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Amnesty Asks Texas, Louisiana Governors to Spare Killers' Lives

June 01, 1987|Associated Press

LONDON — Amnesty International appealed today to the governors of Texas and Louisiana to spare the lives of 12 prisoners scheduled to die this month.

The London-based human rights organization, which opposes capital punishment, also called on the legislatures of the two states to investigate whether racial discrimination influences their use of the death penalty.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning group said that at least four prisoners have been executed in Georgia, Mississippi and Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that Georgia's death penalty law does not violate constitutional guarantees of racial equality.

Six prisoners are scheduled to be electrocuted in Louisiana during the period of June 7-18, and six others are due to die by lethal injection in Texas during June 5 through June 30, Amnesty said in a news release.

Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards said today he had no plans to halt the executions.

"I do not intend to interfere unless I'm given new evidence which indicates a miscarriage of justice has occurred," Edwards said.

Amnesty said the U.S. Supreme Court accepted evidence that there was significant racial bias in death sentencing in Georgia but said the evidence was not sufficient to prove the entire law was unconstitutional. The court held that disparities are inevitable in the criminal justice system.

Amnesty said the ruling means it will be almost impossible to appeal death sentences on racial grounds and, as a result, the number of executions in the United States could increase from last year's 18.

Amnesty said a record 1,901 prisoners are on Death Rows in the United States and 787 of them are black.

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