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01-08 OA Now

Selma senator wants to abolish death penalty

By: William White | Opelika-Auburn News Published: January 08, 2012 Auburn, Ala. 

A state senator from Selma says he plans to introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty in Alabama during the upcoming regular session of the Legislature.

 “I call it murder when the state of Alabama makes the deliberate decision to kill a person,” said Sen. Henry “Hank” Sanders,D-Selma.

Sanders spoke to the congregation and guests Sunday at the Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for the first in a series of meetings for “The Journey of Hope – from Violence to Healing,” which highlights concerns about the death penalty in Alabama.

While Sanders had introduced legislation for a moratorium on executions previously, he said he plans to take the next step in the upcoming session that begins Feb. 7.

“I will introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty,” said Sanders to the applause of the audience at the church.

Sanders said that one of the things that bothers him greatly about Alabama is the state’s attempt to use capital punishment as a deterrent.

“Alabama has a high incarceration rate in the world — not just in the United States, in the world,” Sanders said. “We put a higher percentage of our people in jail and in prison. That tells me that either people of Alabama are worse than people in other places, and I don’t believe that, or something is wrong with the system.”

He said Alabama’s capital punishment rate is the highest, or second highest, in the country.

“If that was going to stop folks, then we should have less folks going to death row, not more folks,” he said. “So it is not having that kind of impact.”

The second meeting in the series, sponsored by the student chapter of Alabama Arise, will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, on the Auburn University campus in Room 2370 of the Haley Center.

Three days later, there will be a gathering at Toomer’s Corner at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, for a Martin Luther King Interfaith Vigil for Justice and Peace.

For more information, visit Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty’s website at