The death penalty “is inextricably linked to poverty. Social and economic inequalities affect access to justice for those who are sentenced to death for several reasons: defendants may lack resources (social and economic, but also political power) to defend themselves and will in some cases be discriminated against because of their social status.”
That’s according to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which observes its 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10, 2017, in an international effort to raise “awareness that people living in poverty are at a greater risk of being sentenced to death and executed.”
As an example, WCADP cites a study by the Equal Justice Initiative that found that in the United States, in 2007, “95 percent of people on death row [had] disadvantaged economic backgrounds. . . . a defendant who does not have the financial capacity to hire a private lawyer will have to rely on free legal aid provided by the government. Such attorneys, however, are often underpaid and unprepared for death penalty cases.”
The coalition quotes Amnesty International’s assessment of the death penalty in the U.S. as “being used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities.”
The U.S. isn’t alone. According to the coalition, in India, a study conducted by the National Law University of New Delhi found that 74 percent of those sentenced to death were poor. Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are two other countries WCADP points to as having death rows filled with those without the resources to defend themselves.
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty is an alliance of more than 150 non-governmental organizations, bar associations, local authorities and unions. It was founded in Rome in 2002, with a goal to increase international efforts to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Every year for the past 15 years, WCADP has observed October 10 as “World Day Against the Death Penalty.” To Learn more about the World Coalition and World Day Against the Death Penalty Events, please click here.
Death Penalty Focus and All Saints Church are sponsoring an event for World Day Against the Death Penalty in Pasadena, California. Please click here for more information. It will take place at 7 PM PDT on Tuesday, October 10, at All Saints Church.