Tuesday, April 09, 2002

A busy day for Amnesty International.

On the occasion of the "100th Person Freed From Death Row, Amnesty International Calls on State Governors to Halt All Executions."

WASHINGTON, April 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by Amnesty International:

As Arizona prisoner Ray Krone became the 100th person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973, Amnesty International today called on the governors from all 38 executing states to recognize that the system is not working and to declare a moratorium as a means to abolish the death penalty.

"These exonerated people represent the exception to the rule in the US capital punishment system -- meanwhile other innocent people awaiting their executions on death row may be erroneously killed," said William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "US governors must acknowledge the inherent flaws in the system, and call for an indefinite halt to executions in their states or risk blood on their hands."

The organization has noted a growing nationwide trend that shows US states scrutinizing the application of the death sentence while US voters' support for the death penalty is holding at a 20-year low. Next week, Illinois Governor George Ryan's Commission on Capital Punishment will release its recommendations after a two year moratorium on executions in the state. In the last year, 21 states have considered legislation curtailing the use of the death penalty. Eighteen states have introduced legislation calling for a moratorium, and last year five states banned the execution of the mentally retarded. In addition, the US Supreme Court will consider capital cases involving incompetent counsel and the execution of the mentally retarded during the 2001-2002 session.

More than half of the countries of the world have recognized that state-sanctioned executions violate international human rights standards. In stark contrast, the US has executed more than 750 prisoners since re-instatement of the death penalty in 1976, 600 of them since 1990, during which time 60 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.