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Amnesty International: US Supreme Court's Lethal Injection Ruling Has 'Limited Long-Term Impact'

April 16, 2008
12:01 PM

CONTACT: Amnesty International
Wende Gozan at 212/633-4247
or Brian Evans at 202/544-0200 x496

US Supreme Court's Lethal Injection Ruling Has 'Limited Long-Term Impact' Says Amnesty International
Human Rights Organization Calls 'Preoccupation With Lethal Injection' a 'Distraction' From Problems That Plague the Death Penalty System

NEW YORK - April 16 - Larry Cox, executive director for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), made the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Baze v. Rees, which challenged the constitutionality of Kentucky's lethal injection protocols:

"Today's ruling, while of some consequence to Kentucky, will have limited long-term impact on the rest of the country given the intense death penalty debate that is rising in the United States. Botched executions have given rise to questions about the constitutionality of lethal injection in several states. This is not an issue that will go away anytime soon. We can anticipate a flurry of further litigation as states fiddle with execution protocols in an attempt to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. It is likely, if not inevitable, that we will see the U.S. Supreme Court grapple with similar issues again in the near future.

"Ultimately, the preoccupation with lethal injection is nothing more than a distraction from the myriad problems currently plaguing the death penalty system. Incompetent counsel, prosecutorial misconduct and racial, class and geographic bias are just the tip of the iceberg in a system that is flawed at its very core. Add to the mix the growing realization that innocent people have been convicted, and may well have been executed, and more and more people are becoming uncomfortable with a system that is costly, ineffective and inefficient.

"Death sentences are at their lowest since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. New Jersey's recent abolition of the death penalty and the current legislative debates in Maryland and Nebraska on repeal of the death penalty further demonstrate eroding support for this punishment."


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