Introducing New Legislation That Will Help Murder Victims’ Families

Maryland has become a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members (Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images).

Maryland has become a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members (Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images).

By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator

Our victory is now complete. When Maryland’s death penalty was abolished last year, we knew that our work wasn’t finished, because homicide victims matter. With legislation passed last weekend, the state became a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members.

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Join Susan Sarandon: End the Death Penalty in New Hampshire

(Photo Credit: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

(Photo Credit: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

By Susan Sarandon, Actress and Humanitarian

Playing Sister Helen Prejean in the film “Dead Man Walking” was my awakening to the deep injustice of the death penalty.

The more I learned about the death penalty, the more I knew I had to raise my voice against it.

Just a couple weeks ago, Glenn Ford, an African American man convicted by an all-white jury, was released from a Louisiana prison after serving 30 years on death row for a murder he did not commit.

The state stole 30 years from Glenn’s life and almost killed him because of its mistake.

18 states have abolished this barbaric practice, and Amnesty International’s State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators are working with the movement in their respective states to put an end to the death penalty across the country. New Hampshire may be next. Please join me now to help make that happen.

Sign Amnesty’s petition calling for an end to the death penalty in New Hampshire.

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ACT NOW: End the Death Penalty in Delaware

Delaware is closer than ever to abolishing the death penalty - but we need your help to win (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

Delaware is closer than ever to abolishing the death penalty – but we need your help to win (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

By Abraham J. Bonowitz, Delaware State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator

I have been in the heart of the campaign to end the death penalty for years, and Delaware is closer than ever to abolishing this ultimate denial of human rights – but we need your help to win.

Even if you have already done so, if you live in Delaware, it’s time again to tell your legislators to vote “Yes” on SB-19, Delaware’s Death Penalty Repeal bill.

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The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Amnesty’s Death Penalty Report

Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:

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BREAKING: New Hampshire House Votes to Repeal Capital Punishment

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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.

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Executing Innocents: What We Can Learn From Glenn Ford

Glenn Ford (pictured here in 1984) is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is (Photo Credit: Private).

Glenn Ford (pictured here in 1984) is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is (Photo Credit: Private).

By Tessa Murphy, USA Campaigner at Amnesty International

There are two lessons the U.S. should learn from the release of Glenn Ford, a 64-year-old man who spent 28 years on death row in Louisiana for a crime he didn’t commit.

The first lesson is that the death penalty is never the answer, including because it carries the inescapable risk of executing innocent people. The second is that there are some serious problems with Louisiana’s justice system.

Glenn Ford walked out of the southern state’s infamous Angola prison late yesterday, after spending nearly three decades behind bars for a crime he’s always claimed he never committed.

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The Death Penalty is Just the Tip of an Iceberg of Injustice

We have ended the death penalty in two thirds of the countries around the world and in 18 states in the United States. On Wednesday, New Hampshire may get a bit closer to becoming the 19th (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

We have ended the death penalty in two thirds of the countries around the world and in 18 states in the United States. On Wednesday, New Hampshire may get a bit closer to becoming the 19th (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

 

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.

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Have You Seen This Powerful Statement From a Death Row Inmate?

In December 2013, Gawker sent letters to all U.S. death row inmates who had executions scheduled in the upcoming year. They received their first reply from Ray Jasper, who is scheduled to be put to death on March 19 (Photo Credit: Gawker)

In December 2013, Gawker sent letters to all U.S. death row inmates who had executions scheduled in the upcoming year. They received their first reply from Ray Jasper, who is scheduled to be put to death on March 19 (Photo Credit: Gawker)

On March 19th, 2014, Ray Jasper is scheduled to be executed in Texas. Amnesty International USA is sharing his words below from a letter posted on Gawker where Ray Jasper acknowledges that this letter “could be my final statement on earth.”

Amnesty International USA has issued an urgent action calling on Texas to not execute Ray Jasper on March 19th.

Mr. Nolan,

When I first responded to you, I didn’t think that it would cause people to reach out to me and voice their opinions. I’ve never been on the internet in my life and I’m not fully aware of the social circles on the internet, so it was a surprise to receive reactions so quickly.

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We Must Stop Kansas from Moving Backwards

Anthony Graves is one of the 143 exonerated death row inmates who have been released due to wrongful conviction since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. Graves spent 18 years in jail, including 16 years on death row, for a crime he didn't commit (Photo Credit: Chantal Valery/AFP/Getty Images).

Anthony Graves is one of the 143 exonerated death row inmates who have been released due to wrongful conviction since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. Graves spent 18 years in jail, including 16 years on death row, for a crime he didn’t commit (Photo Credit: Chantal Valery/AFP/Getty Images).

By Donna Schneweis, Amnesty USA’s Kansas State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator

On Feb. 13th, 2014, the Kansas Senate passed a bill that would speed up the appeals process for people sentenced to death. If this becomes law, it would increase the possibility of Kansas executing someone who was wrongfully convicted of capital murder.

Nationally, since the death penalty was reinstated, 143 people who faced the death penalty have been released due to wrongful conviction. The most recent exoneree, Reginald Griffin, was sentenced to death in 1983 and spent 30 years on death row in Missouri. If this bill passes the Kansas House and is signed into law, the resulting changes would enhance the risk to the innocent in Kansas. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Who Plays By the Rules? Not Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry may put our relations with other countries at risk if he does not grant Edgar Arias Tamayo clemency before his execution (Photo Credit: Stewart F. House/Getty Images).

Texas Governor Rick Perry may put our relations with other countries at risk if he does not grant Edgar Arias Tamayo clemency before his execution (Photo Credit: Stewart F. House/Getty Images).

By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator 

Let’s hope that Texas Governor Rick Perry was paying attention in kindergarten. Most likely, that’s where he first learned to play by the rules.

The rule, in this case, is article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), to which the U.S. is a party. That document requires that foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice “without delay” of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. Foreign officials can then assist defendants with their legal proceedings.

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