WASHINGTON -- May 11 -- The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty today called on Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell to halt Fridays scheduled execution of Michael Ross due to concerns about the fairness of his trial and whether a mentally ill person should ever be subject to the death penalty.
According to the states own expert witness, Ross is mentally ill, said Diann Rust-Tierney, NCADP executive director. Clearly this should never have been a death penalty case. People who are mentally ill should not be subject to execution. Connecticuts last execution occurred in May 1960. Of the five New England states, only two Connecticut and New Hampshire allow the death penalty, but New Hampshire has no one on death row and has not executed anyone since 1939. The last executions in Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont took place in 1947, 1885 and 1954, respectively.
Nationwide, the number of death sentences in 2004 fell to 125, the lowest number since 1977, the first full year since death penalty statutes were approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1976 Gregg v. Georgia ruling. Death sentences are down for a variety of reasons, Rust-Tierney said. The public is increasingly becoming aware that alternatives exist for ensuring public safety. In addition, Americans are growing ever more concerned that innocent people are being sent to death row and that the death penalty is disproportionately meted out on the basis of race, geography and the quality of ones legal representation.
Rust-Tierney said NCADP members and supporters have been asked to take action against Rosss execution by visiting NCADPs action center at www.ncadp.org
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was founded in 1976 and is the only fully-staffed national organization devoted specifically to abolishing the death penalty. NCADP is comprised of more than 100 local, state, national and international affiliates.