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News ::
Death Penalty Opponents to Sit in at D.A.'s Office to Demand Moratorium
24 Oct 2000
PHILADELPHIA - With the death penalty facing intense scrutiny in the city that has sent more people to death row than most states, opponents of capital punishment will stage a nonviolent civil disobedience action at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, October 26, 2000, at the office of District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
Death Penalty Opponents to Sit in at D.A.'s Office to Demand Moratorium

PHILADELPHIA - With the death penalty facing intense scrutiny in the city that has sent more people to death row than most states, opponents of capital punishment will stage a nonviolent civil disobedience action at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, October 26, 2000, at the office of District Attorney Lynne Abraham.

Despite the glaring economic and racial discrimination in death sentencing that have made Philadelphia the focus of international condemnation, Abraham's office continues to ignore the voices of legal experts, state senators, religious leaders, human rights organizations and even her own City Council, all of whom have called for a moratorium on executions. The need for a moratorium became even clearer last Friday, when William Nieves, wrongly convicted during Abraham's tenure, became a free man after spending 8 years on the state's death row.

Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty will hold a sit-in at Abraham's office at 1421 Arch Street to demand that the district attorney honor the Philadelphia City Council's resolution calling for a moratorium on the imposition of death sentences in the city. In February, the City Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of the non-binding resolution, prompting city councils in Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and York to pass similar measures. The Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations also have called for a moratorium on executions.

"The elected representatives of Philadelphia are the voice of the people, and they have spoken clearly and decisively on this issue," Pennsylvania Abolitionists Executive Director Jeffrey Garis said of the 12-4 City Council vote. "The district attorney's ongoing rhetoric that the death penalty is administered fairly has grown tiresome. We're demanding that she finally acknowledge what people everywhere have long been saying - that death sentencing in Philadelphia is an atrocity, and that it must stop immediately."

Fifty-six percent of Pennsylvania's death row prisoners were sentenced in Philadelphia County, which has more people on death row (131) than all but 10 states. In contrast, Allegheny County (containing the city of Pittsburgh), which has almost the same population, has only 10 people on death row. Nationally, Philadelphia ranks behind only Los Angeles and Houston as the cities with the largest death row populations. Abraham, who seeks the death penalty more than any other prosecutor in the country, has been labeled "America's Deadliest D.A." by The New York Times.
Nearly 90 percent of those sent to death row from Philadelphia are people of color. An exhaustive study by two of the nation's foremost researchers on race and the death penalty documented the "infectious presence of racism" in death sentencing in Philadelphia.

"This city will not tolerate Lynne Abraham's disgraceful record of human rights violations," Garis said. "We will put an end to her shameful practice of pursuing government-sponsored murder."

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PENNSYLVANIA ABOLITIONISTS
United Against the Death Penalty
P.O. Box 58128, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 215-724-6120 Fax: 215-729-6189

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