Jimmy Carter cites inconsistency in call for death penalty moratorium

Nov. 11, 2013 at 6:34 PM
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PLAINS, Ga., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called for a moratorium on the death penalty, saying its uneven use is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

"It's time for the Supreme Court to look at the totality of the death penalty once again," Carter said in an exclusive interview with the British newspaper The Guardian published Monday.

"My preference would be for the court to rule that it is cruel and unusual punishment, which would make it prohibitive under the U.S. Constitution," he said.

The court instituted a ban on the punishment between 1972 and 1976, citing its inconsistent use among the states. Carter said that inconsistency still exists today among the 32 states that still have the death penalty .

Researchers say just 2 percent of the counties in the United States are responsible for the 1,352 executions that have taken place since the high court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976.

The former president's primary concern is who he sees as the individuals most likely to receive the death penalty.

"The only consistency today is that the people who are executed are almost always poor, from a racial minority or mentally deficient," he said. "It's almost inconceivable in these modern days to imagine that a rich white man would be executed if he murdered a black person."

Carter is expected to reiterate his concerns Tuesday at a national symposium held by the American Bar Association in Atlanta that will be hosted by the former president's Carter Center.

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