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Death Penalty No. 220

Adopted 1995

Reaffirmed 1996

Reaffirmed 1997

Amended 1999

Amended 2000

Amended 2002
Amended 2005
Amended 2006
Reaffirmed 2007
         Americans for Democratic Action opposes the death penalty on moral grounds. Yet, even for those who are not morally opposed, certain facts should give pause to supporters of the death penalty:
  1. Studies consistently show that the death penalty has not been a deterrent to crime. States with the highest murder rates also have high death penalty rates.
  2. The race and social status of both the accused and the victim and unequal access to an effective defense frequently are the hidden factors in the imposition of the death penalty. A majority of death sentences in this country involve white victims. Additionally, very few people on death row could afford to hire a qualified attorney.
  3. Later investigation and DNA evidence have proven that many innocent people have been convicted of capital offenses. However, after the death penalty has been carried out, error cannot be reversed. In the last three decades, over a hundred death row inmates in numerous states were found to be innocent and released from death row.
  4. The death penalty frequently prevents extradition to the United States of people accused of capital offenses abroad.
  5. For all these reasons, ADA affirms its opposition to the death penalty, and celebrates the enactment of the Innocence Protection Act which (a) ensures that defendants in capital cases receive competent legal representation and due process at every stage in their case, and (b) ensures that death row inmates have a meaningful opportunity to raise claims of innocence based on newly discovered evidence.
  6. We encourage all states and the Federal government to ban the death penalty.
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  8. No. 220 Political and Governmental Commission