Only 12 of 85 recommended procedures for a fairly administered death penalty system are completely satisfied -- 47 fail completely

Richmond , VA – A study released today sheds new light on the scope and breadth of the flaws in Virginia’s death penalty system. Equal Justice and Fair Play looks at how Virginia’s procedures stack up against 85 recommended procedures for a fairly administered death penalty system. It finds that only 12 of the 85 are fully satisfied, and that 47 completely fail to satisfy the recommendations.
Published by Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and endorsed by the ACLU of Virginia and 12 other Virginia organizations, Equal Justice and Fair Play is the third major report in recent years addressing inequities in Virginia’s capital punishment system. The two previous reports, Unequal, Unfair and Irreversible (2000) and Broken Justice (2003), were published by the ACLU of Virginia.
The previous reports focused on broad issues such as the quality of defense counsel, prosecutorial misconduct and discretion, judicial review, and racial discrimination. Equal Justice and Fair Play examines many of these issues again, but breaks them down into more discrete parts. It also looks at police procedures and investigations, pointing out additional inadequacies not fully explored in any previous report on the death penalty in Virginia.
“From anecdotal information and the previous reports, Virginia’s lawmakers have been aware for years of major problems with Virginia’s death penalty system,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “With this new report, they now have a very specific list to work from.”
In 2000, after 13 Illinois death row inmates were exonerated, then Governor George Ryan imposed a moratorium on the death penalty and convened a commission to examine the state’s capital punishment system. In 2002, the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment recommended 85 specific procedures that should be in place for a properly and justly administered capital punishment system. Equal Justice and Fair Play compares Virginia’s existing procedures with the 85 recommendations made by the Illinois commission.
A copy of Equal Justice and Fair Play, as well as the two previous reports, can be found at and respectively.

Contact: Kent Willis, (Office) 804/644-8022