The majority of human rights abuses documented by Amnesty International are linked to guns. We’ve long recognized that their widespread availability creates a climate of fear and intensifies violence – involving countless numbers of people who have been tortured, killed, injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes.
Back when I served as a death row attorney, I experienced first hand that the death penalty is anything but just. I was there at the trial of Bill Andrews when a note reading ‘Hang the N*****’ was found in the jury’s lunchroom. I saw people die by lethal injection and the electric chair who I believed were innocent.
But victories like today’s remind me that the tide is turning for the death penalty in America.
Today, we came one step closer to a significant victory when the New Hampshire House voted to repeal capital punishment in the state.
This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post under the title, “The Death Penalty Is The Tip of an Iceberg of Injustice.”
For much of my working, adult life, I have been witness to the consequences of our country’s addiction to the death penalty, and to the damage it does even as we loosen its grip.
This week, we at Amnesty International USA and anti-death penalty activists around the country hope to witness a moment we will one day say was another important step towards our collective recovery.
Wednesday, March 12, the New Hampshire House of Representatives will vote on a bill that, when signed into law, would end the death penalty in the state. Thirty-two states throughout this country have yet to rid themselves of a punishment that is not just cruel, unfair and expensive, but is tainted with human error.
Amnesty International USA is bringing our membership to Chicago for our 2014 Human Rights Conference. This year, we’re talking about how we must forge change at home in order to have an impact globally.
And today, we are proud to announce that Glenn Greenwald will join the conference via video link from Brazil for a discussion about the U.S. government’s use of mass surveillance. Glenn will also discuss the federal government’s persecution of whistleblowers who seek to tell the truth about human rights violations.
Hey super activist.
You’ve defended dignity, spoken out against injustice, and probably even helped save a life by taking action with Amnesty.
Here’s what’s next: Amnesty’s Human Rights Conference & Annual General Meeting in Chicago April 4-6.
In just a few weeks, we will unite in Chicago to fire up this movement and tackle some of the biggest human rights challenges of our time.
Sarah Hager, Chair of the Southern Africa Co-Group, contributed to this post.
A few hours ago, the world learned of the passing of Nelson Mandela. There are few people in the world who inspired so much reverence and devotion. Through all he did to advance human rights issues, Mandela became a living symbol of love and forgiveness, perseverance and redemption.
Mandela’s courage helped change our entire world. His life of political struggle and self-sacrifice became, and remains, an example to millions around the globe. His name is now synonymous with the struggle of people everywhere for freedom, equality and justice and is a reminder that we must stay determined to confront injustice.
As I write this, Amnesty International activists across the U.S. are preparing to come together for Regional Conferences. They are crafting booths for Ideas Fairs, writing curricula for workshops on effective advocacy, researching complex human rights issues around the globe. They are organizing their communities to come together and build a movement.
At Amnesty, I am continually struck by the Power of Us – the theme of this year’s Regional Conferences. Everywhere I look, Amnesty activists are building a larger and stronger “us” with even more grassroots power.
After decades of public activism and hard-fought legal battles, Herman Wallace has been released from prison. Federal District Court Judge Brian Jackson overturned the “Angola 3” member’s conviction yesterday morning and ordered the State to immediately release Herman from custody.
Judge Jackson issued an order granting Herman full habeas relief based on systematic exclusion of women from the jury in violation of the 14th Amendment. No application for bail is required and the State has 30 days to notify Herman if they plan to re-indict him.
The State of Louisiana scrambled to stay Judge Jackson’s ruling and keep Herman behind bars. Judge Jackson denied the stay, however, reportedly refusing to leave his quarters until Herman was released. Just before 9 p.m. on October 1, 2013, Herman was driven away from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in an ambulance, a free man.
I grew up in the shadow of Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York. As a boy, I would walk by Sing Sing and hear the inmates talking, a stark and sobering reminder of the dashed dreams of the many men I knew growing up who ended up impoverished, incarcerated or killed. Young men like my childhood best friend, who is currently serving a life sentence.
For many activists who join the struggle for human rights, there is a transformative moment, which inspires a lifelong commitment to social advocacy. For me, that moment came inside the walls of Sing Sing prison.