Marshall Project Originals
The Mercy Workers
For three decades, a little-known group of “mitigation specialists” has helped save death-penalty defendants by documenting their childhood traumas. A rare look inside one case.
Some of Our Best Work of 2022
From coverage of prison violence and abuses in a juvenile lockup to investigations by our new Cleveland team, our reporters told stories that made a difference.
They Went to Prison as Kids. Now They’re on Death Row.
Fight clubs, solitary confinement and neglect make juveniles angrier and more violent.
The Prisoner-Run Radio Station That’s Reaching Men on Death Row
They can’t go to classes or prison jobs, and they don’t have tablets or televisions. But they do have radios.
From Last Meals to Last Words, What Can Death Row Prisoners Request Before They Die?
As a Texas man sues for his pastor to touch him during his execution, a guide to rights for the condemned.
They Are Terminally Ill. States Want To Execute Them Anyway.
“I don’t understand trying to kill somebody who is already dying,” says the sister of Idaho death-row prisoner Gerald Pizzuto.
Death Penalty for Mass Shooters? Depends On Where They Strike.
The men arrested in recent killings in Atlanta, Boulder, Colorado, and Orange, California, could face very different sentences if convicted.
Living With Survivor’s Guilt on Federal Death Row
I escaped Donald Trump’s last-minute execution spree. Now I have to find a way to keep fighting.
The Case That Made Texas the Death Penalty Capital
In an excerpt from his new book, ‘Let the Lord Sort Them,’ Marshall Project staff writer Maurice Chammah explains where a 1970s legal team fighting the death penalty went wrong.
What Lisa Montgomery Has In Common With Many On Death Row: Extensive Trauma.
Mental illness, childhood abuse and brain injuries affect a large share of those who face the death penalty.
A Dispatch From Federal Death Row
Days before Daniel Lewis Lee became the first federal prisoner executed in 17 years, fellow death row resident Billie J. Allen wrote about the shared terror of wondering who’s next.
How Do You Prove You’re Innocent If You’re On Death Row?
Rodney Reed faces execution in Texas despite mounting evidence of innocence and bipartisan support.
On Death Row, There's No Such Thing As Closure
A man convicted of murder reflects on his life, his crime and his punishment.
More than a year ago, Nevada death row prisoner Scott Dozier gave up his legal appeals and asked to be executed. He’s still waiting.
Penitentiary Rock: The Radio Show With a Captive Audience
“Only this music captures my bitter, visceral pain.”
Should I Have Let My Friend on Death Row Kill Himself?
“We don’t live on death row; we wait to die.”
Scott Dozier Still Wants to be Executed. And He's Still Waiting.
After forcing Nevada into a legal battle over its lethal injection drugs, an execution “volunteer” says the state is punishing him.
Breaking the Unwritten Rule of Prison
Or, what happens when guards and prison staff interact as just human beings.
Supreme Court Declines to Hear ‘Gay Bias’ Case
Charles Rhines argued jurors sent him to death row in part because they knew he was gay.
He Pocketed His Victims’ Organs. Was His Death Penalty Trial Fair?
As Andre Thomas faces execution for three gory murders, a court questions jury bias and his competency.
What Victims Want
Did a prosecutor lie about whether the family of a murder victim wanted the death penalty?
Death Row’s First Ever Talent Show
Featuring an “impresario,” a gyrating orange juggler, and an audience-pleasing grand finale.
Why Oklahoma Plans to Execute People With Nitrogen
The state knows shockingly little about how this would work.
The Ultimate Insider Art
On Tennessee’s death row, the old aphorism applies: art is long, life is short.
What’s Behind the Decline in the Death Penalty?
A new book explores the slow demise of the ultimate punishment.
After Executions, Defense Attorneys Have Their Own Grief
A therapist on the emotional price lawyers pay to defend individuals sentenced to death.
Nevada Plans to Use Fentanyl in Upcoming Execution
Medical professionals say the state’s new lethal injection protocol “doesn’t make much sense.”
Condemned to Death — And Solitary Confinement
Arizona is set to become the latest state to move away from automatic isolation for death row inmates.
We Saw Monsters. She Saw Humans.
Scharlette Holdman, pioneering foe of the death penalty, dies at 70.
Jury Clears the Prosecutor Who Sent Cameron Todd Willingham to Death Row
John Jackson did not commit misconduct in 1992 case, a jury finds.
Ledell Lee Never Had A Chance
He was the first man executed by Arkansas in nearly 12 years. Jurors never heard his story.
Here are the 7 men Arkansas plans to execute this month
The cases of the condemned capture much of the debate for and against the death penalty.
Waiting for a Reprieve That Never Comes
For defenders, the frantic paperwork ends, and so does a client’s life.
The Death Penalty is Alive and Well
Voters in three states approve measures to strengthen capital punishment.
How a Phone Changed My Life on Death Row
“I felt like a virgin on my wedding night — eager to put this thing to use, not sure if it’ll hurt.”
How Mexico Saves Its Citizens from the Death Penalty in the U.S.
A fund is designated to train, pay and advise American defense lawyers.
How Much Do You Know About the Death Penalty in the U.S.?
Forty years ago, we restored capital punishment.
A Death Sentence in Louisiana Rarely Means You’ll be Executed
Over the last 40 years, reversals have become commonplace.
A Judge Overturned a Death Sentence Because the Prosecutor Compared a Black Defendant to King Kong
The South Carolina prosecutor is known as ‘Death Penalty Donnie.’
My Regrets as a Juror Who Sent a Man to Death Row
“If I could have done anything, it would have been to deadlock the jury, but I didn’t have the personal strength to do that.”
A New Blow to Florida’s Death Penalty
The U.S. Supreme Court says state judges cannot sentence death without a jury’s mandate
Raphael Holiday was Put to Death, and His Lawyers Should Have Tried Harder to Stop It
Gretchen Sween was hired a month before Holiday was executed. This is what she saw.
Highlights From Our Death Penalty Discussion
Journalists Liliana Segura, Gabriel Dance and Maurice Chammah took your questions about the death penalty and criminal justice reporting. Here are some of the highlights.
The Death Penalty in 2015
Join us for a chat on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. about the state of the death penalty in 2015, and what's to come in 2016
The Unfolding Campaign to Save the Death Penalty
Supporters rally around a more efficient system of execution.
Five Things Wrong With Georgia’s Death Penalty
On the eve of the next execution, a look at the state’s history of bad lawyering and faulty evidence.
‘I’m Just Happy to Be Alive’
An Alabama man, wrongfully convicted, overcomes a judicial override to gain his freedom.
Back on the Agenda: Nebraska’s Death Penalty
A grassroots effort aims to restore what the legislature just ended.
Doubting Jennifer Herndon
An appeals lawyer who has represented more than a half-dozen men put to death in Missouri faces questions about her competency.
Life After Nebraska’s Death Penalty
How other states dealt with their death rows after killing capital punishment.
30 Years on Death Row: A Conversation with Anthony Ray Hinton
‘They tell you justice is blind. I am telling you that justice can see.'
Fit to be Killed?
The impending execution of a decorated soldier shows the limits of the PTSD defense.
A portrait series captures the toll of long prison sentences on the people who serve them.
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