National Coalition to

Abolish the Death Penalty

90 million Americans believe the death penalty is wrong. We mobilize them to end the death penalty state by state.
Join the Movementnavigateright

Diann Rust-Tierney

Diann Rust-Tierney

Executive Director

Diann Rust-Tierney became the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in 2004.  She is an experienced non-profit manager with thirty years of public policy and litigation advocacy.  She manages the operations of the organization and directs programs for the organization and its 100 affiliate organizations seeking to change public policy on the death penalty.

Previously, Rust-Tierney served as the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project.  Before that, she served as the Chief Legislative Counsel, and Associate Director of the Washington Office of the American Civil Liberties Union.  There she supervised six senior legislative counsel and lobbyists and managed the civil rights and civil liberties legislative program.  During her tenure at the ACLU, she was the lead advocate on capital punishment on Capitol Hill, coordinating a coalition of national organizations on the issue.  She was also the lead lobbyist on a broad portfolio of issues ranging from criminal justice policy, women’s rights, civil rights and legislation to enhance and protect individual rights regardless of sexual orientation.

Prior to joining the staff at the ACLU, she engaged in litigation and public policy advocacy to advance the rights of women and girls at the National Women’s Law Center.  Rust-Tierney received her undergraduate degree in political science from the College of Wooster in Ohio and her law degree from the University Of Maryland School Of Law.

Blog Posts:

Statement of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in Response to New Poll

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty welcomes the results of a new Pew Research Center poll indicating that opposition to capital punishment has increased significantly. Read More navigateright

BREAKING NEWS: Death Penalty Repeal Advances in Two Key States

January 28th 2016 is set to be a big day for Abolition. Lawmakers in Delaware and Kansas have announced their intentions to move forward with death penalty repeal legislation early in 2016. Read More navigateright

Reflections on Lethal Drugs, Sleeping and Waking Up

Reflections on Lethal Drugs, Sleeping and Waking Up

A closer look at the Supreme Court hearing of Glossip v. Gross and executions. Read More navigateright

An Anniversary of Our Evolving Standards of Decency

An Anniversary of Our Evolving Standards of Decency

We have a new opportunity to craft a better vision -- one that reflects the strengths of our diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Read More navigateright

The Cloak and Daggers of Lethal Injection

The Cloak and Daggers of Lethal Injection

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for a national moratorium on executions while the Supreme Court revisits lethal injection...He is absolutely right. We need to go further. It's time to stop executions once and for all.  Read More navigateright

Inconsistency at the Supreme Court

Inconsistency at the Supreme Court

As executions decline, who is actually being executed - the worst of the worst criminals? Far from it. In fact, instead of the worst of the worst, you could say it's often the least culpable; people with Intellectual Disabilities and severe mental illness. Read More navigateright

‘My Whole Body Is Burning.’ Double Execution in Oklahoma

‘My Whole Body Is Burning.’ Double Execution in Oklahoma

"The last time I checked, even the authority to carry out executions did not give states unfettered power that placed them above all laws."  Read More navigateright

BREAKING NEWS: Tie Vote in New Hampshire Death Penalty Repeal

BREAKING NEWS: Tie Vote in New Hampshire Death Penalty Repeal

Today the New Hampshire Senate voted 12-12 on HB 1170, a bill to abolish capital punishment in the state.  Read More navigateright

Lost in the U.S. Senate

Lost in the U.S. Senate

On March 5 the Senate voted 52-47 on a procedural matter against confirming Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's civil rights division. Every Republican present and seven Democrats took the position that Mr. Adegbile, a former lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Senior Counsel with the Senate Judiciary Committee, was not fit to lead the civil rights division because he had been one of several lawyers representing Mumia Abu Jamal.  Read More navigateright

Upholding the Law and the Constitution

More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002) that the eighth amendment categorically forbids people with intellectual disabilities from being sentenced to death and executed. States were charged with the appropriate role of setting procedures to enforce and give effect to this Constitutional protection. Read More navigateright

All Victims Deserve Dignity and Respect

All Victims Deserve Dignity and Respect

The Colorado Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has been working to support the family of Eric Autobee whose murder was likely preventable. He was killed while at work as a prison guard by a mentally ill prisoner in plain view of a control station that was unstaffed. Bob Autobee, Eric's father, and a former prison guard himself, has been shut out of the process by prosecutors seeking to execute the man who killed his son because he opposes the death penalty. Read More navigateright

Lawless In Texas: The Case Of Edgar Tamayo Arias

Respect for the rule of law is one of the many casualties of capital punishment. Public officials who cling to this practice most vociferously are often among the worst offenders. Texas is a case in point. The execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias has drawn national and international attention. It highlights an aspect of Texas pride that can be endearing but sometimes raises troubling concerns. Read More navigateright

Honoring Dr. King by Ending Capital Punishment

Honoring Dr. King by Ending Capital Punishment

The holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. coincides with the beginning of legislative sessions in state capitals across the country. In a number of state capitals policymakers will consider whether the death penalty should continue as a feature of their justice systems. Support for capital punishment continues to decline as a recent report by the Death Penalty Information Center indicates. The more people learn about the death penalty in action, the less they like it. Read More navigateright

After the Holidays: Now Live It

I spent the last days of 2013 reflecting on the principles of Kwanzaa. My celebration of Kwanzaa has changed over the years as our family has changed and grown. Read More navigateright

Farewell, Tata

Farewell, Tata

I learned of Nelson Mandela's passing, Tata, or father, as he is called in South Africa, from an emergency text on my phone: "Use caution when driving near the South African Embassy -- there will be mourners gathering in the area." Read More navigateright

After Exoneration, Tibbs Pursued Justice

After Exoneration, Tibbs Pursued Justice

Delbert Tibbs was sentenced to death in Florida for the murder of Terry Milroy and the rape of his companion, Cynthia Nadeau. He was innocent. Delbert Tibbs was once quoted as saying "God sent me to death row so I could be a witness." Delbert Tibbs died on November 23, 2013. He was 74. Read More navigateright

Public’s Changing Attitudes on Capital Punishment

Public’s Changing Attitudes on Capital Punishment

In the years that followed, support for the death penalty skyrocketed, peaking in 1994 with 80 percent of the population supporting its use, according to Gallup. Now a poll confirms, what many close to this issue already believed, that support for the death penalty is on the decline -- at 60 percent -- the lowest level of support for the practice in 41 years, according to Gallup's analysis. Moreover, in polls that present more information about the death penalty to respondents, including alternatives to capital punishment, majority support for the practice vanishes. Read More navigateright

A Tribute to a Prison Warden’s Influence on Capital Punishment Abolition

A Tribute to a Prison Warden’s Influence on Capital Punishment Abolition

Donald Cabana, a former Mississippi prison warden who presided over executions, was not the usual ally for me and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. But Donald Cabana loathed the death penalty. As I mark his passing and celebrate his life, he died this month at 67, I think about the vantage point from which he formed his opinions about capital punishment. Read More navigateright

Death Sentence in Case of Fort Hood Shooter Out of Step

Death Sentence in Case of Fort Hood Shooter Out of Step

I have not seen a system built yet, that can equip the most principled and dedicated of us as prosecutors, judges, jurors, or military tribunals with the god-like ability to see into the soul of another human being and without fail sort out the irredeemable, from the weak, the wicked or the wrong. Read More navigateright

What Are You Giving Up for Lent?

While running errands last week, the marquee of a local Catholic church reminded me that Ash Wednesday was Feb. 13 and that the Lenten Season and Easter would soon be upon us. Read More navigateright

Reflection on Dr. King’s Legacy and the Arc of the Universe

A few days ago on January 21, 2013, we celebrated the legacy and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There is incredible synchronicity in the unfolding events in just these first few weeks of the New Year. Read More navigateright