To everyone marking the end of Passover and the Easter holiday this weekend, we wish you meaningful celebrations. Shane Claiborne, Death Penalty Action’s Advisory Board Chairman, published this essay on Good Friday, linking the teachings and meanings of Good Friday to contemporary social justice issues, including our work to end executions.
Momentum continues to build across the country! Last Wednesday, legislatures in Nevada and Ohio held critical hearings on bills that would abolish the death penalty in those states. Death Penalty Action was there to support both the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty and Ohioans to Stop Executions as they echoed the messages in those hearings.
Stay tuned for more updates in the states!
STATEMENT OF DEATH PENALTY ACTION ON THE TRIAL OF DEREK CHAUVIN
Death Penalty Action opposes extra-judicial executions, which is the only appropriate label for the murder of George Floyd. Every police officer involved as well as their supervisors must be investigated and held appropriately accountable if fault is determined. The only way community healing will be possible and such occurrences prevented in the future is if there is zero tolerance for such abuse of power.
In June, Death Penalty Action took a formal decision to oppose oppose unnecessary killings by law enforcement officers and other government agents acting outside of the judicial process. Such killings are understood as “extra-judicial executions” in international vernacular. Death Penalty Action facilitated a panel on the issue during last summer’s Starvin’ for Justice: The 27th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the US Supreme Court. “Extra-Judicial Executions: International Law & Police Brutality in the United States featuring: Death Penalty Action Advisory Board member Jotaka Eaddy, Jasmine Rand, Esquire, of Rand Law, LLC, and Amnesty International’s Krissy Roth. The hour-long discussion is still quite relevant and worth a watch as the trial of Derek Chauvin captures the attention of justice seekers worldwide. Watch here.
WEBINAR: REPEALING OHIO’S DEATH PENALTY ONCE AND FOR ALL
Join us for a conversation on why it’s time to repeal the death penalty once and for all and how you can join the fight!
Webinar: Repealing Ohio’s Death Penalty Once and for All
Thursday, April 8, 2021
During Ohio’s lame duck session, legislation to prohibit the death penalty for those with “serious mental illness” finally passed. Ohio has not carried out an execution since July 2018. In fact, Governor DeWine entered his first term with seven scheduled executions and reprieved all of them. Public opinion is souring due to Ohio’s history of botched executions. Ohio’s not alone — a Gallup Poll found the majority of Americans now support life in prison (60%) over the death penalty (36%). Additionally, we know that Ohio’s use of the death penalty is part of an ongoing pattern of racial injustice. While Black and Brown people total less than 15% of Ohio’s population, they make up 58% of Ohio’s death row, 33% of those executed and 66% of those exonerated. When Ohio executions have taken place, 75% of the time it has involved a White victim. Join us for a conversation on why it’s time to repeal the death penalty once and for all and how you can join the fight.
Watch Free: The State of Texas vs. Melissa
Melissa Lucio has spent more than a decade on death row for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. In 2008, Lucio became the first Latina woman sentenced to death in Texas. In July 2019, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas court ruling and found Lucio’s right to a “complete defense” had been violated in her original trial. In February 2021, a sharply divided en banc Fifth Circuit reversed the 2019 grant of relief by a vote of 10 to 7. Lucio’s hope for exoneration and freedom now lies with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lucio has steadfastly maintained her innocence in the death of Mariah. “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” a 2020 documentary by Sabrina Van Tassel, highlights many of the concerning facts around her case. The film is currently winning awards in film festivals around the world, and it is available to watch for a fee on various streaming platforms. Now, in collaboration with Sabrina Van Tassel and with explicit encouragement from Melissa Lucio, Death Penalty Action is making the film available for free viewing on this special platform.
To watch, click here. If you are able to pay the viewing fee, please do. To watch for free, use the code “Action123,” when prompted. Once you register you have three days to start watching it, and once you start watching, you have 24 hours to complete it.
New Book of Essays About Federal Executions Now Available!
The InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley (IFC), in conjunction with Chalk and Fire Publishing, has published The Killing Fields of the Federal Government: InterFaith Essays on the Resumption of Executions, a collection of essays in response to the executions of twelve men and one woman at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute’s backyard starting in July 2020.
The book includes seven essays by six IFC authors: Sister Barbara Battista, Bill Breeden, Arthur Feinsod, Terry Gillies-Fear, Crystal Mikell Reynolds, and Death Penalty Action Advisory Board Member, Cantor Michael Zoosman. The tone and content of the essays range from personal narratives, provided by spiritual advisors who witnessed the executions; to impassioned reflections of those who protested the executions; to scholarly analyses that offer perspectives on spiritual issues that surround the executions. The essays are framed by a prologue and epilogue written by editor Sheron J. Dailey and a 2011 poem by William E. LeCroy, Jr., who was executed September 22, 2020.
Abraham J. Bonowitz, Director of Death Penalty Action provided the jacket quote on the back cover, concluding: “Now their passion lives on in these pages — a wake-up call to humanity.”
Orders for From the Killing Fields of the Federal Government: InterFaith Essays on the Resumption of Executions can be placed through Chalk & Fire publishing: firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is only $15.00, which includes free shipping within the United States and a free bookmark with important quotations for mercy and forgiveness and against an eye-for-an-eye thinking which, as Gandhi said, would make the whole world blind. That quotation is on the bookmark, too.
Live in Nevada? Nevadans are still reeling from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. To offset the state’s budgetary shortfall, we urge Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature to repeal the costly and ineffective death penalty. Click here to take action!
The South Carolina Senate has passed legislation to allow for alternative methods of execution, including burning prisoners to death in the electric chair, or shooting them with a firing squad. The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the South Carolina House of Representatives but as of this writing on 3/27/2021, it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. Live in South Carolina? Please use this tool to write to your representative in the South Carolina House of Representatives to let them know how you feel.
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- AG Yost: 1 in 6 death-row inmates have been executed since 1981
- Legislature hears first bill to abolish the death penalty
- It’s time to abolish the federal death penalty
- Why Virginia’s abolition of the death penalty is a big deal for the state and the US
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