Last updated on: 1/6/2009 | Author:

American Bar Association (ABA) Biography

Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“The ABA has no position on the death penalty per se, but opposes the imposition of capital punishment on mentally retarded offenders and on offenders who were under age 18 at the time they committed capital offenses. Since 1997, it has urged a halt to executions in all death penalty jurisdictions, state or federal, until they can (1) ensure that death penalty cases are administered fairly and impartially, in accordance with due process, and (2) minimize the risk that innocent persons may be executed. For the ABA, the question is not whether, as a matter of morality, philosophy, or penological theory, there should be a death penalty. But it has concluded that each jurisdiction that imposes the death penalty has a duty to determine whether the system under which the penalty is imposed and carried out is flawed and, if so, to eliminate the flaws. The ABA’s moratorium resolution is one of the ways the ABA has chosen to encourage such examination and correction of problems. The Association previously had adopted policies calling for improvements in the competency of counsel in capital cases; calling for preservation, enhancement, and streamlining of state and federal courts’ authority and responsibility to exercise independent judgment on the merits of constitutional claims in state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus proceedings; and callling for the elimination of racial discrimination in capital sentencing on the basis of either the victim’s or the defendant’s race. The ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities has developed protocols for jurisdictions to use to evaluate whether their systems provide due process and are fair, published as “Death Without Justice: A Guide for Examining the Administration of the Death Penalty in the United States,” and has used the protocols to evaluate the systems of eight states.”

Email to, Aug. 19, 2008


“The largest voluntary professional association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.”

“About the ABA,” ABA website (accessed Aug. 12, 2008)


“The Mission of the American Bar Association is to serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty an delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.”

Email to, Aug. 19, 2008

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Quoted in:
  1. Does Clemency Serve as a Safeguard in Capital Punishment Sentences?
  2. Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished Because Innocent People May Be Executed?