Civil rights leaders weigh-in against scheduled executions in Arkansas

Mona delivering sign-on lettersLocal and national civil rights and racial justice leaders signed a letter to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, calling on him to halt the series of executions scheduled in the coming weeks. EJUSA Campaign Strategist Mona Cadena was on hand at the Capitol to deliver the letter (left), which outlined the concerns the group has with the death penalty’s racial bias and its disproportionate effect on communities of color.

“Racial bias in the criminal justice system, including the death penalty and its application, is undisputed,” the letter says. “From slavery to Jim Crow to the present day, the death penalty has long been a tool of injustice and discrimination in the USA and the State of Arkansas.”
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Stand strong with EJUSA

It’s outrageous.

As I write this, Arkansas is planning to carry out eight executions over ten days starting next week. The state plans to execute so many people so rapidly in order to use up nearly-expired (and dangerous) execution drugs.

EJUSA is standing strong against this extreme move, which goes against the national trend toward repeal. Thanks to you, EJUSA’s expert organizers are providing strategic assistance to our partners in Arkansas, and we are mobilizing diverse voices to speak out against this atrocity across the country.

If you are as outraged as I am, I urge you to help EJUSA stand strong against these executions with a gift of $25, $55, $75, or even $100.

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Prominent evangelical leaders urge Arkansas to halt scheduled executions

More than two dozen national Evangelical leaders called on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to stop the upcoming “assembly line of executions.”

Their letter, released today, described Easter as “a sacred day when Christians celebrate Christ’s triumph over death,” noting the “unfortunate timing” of the executions.

Notable signers of the letter include many of EJUSA’s longstanding Evangelical partners and allies, such as pastors of mega-church congregations, theological scholars, religious authors, and more.

“To allow a drug’s expiration date to dictate when an individual will die shows a troubling disregard for the sacredness of human life,” the letter says.

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Floridians rally in support of state attorney who won’t seek the death penalty

Christine speaking - photo credit Mark Elliott

Busloads of people from all corners of Florida descended on the state capitol in Tallahassee this morning for a “Rally in Tally” to show their support for State Attorney Aramis Ayala. Ayala announced earlier this month that she will not seek the death penalty during her tenure as the head prosecutor of Orange and Osceola Counties.

Following a rally on the capitol steps, leaders delivered over 130,000 petition signatures to the office of Governor Rick Scott. Scott filed for the removal of Alaya from a high profile murder case in Orlando, overstepping his authority and undermining her discretion as a prosecutor.

Ayala is fighting back, and people throughout Florida and around the country are standing with her.
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Sign to stop #8in10: 8 executions in 10 days

The death penalty is broken, but that isn’t stopping Arkansas. The state plans to execute 8 people in 10 days so it can use up nearly-expired – and dangerous – execution drugs.

Arkansas’s planned assembly line of executions is irresponsible, risky, and out of step, at a time when most states are turning away from the death penalty. Take action to stop the Governor’s reckless execution plan.

Governor Asa Hutchinson is racing to use up the supply of a controversial execution drug, Midazolam, because it expires at the end of April. Midazolam is known for causing botched executions, which is why states are rejecting it. Florida and Arizona have stopped using it, and an Ohio judge recently halted Midazolam executions in that state.
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Bridge-building in an era of polarization

At a time when the world – and the country, especially – is so polarized, many are looking for leaders that can build bridges and cross the divide. EJUSA has been building these bridges for over 20 years, among law enforcement, crime survivors, Evangelicals, conservatives, and more.

This month’s Harper’s Magazine takes an in-depth look at some of that work, sharing the story of EJUSA’s project, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. In profiling several staff and highlighting our values of finding and forging common ground, the story gives hope that we can make progress when we build relationships and work together on the issues we care about.

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36 hours in Orlando

Yesterday, Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she will not be seeking the death penalty in any cases while she remains in office.

Ayala’s office covers Orange County, which has historically been an outlier in Florida and in the country with regards to its death penalty usage. It is among just four of Florida’s 67 counties that have produced more than five executions since 1976.

Check out our storify to see how the story has unfolded in the last 36 hours.

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Resolution, at last, for victim’s family in Florida

Darlene after plea announcement“It’s time for healing.”

That’s what Darlene Farah said when she walked out of the courtroom this morning, more than 3 1/2 years after her daughter, Shelby, was murdered.

James Rhodes pleaded guilty to killing Shelby after reaching an agreement with the new State’s Attorney, Melissa Nelson, that would take the death penalty off the table and forgo a trial. Nelson’s predecessor, Angela Corey, had refused to consider such an agreement with Rhodes and his attorneys. Corey even vilified Darlene for her desire to have the charges end in a plea deal.

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Lawmakers across the country re-evaluating the death penalty

Marc at MT capitol

EJUSA’s Marc Hyden speaks at the Montana State Capitol in advance of a hearing to repeal the death penalty.

State capitals are buzzing as lawmakers return for this year’s state legislative sessions. It’s no surprise that the death penalty is on the agenda in so many places, given the growing movement away from executions.

There has long been strong support for death penalty repeal in Kansas, but due to many circumstances, repeal bills haven’t received committee hearings in recent years. This year, a diverse range of Kansans – murder victims’ family members, faith leaders, those with law enforcement experience, and legal experts – were able to express their support for repeal in front of a House committee. The hearing room was standing room only with supporters of the bill, and those testifying in favor of repeal outnumbered opponents 9 to 1.

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Faith leaders support new trial in case of juror exclusion

Over 500 pastors recently released a letter calling for a new trial for Texas death row inmate Chris Young. The letter urges Texas officials to award Young a new trial because of the exclusion of a potential juror in his original death penalty case.

Young and his attorneys argue that the prospective juror was improperly struck from the jury because of her religious affiliation and her involvement in her church. They argue that striking a potential juror for that reason is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution.

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