FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 12, 2017
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Urges Arkansas Governor to Halt Post-Easter Executions
Contact: Diann Rust-Tierney
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) calls on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to halt the planned mass executions of seven men in eleven days. The executions are set to begin the day after Easter.
"This is reckless behavior- no state has executed this many people in such a short time span since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976 .” said Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
There is no justification for proceeding this way. These men do not pose a threat to public safety. To the contrary, the only argument advanced is one of convenience. “When, life and liberty literally hang in the balance—arguments of convenience must be met with great skepticism and here with vigorous opposition.
This is Government and governing at its worst.” said Rust-Tierney. Each of the men set to be executed has a compelling argument that they should not be facing execution. Each eithersuffers from severe mental disabilities and/or the effects of devastating trauma at a very early age. The fact that these men are facing execution at all, given their tragic histories, is more evidence of the woefully inadequate legal representation they received.
There is no clamor for these executions in this way. To the contrary, most people of conscience and faith in this country and abroad are repulsed and appalled.
This reaction mirrors a steady decline in support for the death penalty overall and increased opposition. Nationwide, support for the death penalty has declined from its peak of about 80% support in 1994. A Pew Research Center poll last September found that less than half of Americans (49%) favored the death penalty and 42% opposed it. Most people don’t live in places where the death penalty is used or where executions are common.
Until, now Arkansans could count themselves calmly among them. Arkansas’s last execution was over a decade ago. This is a perfect storm for catastrophe: men who likely should not be facing death and assembly- line killing thatwe know led to a notoriously botched execution in Oklahoma in 2014.
We urge the Governor to change his course.
If these executions go forward as planned, we are certain of this: Arkansas will have killed seven men in eleven days traumatizing people and families including those working in, with and around the prison. They will have traumatized the nation and the world forced to witness this shameful spectacle. Not one person in Arkansas will be safer than they were before the terrible episode began. But we will all be poorer in spirit and our collective humanity degraded because of it.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty. We are comprised of an extensive network representing more than 100 state and national affiliate organizations and thousands of advocates and volunteers. Our members include families of murder victims, people across the political and religious spectrum, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial justice organizations working to end the death penalty forever.
In January 2014, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched the 90 Million Strong Campaign to partner with and mobilize a growing number of national organizations and individuals who believe that it is time for the death penalty to end.