Nine prisoners in the US are scheduled to be executed these first two weeks
in March, according to Amnesty International (see letter at end). Many of
those on death row have extremely low IQs, and are mentally disabled.
In another post I will present new evidence of the relationship between
childhood exposure to pesticides (such as those being sprayed over NY and,
this coming summer, urban areas up and down the entire eastern seaboard)
and mental disability often leading to violence against other people.
In this context, we should also remember those who have scuttled
lead-prevention programs, such as the landlords' candidate for Mayor of New
York, Peter Vallone (who had also been endorsed, when he ran for governor,
by the Working Families Party).
Too often, the connections between seemingly random acts of violence
against people (including murders), and pesticide and lead exposure
(leading to mental disability) are overlooked. Yet one sure result of the
spraying will be higher levels of violence, as well as breast and prostate
cancers, asthma and other illnesses.
As I'd overheard two 14-year-olds joshing on the subway: "The nurse just
told me I have high levels of lead." Said the other: "Well, at least it'll
protect you from all the radiation in the air." Truly gallows humor. In
more ways than one.
Here are three upcoming events in NY that reflect on this subject and that
are worthy of our support:
WEDNESDAY MARCH 7 at 8:00PM
Alexander Cockburn to speak at ABC No Rio
156 Rivington Street (between Clinton & Suffolk)
Thursday, March 8, 7:30 pm
Co-sponsor: The Rosenberg Fund for Children
Fatally Flawed: The Death Penalty from the Rosenbergs to Mumia Abu-Jamal
Robert Meeropol is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. In 1953,
when he was six years old, the United States Government executed his
parents for "conspiring to steal the secret of the atomic bomb." For thirty
years he has been a progressive activist, author and speaker. In 1990,
after leaving private law practice, he founded the Rosenberg Fund for
Children and now serves as its Executive Director. The RFC provides for the
educational and emotional needs of both targeted activist youth and of
children in this country whose parents have been harassed, injured, jailed,
lost jobs or died in the course of their progressive activities.
Robert Meeropol's searing indictment of capital punishment connects the
wrongful execution of the Rosenbergs in 1953 with the politically and
racially motivated use of the death penalty in the United States today.
Sliding Scale: $6/$8/$10
FRI - SUN MARCH 9-11
Critical Resistance Northeast Regional Conference will be held at Columbia
University Law School in New York City March 9-11. This conference will
serve as an organizing and strategy session
for over 1500 activists, prisoners and scholars from our region working to
affect progressive social change in our various communities.
Pleasae keep scrolling to read the Amnesty International letter on the
death penalty, below.
- Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY
Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International
March 02, 2001
The USA is about to carry out its 700th execution since resuming judicial
killing in 1977, Amnesty International warned today, pointing out that more
than 500 of them have occurred since 1993. Nine more prisoners are
scheduled to be executed in the next nine days, including two this evening.
"The USA is engaged in a cruel, brutalizing, unreliable, unnecessary and
hugely expensive activity for no measurable gain," Amnesty International
said. "The fact that it is violating human rights standards in the process
only adds to the deepening shadow being cast on its international
reputation by its relentless resort to this outdated punishment."
As of this morning, there had been 697 executions in 31 US states since
1977. Between this evening and next Friday, nine more prisoners are
scheduled to be put to death in seven states:
-- 1 March, Oklahoma: Robert Clayton - his IQ has been assessed at 68. An
IQ of 70 or under indicates possible mental retardation. International
standards oppose use of the death penalty against such individuals.
-- 1 March, Virginia: Thomas Akers - he has borderline mental retardation
and a long history of mental illness. He pleaded guilty to the crime,
asked to be sentenced to death and has been allowed to drop his appeals.
-- 2 March, North Carolina: Ernest McCarver - his IQ has been measured at
67. He is facing execution despite the fact that the state legislature is
about to consider proposals to outlaw the use of the death penalty against
the mentally disabled. Thirteen of the 38 death penalty states have
enacted such legislation.
-- 6 March, Georgia: Ronald Spivey, a 61-year-old is facing death in the
electric chair after more than two decades on death row.
-- 7 March, Missouri: Antonio Richardson - International law prohibits the
use of the death penalty against those who were under 18 at the time of the
crime. Antonio Richardson was 16. This would be the USA's ninth execution
of a juvenile offender since January 1998, out of a known world total of
12. Richardson's IQ has been assessed at 70.
-- 7 March, Texas: Dennis Dowthitt - he has been diagnosed with serious
mental illness. His lawyers are fighting for a reprieve so that they can
further investigate his long-held claims of innocence.
-- 8 March, Oklahoma: Phillip Smith - he has consistently maintained his
innocence. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence. In 1999, the
prosecution's key trial witness, who put Smith at the crime scene, recanted
-- 9 March, North Carolina: Willie Fisher - he was defended by a lawyer
whose severe depression and other health problems meant that did not
adequately prepare for the trial. He was subsequently disbarred for
failing to properly represent clients. International standards require
that capital defendants be provided with adequate legal representation
above and beyond the protection afforded in non-capital cases.
-- 9 March, Delaware: David Dawson - he has been incarcerated for 15 years.
He has learned to read and write on death row. He is held in his cell 24
hours a day, except for 45 minutes of recreation, alone, followed by 15
minutes to shower three times a week.
Since 1977, there have been about half a million murders in the USA. The
700 men and women executed so far have been selected by a system riddled
with arbitrariness, discrimination and error. It is a lethal lottery of
which the USA should be ashamed, and which other countries should condemn.
"The victims of violent crime and their families deserve respect,
compassion and justice", Amnesty International said. "Killing a selection
of prisoners offers none of these things. It is an illusory solution to a
pressing social problem, and merely amounts to a failure of political vision."
Among the 700 were those who committed their crimes when they were still
children, the mentally impaired, those denied adequate legal
representation, foreign nationals denied their consular rights, and
defendants whose guilt remained in doubt. Race continues to play a role in
who gets a death sentence. In over 80 per cent of the 700 cases, the
crimes involved white victims.
"There is no evidence that the US authorities have prevented a single crime
with this policy," Amnesty International continued. "They have diverted
countless millions of dollars away from more constructive efforts to fight
crime. And the macabre absurdity is that it creates more victims - the
family members of the condemned - often in the name of victims' rights."
"The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to
it. The sooner US politicians begin to find the political courage to
educate public opinion rather than hide behind it, the better".
Since the USA resumed executions in 1977, over 60 countries have abolished
the death penalty. Currently, 108 countries, are abolitionist in law or
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Mar 05 2001 - 18:43:14 EST