Council endorses death penality review

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Selma City Council has gone on record in support of a moratorium on the death penalty in Alabama.

In a unanimous vote the council approved a resolution Monday evening after hearing from Esther Brown, of Lannett, with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Silence prevailed in the council chambers as Brown listed reasons for the moratorium.

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Brown said Alabama sentences more people to death per capita than any other state and cited a lack of a public defender’s office as reasons for the moratorium. Brown also pointed to Alabama’s execution of mentally retarded people.

Brown released a letter stating that Alabama is second only to Texas in the number of juveniles on death row. Also, 31 percent of the black male population has lost the right to vote in Alabama, which is the highest per capita rate in the country, according to Brown.

The letter states that since 1976 39 percent of those executed have been white, 61 percent black.

Also speaking before the council on Monday was Gary Dinkard, a former death row inmate who was exonerated. Dinkard said eight years of his life were lost because he didn’t have the money for a good attorney.

Dinkard said he would still be on death row if good attorneys hadn’t found his case and had their interest piqued. &uot;The system didn’t do this,&uot; Dinkard said of his exoneration. &uot;Individuals do this.&uot;

Before the resolution reached a vote, Councilwoman Nancy Sewell said the council would use whatever influence it had to support a moratorium on Alabama’s death penalty.

The vote then passed unanimously.