last night

Last night was emotional and surprising.

Many in America are mourning today; some are deeply afraid for their lives or their loved ones. Others are feeling heard in their suffering for the first time.

Finding common ground across those kinds of differences isn’t easy, but it has fundamentally transformed me personally, and EJUSA’s work, over the last decade. On our largest and oldest campaign, this bridge-building approach has put the end of the death penalty within our sights.

Still, last night, voters in Nebraska, California, and Oklahoma all passed referenda in favor of the death penalty. Those losses hit us hard. Those states have chosen a failed, broken policy when they had the chance to move towards a new dawn.

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Florida death penalty ruled unconstitutional…again

Florida faith leaders against the death penaltyLast month, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that death row inmate Timothy Hurst is entitled to a new sentencing hearing because the jury in his case was not unanimous in recommending a death sentence. The Court held that both the Florida and U.S. Constitutions require a unanimous jury recommendation of death to be able to sentence someone to death.

This decision leaves Florida without a valid death penalty statute. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s death penalty statute in January 2016, the Florida Legislature passed a new statute requiring a 10-2 jury recommendation of death to impose a death sentence. Florida’s current statute fails to meet the constitutional requirement of jury unanimity outlined by the Florida Supreme Court in Hurst.

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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.

Better by halfThe Marshall Project
An interesting story from The Marshall Project about New York City: “New York City’s example shows that when the community and government work together, it is possible to have both half as much incarceration and twice as much safety.”

Killing Dylann Roof Wouldn’t Help Racial InjusticeTime
Next week, jury selection begins in Dylann Roof’s federal trial. Executing Roof will not rid us of the racism that fueled him and will not make the death penalty less racially biased.

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Voters in three states face death penalty questions at the ballot box

Infographic: how to vote on death penalty ballot measuresA Pew poll released last month found support for the death penalty dropped by seven points just in the last year and is at its lowest point since 1972. Executions have reached their lowest level in 25 years, with even Texas seeing record lows. Only a few counties continue to sentence people to death with any regularity.

And now, voters in three states will determine the future of the death penalty when they go to the polls next week. Here is a rundown of the ballot measures and how you (and/or your friends) should vote to continue the momentum toward ending the death penalty throughout the country.

Share this graphic from our partners at the DeathPenaltyFail campaign to help spread the word about how to vote in these three states.

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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.

Three States to Watch if You Care About the Death PenaltyThe Marshall Project
Voters in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and California will face death penalty questions at the polls. The Marshall Project looks at what’s on the ballot in each of the states and what is at stake.

Baltimore Is Attacking the Roots of Violence with Public Health Measures—and Saving LivesScientific America
Violence is contagious and can spread from person to person, just like a disease. The Baltimore City Health Department is bringing down violence in some of Baltimore’s highest violence neighborhoods using a public health approach.

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Faith Leaders call for suspension of death penalty in Florida ‘outlier’ counties

Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties religious leader press conference with Christine speakingThis morning, religious leaders from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Florida held a press conference to react to a report from Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project, branding the counties as “outliers” due to their overuse of the death penalty.

Press conference participants released a letter to the State Attorney’s Office signed by more than 75 local religious leaders demanding a halt to death penalty prosecutions in both counties. EJUSA’s Florida-based organizer, Christine Henderson (pictured at the podium), helped organize the sign-on letter and was on hand to speak about the national implications of the ‘outlier’ report.

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Report: America’s outlier death penalty counties

Outlier Counties report graphic

Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project released the second installment of a report showing the dysfunction in the use of the death penalty in the only 16 counties that continue to use it with any regularity. “Too Broken to Fix: An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties,” looks at the 16 “outlier counties” – of 3,143 counties nationwide – that imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015.

The report looks at that last 10 years of  court opinions and records from these 16 “outlier counties” and analyzes all of the new death sentences handed down in these counties since 2010. Continue Reading →

End Nebraska’s death penalty from your living room!

VoteRetain426 bannerIn less than a month, Nebraska voters will go to the polls to decide whether to RETAIN the end of the death penalty in the state. In fact, some people are already voting with their early and absentee ballots.

We need your help to win this vote and end the death penalty in Nebraska once and for all! Sign up to phonebank from wherever you are.

It’s easy. You’ll get training, and a script will guide you through the whole thing.

It’s effective. Person-to-person conversations are the single best way to get people to take action. Your voice could make the difference to this campaign. So if you’ve got a phone and internet access, you can help end the death penalty in Nebraska.

Every state that ends the death penalty paves the way for the next. Use your voice. Literally. It will make a difference.

New resource: Fact sheet on Latinos and the death penalty

Latinos and the Death PenaltyLatinos are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice and face a higher risk of wrongful conviction than their white counterparts. Increasingly, Latinos in the United States are skeptical of the death penalty, and community leaders and national organizations are calling for its end.

We are excited to publish a new resource with detailed information about Latinos and the death penalty. The resource is available in both English and Spanish and can be found on our learn pages. You can also download a formatted version (in Spanish too!) to hand out at your next death penalty discussion or while you’re tabling.

Event: “The Kansas Death Penalty: What a Waste!”

Our friends at the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (KCADP) have an amazing event planned for Saturday, October 22, and we wanted to make sure you heard about it!

Join KCADP for their annual Abolition Conference at 1pm on 10/22 at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Olathe. You’ll hear Kansans speak about the social, economic, political, and psychological costs of the death penalty in “The Kansas Death Penalty: What a Waste!”

The four panelists each have personal experience with and a unique perspective to share on the death penalty:

Pastor Darryl Burton, who was wrongfully convicted of murder, Celeste Dixon, who lost her mother to homicide, Al Terwelp, who saw his taxes go up to pay for a death penalty case, and Roger Werholtz, retired Secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Please pre-register either via email to or by calling (785) 235-2237. The event is free and open to the public, so we hope you’ll go and bring a friend!