Other states should follow Illinois's courageous lead before continuing flawed capital punishment systems
Washington, DC (April 15, 2002) -- In response to the common-sense recommendations released by the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment today, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Death Penalty Committee Vice-Chair Cynthia Orr released the following statement:
"Every other state that has capital punishment is like Illinois in that its system is dangerous and random. They are filled with wrongful convictions caused by eyewitness misidentification, under-resourced counsel, misconduct by those responsible for seeking justice, and reliance on testimony by such hard-to-believe characters as jailhouse snitches and accomplices.
"What sets Illinois apart is that it has had the courage to face its demons, and to refuse to kill again until it can assure its citizens that mistakes will not be tolerated, much less commonplace.
"None of us deserves less. No part of our government should consider executing another person until each has fully examined its system and implemented the reforms recommended in the Illinois report.
"We have adopted ''zero-tolerance'' as a standard in so many facets of our justice system. Only when we have made the determination that we can construct a capital system with no tolerance for mistakes should we move on to the question of whether to follow the rest of the civilized world in abolishing capital punishment altogether."
Orr is a criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio. She can be reached at (210) 226-1463.
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NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.