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March 01, 2005

Chancellor Hails High Court Decision on Death Penalty

Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Andrew A. Chirls hailed today's decision by the United States Supreme Court outlawing the death penalty for those who were under 18 when they committed their crimes.
Noting that the Philadelphia Bar Association called for an end to the death penalty for minors nearly a year ago, and that the Association filed a "Friend of the Court" brief in the Supreme Court case, Chirls said that the Court "was right to strike down the death penalty in this case."  The Chancellor said that today's ruling "effectively ends the death penalty for minors in Pennsylvania and 17 other states." He explained that, in the Keystone State, the ruling applies to two persons currently on death row and a defendant currently facing capital charges in Philadelphia.
Chirls pointed out that prior to today's ruling the United States was the only country in the world that permitted as a matter of ruling the execution of persons who were under 18 at the time of the crime. He also noted that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by every country in the world except the United States, prohibits the execution of juveniles. "Today the United States Supreme Court correctly nudged the United States into the community of nations on this issue. It was the right thing to do," Chirls concluded.
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