Baltimore, MD – The NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement today regarding Orlando County State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s decision to not seek the death penalty in future cases.
The NAACP applauds Orlando County State Attorney Aramis Ayala for her courageous decision not to seek the death penalty in future cases brought by her office, and we applaud Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze for her steadfast support of this decision. The NAACP has long recognized that the death penalty has no place in modern society, for reasons both humanitarian and practical. As people of conscience, we cannot condone the killing of a human being, no matter how heinous their crime. The NAACP’s opposition to the death penalty is strengthened by the fact that over one hundred innocent people have been sentenced to death and some have been executed. As 102 nations around the world have concluded, justice can be served without capital punishment.
The NAACP’s support for State Attorney Ayala’s decision is also rooted in the practical reality of the application of the death penalty in this country. The NAACP was founded to combat lynching, a form of mob violence that was often deployed against Black people. Both legalized and extra-legal lynchings have shaped the Black experience in America, and the racial disparities in the application of the death penalty continue this ignominious tradition. Black people make up 13 percent of the population, but they make up 42 percent of death row inmates and 35percent of those executed. In addition, many studies have found the race of the victim to affect who receives the death penalty, with homicides of white victims more likely to result in the death penalty. It is time to close this shameful chapter in our country’s history.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.