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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 5, 2002
3:08 PM
CONTACT:  National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
David Elliot 202-543-9577 x16
delliot@ncadp.org
Race, Geography and the Execution of Juvenile Offenders
Once Again, Texas Leads the Pack
 
WASHINGTON - August 5 - The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Monday called on Texas Gov. Rick Perry to acknowledge the role that race and geography play in the application of the death penalty, particularly as it relates to juvenile offenders, and to stay the scheduled executions of T.J. Jones and Toronto Patterson.

Since executions resumed in the United States in the 1970s, 19 juvenile offenders have been put to death. The past four such executions have each taken place in Texas and each has involved an African American inmate. If the scheduled Aug. 8 execution of Jones and the scheduled Aug. 28 execution of Patterson are allowed to proceed, it will mean that the last six juvenile offender executions in the United States all will have taken place in Texas and all will have involved African American inmates.

“Texas has accounted for 11 of the 19 juvenile offender executions in the United States during the past two decades,” said NCADP Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins. “Seven of the eleven juvenile offenders executed in Texas have been African American or Latino. The death penalty in the United States disproportionately affects people of color and this is even more true when it comes to juvenile offenders.”

Hawkins noted that of the 81 juvenile offenders on death row in the United States, 52, or almost two thirds, are people of color. Of the 81 inmates, just over half – 42 – are from Texas or Alabama.

The past four juvenile offenders executed in Texas were Napolean Beazley, executed May 28; Gerald Mitchell, executed Oct. 22, 2001; Gary Graham, executed June 22, 2000; and Glen McGinnis, executed Jan. 25, 2000.

Hawkins added that Texas is speeding up its pace of executing juvenile offenders even as the international community shuns the practice. Only three countries – the United States, Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo – currently execute juvenile offenders. Just last week, Pakistan announced it is sparing the lives of 72 juvenile offenders while in the Philippines, the Supreme Court ordered the removal of a dozen juvenile offenders from death row, ruling that their execution would violate the law.

“Such executions not only violate international norms, they also offend human decency,” Hawkins said. “The mind of a juvenile offender is by definition less developed than the mind of an adult. Juvenile minds do not handle social pressure, instinctual urges and other stresses the way that adult minds do. Juvenile offenders therefore cannot be held to the same degree of culpability as adults, just as mentally retarded people cannot be held to the same degree of culpability. We now ban the execution of mentally retarded offenders. There can be little justification for applying a different standard when it comes to juveniles.”

Founded in 1976, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the only fully-staffed national organization devoted specifically to abolishing the death penalty and is comprised of more than 100 local, state, national and international affiliates.

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