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USA (Missouri): Death penalty: Roosevelt Pollard

, رقم الوثيقة: AMR 51/008/1997

Roosevelt Pollard, black, is scheduled to be executed in Missouri on 5 March 1997. He was sentenced to death for murder on 27 January 1996. There is concern that he may be executed despite the fact that he suffers from serious mental health problems. There is also concern that important evidence about his mental health was not presented to the sentencing jury.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 51/08/97
EXTRA 23/97 Death Penalty 19 February 1997
USA (Missouri) Roosevelt POLLARD
Roosevelt Pollard, black, is scheduled to be executed in Missouri on 5 March
1997. He was sentenced to death on 27 January 1986 for the murder of Richard
Alford.
Pollard was last scheduled for execution on 11 January 1995 (see EXTRA 81/94,
AMR 51/105/94, 22 December, and follow-ups). However, two hours before the
execution was scheduled the US Supreme Court issued a stay on the grounds that
Pollard's possible incompetence to be executed because of his mental health
problems. In March 1995, the US Supreme Court sent Roosevelt Pollard's case
back to the Federal District Court for review. Pollard's mental condition has
not improved. However, the Federal District Court recently dismissed Pollard's
claim on a procedural technicality.
Roosevelt Pollard is currently unable to understand that he is to be executed
and does not understand the reason for his execution. He suffers from an
untreated mental condition which has worsened over time. He believes that his
death sentence is the product of a voodoo curse which is too strong and too
dangerous to fight because an even worse curse might be made against him.
According to a clemency petition presented to Governor Carnahan, Pollard's
present attorneys claim that he is incompetent to be executed and that because
of inadequate legal representation in the past, no court has adequately reviewed
evidence relating to his unstable and abusive family life, or his history of
psychological problems. The petition included reports from three mental health
experts who examined Pollard in 1991, 1992, and 1994 and found him to be suffering
from chronic schizophrenia and organic brain damage.
Pollard's attorneys requested that he be placed "in a secure mental heath
facility that will provide medication and a stable environment in which he
will be of no harm to himself or others".
At Pollard's original trial, attorneys failed to carry out an adequate
investigation of his unstable background and his mental retardation, despite
a documented history of school IQ scores ranging from 57 to 64.
According to the clemency petition, Roosevelt Pollard was born to alcoholic
parents. His mother was regularly beaten by Pollard's father, including during
her pregnancy, for which she sought no prenatal care or medical attention.
A few months before his second birthday, Pollard's mother left the family home
because she could no longer suffer the abuse at the hands of Pollard's father.
She returned to seek custody of Pollard approximately six months later. Pollard
received a number of head injuries during his childhood for which he received
no medical attention. According to affidavits from family members, Pollard's
mother was unable to care for him because of her heavy drinking, often dropping
him as a baby when she was drunk; if he cried she would shake him violently
and scream at him until he stopped. Pollard's half-sister claims that while
he lived with his mother she failed to provide money or food and sometimes
whipped him with an electrical cord and that she would often strike him about
the head. Other affidavits from family members, acquaintances and teachers
have noted Pollard's bizarre behaviour, saying that he often would talk to
people who were not there. A recent affidavit by a school teacher says that
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she considered Pollard a very disturbed child. Bizarre behaviour, including
hallucinations and delusional thoughts and psychosis, has also been recorded
by various prison personnel.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The organization considers that the execution of Roosevelt Pollard would be
in contravention of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
resolution 1989/64, adopted in May 1989, which recommends "eliminating the
death penalty for persons suffering from mental retardation or extremely limited
mental competence".
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
As of 31 July 1996, there were 94 prisoners under sentence of death in Missouri.
The most recent prisoner executed in Missouri was Eric Schneider on 29 January
1997. Twenty four prisoners have been executed in Missouri under the state's
current death penalty laws. This is the fourth highest number in the USA (the
other three are Texas: 107; Florida: 38; Virginia: 38).
In Missouri the Governor has sole power to commute death sentences. A board
of inquiry may be appointed by the Governor to gather information as to whether
a person condemned to death should be executed, reprieved of pardoned.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please make appeals by telephone, telegram, faxes,
e-mail, express or airmail letters in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern that Roosevelt Pollard is scheduled to be executed on
5 March 1996;
- acknowledging the seriousness of the crime and expressing sympathy for the
victims of violent crime and their families;
- expressing concern that important evidence about Roosevelt Pollard's chronic
schizophrenia, brain damage and family history was not presented to the jury
responsible for sentencing him to death, and that this evidence has never been
adequately reviewed by a court of law;
- expressing Amnesty International's belief that his execution would violate
United Nations (ECOSOC) safeguards (see above);
- urging Governor Carnahan to grant clemency to Roosevelt Pollard by commuting
his death sentence.
APPEALS TO:
The Honourable Mel Carnahan
Governor of Missouri
PO Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102, USA
Telephone: +1 573 751 3222
Telegrams: Governor Carnahan, Jefferson City, MO 65102, USA
Fax: + 1 573 751 1495
E-mail: missouri-constit@mail.state.mo.us
Salutation: Dear Governor
COPIES TO:
Newspaper
The Letters Editor
Kansas City Star
3
1729 Grand Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64108, USA
Fax: + 1 816 234 4940-23
and to diplomatic representatives of USA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

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