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ABA urges nationwide death penalty moratorium

[JURIST] The American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] said Monday that there are serious flaws in the fairness and accuracy of several state death penalty systems [project website], and called for a nationwide moratorium on executions [JURIST report]. The ABA task force studied eight sample states - Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee [JURIST reports] - and found poor collection and preservation of DNA evidence, misidentification by eyewitnesses, false confessions and racial disparities.

The ABA study did not examine lethal injections [JURIST news archive], a form of execution that has come under fire nationwide recently. Several states have placed a moratorium on lethal injections pending US Supreme Court review in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket; cert. petition]. In that case, the Court will consider whether the controversial three-drug mixture [DPIC backgrounder] of an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a substance to stop the heart constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Several constitutional challenges to the procedure have arisen across the country, arguing that the first drug fails to make the inmate fully unconscious, thereby making the inmate suffer excruciating pain when the heart-stopping drug is injected. AP has more.

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