Washington State’s death penalty ruled unconstitutional

In a 9-0 ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court has declared the state’s death penalty unconstitutional. Washington is now without a death penalty and becomes the 20th state in the country to reject capital punishment.

Statement by Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of Equal Justice USA:

“The Washington State Supreme Court today declared what we have long known – that the death penalty is unconstitutional and rife with racial bias. From police violence to mass incarceration, people of color have been calling on the U.S. justice system to act and address this crisis of racism throughout our justice system. Today in Washington, they were heard. The death penalty’s stark racial disparities send a message that the lives of people of color are less valuable than others. This is not only unfair, it compromises the integrity of justice itself. The death penalty is a tool of our shameful past – and that’s where it should stay.”

Statement by Hannah Cox, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty: 

“This decision will save Washington State taxpayers millions of dollars that would otherwise be wasted. Conservatives in Washington State and across the country increasingly realize the death penalty is a failed government program that does not value life, threatens innocent people, and wastes money.”

You can read the court’s full ruling here.

Pope declares death penalty “inadmissible” in all cases

Pope Francis

Earlier this month, Pope Francis declared that the death penalty is never admissible and always unacceptable, pledging that the Catholic Church will work for its abolition world wide.

This declaration is a step along a path that has been paved by previous Popes, stretching back to the 1960’s, when Pope Paul VI removed the death penalty from fundamental Church law in 1969.

Pope John Paul II took a significant leap forward from there, revising the catechism to say that the death penalty is unacceptable when other “non-lethal” ways are available to keep people safe. Further clarity came when Pope John Paul II specifically called for abolition of the death penalty in the United States, calling it “cruel and unnecessary.”

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The fight to end the death penalty lives on in New Hampshire

Thank you to all of you who signed our petition to end the death in New Hampshire. Because of you, our partners at the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NHCADP) were able to deliver a huge stack of 56,502 signatures (wow!) to Governor Chris Sununu on May 15, after a press conference with families of murder victims, calling for repeal.

Unfortunately, Governor Sununu refused to heed these voices – and many others – from around New Hampshire and the nation. On June 21 he vetoed the death penalty repeal bill that had passed both chambers of the state legislature with bipartisan support.

If the governor expected repeal advocates in New Hampshire to go away quietly, he was sorely mistaken. The House and Senate votes to end the death penalty demonstrate that the legislature is very close to being able to override the governor’s veto. That override vote has now been scheduled for September 13.

Our friends at NHCADP have put together an action plan of the best things YOU can do to help overturn the governor’s veto next month. Please check out their news update here. You’ll learn about action opportunities, a documentary they’re working on, and much more.

The fight to end the death penalty in New Hampshire is not over. Please check out NHCADP’s website and find out what you can do to help. Thank you!

Urgent: Tennessee is about to resume executions!

After a nearly ten-year hiatus, Tennessee is set to resume executions – starting with Billy Ray Irick, a man with lifelong, well-documented mental illness.

Act fast to tell Tennessee’s Governor that this execution should not go forward.

Tennessee - Do not resume executions

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Ohio Governor grants clemency after revelations of trauma

Late last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich granted clemency to Raymond Tibbetts and commuted his death sentence. Thousands of you sent emails, signed petitions, made phone calls, and mobilized friends and neighbors to make sure that Governor Kasich knew that the trauma Tibbetts experienced as a child had been withheld from the jury during his trial.

Thank you. It is because of this grassroots movement that a man will not be executed.

Trauma has devastating effects on individual lives and whole communities. Tibbetts was first abandoned by his parents at the age of two, and throughout his childhood in foster care he was tied to a bed at night, regularly beaten, thrown down the stairs, burned, starved, and more. The horrific abuse that he and his brothers experienced was never addressed. We could have interrupted the cycle of harm, but instead the system failed him.

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Stop the Execution of Ray Tibbetts

Raymod Tibbitts
Raymond Tibbetts is scheduled to be executed in Ohio later this fall. He was originally scheduled for execution in February, but Ohio Governor John Kasich gave him a reprieve when a juror from Tibbetts’ original trial came forward after learning about Tibbetts’ traumatic background. Tibbetts’ severe child abuse and neglect was not presented in full at the time of the trial, and the juror said he never would have voted for a death sentence had he known.

Join us in asking Governor Kasich to commute Tibbetts’ death sentence and fix a serious failure of the legal system in his case. Call Governor Kasich’s office at 614-466-3555 and ask him to grant clemency to Ray Tibbetts.

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Fans of justice, here’s your summer movie guide!

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2, airing July 16 on PBS

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2, airing July 16 on PBS

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2” is a documentary about a conservative Christian grandmother from Mississippi who helped sentence a man to death. Two decades later, an overwhelming sense of regret compels her to track down her fellow jurors. This film raises important questions about the death penalty and the impact on jurors of making high-stakes sentencing decisions. Check it out on July 16th on PBS’ POV.  Organizations can also host screenings for free, so if you’re interested in showing the film in your community, check out the Partner Toolkit.

The BBC documentary “Life and Death Row – Mass Execution,”  tells the story of the state of Arkansas’ plan to use their supply of lethal injection drugs before they expire by executing eight men in ten days – an historic number. It’s available for streaming now.

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One man stands in the way of ending the disastrous death penalty

Earlier today, Governor Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have ended New Hampshire’s death penalty. He did this despite overwhelming favorable votes in both Republican-controlled chambers of the state’s legislature and after receiving petition signatures from over 50k people across the country who support repeal.

Repeal would be a done deal if not for Governor Sununu’s veto.

This should be a no-brainer. New Hampshire’s death penalty is notorious for siphoning millions of dollars on capital cases that drag on for decades and never actually result in an execution. Governor Sununu has heard death row exonerees, religious leaders, thousands of Granite Staters, and even families of homicide victims, the very community the Governor cites as a reason to keep the system in place. These family members say the death penalty drags surviving families through an agonizing process and that the money would be better spent in meeting their critical needs, such as trauma and grief counseling, funeral assistance, and restitution of lost wages.

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Help end the death penalty in New Hampshire!

Governor Sununu: Sign repeal. End the death penalty!

By nearly a 2-1 margin, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire legislature has voted to repeal the death penalty. Now the bill goes to Governor Chris Sununu, who has threatened to veto it.

It is more important than ever to let the Governor know that the death penalty is irrevocably broken and New Hampshire doesn’t need it. Sign the petition to Governor Sununu asking him to sign the bill and end the death penalty. Continue Reading →

Florida faith leaders gather on Good Friday to call for end to death penalty

Pinellas/Pasco religious leaders' press conference

Local faith leaders gathered in front of the Pinellas County Justice Center on Good Friday to urge State Attorney Bernie McCabe to stop seeking death sentences.

The diverse group delivered a letter, signed by 46 local faith leaders, expressing concern that the county seeks the death penalty more than almost every other county in the entire United States. The letter also highlights a poll released In February that shows that 68% of Pinellas County voters prefer alternatives to the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

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