The law doesn’t read “guilty until proven innocent.” Yet, since 1973, the United States has released 143 people from death row once they proved their innocence. This is a totally backwards approach, and in some cases, we are unable to act fast enough. Troy Davis, Carlos de Luna, Cameron Todd Willingham, and Gary Graham are among those who are widely believed to have been wrongly executed. Unfortunately, it is likely that there are others like them.
As Freddie Lee Pitts, one of Florida’s 24 death row exonerees said, “you can release an innocent man from prison, but you can’t release him from the grave.” Whether you oppose the death penalty because of your faith, your personal morals or because you don't believe this system works, now is the time to abolish it.
That is why NCADP is launching the 90 Million Strong campaign to unite the voices of those who believe the death penalty is wrong. We need to demonstrate that the broad public support to end this practice is already here in America, and 90 million people speaking up can make a difference!
Why now? With a struggling economy, budget battles, healthcare reform rollout, and much more, it seems like a busy time to launch a campaign.
Momentum is on our side and we can’t afford not to engage in this campaign. In the past few years six states have ended their practice of the death penalty and more states are on the verge of doing the same. Advocates in Colorado, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Kansas are gaining bipartisan support to repeal the death penalty, and with your support other states could eventually move in that direction as we shine a spotlight on their criminal justice systems.
While fewer states continue to execute people and the number of new death sentences are on the decline, we’re also seeing states that continue executions resort to more extreme measures that allow them to continue this practice. This includes executing the mentally ill and those with intellectual disabilities, turning a blind eye on racial bias in sentencing, and resorting to potentially illegal measures to procure new, untested drugs to put people to death.
These are just some of the many reasons why our system of capital punishment must go. Throughout the campaign we’ll ask you to spread the word to your friends through social media and email sharing, sign a petition to join the movement, share your own stories, and urge you to write to local state legislatures.
Though the subject is serious, we encourage everyone to use an inspirational and positive tone in your storytelling as we pursue the ultimate goal to abolish the death penalty across the nation.