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?
Witness to Innocence members recorded the videos below for Wrongful Conviction Day.
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.
In 1986, Paul House was wrongfully sentenced to Tennessee's death row where he spent over 22 years. He was eventually released due to DNA evidence of his innocence and intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, he is a member of Witness to Innocence and joins his fellow death row exonerees in the fight to abolish the death penalty.
Freddie Lee Pitts was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in 1963 in Florida. After his exoneration, Freddie became the first Board Chair of Witness to Innocence.
This year’s theme is "Building a Legacy: Centering Dignity & Resilience," and we are honoring all exonerees for their dignity and resilience.
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 three women in the US to be exonerated from death row.
This year marks the 21st World Day Against the Death Penalty and is dedicated to reflecting on the relationship between the use of the death penalty and torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.
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 20 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.