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Problems with the Death Penalty

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I believe that the death penalty is ineffective, cruel, and unjust. Killing people convicted of criminal offenses under the color of State law is wrong; and the disproportionate execution of a certain class or race of people is utterly unconscionable.

In the United States, although African Americans make up only 12 percent of the overall population, 42 percent of the people currently on death row are Black. African Americans are also overrepresented in the number of people on death row who are later found to be innocent: 38 percent of death row inmates freed since 1973 because of new evidence were African Americans, and 35 percent of those executed and later found to be innocent were Black.

Despite these startling statistics, the State of Texas, President Bush's home State, is determined to execute Americans as fast as possible, even in light of potentially exculpatory evidence.

In today's New York Times, columnist Bob Herbert writes about an American-African man who, in about 48 hours, may become the 300th person executed by the State of Texas since the resumption of capital punishment in 1982.

As Mr. Herbert notes, this case is particularly disturbing because there is strong evidence that the accused, Mr. Delma Banks, Jr., did not commit the capital offense. But, in a blatant disregard for truth and the equitable administration of justice, Texas intends to proceed regardless.

This senseless State-sanctioned killing must stop!

I ask unanimous consent that Mr. Herbert's column in the New York Times dated March 10, 2003, be printed into the RECORD following my remarks.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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