Washington DC (10/10/13) – Today the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty joins with advocates and activists from across the United States and around the globe in calling for a worldwide ban on the use of death as punishment.
“We have seen enormous progress toward reducing capital cases and usage, as well as ending the death penalty during our organization’s 37-year tenure in this effort,” stated Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “We’ve had exceptional momentum in the last few years with six states abolishing capital punishment in six years.”
Created in 1976, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has been on the front lines of many battles. Coordinating with state affiliates, national partners and international allies, success comes in various forms. Beyond ending the death penalty in six states in six years, we played a crucial role in barring the use of the death penalty for juveniles, and raising national attention around egregious cases that expose the thread-bare nature of our capital punishment system.
The system is riddled with flaws and failures that have resulted in wrongful convictions, the execution of the mentally ill and intellectually impaired, the disproportionate application of the death penalty around factors such as race and geography, and yes, even to the wrongful execution of the innocent. The family of Cameron Todd Willingham, for example, who was executed by the state of Texas on charges of arson that killed his three young daughters, is still working to clear his name. All evidence indicates that the fire was likely an accident. No jury intends to make such tragic, irrevocable life-ending mistakes. But they do as witnessed by the 142 exonorees from death row.
The landscape of the debate about capital punishment has been forever changed by the wrongful execution of Troy Anthony Davis just over two years ago. Today we honor our commitment to him and his family and our commitment to the thousands people on death row and their families; survivors of homicide; wardens and prison guards; prosecutors and capital defense attorneys—this abomination will end.
Legislatures, independent task forces and study commissions which have set out to conduct a careful examination of their state’s capital punishment system have come to the same conclusion—we cannot afford to make mistakes, nor can we remove human error, so the death penalty must end. This coming year, the state legislators of New Hampshire, Delaware and Kansas will be grappling with these very issues, and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will be there working with our state and national partners to make sure that the voice of this community is heard.
“Millions of Americans believe the death penalty is wrong. We have the power,” said Rust-Tierney, “Our role is to help bring the full measure of that power to bear on policymakers, judges and prosecutors making decisions about life and death.”
We are so pleased to be here today with so many righteous people committed to the struggle for human rights. We will end the death penalty in the United States and across the globe—together.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty. We are comprised of an extensive network representing more than 100 state and national affiliate organizations and thousands of advocates and volunteers. Our members include families of murder victims, people across the political and religious spectrum, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial justice organizations working to end the death penalty forever.
In January 2014, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched the 90 Million Strong Campaign to partner with and mobilize a growing number of national organizations and individuals who believe that it is time for the death penalty to end.