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Our History

EJUSA was founded in 1990 as a program of the Quixote Center. In 2008, we spun off from the Quixote Center to form an independent organization, giving us the focus and flexibility to seize a unique moment and seriously escalate our campaigns to end the death penalty.


EJUSA was one of the first organizations to identify the inequities in the U.S. legal system as a critical social justice issue. At the time, criminal justice concerns were rarely linked to other justice causes. The death penalty had widespread popular support in an atmosphere of rising crime and tough rhetoric across the political spectrum.

Our innovative approach to breaking through this daunting reality was to refocus grassroots organizing efforts from entrenched ideological positions to issues of fundamental fairness in the system, with the death penalty serving as a defining issue.

The Moratorium Now! campaign and the shift to the states

EJUSA launched the Moratorium Now! campaign in 1997, pioneering the grassroots movement for a moratorium on executions. Our campaign worked to build the capacity of state and local organizations, providing them with tools and strategies to re-energize the death penalty debate in their local communities.

We soon saw an opportunity to take the campaign to the next level in our home state. We won the nation’s second state moratorium when Maryland’s governor halted executions in 2002. Around that time we deepened our commitment to supporting state campaigns by opening our first field office. And by 2007 we had ended the death penalty in two states – New York and New Jersey – in conjunction with our state partners.

New beginnings

Today, the end of the death penalty is in sight. Death sentences have dropped dramatically. New stakeholders continue to join the campaign. And several states have ended the death penalty completely. EJUSA has played a leading role in this change, building bridges between unlikely allies and pioneering strategies that have become the norm across the movement.

To take advantage of these opportunities, EJUSA separated from our parent organization and former programs to become an independent organization. We added new organizers, opened new field offices, and relocated our national office to Brooklyn, New York in 2008. We increased our outreach and reshaped our mission so that our pursuit of common sense criminal justice policies would build bridges across ideological lines. And we added programs to advocate for the family members of murder victims, recognizing that the absence of the death penalty alone would not bring them support and healing.

Change is within reach. Please join us.

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