The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Impending Execution In Utah Highlights Need To Abolish Death Penalty, Says ACLU

Execution By Firing Squad Inhumane, Brings Needed Attention To Death Penalty's Systemic Injustices


The impending execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who is slated to be put
to death by firing squad early Friday barring a last minute stay from
the U.S. Supreme Court, highlights the inhumanity of the death penalty
system in the United States, according to the American Civil Liberties
Union. The execution of Gardner, who will be strapped into a chair,
have a hood placed over his head and a small white target pinned over
his heart before five anonymous men fire at him with identical .30
caliber rifles, will be the third death sentence carried out by firing
squad since 1976, and the first since 1996.

The state of Utah has executed just six people in the last 35 years,
and currently there are only 10 people on the state's death row.

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

"Gardner's execution will be both savage and inhumane. However, we
cannot allow it to shroud the systemic injustices and inequities that
plague the entire death penalty system in Utah and the rest of the
United States. Those who are executed in this country are casualties of
an unequal system of justice, in which decisions about who lives and
who dies are largely dependent upon the skill of their attorneys, the
race of their victim, their socioeconomic status and where the crime
took place. Such arbitrary and discriminatory administration of the
death penalty is the very definition of a failed system."

The following can be attributed to Marina Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Utah:

"Utah's taxpayers are wasting millions of dollars every year to prop up
a system in which a few randomly selected individuals receive the death
penalty. Instead, we can condemn the worst offenders to permanent
imprisonment, a severe, swift, certain and much more cost-effective
punishment that serves our shared priorities of punishing offenders and
protecting society."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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