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EXTRA 95/92 - USA (Alabama): death penalty: Cornelius Singleton (includes correction)

, N° d'index: AMR 51/118/1992

Cornelius Singleton, black, aged 36, is scheduled to be executed by the state of Alabama, USA on 20 November 1992. He was sentenced to death in November 1977 for the murder of a white Roman Catholic nun. Cornelius Singleton is mentally retarded but at his original trial this information was not given to the all-white jury. The sentence was later reversed but he was later resentenced by a judge sitting without a jury.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/118/92
Distr: UA/SC
Please bring this action to the attention of the person responsible for outreach
work in your section as appeals from religious groups or organizations are
considered particularly helpful.
EXTRA 95/92 Death Penalty 5 November 1992
USA (Alabama): Cornelius SINGLETON
Cornelius Singleton is scheduled to be executed by the state of Alabama, USA,
on 20 November 1992.
Cornelius Singleton, black, aged 36, was convicted of the November 1977 murder
of Sister Ann Hogan, a white Roman Catholic nun. He is mentally retarded,
with an IQ between 58 and 69 (a person of average intelligence has an IQ of
100). Cornelius Singleton was tried and originally sentenced to death by an
all-white jury which was given no information about his mental retardation.
This sentence was later reversed but he was resentenced to death by a judge
sitting without a jury. According to reports, some evidence of his mental
retardation was presented to this second hearing, but was disregarded.
Archbishop Lipscomb of Alabama made a statement in August 1992 which referred
to Cornelius Singleton's case and called on Governor Hunt to show mercy by
granting clemency. Calls for clemency have also come from some of the Catholic
nuns in the order to which Sister Ann Hogan belonged.
The last prisoner to be executed in Alabama was Larry Gene Heath, white, on
20 March 1992. The method of execution is electrocution. The governor of
Alabama has full clemency authority.
Studies carried out in the USA have suggested that the death penalty is applied
disproportionately on the grounds of race, particularly with regards to the
race of the victim. Amnesty International does not have recent figures, but
statistics produced by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from 1976 to 1986 on the
race of victims killed by persons sentenced to death in Alabama show that only
three black victim killings resulted in a white offender being sentenced to
death. Over fifty percent of prisoners under sentence of death in Alabama
are black. Blacks constitute just over a quarter of the Alabama general state
The results of a public opinion poll conducted by the university of Alabama
in November 1989, indicated that the majority of people from Alabama oppose
the death penalty for people with mental retardation. Legislation to prevent
the execution of the mentally retarded in Alabama will be introduced for
consideration in the 1993 legislative session. The execution of Cornelius
Singleton 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."
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 proclaimed in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Page 2 of EXTRA 95/92
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- urging Governor Hunt to grant clemency to Cornelius Singleton and commute
his sentence of death;
- referring to the opinion poll conducted by the University of Alabama which
suggests that the majority of people from Alabama do not believe that a mentally
retarded person should be executed;
- referring to the statement in favour of clemency made by Archbishop Lipscomb,
and the opposition to Cornelius Singleton's execution expressed by some of
the sisters from the order to which the murdered nun belonged;
- referring to the UN ECOSOC resolution regarding the execution of the mentally
- expressing concern at evidence which suggests that the application of the
death penalty in Alabama is being applied in a way which discriminates on grounds
of race.
The Honorable Guy Hunt Salutation: Dear Governor
Governor of Alabama
State House
Montgomery, AL 36130
Telegrams: Governor Hunt, Montgomery, AL 36130, USA
Telephone: + 1 205 242 7100
Faxes: + 1 (205) 261 7934
Telexes: 0230592471
The Letters Editor
Montgomery Advertiser
PO Box 400
Montgomery, AL 36101
Faxes: + 1 205 261 1502
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country.

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