FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | July 20, 2009
A Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell on the Death Penalty Amendment to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act
(San Francisco, California, July 20, 2009)—The United States Senate today adopted four new amendments to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (bill number S.909), one of which, SA 1615, would mandate the imposition of the death penalty for certain crimes. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) joins many other civil rights organizations in strongly opposing that amendment.
Statement by Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:
“The death penalty amendment was offered by those who oppose the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act in an effort to derail this historic legislation. We strongly oppose the imposition of a mandatory death penalty by the federal government. This amendment undermines the purpose of the bill, which is to reduce bias and discrimination, by supporting a punishment that has been applied in a notoriously biased and discriminatory way. There are few facets of our criminal justice system more deeply flawed than the death penalty. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that rather than deterring violence or curbing crime, the death penalty has been used to perpetuate race and class bias.
This provision can and must be removed in conference committee. We urge everyone to contact their representatives in Washington and tell them to restore the integrity of this important legislation by removing the death penalty provision.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.