Leahy urges death penalty reform before adjournment

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy is urging members of the House Judiciary Committee to take up his death penalty reform bill before Congress adjourns for the year. Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary committee, presented the House with 135,000 petitions supporting his reform legislation; 844 petitions came from Vermont.

The legislation would allow inmates on death row to have access to all DNA evidence that is available in their case and it provides additional federal funds to insure that all people charged with capital crimes have qualified legal counsel. Leahy says it’s critical for Congress to act on his bill this year:

(Leahy) “In a death penalty case there should be zero room for error. Today it’s very much hit and miss. And I’m hoping this will pique the conscience of a lot of senators and House members. I’m sure some will say let’s delay this until next year. If you’re on death row and you know you’re innocent and about to be executed, next year doesn’t do you much good.”

(Host) The bill has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.

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