Tuesday, January 15, 2008

John Edwards and the death penalty

This popped up in my email box this morning. It's from Bill Pelke, who is the outgoing chair of the NCADP Board of Directors (you'll be reading more about Bill in a few days).

I think this letter speaks for itself:

An Open letter to Senator John Edwards: January 14, 2007

Dear Senator Edwards,

I listened to you today on NPR radio. Angela, of Wichita, Kansas asked you for your thoughts on the death penalty in America and what kind of affect it would have socially on our ideals.

You stated that you have historically supported the death penalty, but that you have HUGE problems with it right now.

You mentioned race. You stated that if you are a man or woman of color in American today you are more likely to be charged with a capital offence, you are more likely to be convicted and you are more likely to get the death penalty. You said it was the reality of the criminal justice system in America today.

You also said that we have to ensure that it is impossible for us to execute somebody who is innocent.

You also said that in many cases, if we have high quality representation, it makes a huge difference in the likelihood of conviction and the likelihood of the death penalty.

You also stated you were opposed to “death qualified juries” and how it stacked the jury in favor for the prosecution, both for conviction and for the vote on the death penalty itself.

Senator Edwards, these are some of the same reasons that I have been working for a moratorium of the death penalty. If you really believe in your response to Angela then I would ask you to add “Death Penalty Moratorium” to your platform.

This would be in step with the United Nations call for worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.

I would be happy to discuss these and other reasons with you for supporting a moratorium.

Bill Pelke
Anchorage, Alaska

For NPR interview in its entirety

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