Norma Fleisher’s is also a conversion story. She supported the death penalty until 1999, when she ministered to prisoners on Tennessee’s death row. On her return to Nebraska, she became one of the hardest working supporters of repeal, driving more than 4,000 miles through every Nebraska county to talk about the death penalty to anyone who would listen and standing vigil at the Governor’s mansion every week. She became an inspiration for Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty’s Stacy Anderson (with whom she is pictured on the left), as well as for Senator Morfeld, who dedicated his repeal vote to her.
Norma passed away last October, more than six months before she could witness Nebraska as a death penalty-free state. Those who knew her are sure she was cheering from “a gallery far above.”
We’ve learned a lot about the death penalty in the last 35 years. Many people, however, still don’t know just how broken the policy is.
This January, 17 freshmen lawmakers embarked on their first legislative session in Nebraska. Some of them had only thought about the death penalty from a philosophical or emotional standpoint, never studying the issue as a practical, policy matter.
Today the National Latino Evangelical Coalition voted unanimously to support an end to the death penalty. EJUSA’s Heather Beaudoin joined NaLEC’s President, Rev. Gabriel Salguero and other Latino Evangelical leaders for a press conference in Orlando, FL to announce the news.
Below are videos from that event.
The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) became the first national association of Evangelical congregations to join the effort to repeal the death penalty. NaLEC’s board of directors voted unanimously for the resolution and is urging its 3,000 member congregations to support efforts to end capital punishment across the country.
The President of NaLEC, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, said, “As Christ followers, we are called to work toward justice for all. And as Latinos, we know too well that justice is not always even-handed. The death penalty is plagued by racial and economic disparities and risks executing an innocent person. Human beings are fallible and there is no room for fallibility in matters of life and death.”
EJUSA National Organizer Heather Beaudoin will be traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina later this month to attend the Christian Community Development Association’s (CCDA) conference. The annual gathering brings together more than 2,500 young, dynamic faith leaders who are making change in underserved communities around the country. CCDA will hold its first dialogue on the death penalty after EJUSA’s proposal for a workshop was accepted.
The workshop will bring Heather together with Reverend Billy Moore (pictured, left) and will include an overview of the flaws in the death penalty from a Christian perspective and an in-depth look at Moore’s experience of redemption after spending over 16 years on death row.
The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), a coalition of over 3,000 Hispanic evangelical churches, released a call yesterday for “Hispanic evangelical leaders to closely examine their stance on capital punishment and mass incarceration.”
President of NaLEC, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, says that the death penalty is “too broken to ensure that innocent persons are not executed.” He also sees how the system can “disproportionately and negatively impact people based on race, color and economics.”
EJUSA has been working together with NaLEC to sponsor more national conversations on the death penalty amongst Latino and faith communities. Last year, Rev. Salguero, joined 27 prominent evangelicals and Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty in raising concern around fair sentencing hearings in a capital punishment case in Texas.
EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein and EJUSA’s longtime friend and partner, Jonathan Gradess, are featured in the Winter 2014 issue of the Government, Law and Policy Journal from the New York State Bar Association. Jonathan is the former Board Chair of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and now sits on EJUSA’s Board of Directors.
Shari and Jonathan’s article, “Pumping Oxygen into the Room,” shares the story of how New York became the first state in the modern era to abandon the death penalty and what New York’s abolition meant for the movement to end the death penalty in the United States.
New York’s elimination of the death penalty sparked a new vision for abolition entirely: more than the absence of the death penalty, it was also the presence of a new paradigm driven by those solutions that were previously stymied by the death penalty’s disproportionate pull of money, attention, time, and polarization, such as adequate victims’ services and effective crime prevention. This idea became a rallying cry for not only NYADP, but also for its national partner, Equal Justice USA (EJUSA), and abolition groups in other states.