News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Blasts Retrograde Trump Rhetoric on Death Penalty

Washington, DC (Mar. 19, 2018) – In New Hampshire this afternoon, the president made clear his view about the importance of harsh penalties, including the death penalty for "big pushers," as a tool in the fight against public health problem of drug addiction.

"Against a backdrop of inappropriate praise for authoritarian regimes, including their extrajudicial killings of those suspected of selling illegal drugs, the president today again advocated for reversing the decades-long trend in America away from the misguided and perverse practice of capital punishment," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Rick Jones. "Unfortunately, the president’s policy proposals on education and treatment to address this devastating public health crisis were largely overshadowed by his support for capital punishment. Until now, our nation’s collective approach to opioids has been a welcome change from the damage caused by the ‘War on Drugs.’ We must similarly work to ensure that the death penalty is also a thing of the past."

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, from its modern peak in 1999, the number of death sentences has been dramatically declining. The total number of states that have abolished the death penalty is up to 19, plus the District of Columbia. Since 1973, there have been some 161 death row exonerations.

Because NACDL believes 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 has steadfastly called for the abolition of the death penalty and is part of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.