ACLU Next: Death Penalty on the Ballot — May 21

aclu event

ACLU Death Penalty Event

Jeanne Woodford was the head of California’s prison system from 2004 to 2006. She also served as the warden of San Quentin State Prison in California. She is now the executive director of Death Penalty Focus.

Obie Anthony spent 17 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder. He was released in October 2011 after serving most of his adult life behind bars.

On its website, Death Penalty Focus lists the following ten reasons to oppose this barbaric practice:

Innocence 
The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 139 men and women have been released from death row nationally.

The High Cost 
It costs far more to execute a person than to keep him or her in prison for life.

Prolonging the Suffering for Victims’ Families
Many family members who have lost love ones to murder feel that executing the convicted will not heal their wounds nor will it end their pain; the extended legal process prior to executions can prolong the agony experienced by the victims’ families.

International Views on Capital Punishment
The vast majority of countries in Western Europe, North America and South America – more than 139 nations worldwide – have abandoned capital punishment in law or in practice.

Inadequate Legal Representation
Perhaps the most important factor in determining whether a defendant will receive capital punishment as a sentence is the quality of the representation he or she is provided.

Deterrence
Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences.

Arbitrariness in the Application of the Death Penalty
Politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction where a crime is committed are more often the determining factors in a death penalty case than the facts of the crime itself.

Religious Perspectives on the Death Penalty
Although isolated passages of religious scripture have been quoted in support of the death penalty, almost all religious groups in the United States regard executions as immoral.

Racial Disparities
The race of the victim and the race of the defendant in capital cases are major factors in determining who is sentenced to die in this country. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.”

Alternatives to the Death Penalty
In every state that retains the death penalty, jurors have the option of sentencing convicted capital murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence is cheaper to tax-payers and keeps violent offenders off the streets for good.

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