United States of America: Developments on the death penalty during 1994
Monitoring of the death penalty in the USA during 1994 provided further evidence that death sentences are imposed disproportionately on the poor, on minorities, on the mentally ill or retarded and on those without adequate legal counsel. At least two black prisoners executed during 1994 had been convicted and sentenced to death by all-white juries. In a third case, details of jury misinformation, misconduct and racial bias during the sentencing deliberations came to light shortly before the prisoner was executed but were not deemed grounds for granting clemency. Executive clemency was denied in a number of strongly deserving cases, including that of a Florida prisoner against whom there was little evidence of guilt. Several prisoners executed in 1994 had presented clear signs of mental illness or retardation. At the end of 1994, at least 37 juvenile offenders were on death row. Other topics reported are: the involvement of health professionals in executions; state legislation on the death penalty during 1994; cost of the death penalty; and the statement of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Louisiana opposing the death penalty.