Groups Support Governor’s Refusal to Transfer Inmate to Federal Government to Face Death Penalty
Posted: June 27, 2011|Category: Criminal Justice
Eight organizations – including the RI ACLU, the RI Commission for Human Rights, the RI State Council of Churches, the Urban League of RI and the American Friends Service Committee – have today issued a statement that commends Governor Lincoln Chafee for seeking to prevent the institution of federal death penalty charges against Jason Wayne Pleau, and calls on the U.S. Attorney to cease those efforts.
Without “in any way seek[ing] to minimize the tragedy that David Main’s family has suffered,” the groups said they could not “condone the federal government’s blatant effort to impose on our state a policy that Rhode Island has rejected for more than a century-and-a-half.” The groups stated that the Governor was “acting in the state’s highest tradition by maintaining Rhode Island’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty,” and emphasized that “as part of a civilized society … the government should not respond to a heinous crime with another act of barbarism and violence.” The full statement appears below:
Statement on Governor Lincoln Chafee's Refusal to Transfer Jason Wayne Pleau to the Federal Government
In seeking to prevent the federal prosecution of Jason Wayne Pleau – a person who has agreed to serve a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for committing a heinous crime – Governor Lincoln Chafee is acting in the state’s highest tradition by maintaining Rhode Island’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty.
John Gordon was hanged by the state of Rhode Island in 1845. The concern about his execution was so great that seven years later, Rhode Island became the second state in the country to abolish the death penalty. No person in the state has been executed since. Just this month, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a resolution seeking a posthumous pardon for John Gordon, recognizing the gravity of the state’s error in imposing the death penalty against him.
The Governor’s courageous action reflects and renews this proud heritage. In saying this, we do not in any way seek to minimize the tragedy that David Main’s family has suffered. But we cannot condone the federal government’s blatant effort to impose on our state a policy that Rhode Island has rejected for more than a century-and-a-half.
We know that the death penalty is not a deterrent, that it is imposed in a discriminatory, arbitrary and irrational manner, and that it remains capable of convicting innocent people. Even more fundamentally, as part of a civilized society, we firmly believe that the government should not respond to a heinous crime with another act of barbarism and violence. We commend the Governor for seeking to prevent the state’s involvement in this act of revenge and urge the U.S. Attorney to cease his efforts to subject Jason Pleau to the death penalty.
- Martha Yager, American Friends Service Committee, Southeast New England
- Will Lambek, Olneyville Neighborhood Association
- Marta Martinez, Progreso Latino
- Chanravy Proueng, Providence Youth Student Movement
- Steven Brown, Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union
- Michael Evora, R.I. Commission for Human Rights
- Rev. Dr. Don Anderson, Rhode Island State Council of Churches
- Dennis Langley, Urban League of Rhode Island