The prisoner on remand who died in her cell last month wrote to her family to say she had been sexually assaulted while receiving treatment at a secure mental health unit.
The Guardian has learned that Sarah Reed, 32, was charged with grievous bodily harm with intent over the incident in October after striking back at her alleged abuser. But rather than being released back into a secure hospital, she was held on remand at Holloway prison, north London, where she was found dead on 11 January.
Reed’s family, who she wrote to from jail, insist that she was acting in self defence.
The death penalty has come under fire recently in state courts. Now a recent case out of Pennsylvania highlights a possible role for state executives in hastening the death penalty’s demise.
Remember how last summer the Connecticut Supreme Court issued an opinion ending the death penalty in Connecticut? The court held that the death penalty violates the Connecticut constitution’s cruel and unusual punishment provision — the state analog of the Eighth Amendment — because the practice of killing convicts “fails to comport with contemporary standards of decency” and “is devoid of any legitimate penological justifications.”
Carl Staples moved his family to Shreveport, Louisiana a few years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Forty years later, Staples had to walk past a Confederate flag atop a monument to the Confederacy on the Shreveport courthouse lawn in order to report for jury duty.
When the lawyers asked Mr. Staples whether he could be an impartial juror in a death penalty case—a question routinely asked and answered in the affirmative in courthouses across the country—his response likely stunned the room: