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Clemency Petitions Added to UAlbany's National Death Penalty Archive
Collection attempts to gather all death penalty clemency petitions filed in the United States during the modern era of capital punishment

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 10, 2006) -- The University at Albany announced several additions to its National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA), including The Clemency Petitions in Capital Cases Collection and source materials for David Von Drehle's Among the Lowest of the Dead. The NDPA also added supplements to two collections, the Hugo Adam Bedau Papers and the Alvin Ford Collections.

About the current additions:

  • The Clemency Petitions in Capital Cases Collection: Unlike judicial proceedings, claims raised in clemency petitions are free of procedural defaults that can mask error, unfairness, or irrationality in a given death sentence. Petitions thus can reveal what the sentencing authority may not have known because of attorney error, prosecutorial misconduct, newly discovered evidence, or other reasons. As part of his work with The Constitution Project, William J. Bowers has established The Clemency Petitions in Capital Cases Collection at the NDPA. This collection comprises approximately 150 clemency petitions in death penalty cases, from almost two dozens jurisdictions. It is the initial installment in a collection that attempts to gather all death penalty clemency petitions filed in the United States during the modern era of capital punishment.

  • David Von Drehle Papers: This collection contains the source materials for Von Drehle's writing of Among the Lowest of the Dead (first published in 1995; updated version forthcoming, The University of Michigan Press, 2006), a history of Florida's experience with the death penalty between the Furman decision and 1989. For 11 years, Von Drehle covered Florida's death row for the Miami Herald, and the collection consists of a comprehensive record of that period and Florida's experience with the death penalty. The collection includes virtually every relevant newspaper clipping from a Florida newspaper in that period, plus notes from 100-plus interviews, many government reports, law review articles, and some ephemera, copies of inmate letters and diaries, and transcripts of testimony in major appeals and clemency hearings.

  • Hugo Adam Bedau Papers: Several additional boxes of material from Hugo A. Bedau recently have been added to his extant collection in the NDPA. Among the items in this additional material are papers, audio tapes, primary research documents, and several unique posters announcing talks by Bedau. Also included in this new material is Bedau's keynote speech given at the August 9th, 2005 dedication of the Archives.

  • The Alvin Ford Collection: In 1993, Kent S. Miller and Michael L. Radelet, wrote a book about Alvin Ford titled Executing the Mentally Ill: The Criminal Justice System and the Case of Alvin Ford (Newbury Park: Sage Publications). The research material from this book, which includes numerous photographs of Alvin Ford, background material and news clippings of the case, his clemency petition, a copy of his death warrant, and an audio tape of a 1991 interview with Ford's mother, was donated to supplement the current collection of papers on the Ford case that currently exist in the NDPA

"The urgency surrounding clemency in capital punishment cases is unique," said Charles S. Lanier, Ph.D., co-director of UAlbany's Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI). "The petitions of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams or the current appeal of Clarence Ray Allen showcase the importance of the current additions to the National Death Penalty Archive."

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams was a co-founder of the Los Angeles street gang known as the Crips who was convicted of murder in 1981 and sentenced to death. While in prison, Williams became an anti-gang activist and author. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied his clemency petition and Williams sentence was carried out on December 13, 2005. Clarence Ray Allen is a 75 year-old inmate on death row at San Quentin who is blind and disabled. He is scheduled to be executed on January 17, 2006. Former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin and former San Quentin warden Daniel Vasquez have joined in urging Gov. Schwarzenegger to grant clemency to Allen, who was sentenced to life in prison for commissioning the murder of his son's girlfriend in 1974 and subsequently convicted in 1980 to death for ordering the murders of eight witnesses of the first murder from his cell.

The University at Albany Library's M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is collaborating with CPRI to maintain and grow the National Death Penalty Archive.

UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice announced the establishment of NDPA, a national repository of archival material devoted solely to the death penalty in August 2005. The National Death Penalty Archive was initiated by the school's Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) to collect archival materials documenting the important history of capital punishment, and to provide resources for historical scholarship. The collection of historical materials will be an unrivaled resource for scholars, students, and the public interested in the history of capital punishment in America, and in the legal and political battles engendered by the sanction. In addition to housing the records and documents of leading figures in scholarship, and legal and community organizations concerning capital punishment, the archive includes oral history interviews featuring prominent activists and professionals involved in death penalty abolition efforts and related work. For more information on the archives, visit the archives, or contact [email protected].

"This collection is vital to the future of the study of capital punishment," said constitutional historian and University at Albany President Kermit L. Hall at the NDPA dedication. "The death penalty is one of the most contentious issues in American jurisprudence and culture, and I am proud that as one of the nation's top-ranked schools for criminal justice, we continue to lead by bringing this collection to fruition."

The Capital Punishment Research Initiative, part of the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, was founded in the late 1990s with three primary goals: (1) to build and maintain a national archive for historical documents and data on the death penalty; (2) to plan and conduct basic and policy related research on capital punishment; and (3) to encourage scholarship, conduct graduate and undergraduate training, and disseminate scientifically grounded knowledge about the ultimate penal sanction.

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is home to print, manuscript, and archival sources on a wide array of historical topics. The department provides more than 25,000 cubic feet of temperature and humidity controlled shelving space.

Ranked as the No. 2 program in the nation, UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice examines the political, economic and cultural patterns that shape definitions of crime and influence policy. Graduates find opportunities in the expanding academic field of criminal justice research and teaching, all the operating agencies of criminal justice, in addition to the many private and non-profit organizations which provide services or make policy recommendations.


The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages more than 17,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit

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