What We Do > Death Penalty

The death penalty is the greatest denial of civil liberties. Innocent people
are being sentenced to death. In the past 30 years, 122 inmates were found
to be innocent and released from death row, including Puerto Ricans living
in the continental United States. The ACLU is working toward a moratorium on the death penalty.

In Puerto Rico the major struggle continues to be the insistent imposition
of the Federal Death Penalty, and cases in which jurisdictions with Death
Penalty statutes petition the Commonwealth government for extradition of
citizens living on the island. Puerto Rico's last execution took place in
1927, and in 1929 the death penalty was abolished by statute.

In 1952, upon ratification of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico, the Death Penalty became unconstitutionally impermissible in Puerto
Rico. It is argued that this constitutional prohibition extends to any role
the government may play in the execution of any citizen within Puerto Rico,
even if only limited to autorizing extradition to a death penalty

  • Historic United States District Court Case holding the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 inapplicable to Puerto Rico—a death penalty free jurisdiction. Read PDF >>>


The ACLU of Puerto Rico appeared before the Puerto Rico Supreme Court in a case involving the extradition of a citizen of Puerto Rico to a jurisdiction in the United States in which defendant would be exposed to capital punishment if found quilty.

Read ACLU Amicus Brief (PDF) and the Opinion (PDF) of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court (Spanish Language) in People of Puerto Rico v. Juan Martinez Cruz

Spanish-language documents:



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