death penalty news—-USA

April 16



April 16, 2008 – The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Kentucky's
lethal injection protocol sidesteps the critical issues surrounding the
death penalty debate in the U.S., the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty said today.

"The death penalty system was a flawed public policy before the Supreme
Court agreed to review Kentucky's lethal injection protocol," said NCADP
Executive Director Diann Rust-Tierney. "It was a flawed public policy
while the Court debated the protocol. And now that the Court has ruled, it
remains as deeply a flawed public policy as ever."

The relatively narrow scope of the Court's deliberations did not address
basic issues of fairness, bias, ineffective assistance of counsel or
innocent people being convicted and sentenced to death, Rust-Tierney said.
She noted that the U.S. has gone almost 7 months since an execution – the
longest period of time without an execution since a 17-month hiatus that
stretched from early 1981 into late 1982.

"Now, with the possible resumption of executions, we renew our commitment
to discuss the critical issues surrounding the death penalty system,"
Rust-Tierney said. "Since the last person was executed – on Sept. 24, 2007
– we have seen a number of remarkable events. Four names have been added
to the list of people freed from death row after evidence of their
innocence emerged, bringing that number to at least 128. New Jersey has
abolished the death penalty. Nebraska has no effective death penalty after
its Supreme Court ruled the electric chair unconstitutional. The American
Bar Association has called for a nationwide moratorium on executions. And
the United Nations, reflecting evolving trends around the globe, has voted
for a worldwide moratorium."

In addition, Rust-Tierney said, California and Tennessee have held state
hearings in order to study their respective death penalty systems.
Constitutional questions have been raised in New Hampshire and New Mexico
and wrongful conviction and DNA lab scandals continue in Texas.

"And that's just in 7 months," Rust-Tierney noted. "It seems that the more
we learn about the death penalty, the more we learn we can live without

Indeed, Rust-Tierney noted Justice Stevens' concurrence in today's opinion
in which he warned that debate will continue – not just over lethal
injection protocols "but also about the justification for the death
penalty itself."

(source: National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty)