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News :: Human Rights
With the Gary Sampson Death Sentencing, Activists Say No to the Federal Death Penalty
31 Jan 2004
On Thursday, January 29, Federal Judge Mark L. Wolf formally sentenced convicted killer Gary Sampson to death by lethal injection or hanging. In Judge Wolf’s own sentencing statement, he made it clear that the reason for Sampson’s death sentence was purely for retribution – not deterrence or rehabilitation. He was required by law to give the death sentence when recommended by a jury. Opponents of the death penalty gathered on Thursday to hold banners and signs outside the courthouse in a vigil to say that the death penalty is not the answer to the pain of the victim’s families, to whom they offered their greatest sympathies. During the course of day, protestors were harassed and discriminated against by police, security and courthouse staff.
sampson-main.jpg
freelance writer and photographer
Anti-death penalty sentiment expressed during Sampson’s sentencing
Judge makes comments, and protestors speak out

BOSTON - On Thursday, January 29, Federal Judge Mark L. Wolf formally sentenced convicted killer Gary Sampson to death by lethal injection or hanging. Although the trial took place in Boston, the execution will be carried out in New Hampshire – which currently has no means of killing its prison inmates.

Because the charges against Sampson involved first-degree murder and carjacking, he became eligible under federal statues for the federal death penalty, which can be sought in non-death penalty states like Massachusetts, which has not had an execution since 1947. U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft gave the go-ahead for the death sentence to be pursued in Massachusetts.

In December 2003, a Massachusetts jury recommended death for Sampson for his confessed murders of Jonathan Rizzo, 19, and Philip McCloskey, 69. Judge Wolf made the death sentence official at the hearing on Thursday, where the Rizzo and McCloskey families, Sampson’s attorney, and Sampson himself were given opportunities to make final statements.

In Judge Wolf’s own sentencing statement, he made it clear that the reason for Sampson’s death sentence was purely for retribution – not deterrence or rehabilitation. Wolf said that the purpose of retribution is “retaliation” and “revenge”.

“I would hope that most people would cringe at words like that – especially in this tit-for-tat game of criminal life and death. Those comments from the bench made is clear that the death penalty is purely about angry vengeance, and about retaliation, which is exactly the cycle of victimization that death penalty opponents talk about, ” said an observer of the proceedings.

Wolf stated that the death penalty is in no way a deterrent for future crimes. He said on record that there is absolutely no evidence that the death penalty has ever been a deterrence for future murders.

Judge Wolf also offered words about his own sadness around the death sentencing, as well as for the pain of the victim’s families.

In the end of his statement, Judge Wolf acknowledged the letters he received from anti-death penalty advocates and stated that they would become public record. He said the letters addressed the “immorality of the death penalty” and also pleaded for him to not impose the death sentence, which he is required by law to give when recommended by a jury.

“This is a testimony to the power of letters, even if the sentence was still carried out. It is now on court record that there was (and is) opposition to the death penalty – specifically on moral grounds. – and that a federal judge was willing to include that opposition in public records,” said Sheila Stumph, 27, who had written Judge Wolf earlier this month.

Opponents of the death penalty gathered on Thursday to hold banners and signs outside the courthouse in a vigil to say that the death penalty is not the answer to the pain of the victim’s families, to whom they offered their greatest sympathies.

Although the day was peaceful, there were some incidents aimed against the anti-death penalty individuals.

During the course of day, protestors were harassed and discriminated against by police, security and courthouse staff. At one point, security personnel refused the executive director of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty organization entry into the building, even though she carried no signs or banners into the courthouse.

Also, after the sentencing, while in the lobby of the courthouse, a security guard approached Steve Barnes, 29, and aggressively ripped off an anti-death penalty sticker from his shirt. The guard ripped the sticker up and stormed off. Barnes was in the courthouse peacefully observing the court proceedings.

Other protestors who chose to witness the courtroom proceedings were followed while in the courthouse in a perceived effort to harass and intimidate based on their anti-death penalty view, despite their peaceful presence.

Concerned citizens and activists from organizations like Amnesty International, Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, the Women League of Voters, the Haley House Catholic Worker, and the ACLU have been attending weekly vigils since the trial started September 18, 2003 in an organized effort to oppose the imposition of the death penalty in Massachusetts.

For more photos from vigils against the federal death penalty in Boston, visit http://www.langleycreations.com/scott/sampson.
See also:
http://www.langleycreations.com/scott/sampson

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Comments

Re: With the Gary Sampson Death Sentencing, Activists Say No to the Federal Death Penalty
31 Jan 2004
Hot shit! This is the greatest thing since the last Leftist Lounge!
Re: With the Gary Sampson Death Sentencing, Activists Say No to the Federal Death Penalty
01 Feb 2004
I am both deeply saddened and ashamed of a judicial system that endorses the killing of other human beings, but furthermore by a judge that would suggest hanging as an acceptable form of conducting this state sponsored murder. The conservative media was on the bandwagon the following day with their headline quote 'hang him.' It's a sad day in history,
Let The Die
11 Feb 2004
Scott Langley said it right when he said convicted KILLER Gary Sampson. He didnt say "wrongfully convicted peacenik Gary Sampson." What the hell do you want to do with murderers and rapists? Leave them hanging around? Please. Sometimes we have to take out the garbage.

www.contextflexed.com
Re: With the Gary Sampson Death Sentencing, Activists Say No to the Federal Death Penalty
21 Feb 2004
to all the sampson haters i just met sampson in essex county lock up he dont deserve to die hes the man hail sampson
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parnisha
17 Jun 2006
Very interesting website. Keep up the outstanding work and thank you...
Ivan
18 Jun 2006
Cool!.. Nice work...
americanboy
19 Jun 2006
Pretty nice site, wants to see much more on it! :)