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.
When Kids Are Punished Like Adults
Louisianans protest temporary youth housing in notorious Angola, and Bryan Stevenson speaks on sentencing reform.
Would a Death Sentence Help The Parkland Families Heal?
Outrage around the school shooter’s sentence reveals tensions between what some victims’ families want and the justice system’s limits.
This Doctor Helped Send Ramiro Gonzales to Death Row. Now He’s Changed His Mind.
Texas plans to execute Gonzales this week even though the expert witness says he isn’t a ‘threat to society.’
The Supreme Court Let The Death Penalty Flourish. Now Americans are Ending It Themselves.
As Roe v. Wade ends, a look back at how the court reversed itself on capital punishment — spurring an anti-death penalty movement.
The 1990s Law That Keeps People in Prison on Technicalities
How the Supreme Court expanded the most important law you’ve never heard of.
The Return of the Firing Squad?
With a scarcity of lethal injection drugs, South Carolina has brought back an archaic execution method. In other states, men on death row are asking for it.
California’s Longest Serving Death-Row Prisoner On Pain, Survival and Native Identity
As the Monache and Cherokee 63-year-old awaits a new hearing for a 1978 murder he denies committing, Douglas Ray Stankewitz shares the cultural tools and memories he depends on to stay alive.
How Melissa Lucio Went From Abuse Survivor to Death Row
Why some trauma victims are more likely to take responsibility for crimes, even when they may be innocent.
The Rise and Fall of a Prison Town Queen
A family feud over drugs, money and fried fish roils the heart of the Texas prison system.
They Went to Prison as Kids. Now They’re on Death Row.
Fight clubs, solitary confinement and neglect make juveniles angrier and more violent.
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.
Everyone on Death Row Gets a Lawyer. Not Everyone Gets a Kim Kardashian.
The case of Rodney Reed — whose innocence claims were championed by the reality TV star — raises questions about celebrities’ role in the criminal justice system.
Life Without Parole Is Replacing the Death Penalty — But the Legal Defense System Hasn’t Kept Up
Just ask a Dallas woman who spent a year in jail without talking to a lawyer.
Supreme Court Conservatives Just Made It Easier to Sentence Kids to Life in Prison
The new ruling could worsen existing racial disparities in states that condemn teens to die in prison.
Can The Death Penalty Be Fixed? These Republicans Think So
A growing number of conservative lawmakers want to overhaul capital punishment, or end it.
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.
What 120 Executions Tell Us About Criminal Justice in America
The Marshall Project tracked every execution in America for more than five years. For condemned people, the path to death grew longer, more winding and erratic.
He’s Too Mentally Ill to Execute. Why Is He Still on Death Row After 45 Years?
Raymond Riles has been on death row longer than anyone in America. He’s one of many who have languished there for decades with severe mental illnesses.
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.
A $6,300 Bus. A $33 Last Meal. What New Documents Tell Us About Trump’s Execution Spree
Feds spent millions to restart the death penalty and in the process revealed much about how they do it.
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.
What Biden’s Win Means for the Future of Criminal Justice
Joe Biden ran on the most progressive criminal justice platform of any major party candidate in generations. So what can he actually do?
RBG’s Mixed Record on Race and Criminal Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a revered feminist icon. Her legacy on issues such as prisoners’ rights, capital punishment, racial justice and tribal sovereignty has been less examined.
Witnesses to the Execution
An oral history of the first federal execution under Donald Trump, as told by victims’ relatives, prison staff, and others.
New Hope for People Who Claim Racism Tainted Their Death Sentence
The North Carolina state Supreme Court has upheld the controversial Racial Justice Act, which opponents repealed in 2013
How Coronavirus is Disrupting the Death Penalty
Colorado abolished capital punishment. But COVID-19 is pausing it everywhere else.
My Cell in Solitary Has a View: The Death House
“There are a lot of people working hard to pull off an execution successfully, and they don’t want to go through all of that just to be cheated out of it at the last minute by the guy committing suicide.”
California Governor Promises More Changes to “Biased, Random” Justice System
Signing a new law on police shootings, Gavin Newsom says he’s sending a message.
Racism Tainted Their Trials. Should They Still Be Executed?
North Carolina Supreme Court hearings raise broad questions of systemic bias in the state judicial system.
On Death Row, There's No Such Thing As Closure
A man convicted of murder reflects on his life, his crime and his punishment.
Shock Treatment in Court
Stun belts are intended to keep control in the courtroom, but some judges use them to inflict punishment.
He’s Living With Severe Mental Illness. Should He Face the Death Penalty?
A South Dakota case reflects the national debate on whether execution should be banned for the mentally ill.
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.
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.
The Right Age to Die?
For some, science is outpacing the High Court on juveniles and the death penalty.
An Irrevocable Separation
When the government executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the welfare of their two boys was a secondary concern.
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.
Was This Man Sentenced to Death Because He’s Gay?
His defenders say yes. South Dakota says no. The Supreme Court may soon weigh in.
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.
Why This Judge Dreads Execution Day
“I wondered whether the system I have been a part of for so long was, simply, barbaric.”
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.
A Long Decline in Executions Takes a Detour
Recent court rulings and start-stop access to lethal drugs push numbers up this year.
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.
The Man Who Spent 35 Years in Prison Without a Trial
The Jerry Hartfield case is an extraordinary tale of justice delayed and denied.
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.
A New Florida Prosecutor Says ‘No’ to the Death Penalty
But the tough-on-crime establishment fights back.
How Obama Disappointed on the Death Penalty
Two commutations this week was less than many had hoped for.
Some of Our Best Work in 2016
In-depth investigations, insightful features and one story to give us hope.
Waiting for a Reprieve That Never Comes
For defenders, the frantic paperwork ends, and so does a client’s life.
In Alabama, You Can Be Sentenced to Death Even if Jurors Don’t Agree
Judges have uniquely uncommon power in the state.
The Death Penalty is Alive and Well
Voters in three states approve measures to strengthen capital punishment.
Death by Another Name
California Prop 62 would repeal the death penalty. A lifer says it doesn’t go far enough.
Three States to Watch if You Care About the Death Penalty
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California will test the prospects of abolition.
It’s Not Just Pot and the Death Penalty
Four important ballot measures you probably haven’t heard of.
In Florida, Only Seven Jurors Can Put You to Death
The other quirk in the state’s death penalty system.
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.
It’s Been Almost Two Months Since the U.S. Executed Someone
We’re in the middle of one of the longest death penalty lulls in 24 years.
How Much Do You Know About the Death Penalty in the U.S.?
Forty years ago, we restored capital punishment.
The Death Penalty Case Where Prosecutors Wrote the Judge’s ‘Opinion’
Is that fair? The U.S. Supreme Court could soon decide.
When Your Job Is to Help Free a Wrongfully Convicted Murderer
Inside an innocence investigator’s hunt for a key witness.
The Anomaly of Dylann Roof
White-on-black murders rarely result in a death sentence. Roof might be an exception.
Can Courtroom Prejudice Be Proved?
The Supreme Court considers what it takes to show that prosecutors, when they pick juries, are discriminating against minorities.
Florida Wrestles With the Death Penalty, One Case at a Time
Someone else has confessed. The DNA evidence points elsewhere. What does it take to get off death row?
A Death Sentence in Louisiana Rarely Means You’ll be Executed
Over the last 40 years, reversals have become commonplace.
How the Drug Shortage Has Slowed the Death-Penalty Treadmill
Only 4 states are currently carrying out lethal injections, and 10 are considering other methods.
What It’s Like to Almost Get Executed
San Quentin inmate Kevin Cooper on watching the minutes tick away on his life.
It’s Been 40 Years Since the Supreme Court Tried to Fix the Death Penalty — Here’s How It Failed
A close look at the grand compromise of 1976.
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.”
One Man’s Haunting Look at PTSD and His Brother’s Execution
The Oscar-nominated short ‘Last Day of Freedom’ traces the troubled life of a black veteran.
Is it O.K. to Quote Scripture When the Death Penalty Is at Stake?
Some judges say yes, some say no. Care to second guess?
Where the Democratic Presidential Candidates Stand on Criminal Justice
A look at Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley in their fourth debate.
Republican Candidates on Criminal Justice: A Primer
Their sixth debate is in Charleston, a city still recovering from last year’s church killings.
A New Blow to Florida’s Death Penalty
The U.S. Supreme Court says state judges cannot sentence death without a jury’s mandate
Could One of These Cases Spell the End of the Death Penalty?
Abolitionists seek the perfect case for a Supreme Court challenge.
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.
The Odds of Overturning the Death Penalty
The man who helped topple it (briefly) in 1972 gauges the likelihood of success.
Exclusive: Obama Calls the Death Penalty “Deeply Troubling.”
A one-on-one interview with the president.
‘I’m Just Happy to Be Alive’
An Alabama man, wrongfully convicted, overcomes a judicial override to gain his freedom.
In the Execution Business, Missouri Is Surging
Defense lawyers call it a crisis; the state says it’s just doing its job.
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.
A Second Jailhouse Snitch Claims a Secret Deal With Texas Prosecutor
Another death penalty case, another accusation of misconduct.
Life After Nebraska’s Death Penalty
How other states dealt with their death rows after killing capital punishment.
Why Three Counties That Loved the Death Penalty Have Almost Stopped Pursuing It
A closer look at get-tough DAs.
Ohio Gets a Third Chance to Kill Michael Keenan
A case so messy one judge says it’s an argument for abolishing the death penalty.
How Nebraska Repealed the Death Penalty
A deep-red state shows the way, with conservatives in the lead.
A (More or Less) Definitive Guide to Hillary Clinton’s Record on Law and Order
She was for reform before she was against it before she was for it.
‘No Human Is Wise Enough to Decide Who Should Die’
The life and death of Robert Utter, former state Supreme Court justice and death penalty opponent.
A Death Penalty Case, or Just Bullying?
High Court’s conservatives bridle at ‘guerilla’ tactics of ‘abolitionist’ movement.
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.'
Asking the Right Questions About the Death Penalty
The incoming head of the Death Penalty Information Center on the time he was a potential juror in a capital case.
Broken on the Wheel
The gruesome 18th Century legal case that turned a famed philosopher into a crusader for the innocent.
The $14 Million Death Sentence
Louisiana tried to sentence five men to death for the murder of a prison guard. It wasn’t cheap.
Reflections on Roper
On the 10th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision about juveniles and the death penalty, what has really changed?
What You Should Read About Loretta Lynch
A selective guide to the reporting on the next attorney general.
The Near Death of Mark Christeson
He was nearly executed because his lawyers missed a filing deadline. Now the Supreme Court has weighed in on what should happen next.
Fit to be Killed?
The impending execution of a decorated soldier shows the limits of the PTSD defense.
Eric Holder on His Legacy, His Regrets, and His Feelings About the Death Penalty
An interview with the outgoing attorney general.
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