ABA Panel Finds Executions In Indiana 'Random'

Florida Commission
Recommends Changes to
Lethal Injection Process
ABA Panel Finds Executions in Indiana ‘Random’

The Indiana Death Penalty Assessment Team, under the auspices of the American Bar Association, has called for a halt to executions in the state because of concerns about the arbitrariness of the state’s death penalty. “The seemingly random process of charging decisions, plea agreements, and jury recommendations is just part of a death penalty system that has aptly been called Indiana’s ‘other lottery’,” the group noted in its report. The seven-member Indiana panel was organized by the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, and it found that the state’s death penalty system is in compliance with only 10 of the 79 protocols that the ABA adopted in 2001 to better ensure that capital punishment is applied fairly.

The assessment team, which included former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan and other experts representing a variety of perspectives on the issue, concluded that Indiana’s death penalty system is broken. Among the group’s main concerns were:

  • racial disparities in the state’s capital sentencing system
  • the risks to innocent lives
  • the lack of an independent authority to appoint defense attorneys in capital cases
  • significant captial juror confusion.

To address these and other findings, the team issued 12 recommendations, such as:

  • banning the execution of those with mental illness
  • requiring law enforcement to record all interrogations
  • adopting tougher qualifications and monitoring procedures for attorneys in capital cases
  • ensuring that those facing execution have adequate opportunities to prove their innocence.

“We want to make sure that our system is fair and that there are guidelines in terms of how sentences are put out and that the death penalty is reserved for those that we would consider the worst of the worst,” Kernan said. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has said he would review the report. (Associated Press, February 24, 2007).
Indiana is one of 16 states where ABA-appointed assessment teams have been established and asked to review capital punishment procedures to see whether they comply with minimum standards of fairness and due process. Read the full Indiana Report. See the Executive Summary. Read more about the members of the Indiana Death Penalty Assessment Team. See also, Studies and Representation.