Executions Are Back—So Are Fairness Issues

3 recent death row releases show poor get shoddy defense
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2008 9:05 AM CDT
The death chamber at the Southern Ohio Corrections Facility is seen through a glass window from the witness room in Lucasville, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
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(Newser) – The problem with the death penalty isn’t the method of execution, it’s “poor people getting lousy lawyers,”  the director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project tells the New York Times. Now that the Supreme Court has green-lighted lethal injection and Georgia has resumed executions, opponents are pointing at shoddy public defense systems they say aren’t equipped to mount an adequate capital defense.

Last week, North Carolina released its third death-row inmate in 6 months, the Times notes; in two of those cases, the appeals court ruled defense lawyers hadn’t performed well enough. “All these states are gearing up to start executing people again, and nobody seems to be concerned about these systemic problems,” protests the ACLU director.