Governer Daugaard – Commute Charles Rhines's Death Sentence

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Charles Rhines was convicted of the 1992 murder of Donnivan Schaeffer, and sentenced to death.

During deliberations, the jurors in the case asked questions about how Rhines, a gay man, would be treated in prison, including whether he would be able to “mix with the general inmate population,” “brag about his crime” to “young men,”“marry or have conjugal visits,” or “have a cellmate."  After the trial, a juror is on record confirming that they “knew that [Rhines] was a homosexual and thought that he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.”  Another remembered hearing a juror say that “if he’s gay we’d be sending him where he wants to go.”

Life in prison without the possibility of parole was deemed too good for him, because of his sexual orientation – a failure both of logic, and of humanity.  Rhines may have been convicted because the evidence against him, but if this sentence is carried out, he will have been killed for being gay.

The justice system is designed to punish people for the crimes they commit, and not their identities.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear this case.  We call on South Dakota Governor Daugaard to commute Rhines's death sentence immediately.

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