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Campaign in Nebraska shifts focus to 2016 election

voting bookLast week, death penalty supporters in Nebraska submitted petition signatures to put repeal legislation in front of voters in the 2016 election.

The signatures have now been sent to county clerks, who will attempt to verify them against registered voters in the next 40 days. The official numbers will come out in October from the Secretary of State’s Office, but it seems there are enough for the death penalty to go before Nebraska voters next fall.

The return of the death penalty is far from assured. Nebraska's NPR station quickly reported that only a third of ballot campaigns in the state succeed. An editorial in Nebraska’s Kearney Hub asked, “So have politicians, despite the Legislature’s well-educated and reasoned repeal of capital punishment, sold petition signers a bill of goods? Probably.” And one of the state’s largest papers editorialized, “The Journal Star editorial board is confident that voters who study the issues will come to the same conclusion that the Legislature did: It’s time for the death penalty to go.”

Connecticut Supreme Court puts a nail in the coffin of state’s death penalty

CT Supreme Court BuildingThree years ago, EJUSA joined our partners at the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty and a broad coalition of supporters to celebrate Connecticut’s repeal of the death penalty. Now, the Connecticut Supreme Court has taken things a step further and ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.

Repeal in Connecticut was prospective, meaning it only applied to cases after the law was passed. It left 11 men on the state’s death row. The Court said that “the death penalty now fails to satisfy any legitimate penological purpose and is unconstitutionally excessive,” ruling that those 11 men will now be resentenced.

Khalilah Brown-Dean was a tireless supporter of repeal efforts when the issue was in front of the legislature. She is a professor of political science who lost her cousin, Brian Anthony Patterson, to murder. She wrote in support of the Court’s decision, recalling the scores of families of homicide victims who said the death penalty in Connecticut did not address the profound sense of loss they felt in the wake of the murder of their loved ones.

An interview with the director of EJUSA’s Trauma Advocacy Initiative

Sarah interviewing FatimahLast month, we introduced you to the expansion of our work to build a better justice system, including two new staff. I had the opportunity to sit down with one of them, Fatimah Loren Muhammad, and learn about her first few weeks, what a “trauma-informed” justice system means, and her vision for this first year.

Sarah Craft: I know you're still getting your feet wet, but what do you see as the goals of the Trauma Advocacy program in the first year?

Fatimah Loren Muhammad: First of all, I want to start by saying how absolutely excited I am to join the EJUSA team. These past few weeks have been wonderful connecting with the staff and board members and the greater EJUSA community, many of whom have sent emails of encouragement as I begin my work here.

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