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USA (Arkansas): Death penalty

, Index number: AMR 51/098/1996

Paul Ruiz, Earl Denton, Kirt Wainwright: The above three men are scheduled to be executed in Arkansas on 8 January 1997.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 51/98/96
EXTRA 187/96 Death Penalty 6 December 1996
USA (Arkansas) Paul RUIZ
Earl DENTON
Kirt WAINWRIGHT
The above three men are scheduled to be executed in Arkansas on 8 January 1997.
Paul Ruiz and Earl Denton were originally sentenced to death in 1977 for the
murder of Marvin Richie, a police officer, and Opal James, a federal park ranger.
At the time of the murders, Ruiz and Denton were escapees from an Oklahoma
prison where they were both serving life sentences. Their convictions and death
sentences were overturned on appeal and in 1979 they were retried and again
sentenced to death. The appeal courts overturned their death sentences but
both men were sentenced to death a third time after new sentencing hearings
in 1987.
Kirt Wainwright was sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of Barbara Smith
during a robbery.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
As of 31 July 1996 there were 42 prisoners under sentence of death in Arkansas.
The method of execution is lethal injection; prisoners sentenced to death
before 4 March 1983 may choose between lethal injection or electrocution. The
Governor of Arkansas has full clemency authority. However, all clemency
applications are referred to the Parole Board for investigation and
recommendation.
William Parker was the last prisoner to be executed in Arkansas on 8 August
1996. Twelve prisoners have been put to death since the state resumed
executions in 1990.
This is the second occasion on which Arkansas has scheduled three executions
on the same day. On 3 August 1994 Hoyt Clines, James Holmes and Darryl Richley
were executed; the three men were co-defendants. This was the first triple
execution in the US since California executed three prisoners on the same day
in 1962 (multiple executions were common in the US before the mid-1960s). In
1994, state authorities in Arkansas cited the reduction of stress on employees
involved in executions and the reduction of overtime payments as reasons for
carrying out the executions on the same day. A prison department spokesperson
was quoted as stating: "Nobody wants to get up in the morning and go kill
somebody."
However, a spokesperson from the governor's office explained that the reason
Ruiz, Denton and Wainwright were all scheduled for execution on 8 January was
because "All three inmates came back from the Supreme Court with their appeals
denied at the same time, and that's the reason their executions were scheduled
together."
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, as a violation
of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please make urgent appeals by telephone / fax / telegram
/ express or airmail letter in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern that Paul Ruiz, Earl Denton and Kirt Wainwright are
scheduled to be executed on 8 January 1996;
- urging Governor Mike Huckabee to grant clemency to all three by commuting
their death sentences;
acknowledging the seriousness of the crimes for which the three were convicted
and expressing sympathy for the victims of violent crime;
- stating, however, that the death penalty is a violation of the right to life
and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment,
as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
APPEALS TO:
State Governor
Jim Mike Huckabee
Governor of Arkansas
205 State Capitol
Little Rock, AR 72201, USA
Tel: +1 501 682 2345
Fax: +1 501 682 1382
Telegrams: Governor Huckabee, Little Rock, AR 72201, USA
Salutation: Dear Governor Huckabee
COPIES TO:
Parole Board
1421 East 9th St.
Little Rock, AK 72202, USA
The Letters Editor
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Capitol Avenue & Scott Street
Box 221, Little Rock, AR 72203
Fax: +1 501 372 3908
The Letters Editor
Arkansas Times
201 East Markham
3200 POB 34010
Little Rock, AR 72201
Fax: +1 501 375 3623
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

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