(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/13/15) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today commended Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for announcing a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in that state. Governor Wolf said that the moratorium will remain in effect until he has received and reviewed the forthcoming report of the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment, established under Senate Resolution 6 of 2011, and after there is an opportunity to address all concerns satisfactorily.
“If we are to continue to administer the death penalty, we just take further steps to ensure that defendants have appropriate counsel at every stage of their prosecution, that the sentence is applied fairly and proportionally, and that we eliminate the risk of executing an innocent,” Wolf said in a memorandum announcing the policy. The governor's office also released two statements supporting his decision â€” one from former U.S. Court of Appeals judge and prosecutor Timothy K. Lewis, and another from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
This moratorium comes on the heels of issues raised about lethal injection drugs that Pennsylvania was planning to use. Last fall, Pennsylvania announced that it was postponing an execution because it did not have any lethal injection drugs, an announcement that came after a lawsuit on behalf of four media organizations demanding additional information regarding the lethal injection drugs the state planned to use. This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the issue of lethal injection, hearing a case involving the drugs used in Oklahoma executions.
View the full memo on Gov. Wolf's plan to place a moratorium on the death penalty.
In 2011, CAIR renewed its call for a national moratorium of the death penalty in wake of the execution of Troy Davis. Because of circumstances surrounding his trial and sentencing, Davis' execution captured worldwide attention. Seven of the nine key witnesses at Davis' trial later recanted their testimony. Some jurors say they have changed their minds about Davis' guilt. A man who was with Davis the night of the murder reportedly confessed that he actually shot the officer. Ordinary citizens and prominent figures — including the Pope and former President Jimmy Carter — called for Davis' death sentence to be commuted.
CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks said in a statement:
“There continues to be an urgent need for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty nationwide. The system nationwide is a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 150 people have been exonerated from death row nationwide, including six men in Pennsylvania.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-PA Staff Attorney Ryan Tack-Hooper, 267-515-6712, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Civil Rights, Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks, 202-742-6420, email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, email@example.com