“More often than we want to recognize, some innocent defendants have been convicted and sentenced to death…After 20 years on (the) high court, I have to acknowledge that serious questions are being raised about whether the death penalty is being fairly administered in this country.”
— Sandra Day O'Connor,
U.S. Supreme Court Justice
The death penalty is the ultimate denial of civil liberties. Innocent people are being sentenced to death. Moreover, capital punishment is often unfairly and unjustly applied.
The ACLU supports a moratorium on the death penalty for the following reasons:
- Innocent people are being sentenced to death. Since 1973, 122 inmates were found to be innocent and released from death row in 25 states across the country.
- Almost all people on death row could not afford to hire an attorney. The quality of legal representation is a better predictor of whether or not someone will be sentenced to death than the facts of the crime.
- Race often plays a role in determining a capital sentence. Nationally, more than 80% of capital cases involve white victims, even though only 50% of murder victims are white.
- Where a death sentence is sought often determines whether a defendant is sentenced to death more than the circumstances of the crime.
Capital Punishment Nation-wide
- 148Between 1973 and 2015, 148 innocent death-row prisoners in 26 different states were exonerated and released.
- 2%A mere two percent of this nation's counties have produced both a majority of all executions imposed since 1976 (52 percent) and of prisoners awaiting execution on death row (56 percent).
- 76%Seventy-six percent of executions imposed since 1976 were for killing (at least one) white victim.