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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jimmy Carter wants to ban executions throughout the United States

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at a 2006 event inside the Carter Center.
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at a 2006 event inside the Carter Center.
Former President Jimmy Carter today called for the United States to adopt a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty.

The 89-year-old former commander-in-chief and Georgia governor spoke this morning at the National Symposium on the Modern Death Penalty in America, a daylong event at the Carter Center that featured numerous speakers and panels about capital punishment.

"We should abolish the death penalty here and throughout the world," Carter said at the event.

The American Bar Association, which hosted the symposium with the Carter Center, wants guarantees that the death penalty is used in a fair and effective manner. According to WABE, Carter pointed out that Southern states' higher execution rates have largely failed to curb homicides. He also called Georgia's burden of proof for mental disability, which has played a crucial role in death-row inmate Warren Lee Hill's controversial case, problematic.

"The only consistency today is that the people who are executed are almost always poor, from a racial minority or mentally deficient," Carter told the Guardian. "In America today, if you have a good attorney you can avoid the death penalty; if you are white you can avoid it; if your victim was a racial minority you can avoid it. But if you are very poor or mentally deficient, or the victim is white, that's the way you get sentenced to death."

During his time as Georgia's governor, Carter helped restore Georgia's death penalty laws after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its previous execution statutes in the case of Furman v. Georgia. He's since become a staunch opponent of capital punishment in recent years and has often cited its ineffectiveness. In its place, he wants inmates to receive alternative forms of punishment, including more life sentences.

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