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Death Penalty in Georgia: Racist, Arbitrary and Unfair

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1996
36 pages
The death penalty in Georgia continues to be used in a manner that is racist, arbitrary, and unfair, but Amnesty International has not yet received any substantive reply from the President regarding its request for a presidential commission to examine the use of capital punishment.
The United States has escalated its use of capital punishment since 1977. Georgia has carried out the fifth highest number of executions in the United States since 1977. In many cases the victim's or defendant's ethnic origin was a crucial factor in the prosecutors' decision to seek capital punishment. Many of those sentenced to death in Georgia received poor legal representation. The racist use of the death penalty continues despite the 1972 United States Supreme Court ruling that the arbitrary and capricious use of the death penalty was unconstitutional under the 8th and 14th Amendments. Amnesty International believes that the current racist use of the death penalty in Georgia stems from the State's history of violence towards its ethnic minorities. Both statistical and anecdotal evidence on the use of capital punishment clearly refutes the idea that racial prejudice ceased to exist following the Supreme Court rulings in Furman v. Georgia. The Federal Government has continually refused to become involved with the application of the death penalty at the State level. The Federal Government may itself be guilty of racial bias in the use of capital punishment. Amnesty International opposes capital punishment in all cases as a violation of the right to live and the right not to experience cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Photographs and footnotes