Thursday, March 19, 2009

Feingold Reintroduces Bill To Abolish Federal Death Penalty

March 19, 20093:11 PM

Zach Lowe or Katie Rowley - (202) 224-8657

Feingold Reintroduces Bill To Abolish Federal Death Penalty

Feingold’s Longtime Effort Comes as New Mexico Repeals Death Penalty

WASHINGTON - March 19 - As momentum builds in states to abolish the death penalty, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold reintroduced legislation today to abolish the death penalty at the federal level. Feingold's Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2009 would put an immediate halt to federal executions and forbid the use of the death penalty as a sentence for violations of federal law. The use of the death penalty has been questioned by a range of prominent voices across the country, recently repealed in New Mexico and New Jersey, and abolished by 123 countries around the world. Feingold's bill would stop executions on the federal level, which are part of a death penalty system that has proven to be ineffective, wrought with racial disparities, and alarmingly costly.

"I oppose the death penalty because it is inconsistent with basic American principles of justice, liberty and equality," Feingold said. "Governor Bill Richardson and the New Mexico legislature's action to abolish the death penalty in that state adds to the growing momentum behind ending the death penalty in this country. It is truly unfortunate that we are in a shrinking minority of countries that continue to allow state-sponsored executions."

Feingold is not alone in his opposition to the death penalty. A range of prominent voices have questioned the system in recent years, including former FBI Director William Sessions, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, law enforcement officials and many others across the political spectrum. In 2007, only China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan executed more people than the United States.

In 2007, Feingold chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee, Constitution Subcommittee hearing on oversight of the federal death penalty that highlighted the lack of transparency at the Department of Justice in the decision-making process about the death penalty and continuing problems of racial disparities in the federal system. Also in 2007, the American Bar Association called for a nationwide moratorium on capital punishment based on its detailed study of state death penalty systems, which found racial disparities, convictions based on bad evidence, grossly inadequate indigent defense systems, and a host of other problems with the implementation of capital punishment in this country.
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