July 24, 2002

Monday, April 15, 2002

100th Inmate Freed from Death Row-Illinois Revamps Death Row Case Review

A special panel in Illinois is recommending an overhaul to the state’s capital punishment system. How many of the idea they recommend does your state have in place right now?

Maybe this is the time to do something on the efforts going on in your town to free death row inmates. The Christian Science Monitor reports, “Ray Krone says he isn’t bitter. He just wants to make up for lost time. So it was that, on his first day out of prison in 10 1/2 years, this former mail carrier spent his time feasting on steak and floating in a hotel swimming pool in Phoenix. His story probably would’ve been confined to the local Arizona newspapers, if it weren’t for the fact that Mr. Krone is a milestone in the battle over capital punishment. He is the 100th former death-row prisoner to be exonerated since 1973, when the Supreme Court found the death penalty unconstitutional. (The death penalty was reinstated in 1976.)
This is a system broken beyond repair,” says David Elliot, with the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “There’s nothing magic about the number 100, but it is a good opportunity to convey to the public the extent of the problem.”
The Innocence Project says the number really stands at 105 exonerated
• See details of all 105 cases
• A great resource page
• A state by state list of innocence projects in the US





Boston Marathon-Women Runners
The marathon is today. More than 6,200 of the 16,000 runners will be women. One of the top 10 women runners is 68 years old!
What an interesting time to do a story on the popularity of running among women. Only 30 years ago, women were banned from the race under the belief that running more than 1 and a half miles would be harmful to their health. The number of women competing in the Marathon has risen steadily since women became official participants in 1972. That year there were eight starters and eight finishers.

Another cool thing, many of the runners will be equipped with wireless transmitters to send their race progress to their friends.

Here is the Boston Globe’s excellent race website with tons of info





Disasters Spike Births, Marriages, and Divorces
According to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the United States — Hurricane Hugo — caused a significant increase in divorces, marriages and births among the residents of South Carolina who were the hardest hit by the brutal storm.

ABCNews reports, “‘The fact that all three went up, marriages, births and divorces, leads us to speculate that these life threatening events lead people to take stock of their lives, reevaluate their futures, reevaluate their current situations, and it might motivate them to make some changes,’ says Catherine L. Cohan, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of human development at Penn State, principal investigator of the study.


She’s the first to admit she doesn’t know for sure what drove some people to divorce and others to having a baby, because ‘the data tells us what people did, not why they did it.’


Cohan, who conducted the study with psychologist Steve W. Cole of the University of California, Los Angeles, was a bit surprised that all three went up. Conventional theory holds that a huge disaster causes stress and economic losses, which should drive divorce rates up, and marriage and births down. Another theory holds that such a disaster causes people to seek out ‘life affirming’ actions, and that should drive marriages and births up, and divorces down.”





Smokes Cost Nation $7 Per Pack

Each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the nation more than $7 in medical care and lost productivity, the government says.

Sunspot says, “The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the nation’s total cost of smoking at $3,391 a year for every smoker, or $157.7 billion. Health experts had previously estimated $96 billion.


Americans buy about 22 billion packs of cigarettes annually. The CDC study is the first to establish a per-pack cost to the nation.

According to the analysis, for each of the 22 billion packs of cigarettes sold in the United States in 1999, $3.45 was spent on medical care related to smoking, compared with the previous 1993 estimate of $2.06 per pack. Another $3.73 per pack was spent on productivity losses from smoking. Overall, the economic cost of smoking equaled about $3,391 per smoker per year.


‘The stunning toll that smoking takes on life is unacceptable,’ said Rosemarie Henson, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. ‘States and communities can and should do more to reduce the impact of smoking on the physical and financial health of their communities.’


Despite recent declines, young people in the United States are still using tobacco at a high rate: 34.5 percent of high school students and 15.1 percent of middle school students currently use some form of tobacco (cigarettes, smokeless, cigars, pipes). Every day, more than 2,200 young people under the age of 18 become daily smokers.





States Not meeting 1994 Education laws

Most states are going to have a hard time meeting the high expectations set forth in the recently passed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) because many states have yet to meet the requirements of the 1994 legislation, a report by the Government Accounting Office says. Story from Stateline.org.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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