Washington, D.C. – 5/13/15 - “Today we finally have a complete picture of what took place leading up to and during the execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma one year ago. The portrait is not only gruesome and inhumane but also disturbing that officials made decisions about administering the death penalty based on politics. Until today, we might have been able to take false comfort in the idea that what happened was an unfortunate but uniquely haphazard series of events.
However, now we know the events were the result of a pattern of arrogance, negligence, incompetence and a lack of transparency that occurs when government is operating at its worst:
- Unqualified, untrained personnel making life and death decisions;
- State secrecy laws, that protect government officials from oversight and accountability;
- Good and well-meaning public servants corrupted as they are pulled deeper into the nightmare of doing the impossible: killing another human being; and
- Corrections staff making important legal and moral decisions about the death penalty undermined by uninformed and incorrect political considerations.
The death penalty is an increasingly outmoded and disfavored practice that does not enhance public safety. Here are the facts:
- The murder rate is lowest in the Northeast — the region with the lowest number of executions. By contrast, the South carries out the most executions of any region, and has the highest murder rate in the United States.
- In 2014, there were only 72 new death sentences nationwide; 80% of the 35 executions that took place in 2014 took place in just three states (Texas, Florida and Missouri).
- The Pew Research Center found that public support for the death penalty is at a 40-year low at just 56% and opposition to the death penalty has increased to 38%. Moreover, public support shifts easily away when presented with alternatives.
We renew the call for an immediate halt to all executions and urge all citizens of conscience and goodwill to join us in this effort.”
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has created the 90 Million Strong Campaign to unite the voices of those who believe the death penalty is wrong. We need to demonstrate that the broad public support to end this practice is already here in America, and 90 million people speaking up can make a difference.