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Discrimination, Torture, and Execution: A Human Rights Analysis of the Death Penalty in U.S. Prisons (Oct. 9, 2013)

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In May 2013, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) undertook a fact-finding mission in California and Louisiana to evaluate the death penalty as practiced and experienced in these jurisdictions under a human rights framework. The mission examined whether the death penalty was being applied in a discriminatory manner, and if the conditions on death row met the U.S.’s obligation to prevent and prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

The mission interviewed death-row prisoners, exonerees and their family members, advocates, legal counsel, and non-governmental organizations in both states, analyzing the information gathered against the backdrop of international human rights law. Based on the interviews conducted and documentary review, the mission concludes that the use of the death penalty in California and Louisiana fails to protect a number of basic rights, rendering the United States in breach of certain fundamental international obligations. Specifically, the mission finds California and Louisiana violate the principle of non-discrimination in the charging, conviction and sentencing of persons to death. Both states treat prisoners condemned to death in a manner that is, at minimum, cruel, inhuman or degrading, and in some cases, constitutes torture.

The team produced a report outlining these issues in detail at the conclusion of the mission.

Discrimination, Torture, and Execution: A Human Rights Analysis of the Death Penalty in California and Louisiana (Death Penalty Report)