October 2nd is Wrongful Conviction Day. October 10th is World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Our work as death row exonerees spans both of these movements.
We were each wrongfully convicted. We were each sentenced to death.
Now, we tell our stories and fight for change. Will you join us?
Kwame Ajamu was a teenager in Cleveland, Ohio, when he was sentenced to death in 1975. He was a victim of police misconduct and false eyewitness testimony.
Now Kwame is the Chairman of the Board at Witness to Innocence. He does not want anyone else to endure what he went through. However, currently Pervis Payne is scheduled to be executed for a crime he says he did not commit.
In 1976, Shujaa Graham was framed for murder and sent to San Quentin's death row. Two high school students led the fight that won his freedom.
Now, he is a staff member of Witness to Innocence and supports his fellow death row exonerees in the fight to abolish the death penalty.
International Wrongful Conviction Day is a day to raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction and to recognize the tremendous personal, social, and emotional costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people and their families.
For Witness to Innocence, it is also a day to celebrate all exonerees as well as all of the people who helped us gain our freedom.
Ray Krone was the victim of false and misleading forensic evidence and prosecutorial misconduct when he was sentenced to death in Arizona. After his exoneration Ray co-founded WTI with Sister Helen Prejean in 2003.
This year Wrongful Conviction Day is focusing on justice and accountability, which is currently lacking in the capital punishment system.
Sabrina Butler-Smith was a teenager when she was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death due to false forensic evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.
She is one of only two women in the US to be exonerated from death row.
The members of Witness to Innocence are fighting the death penalty year-round. We share our first hand stories of the horror of a death sentence and of life on death row. Although we were each innocent of the the crimes for which we were nearly killed, we are firmly against the death penalty for anyone. Aside from the moral and ethical issues inherent in state sanctioned killing, the death penalty does not deter crime, its application is riddled with racial and economic bias, and the methods of execution, often botched, are torturous.
We work hard to change the minds of pro-death penalty legislators. In the past 15 years, our testimony has been pivotal in every state that has abolished the death penalty.
World Day Against the Death Penalty is a day to call for abolition in all nations. For us, as death row survivors, it is also a day to remember our many friends who have been executed and to redouble our efforts in their memories.