At Death's Door

At Death's Door

Organisation: Hindustan Times (India)

Publication Date: 04/10/2017

Size of team/newsroom:large


India, on average, sentences someone to death every 72 hours, but only four people have been executed since 2000. So what happens between trial courts, where a person is first sentenced to death, and the Supreme Court, where death sentences rarely stand up to scrutiny? Over the course of a month, HT's series At Death's Door dug deep into a criminal justice system that sentences people not only to die, but also to await the gallows for years or even decades. These stories were the result of a collaboration with the Centre on the Death Penalty at the National Law University, Delhi. The stories were drawn from original reporting and pioneering new research by the centre's Death Penalty Research Project.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

“After national security, the jail is the most impenetrable institution in this country,” said Yug Chaudhry, a lawyer who has represented the appeals of several death row inmates. Before, we had ideas about how poorly the Indian justice system was able to India's administer the death penalty. But know we know. For instance, we know that about a quarter of all people sentenced to death in India are later entirely acquitted of the crime because of lack of evidence or procedural missteps. We know that most death row prisoners who confessed to their crime in police custody did so after being tortured, often with heinous methods. We know that the country has no record keeping apparatus for death row inmates, so people are sometimes sentenced to death and simply lost in the system. And we know that the process by which powerful authorities grant mercy is arbitrary at best, callous at worst. For the first time, a journalistic outlet chronicled all of these abuses in detail, using data on every single death row inmate collected over the course of several years by the Death Penalty Research Project.

Technologies used for this project:

Javascript, Adobe Illustrator, Tabula
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