Stating that there’s “a major gap in resources for lawyers who defend capital cases,” the American Bar Association is launching The Capital Clemency Resource Initiative, a project that it says will provide “state-specific information about clemency in death penalty states, plus past petitions, court decisions, academic papers and ABA policy on the subject.”
The information lawyers will now have access to includes a manual, Representing Death-Sentenced Prisoners in Clemency: A Guide for Practitioners, training materials, and access to the website (only available to death penalty defense lawyers).
Chief Counsel for the ABA’s Death Penalty Due Process Project Misty Thomas says an increasing number of prisoners who ask to have their sentences commuted to life without parole often have a good case to make. She says many death row prisoners were sentenced before mental illness and intellectual disability were considered as mitigating factors, and that many have been on death row for so long “age-related disability can also be an issue.”
While Thomas noted that the ABA has no position on capital punishment, they do believe that “if we’re going to have the death penalty, every single stage should be robust and meaningful.”