Ernest Johnson is scheduled to be executed by the State of Missouri on November 3, even though he is intellectually disabled and the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the execution of intellectually disabled people is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The state of Missouri is ignoring the medical history finding Mr. Johnson intellectually disabled and proceeding with the execution.
Tell Missouri Governor Nixon: Stay Ernest Johnson’s execution and immediately convene a Board of Inquiry to examine intellectual disability issues in this case.
Exoneree Derrick Jamison is featured in a story highlighting his experience on death row for a murder he did not commit, and the obstacles many death row exonerees face to obtaining any compensation for their wrongful convictions. Click here to read more.
Exoneree Anthony Ray Hinton's story is featured in this powerful piece about the fallibility of relying on forensic "evidence" in court. Click here to read more.
The National Association of Evangelicals has put out a new position on the death penalty. While it is not an outright call for abolition, their position highlights serious concerns about the application of capital punishment in the US and gives voice to the many evangelical leaders who have called for a moratorium. Click here to read more.
"There may be no greater miscarriage of justice than to wrongfully convict a person of murder and sentence him to death. But that's exactly what happened to Glenn Ford. He spent nearly 30 years on death row, in solitary confinement, in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison until new evidence revealed he did not commit the murder. Click here to see the 60 minutes episode devoted to the late Glenn Ford.
Browse our news archives for more great news and views from Witness to Innocence!
In March, when the legislature voted to repeal our state’s death penalty, I was given only three days to make what I knew was going to be one of the most difficult decisions of my career....I’ll never forget the story of Juan Melendez who spent 18 years on Florida’s death row before being exonerated for a murder he didn’t commit and who now calls New Mexico home....The fact is people continue to commit terrible crimes even in the face of the death penalty. And what no one can disagree on is the finality of the death penalty. No one understood that better than Juan Melendez and the 130 others like him who got a reprieve from death through exoneration. Ultimately my decision came down to the realization that our system is not perfect and is, in fact, inherently defective as these exonerations prove.
– Excerpt from (former) New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's speech at Death Penalty Focus Awards Dinner, May 2009
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Witness to Innocence (WTI) is the only national organization in the United States composed of and led by exonerated death row survivors and their family members. The mission of WTI is to abolish the death penalty by empowering exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones to become effective leaders in the abolition movement. WTI actively challenges political leaders and the public to grapple with the reality of a fatally flawed criminal justice system that sends innocent people to death row. WTI also seeks ways to support death row survivors and their loved ones as they confront the challenges of life after exoneration.
Founded in 2003 by Sister Helen Prejean, internationally renowned anti-death penalty activist, and Ray Krone, the 100th person exonerated from death row in the United States, Witness to Innocence (WTI) began as a project of the New Orleans-based Moratorium Campaign Education Fund. Two years later WTI moved to Philadelphia, PA, where it transformed itself into one of the most powerful and unique anti-death penalty organizations in the United States.
Our exoneree members 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. They 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 New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, and Nebraska.
A country that joins more than 140 other nations in abolishing the death penalty in law or in practice. A country that grants fair and speedy compensation to the wrongfully convicted. A country that puts “justice” back into the criminal justice system.
Please visit our very special arts and culture page, where you can view video clips, artwork, and literary contributions by and about our members, including three beautiful paintings by exoneree Lawyer Johnson. View Lawyer's paintingshere.
RIP, Dave Keaton 1952–2015
We will never forget your quiet bravery, gentle nature, and fierce commitment to end the death penalty.
Visit Dave's poetry page here.
Read tributes to Dave Keaton's life here and here.
(Photo by Sofia Moro)
RIP, Delbert Tibbs 1939–2013
We will never forget your courage, wisdom, and love for humanity.
Visit Delbert's poetry page here.
Read tributes to Delbert's life that appeared in publications around the world, from The New York Times to The Economist, here.
(Photo by Edwin Tse)
RIP, Greg Wilhoit 1954–2014
We will never forget your courage, humor, and resilience.
Read tributes to Greg's life that appeared here and here.
(Photo by Sofia Moro)
This video of Ray Krone is courtesy of Atlantic Philanthropies, one of our generous funders:
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To learn more about our funders and membership organizations, browse our Links & Resources page here.
Witness to Innocence wants to thank the following people and organizations for so many of the awesome videos, photos, and artwork on our website: Ashlee O Shelton, Sofia Moro, Brian Bullock, George Gull, Marc Steinberg, Resurrection After Exoneration, Daniel Bolick, Scott Langley, Maria Telesco, David Sulewski, Talila Lewis – please let us know if we have left you out!
This website has been produced as part of Witness to Innocence's Eyes Wide Open Project, generously funded and supported by the European Union.The contents are the sole responsibility of Witness to Innocence, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.
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