Pat Robertson Calls for Death Penalty Moratorium

Finding himself in agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union and at odds with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson said "a moratorium [on executions] would indeed be very appropriate" at a forum on religion and capital punishment held at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Robertson cited evidence that current policies unfairly discriminate against minorities and those who cannot afford high-priced legal representation. A report on capital punishment in Virginia released by the ACLU the same day stated that a black offender who murders a white person in Virginia is four times more likely to be sentenced to death than a black offender who murders a black person. Moreover, 97 percent of those Virginia has sentenced to death since 1977 have been too poor to afford their own lawyers, and their court-appointed lawyers are often incompetent - six times more likely to be the subject of disciplinary proceedings than other lawyers.

Although Robertson is among the growing number of voices questioning the application of the death penalty - including the Republican governor of Illinois, George Ryan, who stopped executions in his state pending further studies - he remains a supporter of capital punishment, citing Old Testament grounds for execution. In response to Robertson's statements, Falwell said the only change he'd make would be to shorten the time between conviction and execution

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2000
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