From the days of lynchings through the years of Jim Crow laws, and even today capital punishment has always been deeply affected by race. Although African Americans make up only 13% of the overall population, 42% of the people currently on death row are black, and 35% of those who have been executed in the United States are African American.The death penalty undermines trust and integrity in the criminal justice system because it is racially biased, inhumane and risks the lives of innocent people.
The plight of innocent people on death row was made especially compellingly and poignantly clear earlier this week in North Carolina, when Henry Lee McCollum, an inmate who had been on death row for the past 31 years, was found innocent and freed. Specifically, DNA evidence cleared him and his half brother, Leon Brown, of the rape and murder of an 11-year old girl.
The NAACP strongly supports legislation introduced by Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD), H.R. 3741, the “Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2013”, which would immediately and permanently halt all federal executions.