Death penalty moratorium needed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

The Selma City Council voted unanimously on Monday in favor of a moratorium on Alabama’s death penalty. The vote came after hearing from Esther Brown with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty and Gary Dinkard, a former death row inmate of eight years.

We applaud the council’s decision and hope other cities follow suit.

Brown presented numerous reasons to the council why a moratorium is needed. Among them:

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Dinkard explained problems with the death penalty from a different aspect &045;&045; the personal. Dinkard said it took eight years before he was exonerated for a crime he didn’t commit. And even then, he credited lawyers interested in his case for his freedom, not his own defense attorney.

The council took those words to heart and passed the resolution, as have Tuskegee and Birmingham. Selma has now joined those cities in calling for a moratorium and asking state leaders to study not only the cost, but the fairness of Alabama’s death penalty.

Some may question Brown’s method of achieving those goals; we credit her enthusiasm and mission in halting executions. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The journey for a moratorium on Alabama’s death penalty may be even longer, but it appears Brown is well on her way.

And we commend every step she takes on that journey.

During discussion, Councilwoman Nancy Sewell questioned Brown’s avenue of communicating with various city councils and suggested more accessible methods such as e-mail. Brown said she does use e-mail, but also gets her message out by speaking with as many city councils as she can, town by town, city by city.

And that’s why she will succeed.