ACLU of Massachusetts
              ACLU of Massachusetts Criticizes Romney's 
              Proposed "Human Error-free" Death Penalty

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:	                                CONTACTS:
  May 6, 2004 			       ACLU of Massachustts: 617-482-3170
  			       Ann Lambert, Legislative Counsel, ext. 332
  			    John Reinstein, ACLU Legal Director, ext. 324

  BOSTON - Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts 
  today challenged as unworkable and dangerous a so-called "infallible" 
  death penalty system proposed by Governor Mitt Romney's hand-picked panel, 
  noting that the panel failed to address adequately the problems of human 
  error, racial discrimination, and the inherent limitations of science.

  "It is impossible to take human error out of a system in which human 
  beings enforce laws, conduct investigations, act as prosecutors, serve on 
  juries, and sit on the bench," said Ann Lambert, Legislative Counsel for 
  the ACLU of Massachusetts. "We are concerned that preliminary reports are 
  silent as to race issues, particularly in light of chilling statistics 
  that racial discrimination remains a key factor in law enforcement and 
  application of the death penalty."

  The Governor's panel, which did not include any members of the criminal 
  defense bar, reflects an on-going effort by Romney to reintroduce capital 
  punishment in Massachusetts.

  "What the panel seems to think of as 'science' fails to reflect how past 
  scientific breakthroughs, such as fingerprints and ballistics, ultimately 
  are shown not to be fool-proof," said Lambert. "In this case, while DNA 
  has been an important tool in exonerating innocent people who have been 
  wrongfully convicted of a crime, the so-called science of DNA remains 
  riddled with human error, ranging from corrupt specimens to laboratory 
  failures. As a result, it should never be relied upon as conclusive proof 
  of guilt."

  Attempts to reintroduce the death penalty in DNA-related cases could be 
  prohibitively costly, since it will require creation of an elaborate 
  execution apparatus in Massachusetts. Moreover, since only a small 
  percentage of murder cases involve DNA evidence, it will have little 
  actual effect.

  "It is clearly more of a political move than a serious criminal justice 
  policy proposal," said Lambert. "It is worth noting that while many states 
  and most countries are moving away from the death penalty, our Governor is 
  attempting to reverse the progress we have made on this issue here in 

  Nonetheless, the ACLU of Massachusetts acknowledged the panel's findings 
  that eye-witness testimony, over-reliance on informants, and the bias 
  inherent in requiring death-qualified juries have contributed to 
  miscarriages of justice, particularly in capital cases.

  "Scientific advancements hold much promise for improving law enforcement," 
  said Lambert. "But it should not be used to mask the fact that our 
  criminal justice system is inherently human and, therefore, prone to