News Releases
January 09, 2017

Statement by BBA President Carol Starkey Regarding Death Sentence for Gary Lee Sampson

Press Release

First and foremost, our thoughts are with the families of Gary Lee Sampson’s three victims – Philip McCloskey, Jonathan Rizzo, and Robert Whitney. 

While the Boston Bar Association opposes use of the death penalty in any case, we acknowledge that it was a difficult process for each juror, and we respect the legal process that was so carefully followed in this case. 

I’m proud that the BBA has added to the public discourse and education on this issue, which bears repeating here.

For the last 40 years, the Boston Bar Association has argued that the death penalty system is fundamentally inconsistent with the fair administration of our system of justice.

• The inevitability of error in criminal cases makes it overwhelmingly likely that reliance on the death penalty will lead to the execution of innocent defendants.

• In practice, the death penalty has a disproportionate impact on members of racial and ethnic minorities.

• Pursuit of the death penalty is an inordinately expensive gesture, inconsistent with the sensible allocation of resources in a criminal justice system already laboring under great financial strain.

As such, we are — and will continue to be – compelled to speak openly against capital punishment, even when the facts of a specific case do not appear to raise questions about innocence or discrimination. 

History teaches us that the enormous amount of time and resources consumed by death penalty cases merely shifts the focus away from the need for closure and healing for the families of victims, and all those touched by such horrendous violence.