Death Penalty

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3095 people in the United States currently are under a death sentence. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 1369 men, women, children, and mentally ill people have been shot, hanged, asphyxiated, lethally injected, and electrocuted by States and the federal government.

Mounting evidence shows that innocent people have been sentenced to death and that serious legal errors infect the administration of capital punishment. For every ten people executed in this country, one innocent person on death row has been identified and exonerated. In response to growing concerns about reliability, many states have suspended executions or experienced a decline in the use of capital punishment, but most southern states have continued to condemn and execute large numbers of people who disproportionately are poor and racial minorities.

Alabama currently has 192 men and women on its death row. Alabama sentences more people to death per capita than any other state, due in part to elected judges who are allowed to override a jury’s verdict of life. Alabama is the only state in the country that allows elected state court judges to override jury verdicts of life imprisonment and impose death sentences without strict limiting standards. Nearly 20 percent of the people on Alabama's death row received a life verdict that was overridden by a trial judge.

Alabama is also the only state in the country without a state-funded program to provide legal assistance to death row prisoners. Nearly half of the people currently under sentence of death in Alabama were represented at trial by appointed counsel whose compensation for trial preparation was capped by law at just $1000.


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