News Release

Death Penalty, Racism, McVeigh, FBI

BRYAN STEVENSON
Executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and assistant professor at the New York University School of Law, Stevenson is author of the article “Deliberate Indifference: Racial Bias and Administration of Capital Punishment.” He said today: “Attorney General Ashcroft’s claim that there is no racial bias in the federal death penalty is without merit. Nearly three-quarters of the people for whom the federal government has authorized execution are black or brown, while the majority of people eligible for such authorization are white. Ashcroft totally ignores the fact that most racial bias can be found by looking at the race of the victim — for example, an African American convicted of killing a white person is much more likely to be executed than one convicted of killing another African American.”
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ROB WARDEN
Warden is director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, which has helped show that nine prisoners on death row were innocent. “The prosecution failed to live up to their legal obligations in the McVeigh case by not sharing relevant documents. If they failed in this case, given the resources and attention, then when can we trust them?… Ashcroft has conceded that the federal death penalty is being enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner. He did this by saying that a U.S. attorney in a jurisdiction where the death penalty is popular is more likely to seek it than in a jurisdiction where it’s less popular. In 1972 the Supreme Court overturned all existing death penalty cases, saying that it was being applied in an arbitrarily and capricious manner — which is what Ashcroft just conceded is happening today.”
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ROBERT JENSEN
Journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the coordinating committee of the National Network to End the War Against Iraq, Jensen said today: “Timothy McVeigh killed twice in his life. For one of those acts, in Oklahoma City, he will be executed. For the other, in the Gulf War, we gave him a Bronze Star. That isn’t to equate the two, but rather to suggest that Americans might reflect on the hypocrisy. We rightly condemn McVeigh for killing civilians but ignore the fact that our government targets civilians in war, including the Gulf War in which McVeigh fought.”
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NOELLE HANRAHAN
Hanrahan is director of Prison Radio, which interviews incarcerated individuals, and editor of “All Things Censored,” a compilation of death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s essays. She is also author of the article “America’s Secret Police: Richard W. Held and the FBI.” Hanrahan said today: “The FBI has suppressed evidence in innumerable cases over the past 50 years. There are over 6,000 documents on the Leonard Peltier case that have been kept secret on supposed ‘national security’ grounds for 25 years…. Judi Bari’s case, among others, indicates that COINTELPRO continued beyond the Church Commission in the mid-’70s.”
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For further information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167