Montana Death Penalty Informational Website Launched

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana
June 29, 2007 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Montana
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

HELENA, MT – On the 35th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Furman v. Georgia, which declared the death penalty unconstitutional, the Montana Abolition Coalition is proud to announce the official launch of its website at http://www.mtabolitionco.org.

On June 29, 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments. Justice Potter Stewart wrote that the Court could not tolerate “the infliction of a sentence of death under legal systems that permit this unique penalty to be so wantonly and so freakishly imposed.”

Over the last 35 years, 37 states have re-instituted the death penalty, including Montana; but states continue to struggle with enacting a fair criminal justice system. Today, race of the victim, sex, and socio-economic status continue to be factors which influence whether a person receives a sentence of death for a capital crime. DNA and dedicated research have uncovered 124 individuals wrongfully convicted of capital crimes and placed on death row in 25 states. Earlier this year, the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty released a new report entitled, “Shouting from the Rooftops,” the stories of four innocent men convicted and executed in America.

Nationally, Americans struggle with the inequalities inherent in capital punishment. A nationwide poll released last week by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that provides analysis on capital punishment, found that 58 percent want a national moratorium on executions.

Earlier this year, the Montana Senate passed SB 306, a bill to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without the possibility of parole. The bill was ultimately tabled in the Montana House Judiciary Committee by a margin of one vote.

The Montana Abolition Coalition is comprised of the Montana Advocacy Program, Montana Association of Churches, Montana Catholic Conference, Montana Human Rights Network, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing, the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, Amnesty International, and Equal Justice USA.

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