Innocence Protection Act
The Innocence Protection Act (IPA) is a bill which would:
- require that every person accused of a capital crime has access to a competent and experienced attorney, by setting up a grant program to help States design specific standards for attorneys who choose to take on capital cases;
- allow condemned prisoners to have DNA evidence tested when such evidence is available and has a reasonable probability of proving the convicted prisoner innocent; and
- protect death row inmates who have been granted Supreme Court review from being executed while they are waiting for their review.
On July 18, 2002, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the IPA to the full Senate. However, as the 107th Congress comes to a close, the Senate and House floor-calendars are filling up. As of today, there is still no date set for debate of the IPA on the Senate floor nor has the House Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote. Negotiations are currently ongoing in both the House and the Senate.
Although it will not end the use of capital punishment, the U.S. Bishops have supported the IPA because it will help protect innocent people from being executed. With the reality that a majority of Americans still support the use of capital punishment, nothing can illustrate the need for such protection more than the fact that there have been 102 people that are known to have been sentenced to death and then subsequently found innocent.
Domestic staff will continue to advocate for the passage of the IPA because focusing attention and generating debate on the bill aids our efforts to move towards an end to capital punishment. At this time, our legislative efforts are focused on the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), to schedule a Committee vote on the IPA as soon as possible. Staff is also encouraging all of the Subcommittee members who are co-sponsors of the IPA to ask the Chairman to schedule a vote as soon as possible. In the Senate, the focus is on Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to schedule a debate on the Senate floor asap.
- Contact Majority Leader Daschle's office and encourage him to put the IPA on the Senate floor calendar asap.
- Solicit support from all of the members of the House Judiciary Committee, who are co-sponsors of the legislation, to schedule a vote on the IPA asap.
- Encourage the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to schedule a vote on the IPA asap.
www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/criminal/savindex.shtml, click on Stand Against Violence Policy Agenda, also see the web site of the Justice Project's Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform (www.CJReform.org)
For More Information
Andy Rivas 202.541.3190; (fax) 202.541.3339; firstname.lastname@example.org or Frank McNierney, Consultant on the Death Penalty; email@example.com.