New resource: Fact sheet on racial inequality and the death penalty

EJUSA Fact Sheet: Racial IniquityLast month, EJUSA Campaign Strategist Ben Jones wrote a powerful post about the history of racial oppression in the U.S. death penalty. The post was so popular, we decided to create a fact sheet with the material.

You can now find the information in our ‘Learn’ pages, where you can download a formatted version to hand out at your next death penalty discussion or while you’re tabiling.



Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Execution drop makes some think death penalty is fading awayAssociated Press
The end is near. Executions are on track to hit a 25-year low in 2016.

Colorado Rep Don Pabon on John Fugelsang’s ‘Tell Me Everything’, Sirius XM via YouTube
The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) recently passed a resolution in favor of repealing the death penalty. With the help of Equal Justice USA, they studied the issue and came to the conclusion that the system is broken beyond repair and must be ended. Colorado State Representative Dan Pabon joins John Fugelsang on Sirius XM’s “Tell Me Everything” to talk about the resolution and NHCSL’s commitment to ending the death penalty in the U.S.

Meet The Ex-Gang Members From Chicago, Baltimore Trying to Keep Blood Off The StreetsThe Real News on YouTube
A video primer on the Cure Violence model to prevent harm and treat violence like a public health epidemic.
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Latino lawmakers take stand against death penalty

NHCSL LogoThe National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) met last month as part of the annual conference of the National Conference of State Legislators. One of the items on their agenda was a resolution calling for an end to the death penalty. Though they had originally planned to take up the measure at their meeting in December, they agreed that it was past time to take a stand on the “civil rights issue of our time,” as one member put it.

The resolution was overwhelmingly approved with bipartisan support. “After carefully reviewing the clear evidence of anti-Latino bias in the application of the death penalty, the high costs of death row to tax payers, and the ineffectiveness of capital punishment in reducing crime,” the NHCSL said in a statement, “Latino lawmakers called on Congress, and all states and localities to immediately repeal the death penalty.”

EJUSA has been working with members of the NHCSL as they considered the resolution. In her press statement, the lead sponsor urged her colleagues to work with us for nationwide repeal.

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Recommended: #DeathPenaltyFail

#DeathPenaltyFail is a new campaign using films to raise the conversation about the death penalty in the United States. EJUSA is a leading partner in the campaign, working to mobilize #DeathPenaltyFail film viewers to get involved in the movement to end the death penalty

Check out the films and the website here.

Here’s a trailer of our favorite one, “A Conservative Concern.”

Florida county responds after death penalty ‘outlier’ report

Duval religious leaders' press conferenceA new report from Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project found that the few counties that still use the death penalty are highly dysfunctional. One of the counties they identified is Duval County, Florida – a place where EJUSA organizer, Christine Henderson, lives and works. Christine and our local allies were outraged that their hometown’s record on the death penalty was so abysmal that it earned a national spotlight. We worked with local residents to respond to the report and call for an end to the death penalty.

The day after the report was released, EJUSA hosted a press conference of local religious leaders on the steps of the County Courthouse. They delivered a letter signed by over 50 of their local colleagues, asking the State Attorney’s office for the district to suspend its use of the death penalty.

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Families of murder victims call for Duval County, Florida to suspend the death penalty

Families of murder victims from across the country are calling on the Duval County State Attorney’s Office to demand a halt to the county’s use of the death penalty due to the harm it inflicts on surviving families.

55 family members signed a letter released today by EJUSA and Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation (MVFR).

“The lengths to which Duval County will go in its pursuit of the death penalty has been on display after the 2013 murder of Shelby Farah,” the families wrote in the letter. “Despite her mother’s request that her family be spared a death penalty case and the lengthy process it entails, prosecutors continue to seek it.”

“Duval County has sought the death penalty with essentially no regard for the harm it causes murder victims’ families,” said Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of EJUSA. “In less than a year, Florida’s death penalty law has been struck down twice as unconstitutional, leaving it in legal limbo. It’s the surviving families who are left to suffer the inevitable uncertainty of a death sentence. It’s no surprise that Darlene Farah has fought so hard to avoid such a fate.”

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Religious leaders call for suspension of the death penalty in Duval County, FL

Duval Religious Leaders press conferenceMore than 20 Duval County, Florida, religious leaders participated in an EJUSA press conference in front of the County Courthouse today. They gathered in reaction to a report from the Fair Punishment Project branding Duval County an “outlier” in its overuse of the death penalty. Clergy released a letter to the State Attorney’s Office signed by over 50 religious leaders from throughout the region, demanding a halt to death penalty prosecutions in their county.

“Duval County represents everything that is wrong with the small and shrinking number of counties that are still using the death penalty in America,” said EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein. “They all suffer from overzealous prosecutors, ineffective defense lawyers, and racial bias, which helps to explain why Florida leads the nation with 26 death row exonerations.”

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Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Are Evangelicals Ditching the Death Penalty?The Marshall Project
Another sign of how the U.S. is changing on the death penalty: Evangelical Christians are turning against it. Heather Beaudoin, our Director of Evangelical Outreach quoted in this article that looks at the demographic’s growing concerns over the ultimate punishment.

There’s trauma on both sides of the police-community relationshipThe Washington Post
“African American and Latino children manifesting symptoms of stress and trauma akin to those who have lived in war zones. And many who patrol those communities show the same signs of stress and trauma… [T]hey’re supposed to serve share the same space, necessarily interact and can be deeply, sometimes tragically affected by each other.”

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The crippling costs of Nebraska’s death penalty

infographic previewA study of the cost of Nebraska’s death penalty concluded that the state could save $14.6 million per year if Nebraskans vote to end the death penalty in November.

Dr. Ernie Goss, professor of economics at Creighton University, said he was surprised when his study revealed how expensive the death penalty is compared to its alternatives.”If you care about economics, you should vote to Retain the end of the death penalty in November,” he said at a news conference to present the comprehensive study.

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Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas Execution Demand New Sentencing Hearing for Jeff WoodThe Gospel Herald
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas ExecutionEvangelicals for Social Action
Evangelicals urge halt to Texas executionBaptist News Global
Evangelical leaders: Texas has ‘moral obligation’ to stop execution of death row prisoner, Christian Today
Several stories about the almost 50 Evangelical pastors who called on Texas Governor Greg Abbot and the Board of Paroles and Pardons to commute the death sentence of Jeffrey Wood. Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 23, even though he never killed anyone, had no previous criminal history, and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness. Although Wood was involved in a robbery, he didn’t plan to kill anyone and wasn’t even inside the gas station when the victim, Kris Keeran, was shot. He was sitting in a truck outside.

Even violent crime victims say our prisons are making crime worseThe Washington Post
According to a new  report from the Alliance for Safety & Justice,“A majority of crime victims prefer investments in treatment & prevention over prison spending.” The report, “Crime Survivors Speak,” includes the first national survey of crime victims’ views on safety and justice policy. It reveals their preference for prevention, health, and rehabilitation over more spending on prisons and jails. Continue Reading →