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Injustice can go hang

washington-sniperNot surprisingly, there’s not an awful lot of sympathy – on either side of the Atlantic – over the execution of Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad, but it’s worth reading this article, published today, about the American penal system

Writing in Global Researcher today Liliana Segura says there is evidence that most children who are sentenced to die in prison are of African descent. Whether it’s execution or dying of old age behind bars, being black rapidly increases chances of this fate.

There’s already plenty of evidence of a racial dimension to death sentences. In fact, 88 percent of inmates on death row in Philadelphia are African-American.

Mumia

Mumia Abu Jamal

This includes former Black Panther and journalist Mumia Abu Jamal, who faces imminent execution for the murder of a police officer 28 years ago, when a wealth of evidence casts serious doubt over his conviction.

This is not the case for the Washington sniper, who’s actions hardly elicit feelings of mercy, as witnessed by public reaction to a Comment Is Free article today.

But we should still think long and hard about supporting the death penalty in Britain.

If America is anything to go by, people of colour will disproportionately end up having their lives terminated, while others who commit the same crimes remain alive.

Let’s not forget that the last person executed by the British state, Michael de Freitas (aka “Michael X”), was a black man. And there are still considerable doubts over the circumstances of the murder of a white woman, who was the daughter of a Conservative MP.

We don’t know the exact circumstances, because government files which should have been released 2005 under the normal 30 year rule are still under lock and key. For reasons the State has yet to explain, we still have another 50 years to wait before papers are made public.

When the New Nation newspaper reported this fact last year, it speculated that the files would reveal a miscarriage of justice.

Just as Mumia Abu Jamal faces the prospect of being executed for a crime many people believe he did not commit, let’s not support calls for the death penalty in Britain because it will only kill new Mumia’s and De Freitas’s.

By Lester Holloway

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