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Crawford Decision Could Spare Prison Gang Members From DP

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The United States Supreme Court's 2004 decision in Crawford v. Washington may weaken efforts by federal prosecutors who are seeking the death penalty for leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. The decision strengthens the right of defendants to confront the witnesses against them. Recently, several members of the Aryan Brotherhood were convicted in federal court of murder, conspiracy and racketeering, primarily on documentary evidence. Now that the case has reached the sentencing phase, defense attorneys representing the gang members are asking the federal district court to require the prosecution to produce live witnesses or "nothing at all", according to an Associated Press story by Gillian Flaccus. One wonders how many live witnesses would remain alive after testifying against prison gang members who are known to arrange the murders of people outside of prison.

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Of course, this issue would be alleviated if the Supreme Court would abandon its rewrite of the Constitution to allow for mandatory death sentences for prisoners who kill behind bars. I wonder if Justice Souter, who is obviously willing to bend the law (see Kansas v. Marsh) to alleviate the risk of innocents being executed, would consider the threat to innocents in a case like this one in correcting mistaken decisions by the Supreme Court.

Until such time as Justices like Souter and the rest show concern for people other than death row inmates and other criminals, I think it would be nice if they took a break from lectures like those in Kansas v. Marsh.

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