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Death Penalty Overview

NACDL on the Death Penalty

NACDL opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and supports reforms to ensure that innocent persons are not executed. Purely retributive in nature — countless studies show that it does not deter crime — the death penalty is unjust, uncivilized, and inconsistent with the fallibility of our justice system. Since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1973, more than 1,040 people have been executed in the United States. During the same time, more than 120 people sentenced to death have been exonerated. Many others have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment because of serious doubts about their guilt. And some have been tragically executed despite serious questions concerning their innocence.

Because we believe that no amount of tinkering will rescue the death penalty from its inherent flaws, NACDL supports legislation to abolish the death penalty. In addition, NACDL supports individual state efforts to halt and study the death penalty as well as federal legislation to institute a moratorium. NACDL's Board Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on and Abolition of the Death Penalty.

In addition, NACDL's January 2012 National Advocacy Call on Developing Legislation featuring a discussion on death penalty moratorium reform efforts around the country. For more information on the National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation please click here.

Update

October 2018, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously declared the state’s death penalty unconstitutional, calling it “arbitrary and racially biased,” making it the 20th state to abolish the death penalty.

In a 6-2 decision handed down on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, the Supreme Court reversed a death sentence for a man in Texas.  The Supreme Court found that when race was infused into the proceedings it acknowledged that a capital sentence could not be enforced due to flawed testimony. Read the decision here.

"The death penalty is barbaric. And I think we as a society need to come face-to-face with that. If we’re not willing to face up to the cruelty, we ought not be doing it."
 
- Alex Kozinski, United State Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit
 

90 Million Strong Campaign

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 NACDL joined the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and a national coalition of civil rights, human rights, religious and pro-liberty groups for the launch of the 90 Million Strong Campaign.  The Campaign signifies the 90 Million Americans who believe that the death penalty is wrong.

NACDL Executive Director, Norman L. Reimer expressed in his remarks at the launch of the campaign, “The practice of government-sponsored execution has no place in the modern criminal justice system...It produces arbitrary, sometimes irrational outcomes, and it perpetuates racial and ethnic disparity.”

To learn more, visit “90 Million Strong Campaign.” 

Gallup Poll - "U.S. Death Penalty Support Lowest in More Than 40 Years"   

Death Penalty bedIn addition, NACDL's January 2012 National Advocacy Call on Developing Legislation featuring a discussion on death penalty moratorium reform efforts around the country.  For more information on the National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation please click here.

 

See NACDL Executive Director, Norman L. Reimer's interview about why he is opposed to the death penalty.  

 

 
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