Monday, March 5, 2001

(202) 293-6970


Georgia to use electric chair for first time since 1998,
Borderline mentally retarded juvenile offender to be executed on Wednesday

WASHINGTON, DC — As the United States approaches its 700th execution since capital punishment was reinstated, growing concerns in America’s death penalty policy have caused numerous national and international entities to renew their call for reform.

“This 700th scheduled execution calls forth many concerns that have been raised regarding the death penalty in America,” said Richard C. Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). “In the next two days, two men are scheduled for execution and their cases evoke various questions about America’s use of the death penalty. On Tuesday, Georgia is scheduled to execute Ronald Spivey by electrocution. This will be the first time Georgia has used its electric chair since 1998. Spivey will be the Nation’s 700th execution. On Wednesday, Antonio Richardson, an inmate with borderline mental retardation who was sentenced to death for a crime he committed when he was 16, is scheduled for execution by lethal injection.”

The most recent appeals for change have been stimulated by Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Richardson. In clemency appeals for the juvenile offender, questions were posed regarding the Nation’s death penalty policy and the its compliance with international human rights standards. Among those urging Missouri Governor Bob Holden to spare Richardson’s life is Ginny Kerry, the victims’ mother. Letters have also been sent by a broad spectrum of organizations, including the European Union, the American Bar Association, the Children’s Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Association for Retarded Citizens. Many of the clemency requests questioned Richardson’s defense and noted that he is both borderline mentally retarded and a victim of child abuse.

Richardson’s execution is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 7, the same day that several members of Congress will renew their push for death penalty reform. U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Gordon Smith (R - Ore.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), will join U.S. Representatives William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) to reintroduce the Innocence Protection Act in Congress. The legislation seeks to correct death penalty problems such as incompetent defense counsel and lack of access to DNA tests for those facing capital punishment.

Since capital punishment was reinstated, 95 innocent men have been freed from death row. To date, 17 juvenile offenders have been executed, and there have been a total of 16 executions in 2001. Currently, there are more than 3,725 men and women on death row in the United States.

The Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. The Center was founded in 1990 and prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefings for journalists, and serves as a resource to those working on this issue. The Center is widely quoted and consulted by all those concerned with the death penalty. # # #