ACLU Capital Punishment Project

Partnering with ACLU affiliates in death penalty states and with coalition partners nationally, CPP promotes both abolition and systemic reform of the death penalty process in the following ways:

Direct Representation: CPP takes on direct representation in cases that exemplify the inherent unfairness in capital cases. We work primarily in the courts of the South, in states that have historically been discriminatory or reluctant to provide adequate resources for indigent clients facing the death penalty.

Strategic Litigation: CPP is currently involved in capital litigation in courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court. In general, its litigation focuses on: (1) innocent persons; (2) severely mentally ill persons; (3) persons who face execution because of abysmal legal representation; (4) persons who face execution because of systemic discrimination; and (5) improving the fairness of capital trials and appeals.

Systemic Reform: CPP works to reform the capital punishment process. In general, its initiatives focus on improving the quality of legal representation, enhancing the fairness of capital trials and appeals, and reducing the number of defendants who face the death penalty.

Public Education and Advocacy: CPP is actively engaged in repeal and moratorium efforts in a number of states. Elsewhere, CPP is working to curtail the use of the death penalty and oppose recent efforts to expand its use through public education and other advocacy efforts.


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