NCADP Death Penalty Update

NCADP Death Penalty Update - April 2005 Issue


Diann Rust-Tierney in Alaska

NCADP Executive Director Diann Rust-Tierney recently delivered the keynote address before a meeting of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty and members of the Alaska Trial Lawyers Association. Diann was asked to discuss how she came to be a lawyer involved in social justice work, the current debate over the death penalty and challenges we face in the immediate future.

"We are advancing on every front," Diann said. "Opposition to the death penalty and abolition is no longer an idea on the margins. It is moving squarely to the middle of American politics. We have advanced in the courts. We have advanced in the state legislatures. We have advanced in the public opinion arena. We hold the upper hand in the cultural expression of society's feelings toward the death penalty ."

To read the entire speech, go here:

And Jotaka Eaddy in Geneva

While Diann traveled west, Jotaka Eaddy, NCADP's Domestic Program Coordinator, traveled east to Geneva to represent NCADP before the United Nations. Each spring for five weeks, the U.N. Human Rights Commission meets in Geneva to discuss and debate human rights issues. This past year, NCADP for the first time in its 29-year history was granted ECOSOC status by the United Nations. This means NCADP is allowed to present testimony before the body with regard to the death penalty as a human rights violation.

During her trip to Geneva last year, Eaddy personally lobbied diplomats from 31 different countries as well as U.N. staff and representatives from nonprofit organizations from around the world. Her efforts contributed to the U.N. Human Rights Commission's decision to issue even stronger language than it had previously against the execution of juvenile offenders. International opposition to the juvenile death penalty was one factor cited by the U.S. Supreme Court when it outlawed the practice last month.

NEWS Catholics launch effort around death penalty

Many of the world's estimated one billion Catholics - and people from all spiritual walks of life - are mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. During his papacy, the Catholic Church moved away from its 1,500-year history of strongly supporting the right of government to execute its citizens.

Just weeks before the pope's passing, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to announce a renewed campaign at the grassroots level to effectively end capital punishment in the United States.

The Bishops released a poll showing 48 percent of U.S. Catholics in favor of the death penalty -- down sharply from several years ago. In addition, the majority of Catholics who "strongly favor" the death penalty is at 20 percent -- down a whopping 20 points from 2001. And the poll found that younger Catholics are sharply opposed to the death penalty and 30 percent of Catholics who once favored capital punishment now oppose it. To learn more about the "Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty," go here:


Santorum rethinking support for death penalty

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, one of the leading conservatives in the U.S. Senate, is rethinking his support for the death penalty. The day after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced their campaign, Santorum told a newspaper in his state that he is concerned about who receives the death penalty and whether it is administered fairly.

"I felt very troubled about cases where someone may have been convicted wrongly," Santorum told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "DNA evidence definitely should be used when possible. I agree with the pope that in the civilized world ... the application of the death penalty should be limited. I would definitely agree with that. I would certainly suggest there probably should be some further limits on what we use it for."


The U.S. Supreme Court is again on recess. No opinions will be released until at least Tuesday, April 19.

RESOURCES Courtesy of the Death Penalty Information Center, we learn of a new book that takes a comprehensive look at the conditions that resulted in 12 states not having capital punishment.

"America Without the Death Penalty: States Leading the Way" looks at factors such as economic conditions, public sentiment, mass media, population diversity, murder rates, and the regional history of executions that led to abolition in those states. The book's authors, Professors John F. Galliher, Larry W. Koch, David Patrick Keys, and Teresa J. Guess, provide an in-depth look at the nine jurisdictions that have banned the death penalty through legislative action and the three states that have banned it through court decisions. They also examine Washington, D.C., where residents have battled against Congressional efforts to reinstate capital punishment.

The book may be purchased at www.amazon.com


There's a new, anti-death penalty blog in town. http://www.meetvernon.blogspot.com provides a look at Vernon Evans, a person on Maryland's death row. Vernon was scheduled for execution this month, but received a stay. http://www.meetvernon.blogspot.com offers readers a chance to write Vernon and ask him about life on death row.

To learn more about Vernon's case - including information about rallies that will take place this week in Baltimore and in Takoma Park, Maryland, please visit http://www.stopexecutionsinmaryland.org

Meanwhile, if you or your affiliate has a story you'd like to tell about the death penalty, write David Elliot at delliot@ncadp.org

We'll put your story on http://www.deathpenaltyusa.blogspot.com which is NCADP's blog. Since this blog was launched last June, we've received more than 11,000 visitors!


As of this writing, seven executions are scheduled for the month of April, including a double execution set to take place in Texas on Wednesday, April 20. Go here to protest these executions: http://www.ncadp.org/execution_alerts.html


NCADP's e@bolitionist listserv now contains more than 12,000 email addresses and has doubled in size since last September! But we need to continue to significantly expand our paid membership in order to build a powerful state and national movement. We need YOUR support! If you have never joined NCADP but believe, as we do, that the death penalty violates the most basic principle of human rights, please consider becoming a member today!



NCADP 2005, NCADP's annual conference, will take place in Austin, Texas Oct. 27-30. This year's conference will emphasize grassroots mobilization and training like never before! Please keep an eye on our web site at http://www.ncadp.org, for details as they emerge. The conferece will be at the Hyatt Regendy on Town Lake. For reservations, call 512-477-1234. Tell them you're with NCADP to get the special conference rate!


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April 2005

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