- also in Texas. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency in his case despite
his history of severe physical and sexual abuse and widespread appeals from church leaders,
human rights bodies and others in the USA and around the world. Under Texas clemency rules,
the governor may commute a death sentence only if she receives a favourable recommendation
from a majority of the Board. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has never granted
clemency in any case since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s.
At the end of 1992, there were 34 juvenile offenders under sentence of death in 13 states
in the USA, eight of these in Texas.
Page 2 of UA 77/93
Treaties and standards exempting people under 18 from the death penalty were developed
in recognition of the fact that the death penalty is wholly inappropriate for individuals
who have not attained full maturity. However serious the crime, the imposition on a young
person of a sentence of such finality, denying any possibility of rehabilitation or reform,
is contrary to contemporary standards of justice and humane treatment, and international
standards. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), signed by
the USA in 1977, and ratified in April 1992 (but with the US government reserving its right
"subject to its Constitutional constraints" to impose the death penalty on juvenile
offenders), the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), the United Nations (UN)
Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights
of those facing the death penalty adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1984
exempt people under 18 from the death penalty.
The execution of juvenile offenders is extremely rare worldwide. The USA is one of only
seven countries known to have executed juvenile offenders in the last decade (the other
countries are Barbados, which has since raised its minimum age to 18; Iran, Iraq, Nigeria,
Pakistan and Bangladesh).
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 and degrading treatment or
punishment, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: Faxes/telephone calls/telegrams/Telexes/express and airmail letters
in English if possible:
- expressing concern that Gary Graham, who was sentenced to death for a crime he committed
when he was only 17 years of age, is scheduled to be executed on 29 April 1993;
- urging the Board to recommend that Governor Richards grant clemency to Gary Graham on
- pointing out that the imposition of a death sentence on an individual who was under the
age of 18 at the time of the offence contravenes internationally recognized human rights
standards for minimum age for use of the death penalty;
- stating that the death penalty is a wholly inappropriate penalty for individuals who
have not attained full physical or emotional maturity at the time of their actions, and
that however heinous the crime, the imposition on a young person of a sentence which denies
any possibility of eventual rehabilitation or reform is contrary to contemporary standards
of justice and humane treatment.
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Salutation: Dear Board Members
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, PO Box 13401
Austin, TX 78711-3401