GEORGIA CLEARS WAY FOR THE 1,500TH U.S. EXECUTION

Contact: Scott Langley, 518-249-8094 (voice/text) or scott@deathpenaltyaction.org

ATLANTA — With the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denial of clemency for death row prisoner Marion Wilson, Jr., the State of Georgia has cleared the way for his June 20th execution. Barring any unforeseen delays, his execution will become the United States’ 1500th execution since resumption began in 1977.

“This is a horrific milestone in our country’s barbaric practice of killing prisoners.  Even with the death penalty in steady decline throughout the country, it is still troubling each time a state decides to take a life,” said Scott Langley, co-director of Death Penalty Action, a national organization which has been providing resources and leadership to highlight pervasive issues of concern as the count reaches 1500. Petition signatures from around the country and the world are being delivered today to the office of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

The pace of executions is only one indicator of the steady decline of capital punishment. It took 7 years between the 500th and 1,000th executions. Then it took almost 14 years to get to the 1,500th.

While 29 states still have the death penalty on the books, Georgia is on a small list of only a handful of states that are still actively executing prisoners. It has carried out 73 of the 1,499 executions to-date making it the sixth-most executing state in modern history.  Georgia has also figured prominently in some of the most significant rulings and executions this country has seen in the last 50 years.

1972’s Furman v. Georgia decision ruled that all death penalty laws in the United States were “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore unconstitutional. The 1976 Gregg v. Georgia decision upheld the new laws and allowed the resumption of executions.  The death penalty is no less arbitrary today. Georgia is also the state that carried out the controversial 2011 execution of Troy Davis, a man largely believed to have been innocent. A searchable database covering the 1,499 executions to-date was made available last week by the Death Penalty Information Center at www.DeathPenaltyInfo.org (not affiliated with Death Penalty Action).

Since the 1000th execution, which took place in 2005, nine states have ended the death penalty by legislation or court order, including New Hampshire just last month, while another four have put a moratorium in place.

Protestors are planning to vigil around the State of Georgia Thursday night in protest of the execution.  Other solidarity vigils will be taking place around the world, including in Washington, DC, Dallas, Paris and the UK.   

At the prison in Jackson where the execution is to be carried out, Death Penalty Action Advisory Board Members Randy Gardner of Utah and SueZann Bosler of Florida will be there to add their voices to the protest against the execution of Mr. Wilson. Randy’s brother was executed by firing squad in Utah, and SueZann witnessed her father’s murder and she herself was stabbed and left for dead.

Demonstrators in Paris, France on June 19th