Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox freed after four decades in solitary confinement

Today, Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox walked free, more than 40 years after he was first put into solitary confinement.

He was the United States’ longest serving prisoner held in isolation. Nearly every day for more than half of his life, Albert Woodfox woke up in a cell the size of a parking space, surrounded by concrete and steel.

Tomorrow morning, for the first time in more than four decades, he will be able to walk outside and look up into the sky.

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Connecticut Supreme Court ruled death penalty as unconstitutional

Amnesty International USA
Press Release
August 13, 2015

Amnesty International USA Statement on Connecticut Supreme Court
Death Penalty Decision

Today, the Connecticut Supreme Court struck down exemptions to the state’s 2012 death penalty ban, which had excluded the 11 inmates currently on death row. In response, James Clark, Amnesty International USA’s senior campaigner on the death penalty, released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling that any use of the death penalty in Connecticut is unconstitutional brings the state closer in line with the majority of the country, which is abandoning the death penalty in law and in practice.

“It’s encouraging that the court determined that the death penalty fails to meet ‘contemporary standards of decency’ and serves no ‘legitimate penological purpose.’ Connecticut can now stand fully among the 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have abolished the death penalty.”

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US fails to meet international standards on the use of lethal force by police

Amnesty International USA
Press Release
June 18, 2015

Amnesty International Report Finds That All 50 States Fail to Meet International Standards on the Use of Lethal Force by Police

A new report by Amnesty International USA finds that all 50 states and the District of Columbia fail to comply with international standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, which require that lethal force should only be used as a last resort when strictly necessary to protect themselves or others against imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States calls for reform at the state and federal levels to ensure that laws are brought into line with international law and standards.

“Police have a fundamental obligation to protect human life. Deadly force must be reserved as a method of absolute last resort,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “The fact that absolutely no state laws conform to this standard is deeply disturbing and raises serious human rights concerns.

“Reform is needed and it is needed immediately. Lives are at stake.”

The report is based on a review of the use of force statutes within the United States. Amnesty International reviewed relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Department of Justice guidelines on the use of deadly force, and available statistical data, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

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Nebraska Legislature Overrides Veto of Death Penalty Repeal

Amnesty International USA
Press Release
May 27, 2015

Today the Nebraska legislature voted to override Governor Ricketts’ veto of a measure repealing the death penalty. Nebraska will now become the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment, and the seventh state to repeal the death penalty in the past eight years.

“Nebraska’s legislature has bravely stood up for human rights by upholding this bill,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “As the nation and the world continue to abandon this broken and unjust punishment, it is only a matter of time before the 31 remaining states end the death penalty forever.”

Amnesty International has documented a steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States and around the world. In addition to the 19 states plus the District of Columbia that have abolished the death penalty, seven more states have not carried out an execution in 10 years or more. In 2014, only seven states carried out executions.

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Respect the Human Rights of All Ferguson Residents

by Rachel O’Leary, AIUSA Deputy Executive Director, Membership Mobilization
AIUSA Delegate in Ferguson, MO

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. When local residents took to the streets in protest, the police department responded with heavy-handed tactics – including tear gas and rubber bullets.

When I touched down in Ferguson, Missouri with the Amnesty International USA delegation, I didn’t know what to expect. We had some facts, but new details came to light by the hour, which helped us get a better grasp on policing in the city and on protestors, journalists and residents caught in the middle of rapidly evolving events.

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