November 12: Against the Death Penalty

Norman Redlich, dean of the New York University Law School, a member of the Warren Commission (which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy), and a strong opponent of the death penalty, was born in the Bronx on this date in 1925. Early in his career, Redlich was active in the National Emergency Civil Liberties […]

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June 12: Executed at Sing-Sing

Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss and Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein, hit-men with Murder, Inc., were executed by electric chair at Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York on this date in 1941. Strauss was a head assassin for the Brooklyn-based crime group, which ran its own rackets and also served as killing squad for gangsters Lepke Buchalter […]

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July 23: The Death of a French Jewish Partisan

Marcel Langer, a Polish-born Jewish communist from Palestine who fought in the Spanish Civil War and then headed an anti-Nazi partisan group in the Toulouse area of France, was guillotined by the Vichy government on this date in 1943. Langer’s group had participated in the destruction of railways, sabotage of electrical supplies, individual assassinations of […]

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May 31: Eichmann’s Execution

Adolf Eichmann, 56, was hanged, cremated, and had his ashes scattered in the Mediterranean on this date in 1962. His execution is the only instance of capital punishment by a civilian court in Israel’s history. He drank a glass of red wine before mounting the scaffold. Eichmann joined the Nazi party in 1932 and came […]

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February 24: The French Abraham Lincoln

Adolphe Cremieux (Isaac Moïse), a French lawyer, statesman, and human rights activist, was named French minister of justice on this date in the revolutionary year of 1848. Although only briefly in office, Cremieux secured decrees that instituted freedom of the press, freedom of association, and freedom of worship, abolished arrest for debt, ended punishment by […]

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February 18: Abolishing Capital Punishment

Stanley Mosk, the longest-sitting justice on the California Supreme Court in history, joined five other justices to abolish capital punishment in the state on this date in 1972. In People v. Anderson, the Court found the death penalty unconstitutional and commuted the sentences of all death row inmates to life imprisonment. The following November, however, […]

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December 13: Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn

Roland Gittelsohn, a Reform rabbi who was the first Jewish chaplain ever appointed by the U.S Marine Corps and served the invading forces at Iwo Jima, died at 85 on this date in 1995. Gittelsohn was a critic of McCarthyism in the 1950s and an early, outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. He also served […]

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Justice and the Death Penalty

by Marc Jampole In baseball parlance, the anti-death penalty movement has batted 500 over the past 24 hours.  The Supreme Court of the United States stopped the execution of white man Cleve Foster, but the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to black man Troy Davis. The racial contrast speaks for itself. Much […]

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September 19: The Innocence Project

Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, was born on this date in Queens, New York in 1949. He and his co-founder Peter Neufeld were pioneers in the use of forensic DNA testing and have influenced scientific forensic research as well as state and federal law. Scheck and Neufeld created the Innocence Project at the […]

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