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MARCH 28, 2003
3:16 PM
CONTACT:  National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
David Elliot, NCADP Communications Director
202-543-9577, ext. 16
cell phone: 202-607-7036
NCADP Calls on Oklahoma Clemency Board to Spare Life of Youthful Offender

WASHINGTON - March 28 - Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Scott Hain on April 3 for a crime committed when Hain was 17 years old. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Friday called on the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to vote to recommend clemency for Hain when it convenes Monday.

Hain is scheduled to be executed for the murders of Michael William Houghton and Laura Lee Sanders in Tulsa. He had no prior record of committing violent offenses.

NCADP Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins said Oklahoma officials should consider emerging public opinion in the United States when it hears Hain's case. He noted that so far this year, legislation to ban the execution of youthful offenders has been filed in at least ten states, with legislators in three states -- Florida, Nevada and South Dakota -- passing bans out of committee.

He added that only one country besides the United States -- Iran -- executes people for crimes committed as minors. Within the past year alone, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines have moved away from the practice.

"Such executions not only violate international norms, they also offend human decency," Hawkins said. "The mind of a youthful offender is by definition less developed than the mind of an adult. Minors do not handle social pressure, instinctual urges and other stresses the way that adults do. Youthful 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."

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


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