Dems Strike Death Penalty Backing From Platform

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The Democratic party platform being adopted this week includes one significant omission from the 1992, 1996, and 2000 versions, reports The drafting committee removed the section of the document that endorsed capital punishment. For the first time since the 1980s, Democrats will not be campaigning on a pro-death penalty program. On the question of execution, John Kerry is a very different Democrat from Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Clinton and Gore, while surely aware that capital punishment is an ineffective and racially and economically biased vehicle for fighting crime, were willing to embrace it as a political tool, says the With Clinton and Gore steering the party’s policies, Democratic platforms endorsed capital punishment. Asked about the removal of the pro-capital punishment language, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., drafting committee chair, said, “It’s a reflection of John Kerry.”

Kerry opposes executions in virtually all cases –making an exception only after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when he said he would consider supporting capital punishment, in limited cases, for foreign terrorists. Last fall, when the Students Against the Death Penalty project of the American Civil Liberties Union rated the nine candidates who were then seeking the Democratic presidential nomination on a variety of death penalty-related issues, Kerry and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Dennis Kucinich were the only two who received perfect scores. Kerry opposes the execution of juveniles, supports greater access to DNA testing for death row inmates and argues that studies “reveal serious questions, racial bias, and deep disparities in the way the death penalty is applied.”


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