Saturday, October 9, 2010

World Day: Focus on the U.S.

Here is the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty's press release for World Day Against the Death Penalty, October 10th. This year's World Day focuses on the United States.

On 10.10.10, the 8th World Day against the Death Penalty will focus on ending the use of the death penalty in the United States of America. Since 2003, abolitionists have taken actions all over the world every 10 October to raise awareness and opposition to the death penalty. This year, to mark the World Day against the Death Penalty, dozens of events have been organized across the USA from Texas to Alaska, including in New York and Washington DC. All over the world, abolitionists are hosting events in support of the American movement to end the death penalty. To see the complete program of scheduled events, visit:

By encouraging debates and education on the death penalty on 10.10.10, worldwide abolitionists would like every citizen to understand that the fundamental right to life applies to all people, that the death penalty is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent even in the most competent systems of justice. In the USA, as elsewhere, the death penalty does not deliver justice. Since 1977 more than 130 people have been released on grounds of innocence revealing significant flaws in legal process. It is also a system that continues to condemn people on discriminatory grounds and that diverts time and money from other more efficient law enforcement measures. Police chiefs rank the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction and they do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder.

In 2010 the US has executed 40 people to date; Texas (16) having executed the most people so far. In 2009 11 states executed 52 prisoners: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Vancouver, Ohio, and Tennessee and South Carolina. Even as executions continue though, movement has been made to reduce the number of those sentenced to death. Today in the USA, 15 states do not have the death penalty and 11 more made legislative proposals to abolish capital punishment in 2009. In 2002 the Supreme Court prohibited the execution of the [people with mental retardation], and in 2005 it prohibited the death penalty for offenders who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime. 2009 also saw a decrease in the number of death sentences, and the number of executions is trending down.

This World Day is the opportunity for abolitionists to work together, in the United States and abroad, to help continue this trend of restricting the use of the death penalty and to work to educate the public to bring about the end of its use. By 2009, 139 countries in the world had abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and 18 of the 58 retentionist states actually executed people. To support the American movement to end the death penalty is also to support abolition all over the world, to
take another step towards universal abolition.

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