Blog of Rights

Joining the Movement: Congress Takes Action to Abolish Federal Death Penalty

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:27pm

It's been more than a week now since the execution of Troy Davis. Protesters may no longer be standing vigil and the story may no longer be making front-page headlines. But one thing is certain: millions of Americans' eyes have been opened to the injustice of the death penalty system in this country — and we aren't going to forget.

Davis was executed last week in Georgia, despite serious concerns that he was wrongly convicted in 1989 of killing of a police officer. His story garnered international media attention. The world watched until the final moments when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his last-minute stay of execution.

Many of us have responded to Davis' execution by taking action this week, calling on our leaders to abolish the death penalty once and for all. Observers speculate that the Davis case will reignite the movement to abolish the death penalty — a silver lining in what is otherwise a tragic example of a failing justice system.

Congress took action last week, too, by introducing a bill to abolish the death penalty under federal law. This bill would prevent federal courts from sentencing anyone to death and though it does not officially impact state courts, it may influence them. Currently, there are 58 people on federal death row who have been convicted and sentenced in federal courts.

Our justice system is broken and has previously sentenced 138 wrongfully convicted people to die. We know we will never have a perfect system, and we can't accept a process that allows for the execution of an innocent person.

There has never been a better time join the movement and protect innocent lives. Contact your representative and express your support of H.R. 3051 to abolish the death penalty under federal law. Or take action to end the death penalty in your state now.

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