Moratorium Movement Growing Against Government Killings
Philadelphia City Council Calls for a Moratorium on Executions
This news announcement comes from a group called Pennsylvania Abolitionists.
In an historic move, the Philadelphia City Council voted 12-4 for a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania until a study can be organized to determine if the death penalty is being applied fairly.
The city of Philadelphia is the largest of the eight municipalities in the United States to urge such a halt to executions. Charlottesville, VA, adopted a similar resolution last month. Other municipalities urging a moratorium include New Haven, CT; Mt. Rainier, MD; and Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Orange County, all in North Carolina.
The Council's action sends a clear message to the Pennsylvania Legislature, which is holding hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a moratorium bill on February 22. Moratorium legislation is also under consideration in Oklahoma, Washington, New Jersey, Maryland, and Alabama.
The Philadelphia resolution comes less than 2 weeks after Illinois' Republican Governor George Ryan's announcement of a temporary halt to executions in that state on January 31st.
Philadelphia County has sentenced 125 of the 226 people now on death row in Pennsylvania. Nearly 90% of these Philadelphia prisoners are people of color.
Nationwide, Philadelphia County ranks third in number of prisoners it has sent to death row (123) behind Los Angeles County, CA (156) and Harris County, TX (140), which include Houston. The city has more people on death row than 37 states.
Pennsylvania has the fourth largest death row in the nation, behind California, Texas, and Florida. Over 90% of the state's death row prisoners were too poor to afford their own attorney. More than two-thirds are people of color.
Pennsylvania Abolitionists is a 4000 member, multi-racial, nonviolent direct action movement to abolish the death penalty in Pennsylvania. They are organizing a grassroots call for moratorium, citing concerns about race, economics, the high risk of executing those who are innocent, and the execution of juveniles and the mentally impaired.
Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty can be reached at 215-387-6555, or fax: 215-387-5280. They plan a major Rally for a Death Penalty Moratorium, April 15, 2000, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
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