NEW VOICES: Florida League of Women Voters Calls for Halt to Executions

The League of Women Voters of Florida is urging Governor Charlie Crist to continue the moratorium on executions and to consider alternative sentences. In a letter from Florida League President Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti to Governor Crist, the organization noted that concerns about fairness, innocence, costs, and public safety have led them to question the value of capital punishment. In their call for a moratorium, the League stated:

Dear Governor Crist:

The League of Women Voters of Florida was greatly heartened when Florida followed the lead of other states in declaring a moratorium on the death penalty.

We believe, as do many in the developed world, that the death penalty is a violation of human rights, and our state should not participate in this process.

The Florida moratorium was primarily adopted due to reports that the methods used to execute the prisoners are not humane and that individuals actually suffer during the ordeal. Other facts, however, should be considered concerning the overall efficacy of capital punishment in Florida:     First, there exists a possibility that the person sentenced to death is innocent. Too often, those executed are from poor families, under-educated, or from a minority group.

In addition, studies have shown that states without the death penalty have murder rates as low or lower than states with the death penalty.

Furthermore, other studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter criminal behavior.

Finally, studies have shown that the cost to the state for a prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment is less than the cost of a prisoner sentenced to death.

We respectfully request that you as Governor declare a permanent moratorium and make use of other sentencing methods to ensure public safety.

Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti,

(League of Women Voters of Florida, Letter to Governor Charlie Crist, May 28, 2007). See

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NEW VOICES: Victims Organizations Issue Joint Statement for National Victims' Rights Week

Three organizations whose memberships include family members of murder victims recently issued a joint statement in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which takes place April 22 - 28, 2007. The statement, issued by the leaders of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, and Journey of Hope, called for governmental policies that serve the true needs of family members. The groups called for an end to the death penalty, noting that alternatives to capital punishment "provide the certainty and punishment that many families need while keeping our communities safe."

Their statement read:

April 22 – 28, 2007 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The theme for this year is “Victims’ Rights: Every Victim, Every Time.” As victims, and survivors, we strongly support efforts to ensure that the needs of victims’ don’t fall through the cracks or fall prey to politics.

The death penalty does not serve victims’ families. It draws resources away from needed support programs, law enforcement and crime prevention. And the trials and appeals endlessly re-open wounds as they are beginning to heal, and it only creates more families who lose loved ones to killing.

Alternatives to the death penalty provide the certainty and punishment that many families need while keeping our communities safe. Critically, alternatives ensure attention is cast where it is needed most – on the survivors – and not on sensational trials or suspects.

As murder victim family members we also share the same concerns as other Americans with the death penalty. We are concerned about innocent people being sentenced to death, about racial and economic disparities and about arbitrariness. But for us the stakes are higher because an innocent person might be executed in a misguided attempt to give us justice. Losing one innocent life to murder is one too many, the taking of another innocent life because of the first is beyond comprehension.

Those who argue for the death penalty often claim to do so on behalf of us, the victims’ families. They say it will give us “closure.” We don’t want the death penalty, and closure is a myth. Every victim, every time needs help, understanding, resources, and support. We don’t need more killing.

Since 1981, the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crimes has helped lead communities throughout the country in their observances of

National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW)

. Rallies, candlelight vigils, and a host of commemorative activities are held each year to promote victims' rights and to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.

(MVFHR, MVFR, and Journey of Hope Statement, April 19, 2007). See

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NEW RESOURCE: Religion and the Death Penalty Web Page

The Death Penalty Information Center's new Religion and the Death Penalty Web page is now available online. In recent years, a growing number of religious organizations have participated in the nation's death penalty debate. The purpose of this new Web page is to provide access to information regarding the efforts of these faith groups and to highlight recent developments related to religion and the death penalty. The page features official religious statements on the death penalty from nearly 20 denominations, including a dozen branches of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It also includes polling information and a broad spectrum of articles and opinions concerning the death penalty from a religious point of view. Visit DPIC's new Religion and the Death Penalty Web page in our Resources Section. Comments and suggestions are welcome. (Posted Feb.  26, 2007).



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Third World Congress Against the Death Penalty

The Third World Congress Against the Death Penalty took place in Paris from February 1-3, 2007. During this time, Paris welcomed hundreds of death penalty experts and activists from around the world, including numerous U.S. representatives who provided a broad overview of capital punishment trends in the U.S. Among the American panelists who participated in the Congress were:

  • George Kendall, Special Counsel, Holland & Knight, LLP
  • Richard Dieter, DPIC Executive Director
  • Frank Baumgartner, Political Science Professor & Researcher, Penn State University
  • Hugo Bedau, Professor Emeritus, Tufts University
  • Renny Cushing, Murder Victims Families for Human Rights
  • Dr. Jonathan Groner, Professor of Clinical Surgery, The Ohio State University
  • Robin Maher, Capital Representation Project Director, American Bar Association
  • Sam Millsap, Former Bexar County (TX) District Attorney
  • David Bruck, Director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse at Washington & Lee School of Law and Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel
  • Rick Halperin, Professor, Southern Methodist University and Amnesty International

In addition to addressing topics related to the U.S. death penalty, the Paris gathering focused on the Maghreb and the Middle East, where countries have been slow to abandon or reform capital punishment.

Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM) and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty coordinated the Congress. This was the third world gathering in recent years. Earlier gatherings took place in Strasbourg and Montreal.

Read Richard Dieter's presentation and see the visuals from his address.

Read the Final Declaration of the Third World Congress Against the Death Penalty
Visit the Official Web site of the Third World Congress






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