by Sarah Craft, Equal Justice USA
It’s always nice to know we’re not alone in the fight for justice. Just like NADP, state death penalty abolition organizations around the country are hard at work. And with every success, we all get closer to victory.
In late April, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill that abolished the death penalty there. In a statement he released for the bill signing, Malloy reminded us that debates about the death penalty are inherently difficult, because just having the debate means a horrible crime has occurred. He reiterated, though, that the death penalty does nothing to increase public safety – that it diverts resources from real crime-fighting tools and puts the focus on the offender, rather than the victim.
The Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP) was preparing for this moment for over a decade, waiting for the right moment to seize victory. CNADP built an amazing network of allies from diverse communities around the state, including those who have lost a loved one to murder, and left no stone unturned in activating that network for the legislative push this year.
In California, death penalty repeal advocates are busy with the SAFE Campaign – Savings, Accountability, Full Enforcement. SAFE collected almost 800,000 signatures to get a measure on the statewide ballot that would not only abolish the death penalty but also use the cost savings to help law enforcement address cold cases of rape and homicide. In November, California voters will have the opportunity to get rid of the death penalty and change the sentences of the over 700 inmates sitting on California’s death row to life without parole.
The CNADP team and key supporters pose for a celebratory picture after the Connecticut House votes for repeal (left), sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.
Late 2011 brought great news for Oregon, when Governor Kitzhauber instituted a moratorium on executions. Advocates from Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) are using the opportunity to educate and activate citizens and build support for full repeal. In Oregon, like in California, the voters must decide to abolish the death penalty, and OADP is working to get to every corner of the state to talk about how the death penalty is broken beyond repair.
Even the conservative Western state of Montana is on the verge of abolition. The Montana Abolition Coalition has led a groundbreaking campaign that has passed an abolition bill through Republican-controlled chambers in both 2009 and 2011.
And that’s not all! Abolitionists from Ohio to Texas, Virginia to Nevada, and right here in Nebraska are building support and momentum. As states continue to reevaluate the death penalty, more and more people are realizing it cannot be fixed, and it needs to go.