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Death-Sentence Appeals Take Too Long, Local Attorney Says

Last updated on Monday, March 5, 2007

(INDIANAPOLIS) - An Indianapolis defense attorney is denouncing a new Justice Department study that indicates death-sentence appeals take too long, hurt victims’ families, and cost states millions in extra costs.

Attorney Bob Hammerle has represented several defendants in capital cases and believes death row inmates should be given every opportunity to appeal their death sentence--regardless of the time and costs associated with the process.

The study, which reviewed state death sentences issued in the 1990s, found that only 11 percent are eventually stopped by the courts. That challenges a 2000 report that concluded 68 percent of all death penalty cases between 1973 and 1995 were overturned.

Hammerle says DNA evidence is now highlighting the fact that some death row inmates are innocent. He believes the lengthy appeals process may in itself be an argument for ending capital punishment.

The death penalty study was performed in 2005 by the National Institute of Justice to find ways to speed up the execution process.

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