As we settle into Spring and look ahead to warmer months, things are heating up with in the world of death penalty abolition.
Though many legislatures are on Spring break, activists are hard at work preparing for a big push in the Summer months. Places like Ohio, Nevada (where the House Judiciary Committee passed the abolition bill just yesterday) and most importantly, the U.S House and Senate all have bills that have that could abolish the death penalty in those jurisdictions this year.
We have some exciting programming coming up this month, so stay tuned!
April Webinar: The Death Penalty Photo Project
The Ku Klux Klan rallying in support of a Black man’s execution in Texas. The North Carolina death row warden wheeling a gurney into the execution chamber. Georgia’s execution of an innocent man. Weeping family members at the moment of a loved one’s execution.
These are just a few of the images captured in one of our co-founders, Scott Langley’s chilling death penalty photo documentary project. This project is the most comprehensive collection of original death penalty photographs available from one source.
The documentary includes execution vigils, inside an execution chamber, the hours leading up to an execution, portraits of exonerated death row prisoners, celebrities opposed to the death penalty, marches, demonstrations and candid emotional and prayerful moments in the context of the death penalty in the United States.
The project started in 1999 and continues today.
Join us for this month’s webinar featuring the photographer behind these bracing, emotional images and co-founder of Death Penalty Action, Scott Langley.
Experience the photos and stories at http://deathpenaltyphoto.org
Surviving the System: A Conversation on Why Ohio Must Repeal the Death Penalty
Melinda Dawson and Charles Keith would describe themselves as “regular people” — normal, every day Ohioans who never thought their lives would be transformed by the death penalty. Then, one day, everything changed.
With a focus on constituents in Northwest Ohio, Death Penalty Action is proud to co-host this compelling webinar featuring two stories of true survival — and the ways the struggle continues. Both Charles and Melinda serve on the Death Penalty Action Board of Advisors and Charles works with Death Penalty Action as our Impacted Communities Liaison. Please join us on April 22 at 7pm EDT for this can’t-miss program!
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: email@example.com. 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.
Exonerated Death Row Survivor’s Mother Among Leaders Raising Funds for Death Penalty Action
If you have a Facebook page, you certainly have seen the “birthday fundraisers” that Facebook encourages its members to use as a way to invite their friends and family to honor their birthday by contributing to a favorite charity. Death Penalty Action supporters regularly create such a fund raiser to benefit our work. Currently active Birthday Fundraisers are being run by the following leaders — people just like you who are stepping up to challenge themselves and their friends to support the work we all care about. Click on the link to wish them a happy birthday and help them reach their goals!
- Death Penalty Action’s Communications Intern, Leah Merriam, with a very stretchy goal of $1,000! Leah blew past her original goal of $200, re-set her goal to $350, and is now nearly half way to $1K!
- Death Penalty Action activist Kimber Mae Perrotta set a goal of $250 and is nearly hald way there with support from only four people!
- Joyce House actually has two Birthday Fundraisers going, each with a goal of $200. Joyce is at $95 on one, and $75 on the other.
Joyce has an interesting story that she shared with us. Her son, Paul House, survived 22 years on death row in Tennessee for a crime he had nothing to do with.
Joyce wrote, “I chose to raise funds for Death Penalty Action because I love the work that they are doing. 185 people have been found innocent and released from death rows in this country. One of them was my son, Paul.”
Paul House was exonerated and freed from Tennessee’s death row in 2009. He developed Multiple Sclerosis while on death row, and he continues to use his voice whenever possible. Joyce sent this recent photo of Paul (below), and they both thank you for your support!
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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