The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Will Matthews, (212) 549-2582 or 2666;

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

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


execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who was put to death by firing squad
early Friday, highlights the inhumanity and inequity of the death
penalty system in the United States, according to the American Civil
Liberties Union. The execution of Gardner, who was strapped into a
chair, had a hood placed over his head and a small white target pinned
over his heart before five anonymous men fired at him with identical
.30 caliber rifles, was the third death sentence carried out by firing
squad since 1976, and the first since 1996.

The state of Utah has executed just
seven people in the last 35 years, and currently there are only nine
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 was both savage
and inhumane and highlights the systemic injustices 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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