Amnesty International reported this month executions and death sentences dropped in the United States last year, a sign that support for this penalty may be on the decline. The U.S. was the only country in the Western Hemisphere performing executions in 2014. The number of executions fell to 35 from 39 the previous year. The number of death sentences handed out also declined to 77 from 95 the year before. Four states – Texas, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma – accounted for 89% of U.S. executions last year. Texas and Missouri each executed 10 people.
Andre Cole is an African-American man tried and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in St. Louis County, and is scheduled to be executed April 14th. St. Louis County, which includes the City of Ferguson, ranks 9th among all counties in the U.S. in the number of murder convictions leading to executions. Unfortunately, the treatment of Mr. Cole is part of a larger pattern and practice of racially charged prosecutions. In Missouri, over 40% of the individuals on death row are African-American, yet they are only 12% of the state’s population. As we gather for Assembly next week, let us pray for an end to racism as well as capital punishment. Please keep Andre Cole in your prayers as well as the family of Anthony Curtis, his victim.
Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.