End the Death Penalty: Statement of John Holdridge, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project

June 14, 2007

John Holdridge, Director,
ACLU Capital Punishment Project

The United States is the only advanced Western democracy that does not view capital punishment as a profound human rights violation and as a frightening abuse of governmental power. It is now obvious that the U.S.'s capital punishment process: (1) is fraught with error; (2) discriminates on the basis of socioeconomic status, race, and geography; (3) is arbitrary and capricious, including its use against the mentally ill; (4) costs taxpayers more than life imprisonment without release; (5) does nothing to protect people from crime; (6) seriously harms the survivors of homicide victims; (7) is plagued by the worst, not the best of American lawyering; and (8) greatly diminishes the worldwide stature of the United States and its ability to work to end human rights violations in other countries.

The ACLU Capital Punishment Project is part of the growing national movement [1] fighting for the end of the death penalty by supporting moratorium and repeal movements through public education and advocacy. We are engaged in systemic reform of the death penalty process, and case-specific litigation highlighting some of its fundamental flaws. We work to save lives and to protect and expand the rights of capital defendants. Please join us.

— John Holdridge
Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project

1. The end of capital punishment has already begun. Death sentences averaged about 300 per year in the 1990s. In this decade, however, the number has been steadily declining: 140 death sentences in 2004; 138 in 2005; 121 in 2006; 115 in 2007; 111 in 2008; and an estimated 106 in 2009.

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