole for Kids Is Cruelty With No Benefit | The Atlantic

The United States is the only country that allows this practice, and soon the Supreme Court could get rid of it.

In 2005, when Brett Jones was convicted of murder in Mississippi, his sentence was an automatic one: life without parole. No judge or juror could advocate for him to get anything less. Mississippi, like many other states, had adopted mandatory life without parole for first-degree murder. What makes Jones’s case, which the Supreme Court will hear next month, particularly urgent is that he was just 15 years old at the time of the crime.


Guest Post: Improving police accountability will create police reform | Washington Post

In the discussion over police reform, there are concrete, achievable steps that states and cities can take to reduce the number of people killed by police officers. Here, Duke University law professor Brandon Garrett outlines a number of them:

Last week, grand jurors failed to return murder or manslaughter indictments in the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Instead, the grand jury returned less serious wanton endangerment charges — and no charges against the officers who shot Taylor. More than six months after Taylor’s death, we should be outraged but not surprised.


Duke Center Tackles Criminal Justice Reform with $5 Million Grant

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University has received a $5 million grant to bolster legal and scientific data-driven research at Duke Law School that specifically addresses criminal justice reform, President Vincent E. Price announced today.

The grant from alumnus Derek Wilson, through the Wilson Foundation, will provide significant funding for Duke Law’s Center for Science and Justice to advance criminal justice research, education and policy. In recognition of the grant, the center — which launched in September 2019 — will be named the Wilson Center for Science and Justice.


Houston Bail Monitor 6-Month Report Shows Increased Releases, Reduced Use of Cash Bail

HOUSTON, T.X. – The independent monitors overseeing Harris County’s historic bail reform agreement filed its report this morning describing their first six-months of work and findings with the federal court, noting an increase in releases and a reduced use of cash bail.

The implementation of the ODonnell Consent Decree in Harris County, Texas – which encompasses Houston and, with nearly 5 million people, is the nation’s third most populous county – governs what happens to thousands of people arrested on low-level misdemeanor offenses.


Duke Law Magazine: Data Driven

With the launch of the Duke Center for Science and Justice, Duke Law School is betting that empirical, interdisciplinary research can produce evidence-based reforms in the criminal justice system. In this in-depth profile of the center, Duke Law Magazine explores how Professor Brandon Garrett (right) and his team of researchers and collaborators are using data to find ways to improve on criminal justice reform.