CRF Blog

Stay of Execution

by Bill Hayes

In Stay of Execution for the New York Times Book Review, David Oshinsky reviews A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America by Evan J. Mandery

The first sustained legal assault on the death penalty was organized by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and led by a group of young attorneys who viewed capital punishment as a civil rights issue because of the high percentage of blacks on death row. But defending a single race from execution seemed callous at best. “We felt a legal and moral obligation to extend representation to other clients, many of whom had suffered the same injustices,” said Anthony Amsterdam, the Defense Fund’s top litigator. With more than 600 prisoners awaiting execution, the group pushed two key arguments in the courts: flawed process and evolving standards of decency. [more]