Empowering Exonerated Death Row Survivors
Witness to Innocence is an organization of, by, and for death row exonerees. Our mission is to empower exonerated death row survivors to be the most powerful and effective voice in the fight to end the death penalty and reform the justice system in the United States. Through public speaking, testifying in state legislatures, and media interviews, our members expose the reality that innocent people are sentenced to death.
Death row exonerees, and the issue of innocence, have been pivotal in every state that has abolished the death penalty in the last 15 years.
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Witness to Innocence was founded in 2003 by Sister Helen Prejean, internationally renowned anti-death penalty activist, author, and Nobel Prize nominee, and Ray Krone, the 100th person exonerated from death row in the United States. We began as a project of the New Orleans-based Moratorium Campaign Education Fund.
Two years later WTI moved to Philadelphia, PA and launched our first visible national organizing campaign in September 2005, when 25 exonerated death row survivors, family members, and allies came together for a three-day gathering of the exonerated community. We have since become one of the most powerful and unique anti-death penalty organizations in the United States.
Our exoneree members have played an essential role in the abolition movement by sharing our stories with millions of people around the country and around the world. We have educated tens of thousands of Americans through speaking events at colleges, universities, professional associations, academic conferences, law schools, faith communities, K-12 schools, and civic groups. We have testified before state legislatures, met with government officials and world leaders, and reached tens of millions of people worldwide through the media. Witness to Innocence has shifted public opinion on the death penalty, playing an integral role in successful repeal campaigns in states across the country.
“Of course we rejoice when we hear of one more innocent soul who is exonerated from death row. But what happens afterward to help them reweave the shredded fabric of their lives? Very little – except for Witness To Innocence. Even more, Witness To Innocence dignifies exonerees by giving them a platform to speak their truth to the nation to help reform a broken system. Of all the groups I admire and support, none tops Witness To Innocence.
— Sister Helen Prejean, author, Dead Man Walking
What We Are Not
While we are a proud member of the Innocence Network, we are not an Innocence Project. Witness to Innocence is a membership-based organization of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones, and does not provide services to those who are currently incarcerated. Please consult your local Innocence Project if you need assistance for yourself or an incarcerated loved one. A complete list can be found here.