MIA: History: ETOL: Newspapers & Periodicals: International Socialist Review: Issue 11

International Socialist Review, April–May 2000

Eric Ruder

Death Penalty on Trial

From International Socialist Review, Issue 11, April–May 2000.
Downloaded with thanks from the ISR Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

WHEN REPUBLICAN Illinois Gov. George Ryan announced a statewide moratorium on the death penalty on January 31, the debate over capital punishment was transformed. Ryan cited the fact that since 1976, Illinois has executed 12 people but released 13 from death row who were found to be innocent. He declared, “Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing lethal injection, no one will meet that fate.”

Ryan’s announcement is long overdue and represents a major victory for opponents of the death penalty in Illinois and around the country. For the first time in roughly two decades, the defenders of capital punishment have been thrown on the defensive. They are now forced to explain why their system is grinding up innocent people. Major newspapers across the country ran editorials against the death penalty in the wake of Ryan’s decision, pointing out what death penalty abolitionists have been arguing for years. The New York Times wrote:

Illinois is not the only state with a capital justice system so flawed that it cannot ensure that innocent people are spared. The solution ultimately is to end capital punishment, a system that cannot afford to mete out a single mistaken sentence. [1]

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it even more strongly:

To support the death penalty is, in effect, to support the state-sanctioned killing of innocent people. Perhaps the taking of an innocent life every so often is a price some backers of the death penalty are willing to pay. But America should think hard about that cost. And Clinton should suspend executions long enough to give the nation time to think. [2]

In the two weeks after Gov. Ryan’s decree, a flood of provisions questioning the use of the death penalty was introduced by mainstream politicians – another first in almost two decades. In response to an appeal by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), President Clinton announced that he would consider a moratorium on the federal death penalty. Five U.S. senators urged Clinton to institute a moratorium until they could be sure that no innocent people sat on federal death row. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) proposed the Innocence Act of 2000, which would provide DNA testing for inmates who seek to prove that they did not commit the crime for which they were condemned. Sen. Feingold has since introduced a bill to eliminate the federal death penalty.

Last year, 12 bills were introduced in 12 states, including Indiana and Missouri, to abolish the death penalty. On March 9, the New Hampshire House voted 191 to 163 to abolish the death penalty – the first state to do so since executions resumed in 1976. Though New Hampshire’s governor has threatened a veto – and no executions have been carried out in that state for 61 years – the vote is significant. Most sweeping of all has been the announcement by Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) that he would propose legislation in Congress calling for a seven-year moratorium on all executions in the U.S.

In addition, the city councils of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Baltimore have passed resolutions calling on the governors of their respective states to follow Gov. Ryan’s lead and implement moratoria.

Even individuals who have been at the heart of the death penalty system are expressing doubts. Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate, who had previously defended the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s death penalty before the U.S. Supreme Court, said in early March, “I was once a constructor of this apparatus of death – [b]ut I can no longer support that which I helped create.” These developments mark a fundamental shift from previous years, when the death penalty seemed beyond challenge. A real debate has opened up around the death penalty, and the possibility of halting executions is now on the agenda.

More executions, more horrors

Ironically, the very “success” of the death penalty – if measured in terms of the number of people killed by it – is what, in part, is fueling the rising doubts and opposition to its use. In 1999, 98 people were executed – the highest number in 50 years. In January 2000, three men were executed who had been juveniles when the crimes for which they were condemned were committed – compared to three juveniles executed in the rest of the world throughout the entire 1990s. In Texas, Gov. George W. Bush refused to grant clemency to Bettie Lou Beets, who was executed in late February for the murder of her violently abusive husband.

But nowhere are the cracks in the system of capital punishment more glaringly revealed than around the question of executing the innocent. Illinois has released 13 innocent men since 1976, and Florida has released 19 over the same period. To date, 87 people have been freed across the country. The fact that innocent people will be murdered by the state as the number of executions increases has forced a new debate on whether the death penalty should be used at all. It has also created the possibility for anti-death penalty activists to organize a real push for a moratorium nationally – and to use that momentum as a stepping-stone toward abolition.

Developments in Florida have put a spotlight on the number of innocent people facing execution, although in a completely perverse way. Unlike Gov. Ryan’s decision in Illinois to temporarily halt executions, Florida legislators – despite the record number of innocent people released from death row there – overhauled the state’s death penalty laws in early January to facilitate quicker executions. Their goal was to shorten the time spent on death row before execution from the current average of 11 years to five years. Brad Thomas, advisor to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the issue, told the St. Petersburg Times, “What I hope is that we become more like Texas. Bring in the witnesses, put them on a gurney, and let’s rock and roll.”

No doubt, some number of the 19 people exonerated and released from Florida’s death row would have been executed had these laws been enacted earlier. The average time innocent people spend on Florida’s death row before they are exonerated is slightly more than seven years. One man – James Richardson – spent 21 years on death row before he was exonerated. Florida’s mad rush to execute highlights the skewed demographics of judicial murder. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Southern states account for 500 of the 618 executions since 1976. Florida (41), Virginia (75) and Texas (209) alone account for 325 executions.

The increasing number of executions has also forced a public discussion of the dramatic inequalities built into the U.S. justice system – the inequalities of race and class – as well as the barbaric cruelty of executions and the corruption of the criminal justice system.

Race, class and the death penalty

Together, the quickening pace of executions and stricter limits on state and federal appeals have exacerbated another appalling aspect of the death penalty: racism. The number of Blacks on death row grew to 43 percent in 1999 from 40 percent in the 1980s. More than half of the people on death row are Black or Latino, while these groups combined make up less than 23 percent of the U.S. population. Even more astonishing than the disproportionate number of minorities on death row is the racial disparity between cases involving Black and white murder victims. A study of Georgia’s death row demonstrated that a Black person convicted of killing a white person is eleven times more likely to receive a death sentence than a white person convicted of killing a Black person. [3] About 85 percent of the victims in death penalty cases are white, even though only 50 percent of murder victims are white.

Of the 13 innocent people released from death row in Illinois, ten are Black or Latino. And several of them were not released because the system worked, as some supporters of the death penalty claim, but because students enrolled in a journalism class did investigative work that cleared them. Despite Gov. Ryan’s moratorium, the Death Row 10 – a group of Black men convicted and sentenced to death on the basis of “confessions” tortured out of them by police – still sit on death row. The police department’s own review board, the Office of Professional Standards, has substantiated their allegations of police torture, yet members of the Death Row 10 still await execution. [4] Reversing their convictions will require tremendous pressure because so many criminal justice officials – from police to prosecutors to judges – stand to have their careers destroyed if these cases are reopened.

Even more shocking than the scale of racial inequality revealed by the numbers are the stories that underlie these numbers. For example:

Michael Goggin, a former prosecutor for Cook County, Illinois, recently admitted that the District Attorney’s office ran a contest to see which prosecutor could be the first to convict defendants whose weight totaled 4,000 pounds. Men and women upon conviction were marched into a room and weighed. Because most of the defendants were black, the competition was known by local officials as “Niggers by the Pound.” [5]

Stories like these come to light against the backdrop of a general crisis in the criminal justice system. Police corruption scandals are breaking out all over. In Los Angeles, the biggest corruption scandal in decades has so far led to the release of more than 40 people who were wrongly convicted by crooked cops – and the number could climb much higher. In Philadelphia, thousands of cases have been reopened after the systematic planting of evidence by police was uncovered. And, in Chicago, four police were brought up on disciplinary charges for killing unarmed Black motorist LaTanya Haggerty in 1999; three were fired in March.

There is a widespread sense among ordinary people, especially among millions of Blacks and Latinos, that the police are given a free hand to systematically target minorities – to pull them over, search, beat and, in many cases, gun them down with impunity. The New York City cops’ brutal murder of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets – 19 of which struck him, most while he was already on the ground – and their subsequent acquittal is only one recent example. The prevalence of racial profiling – where police deliberately target minorities as criminal suspects simply because they are Black or Latino – has made “driving while Black” practically a household phrase.

“There are no millionaires sitting on death row. Can you honestly say to yourself, you’re going to get equal justice under the law?” [6] This insight – astoundingly – came from Republican State Rep. Anthony DiFruscia from New Hampshire during a debate over whether to abolish capital punishment. No one can dispute the truth of this statement – not even Republicans. Yet the poor, indigent and working-class men and women facing possible execution are forced to face well-funded prosecutorial teams with inexperienced, grossly underpaid lawyers.

Defendants in capital cases who cannot afford an attorney typically receive court-appointed attorneys who aren’t given the financial resources to wage an adequate defense, who are incompetent or both. Even though weeks of intensive work are needed to prepare for a capital trial, Alabama limits reimbursement for capital cases to $2,000. In Texas, at least three attorneys assigned to defend the accused in capital trials have fallen asleep in the middle of the proceedings. Clinton’s 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act eliminated funding for death penalty resource centers that helped death row inmates with trials and the appeals process, thereby exacerbating the problem of incompetent legal counsel. The Act also “restricts review in federal court by establishing tighter filing deadlines, limits the opportunity for evidentiary hearings, and allows only a single habeas corpus filing.” [7] The Act makes it nearly impossible to reverse mistakes made at trial – even if made by incompetent or sleeping lawyers. “The Constitution says that everyone’s entitled to an attorney of their choice,” Texas District Court Judge Doug Shaver argued. “But the Constitution does not say that the lawyer has to be awake.”

International trend toward abolition

The United States stands alone among the most industrialized countries in increasing the number of executions. By 1980, 62 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or had ceased using it. By 1998, that number had climbed to 105. The U.S., China, Congo, Iran and Egypt are the countries that carried out the most executions in 1998. There is, therefore, an increasing contradiction between the frequent use of the death penalty in the U.S. and the verbal commitment to human rights by U.S. leaders.

Despite the hollowness of the U.S. claim to be a beacon of truth and light throughout the world, U.S. foreign policy depends on trumpeting itself as just such a “leader” in the area of human rights. But if other countries can point to the racism and inequality of the death penalty in the U.S., one of the chief ideological justifications for U.S. intervention around the world is undercut. Moreover, killing abroad – something the U.S. has perfected from Vietnam to Iraq, and now Serbia – is the twin brother of killing at home. The challenge to one might be a challenge to the other.

Shift in public opinion

The Illinois moratorium and similar recent efforts have tapped into – and will in turn deepen – a shift in public opinion. This shift was already underway, but it has been largely hidden from view for the past few years. Diminishing support for the death penalty is no doubt the result of a growing distaste for the gore, racism and errors in its application that have become more visible as the rate of executions has grown. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans on average estimate that 10 percent of all people sentenced to death are innocent – a remarkably high number. [8]

While a majority across the country still supports the death penalty in general, this number has also declined. In the early 1950s, support for the death penalty was quite high at 68 percent. It then fell to its low point of 42 percent in 1966 as the civil rights movement began to shift the political climate. The high point in support for the death penalty came just six years ago at 80 percent. Since then, support has steadily declined to 66 percent – a drop of 14 percentage points. Support for the death penalty has not been this low since 1981. Perhaps more importantly, 28 percent of people today say that they are opposed to capital punishment – almost twice as many as the 16 percent who were opposed only six years ago. The last time more people were opposed to capital punishment was in 1972, when 32 percent opposed it. [9] In addition, support for the death penalty drops to about 50 percent nationally when the option of alternative sentences is offered. In some states, support drops even lower: California, 38 percent; New York, 38 percent; Michigan, 33 percent; New Jersey, 44 percent; Ohio, 31 percent; and Kentucky, 35 percent. In Ohio, 68 percent think that the likelihood of an innocent person being wrongly executed is either somewhat or very likely.

In those places where the death penalty is a subject of public discussion, the decline in support is even more marked than elsewhere in the country. In Texas, with its assembly-line killing machine, only a bare majority of 53 percent supports the death penalty if the death row inmate has “shown signs of turning his or her life around.” Death penalty support dropped significantly in Texas after the execution of Karla Faye Tucker. [10] In Illinois, 81 percent of residents support Gov. Ryan’s decision to call for a moratorium. [11]

Not surprisingly, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Baltimore – the three largest cities that have passed resolutions in favor of a moratorium – have been the site of numerous anti-death penalty protests. Ten thousand people gathered in Philadelphia last year to demand a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s most visible death row inmate. In Illinois, there have been dozens of demonstrations against the death penalty, successful efforts by journalism students to exonerate wrongly convicted death row inmates and protests about the Death Row 10. Five hundred people demonstrated in Chicago for a moratorium after Anthony Porter became the tenth man released from Illinois’ death row. Porter and Darby Tillis, another of the former death row inmates released in Illinois, spoke at the demonstration.

This trend confirms something that anti-death penalty activists have long known: The more people know about the death penalty, the less they support it. This dynamic can only be helped by recent films The Green Mile, The Hurricane and True Crime, and recent episodes of popular TV shows The Practice and The West Wing. Benetton’s “We, On Death Row” advertising campaign also powerfully depicts all of the problems with the death penalty. The popularity of Rage Against the Machine’s latest CD, The Battle of Los Angeles, whose lyrics challenge racism and the death penalty, also reflects a growing mood among young people against the injustice system.

The anti-death penalty position will gain a wider audience as more individual politicians cave in to the pressure generated by closer scrutiny of the death rows in their states. As the stories of racism and innocence on death row get a broader hearing, death penalty supporters will have to work harder to find convincing justifications for capital punishment. And their options are increasingly limited. The pro-death camp has had to abandon, for example, the argument that the death penalty is needed to deter crime – because no credible study has been able to prove this. Some studies even suggest that the death penalty has a “brutalizing” effect on society, which degrades the sanctity of human life. [12] As evidence for this, a recent article in the Arizona Star cited a 1997 study that calculated the murder rate in the 38 states with capital punishment at 6.6 per 100,000. In the 12 other states and the District of Columbia, it was 3.5. What is left to bolster the pro-death penalty case is vengeance and retribution for the sake of the victims’ surviving family members, a comparatively ugly and sadistic justification that many – including many victims’ family members – are repulsed by.

Splits at the top – and building a movement from below

For the first time in decades, a significant fissure in the right-wing consensus around “tough on crime” policies has emerged. The issue of crime first played a major role in mainstream national politics during Richard Nixon’s successful campaign for president in 1968. In an effort to find a way to appeal to racist voters without the open use of racist terms, Nixon began to deploy the rhetoric of “law and order” against the supposed “lawlessness” of the civil rights movement. Nixon wrote, for example, that America was “the most lawless and violent [nation] in the history of free peoples,” which he blamed on the “growing tolerance of lawlessness” by civil rights organizations and “the increasing public acceptance of civil disobedience.” [13] He attacked his Democratic opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, for showing “permissiveness toward the lawless” because Humphrey said, “For every jail Mr. Nixon wants to build, I’d like to build a house for a family.”

Over the years, the Democratic Party – which had succeeded in the past by forging an unholy alliance between Southern “Dixiecrats” and Northern liberals – developed a strategy to “out-Republican” the Republicans on the issue of crime. The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), headed by none other than then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, was the vehicle built within the Democratic Party to drive it to the right. The DLC strategy was simple: Win over the Democrats who voted for Reagan.

In particular, Clinton rode his “tough on crime” credentials into the White House in 1992. Under the Clinton administration, the number of federal crimes punishable by death increased from two to 60. Attorney General Janet Reno has sought the death penalty on an unprecedented scale. Clinton’s success at outflanking Republicans on the crime issue has been emulated by many throughout the Democratic Party. California Gov. Gray Davis beat Republican Attorney General Dan Lungren in 1998 in part by praising the criminal justice practices of the dictatorship in Singapore, which made international headlines after its brutal caning of an American teenager arrested for painting graffiti. “I think Singapore is a good starting point in terms of law and order,” Davis said. “I think there ought to be clear rules. You can’t punish people enough as far as I’m concerned.” After the debate, Davis continued. “We’re just talking about violent crime and the death penalty. I think Singapore has very clear rules. They don’t fool around. There’s virtually no crime. If you don’t like it, get on a plane and go someplace else.” [14]

The drum of law-and-order politics that has been steadily beaten by both parties for more than two decades now has had predictable effects: a relentless drive to build prisons, prosecute, incarcerate and execute. In February, the U.S. incarcerated its two millionth person – making it the largest jailer in the world, responsible for locking up fully 25 percent of the world’s prison population. For these reasons, Gov. Ryan’s decision to impose a moratorium in Illinois is highly significant. The pressure of activists and the intolerable spectacle of a capital punishment machine that reluctantly releases as many innocents from its clutches as it executes combined to force a pro-death penalty Republican to impose the first moratorium in the country. Furthermore, Gov. Ryan heads up the Illinois presidential campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush – who has turned the office of governor into an executioner’s chamber, overseeing more than 120 executions during his term.

Gov. Ryan’s ultimate goal is not to abolish the death penalty, but to save it from its credibility crisis in Illinois. However, the crisis has created a dynamic that Gov. Ryan may not be able to control. While he has established a commission to study Illinois’ death row and “fix” the system, our side can use the time to organize and demonstrate that there is no way to fix the death penalty.

Now that the climate has begun to shift, there is a renewed energy to fight the death penalty on the part of different organizations that have long faced a seemingly uphill battle. Amnesty International, for example, which has a general policy of not allowing its various national sections to address domestic matters, has in recent years made an exception in the case of the U.S. death penalty. Amnesty also recently released a report calling for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, which will help to gain an even wider hearing for his case and bring crucial new forces to his cause at a time when he may be nearing the end of his federal appeals process. The National Writers Union has taken a stand in favor of a new trial for Mumia, distributing an appeal to its membership in defense of Mumia. The Southern Center for Human Rights, headed up by Stephen Bright, has pulled together a coalition of organizations and individuals in Georgia to call for a moratorium in that state.

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty has drafted an Open Letter to President Clinton and Members of Congress, which calls on politicians to support Rep. Jackson’s moratorium bill. By encouraging various well-known individuals – such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins; former Illinois death row prisoners Anthony Porter, Darby Tillis and Perry Cobb; American Bar Association head Ron Tabak; Amnesty International’s Sam Jordan; and Bianca Jagger – to sign the Open Letter, the moratorium movement can develop a more visible national presence. The Campaign, along with other backers of the moratorium, is planning an April 5 press conference in Washington, D.C., to publicize the moratorium push, and is looking to raise enough money to run the open letter, appended with hundreds of signatures, in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. These high-profile activities can be an important complement to building local petitionings, pickets and demonstrations in various cities for the moratorium.

The shift among some politicians who are now willing to do something about capital punishment is a welcome change, and one abolitionists should take advantage of. We can work with individual Democratic politicians who oppose capital punishment in order to help publicize and broaden the level of participation in the struggle for a moratorium. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Democratic Party has a pro-death penalty platform, or that its presidential candidate in the upcoming elections has reaffirmed his support for the death penalty. Clinton pulled back from considering a federal moratorium after he floated a trial balloon on the issue. Instead, he reaffirmed his support for capital punishment, but praised Gov. Ryan, calling on governors to examine the death penalty in their states. This allowed Clinton to put a spotlight on the gruesome records of Republicans like Texas Gov. George W. Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – without having to change his own stance. As the elections approach, activists will be pressured to support Al Gore as the lesser evil to George W. Bush. We have to argue that this strategy certainly didn’t work with Clinton. On the contrary, Clinton took the support coming from his left for granted – and implemented conservative policies. That why we have to build a movement that keeps up the pressure on the politicians to act in our favor.

One way to apply pressure is to demonstrate wherever the presidential candidates appear. In February, Campaign activists held a demonstration outside the Gore-Bradley presidential debate at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in New York City. Gore and Bradley came to Harlem to discuss the issue of race. When an audience member got a chance to ask the candidates about a moratorium, the audience booed as the candidates said that they supported capital punishment. Activists from the Campaign have also dogged Gov. Bush on the campaign trail, crashing his victory party after the Super Tuesday primaries, which came just days after a demonstration of 350 people that surrounded the governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas.

Abolition last time

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment against “cruel and unusual punishment” and the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law. Crucially, the decision focused on the arbitrary, racist and capricious way that capital punishment was implemented, but the Court did not rule that capital punishment itself was unconstitutional. While this was a welcome decision in any case, it came as a shock. Much like Gov. Ryan’s decision to declare a moratorium in Illinois, anti-death penalty activists and lawyers were surprised by the decision. Two liberal justices had recently retired and were replaced by appointees of Republican President Richard Nixon.

The 1972 victory came largely as an indirect product of the civil rights movement. On the one hand, the courts had been forced to give more credence to the problem of discrimination in society as a whole and to the issue of civil rights and civil liberties in the criminal justice system in particular. [15] On the other hand, public opinion had shifted against the death penalty over the previous 10 years as the civil rights movement succeeded in generalizing an awareness of social problems and tens of thousands were galvanized into political activism.

But as far as the death penalty itself was concerned, only one national anti-death penalty organization existed in the early 1970s – and it was largely dormant. The challenge to the death penalty had been mostly relegated to a legal fight waged by lawyers from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund (LDF). The LDF had taken up the issue of the death penalty because it was so frequently sought against Black defendants who had been accused of rape in the South. Although the LDF succeeded in 1972, there was a price for this legalistic approach. “Through most of the moratorium period [1972–76], the majority of citizens and their elected officials had remained rather passive about the issue.” [16] In fact, some “elected officials” were worse than passive. In the effort to find a way to appeal to racist voters, politicians began to deploy Nixon’s law-and-order strategy. So despite the declaration by the U.S. Supreme Court of a moratorium on all executions in the U.S., support for the death penalty climbed from 50 percent to 66 percent of all Americans between 1972 and 1976. [17]

Abolition this time

This time around, a number of factors put us in a favorable position to challenge the death penalty.

For one, a shift in public opinion away from the death penalty is already underway – even before the development of a mass movement like the civil rights movement has dramatically shifted the general political climate. This is due to a number of factors already covered: horror at the growing number of executions, a growing awareness of racism and brutality throughout the criminal justice system and the class inequality that underlies the death penalty.

The moratorium in Illinois has given enormous credibility to anti-death penalty activists who have long argued that the death penalty kills innocent people. This victory was won in large part by the efforts of activists who would not allow the system’s obvious failings to be forgotten as easily as death penalty supporters would have liked. Now, this victory stands as a model to be emulated elsewhere. Even with relatively small numbers of activists, the climate is one in which it may be possible to abolish the death penalty – much as the women’s rights movement won abortion rights in the early 1970s. Though the largest abortion rights demonstration in the country was no more than 10,000 people, there were hundreds of smaller protests across the country. Together, these pushed the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of a woman’s right to choose in 1973. [18]

Today, anti-death penalty activists have an opportunity to repeat this example. And while the participation of high-profile celebrities and politicians is welcome, abolishing the death penalty will require far more: the building of an active, grassroots movement.

The “line ’em up and kill ’em” approach to the death penalty is for the first time reeling from its own failures. The criminal justice system cannot justify a death penalty that frees as many people as it kills. Now is the time to mobilize and use the fight for a moratorium as a stepping-stone in the fight for total abolition. Whether or not the death penalty is scrapped in the U.S. will depend on the organized action of thousands of people who are determined to win.

* * *


1. A Timeout on the Death Penalty, New York Times, February 1, 2000.

2. Feingold Right: Death Penalty Wrong, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 3, 2000.

3. D. Baldus, G. Woodworth and C. Pulaski, Equal Justice and the Death Penalty: A Legal and Empirical Analysis (Evanston, Ill.: Northeastern University Press, 1990), cited in Amnesty International, Killing with Prejudice: Race and Death Penalty in the USA <www.amnestyusa.org/rightsforall/dp/race/race-3.html> (as of March 17, 2000).

4. Stanley Howard: Without all of you, we only have half a chance, The New Abolitionist, February 2000, p. 6. The New Abolitionist is the bimonthly publication of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. It is an excellent source of information about the struggle against the death penalty – including regular contributions by death row inmates from across the country. The Campaign also has a useful Web site at www.nodeathpenalty.org.

5. Amnesty International, Killing with Prejudice.

6. Norma Love, N.H. House Votes Down Death Penalty, Associated Press, March 10, 2000.

7. Death Penalty Information Center <www.essential.org/dpic/history3.html#FederalDeathPenaltyLegislation> (as of February 18, 2000).

8. Gallup Poll Fast Facts, February 13–14, 2000 <www.gallup.com/poll/fastfacts.asp>.

9. Support for Death Penalty Drops to Lowest Level in 19 Years, Although Still High at 66%, Gallup Poll <www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr000224.asp> (as of March 1, 2000).

10. Death Penalty Information Center, Public Opinion About the Death Penalty <http://www.essential.org/dpic/po.html> (as of March 17, 2000).

11. Poll conducted by Copley news service, cited in Springfield State-Journal Register, February 9, 2000.

12. Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, How Have Homicide Rates Been Affected by California’s Death Penalty?, April 1995, pp. 2–3, and Bowers and Pierce, Deterrence or Brutalization: What is the Effect of Executions?, 26 Crime and Delinquency 453 (1980), cited in Death Penalty Information Center, Facts About Deterrence and the Death Penalty <www.essential.org/dpic/deter.html>.

13. Nixon cited in Phil Gasper, Cruel and Unusual Punishment in the United States, International Socialism 66, p. 63.

14. Davis, Lungren slug it out in debate, San Francisco Examiner, August 1, 1998.

15. Herbert Haines, Against Capital Punishment: The Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972–1994 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 40. Many judicial victories for the civil rights movement were won in the decade preceding the Furman v. Georgia decision, which declared the death penalty unconstitutional. These include the right to legal counsel, the right against self-incrimination, protection from the use of illegally obtained evidence by prosecutors and the right to be promptly informed of rights upon arrest (today known as Miranda rights).

16. Haines, Against Capital Punishment, p. 44.

17. Support for Death Penalty Drops to Lowest Level in 19 Years, Although Still High at 66%, previously cited Gallup Poll.

18. Sharon Smith, Abortion: Every Woman’s Right (Chicago: Bookmarks, 1992), pp. 15–17.

Last updated on 27 0ctober 2021