Stop the execution of Jack Alderman, an innocent man on death row

September 11, 2008

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Jack Alderman, the longest serving prisoner on death row in the USA, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday 16 September 2008 at 7.30 pm.

The legal action charity Reprieve (which represents 21 prisoners around the world who are facing the death penalty) is pleased to join the Bar Council and the Law Society in calling for Jack Alderman to be spared from execution and granted a pardon. Reprieve has long campaigned for the eradication of the death penalty, and is grateful for the groundswell from lawyers across the UK who are demonstrating a commitment to justice for those on the margins of society, who are most in need of legal support.

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Director, said, “I first met Jack in 1981, and 27 years later the state of Georgia still wants to execute him, even though he is completely innocent. He is an old man now. This whole situation is just obscene.”

Jack was sentenced to death in June 1975 for the murder of his wife, Barbara Jean, and has been on death row in Georgia for over 34 years, even though his neighbour John Brown, a known drug addict and alcoholic, confessed to the murder, and also confessed that he staged an accident in an attempt to cover up the crime, but then changed his story to implicate Jack. John Brown claimed that he and Jack killed Barbara Jean together and that Jack promised to pay him for his role in the killing.

There was no forensic evidence and Jack was only convicted as a result of statements provided by Brown, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs on the night of the murder.

The District Attorney who prosecuted Jack stated that he “structured the entire case” around John Brown’s testimony. Even worse, it was later revealed that Brown made a deal with prosecutors to implicate Jack in the crime. Two of the jurors have since affirmed that they would never have voted to execute Jack if the prosecutors had acknowledged the existence of the deal with Brown, and five jurors have now urged that Jack’s life be spared.

Both Alderman and Brown were sentenced to death, but Brown later pled guilty in return for a prison sentence and was freed after serving only 12 years. He went on to terrorize and molest girlfriends, their children and stepchildren, and other young girls and boys.

Jack Alderman has always maintained his innocence.

During his 34 years on death row, Jack has been a peacemaker within the prison community, and has become well-respected by his fellow prisoners, guards, and even the prison administration.

Last October, Jack received a stay of execution while a decision on the constitutionality of lethal injection (the method of execution utilized by the state of Georgia) was pending before the United States Supreme Court. Following the Court’s extraordinary decision earlier this year that lethal injection does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, executions resumed across the country and a death warrant was issued for Jack.

Jack’s lawyers have filed a petition to present evidence at an executive hearing before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Thus far, the Board has not agreed to hold a hearing and Jack is now within days of his scheduled execution. Jack has stated that he is not interested in life without parole, and his lawyers are pressing for a pardon. “I prefer to die in truth than live a lie”, Jack said, despite knowing full well that his principles could cost him his life.

Hundreds of individuals, faith-based organizations, and even those supporting capital punishment have advocated for a hearing for Jack. We ask that you join those individuals and others like them by urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Jack Alderman a hearing and bring an end to 34 years of gross injustice by granting Jack a pardon.


Note for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.

Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA. Reprieve lawyers currently represent over thirty prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay.


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Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner