In memory of murder victims, set new priorities for action

Dorothy & ShariIt is more urgent than ever that we honor victims of violence by responding with healing, racial equality, and prevention. That was the message in an op-ed by EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein and Dorothy Johnson-Speight from Mothers in Charge, published this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

To commemorate the National Day of Remembrance for Murder victims, Shari and Dorothy joined together to call for a new approach to addressing violence – one that recognizes that violence and homicide are a public-health crisis that needs a public-health solution, and that solution must be rooted in racial equity.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for African American males ages 15 to 34. For too long, the response to this crisis has been aggressive policing and incarceration. But mass incarceration, traumatizing police interactions, and a lack of care and support for people who experience violence have all worked to further devastate low-income black communities. Continue Reading →


Troy Davis

Troy Davis was executed 5 years ago today, and, unfortunately, the struggle did not end with him. We must continue to support repeal until the death penalty is gone for good.

Sign the “I Support Repeal” petition in hour of Troy today.

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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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The death penalty’s role in racial oppression

Newspaper article describing lynchingsRace has played a disturbing role in the death penalty’s application throughout its long history in the United States. During slavery, this discrimination was explicitly written in many states’ laws. Blacks and slaves faced the death penalty in cases where the same crime committed by a white person would not even be eligible for death. For example, in Virginia before the Civil War, there were over 60 capital crimes for slaves but only one – murder – for whites. Executions became so closely tied to the punishment of blacks in some regions that executing a white man was, according to one local account from Virginia, a “strange spectacle.”1

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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.

Supreme Court To Hear Cases Challenging Two Texas Death SentencesBuzzfeed
The high court agrees to hear the death penalty cases of Duane Buck and Bobby James Moore.

After nearly 40 years, murder charges dropped against Kerry Max Cook in East Texas caseThe Dallas Morning News
Kerry Max Cook spent 20 years on death row. This week the murder charges against him were dropped. One of the subjects of “The Exonerated” is finally exonerated.
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U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Duane Buck’s racial bias death penalty case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments in Buck v. Stephens, a death penalty case raising extraordinary issues of racial bias. Duane Buck is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that his case did not warrant re-consideration, despite his claim that his lawyer was constitutionally ineffective for knowingly introducing “expert” testimony that Mr. Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. Buck seeks a new, fair sentencing hearing.

Here is a statement from Duane Buck’s attorneys:

“Trial counsel’s knowing reliance on false, inflammatory and deeply prejudicial evidence explicitly linking Mr. Buck’s race to his likelihood of future dangerousness is plainly extraordinary.

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Leading Latino Coalition Calls for End of the Death Penalty in U.S.

Group’s landmark policy agenda addresses criminal justice for the first time

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 prominent Latino organizations, has called for repeal of the death penalty. Collectively, the NHLA leads advocacy behind pressing civil rights and policy issues impacting the 58-million Latinos living in the U.S.

The NHLA Public Policy Agenda is issued only once every four years. This year it includes criminal justice reforms for the first time, as national scrutiny grows over race, the death penalty, and mass incarceration.

“Latinos are a growing part of the national trend away from the death penalty because they are directly affected by its injustices,” said Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of EJUSA, a national organization that launched a dialog with Latinos about the death penalty in 2012.

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Black child, white child: Talking to our children about race

A reflection for Mother’s Day

Amara & BrooklynAs workers in the fight for racial justice and equity, our experiences and the issues we address as staff at EJUSA indelibly reflect within our daily lives. As team members, we talk explicitly about the challenges of race within criminal justice, social and economic equity, and the gamut of issues our nation faces and their impact on traction in our work. Our passion, planning and movement-building happens with analysis and clarity on the end goals.

For those of us with children, we go home to the realities of what race means in our lives and the inevitability of having to discuss race and answer the questions our children may ask in the midst of the chaos and injustice.

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Case of racial bias on appeal to Supreme Court

Duane Buck
Duane Buck was sentenced to death in Texas after his own lawyer called an “expert” who testified that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. At this crucial moment, when our nation is addressing racial bias in the criminal justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear the full case in the next few weeks. The Court should do everything in its power to ensure Buck receives a full and fair review of his case and, ultimately, a new sentencing hearing, free of racial bias.

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