Witness to Innocence is celebrating its 15th year of fighting for an end to the death penalty. For those who may not be familiar with their work, Witness to Innocence was founded by SIster Helen Prejean and Ray Krone; she is an internationally renowned anti-death penalty activist and he is the 100th person exonerated from death row. Together, they are on the front lines, “putting the justice back in the criminal justice system.”
Much of Witness to Innocence’s work involves building a community of death row exonerees in order to empower them to be leaders in the movement to abolish the death penalty. The organization works to provide opportunities for the exonerees to share their experience, supports them as they rebuild their lives, and helps communities rethink the morality of the death penalty.
What many of us don’t know is that even once exonerated from death row, many people receive zero financial compensation or support from the state upon release. According to Witness to Innocence, “even in states that have compensation laws on the books for those who were wrongfully convicted, some refuse to pay out to exonerated death row survivors in spite of the horrors they faced. There are complex reasons for this – arcane and arbitrary loopholes in state laws exploited by prosecutors, courts, and lawmakers; laws that are not retroactive; perceived public unpopularity of such programs and the pressure to look tough on crime; just plain old spite against economically and racially marginalized people who don’t have resources to fight back, with some exceptions – the list goes on. It isn’t right. It is grotesquely unjust. It is a damning indictment of the death penalty system in the United States.”
WIT is working to change this harsh reality with their Compensation Campaign to provide not only funds, but the critically important social services exonerees need to get back on their feet.
In honor of their 15th anniversary year, on November 15th Witness to Innocence is offering two opportunities to support the movement to end the death penalty and sustain their work.
The first is an event titled, From Death Row to Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Justice. This is a free event at the National Constitution Center from 11:30am – 1pm and will feature speakers from WTI, the European Union, the Death Penalty Information Center, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and the Innocence Project.
Later that evening WTI will be hosting its celebration event from 6 – 8pm at Ballard Spahr, LLP with a beautiful view from the 48th floor. Special guests for the event are Sister Helen Prejean, Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, Barry Scheck, and Mary Gay Scanlon. Plus guest will have the opportunity to hear from over 20 Death Row Exonerees. Ticket costs go to support WIT’s work and can be purchased here.
We hope to see you there and that you’ll join us in supporting this critically important organization and former investee of the Untours Foundation!