Report Calls for Moratorium on Indiana Executions

After a thorough review of its state's death penalty system, an Indiana assessment team today released its final report and said the state needs to temporarily halt executions until it improves its administration of death penalty cases.

The assessment team, which conducted its work over the course of 20 months, determined the State of Indiana is in full compliance with only 10 out of 93 protocols included in its report. The team conducted the study under the guidance of the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, a project of the ABA's Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities.

The full report and executive summary, including charts that identify specific recommendations and state compliance levels, are available on the ABA’s Web site here. Additional information about the Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project and the assessment project is also posted there.

A recent statewide survey conducted on behalf of the ABA found that three in five Hoosiers support a moratorium on executions in the state. Fully 61 percent believe there should be a temporary halt to executions in Indiana while the issue is studied. Just 31 percent oppose it. There is majority support for a moratorium in all corners of the state, including the Fort Wayne area (67% support), the Indianapolis area (57%), the South of the state (60%) and the Northwest (67%).  Majorities of Democrats (72%), Independents (55%) and Republicans (58%) support a moratorium on executions.  Self-described liberals (75%), moderates (59%) and conservatives (58%) alike support a temporary halt to executions.

In assessing the state system, the team measured Indiana law, procedure and practices against protocols developed by the ABA to evaluate death penalty jurisprudence. It found Indiana is in compliance with 10 protocols, in partial compliance with 36, not in compliance with 21, and one was inapplicable. For 24 of the protocols, the team was unable to obtain enough information to assess compliance.

Broad areas identified as being in need of reform are:

* Inadequate qualification standards for defense counsel.
* Lack of an independent statewide authority to appoint capital defense counsel.
* Lack of meaningful proportionality review of death sentences.
* Significant capital juror confusion.
* Racial disparities in Indiana’s capital sentencing.
* Death sentences imposed on people with severe mental disabilities.