HOUSEL CASE: TIME RUNNING OUT FOR BRITON ON DEATH ROW
Tracey Housel, whose appeal to the US Supreme Court is expected to be heard later this month or early next, faces execution by lethal injection in the same state that executed the last British national to be killed by the authorities in the United States. In 1995 Cambridge-born Nicholas Ingram, who did not receive official representations on his behalf from the UK authorities*, was executed despite public outcry in the Britain.
The jury in Mr Housel's case, where he was represented by a single court-appointed lawyer who had never handled a murder case, did not hear that the defendant was brain-damaged, abused as a child by an alcoholic father, or that at the time of the offence Mr Housel suffered a psychotic episode connected to a medical condition (hypoglycemia). Had this evidence been presented in court a capital sentence would have been unlikely.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'It is crucial that the UK government make the firmest representation on behalf of Tracey Housel â€“ a British national facing a grisly death in an American lethal injection chamber.
Six years ago British national Nicholas Ingram was executed in the USA with the British government looking the other way. History must not be allowed to repeat itself.'
More than 100 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) and Amicus Brief on behalf of Tracy Housel.
Bermuda â€“ a British overseas territory â€“ has abolished the death penalty, as has the United Kingdom. Yet the United States continues annually to execute large numbers of people â€“ 64 during 1 January - 7 December 2001 alone, and 747 since it reintroduced the punishment in 1977.
There are currently over 130 individuals on Georgia's death row. Twenty-six people have been executed in Georgia since 1976. Like many states, race plays a huge part in who ends up on death row. Of the 26 individuals already executed, all but two were convicted of homicides against white people.
Please see http://www.tracyhousel.org for background information on Tracy Housel's case, the MPs and lawyers who support his case and links to previous press article and reports.
*At the time Prime Minister John Major said 'I am advised that there are no proper grounds for the British government to intervene. I have therefore not made any representations on Mr Ingram's behalf.'
Amnesty International hopes that with a new governmental policy of intervention in death penalty cases in place, the Prime Minister this time will act on behalf of a British national.