Why 177

We are pretty good at talking about the death penalty, but none of us seem to have much of a talent for raising money. Nevertheless, in March of 2012, we finally managed to write a fundraising letter. The letter is below, and it explains the number 177. Please read it, and please contact us if you can help in any way.

Dear friend ,

In South Carolina and in 34 other states it is legal to execute an innocent person – as long as he has had what the courts consider to be a fair trial.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, the state of South Carolina has sentenced 177 people to death. One hundred and five of those death sentences have been reversed due to errors at least once on appeal. Two people have been found innocent and released, after spending years on death row for crimes they did not commit. These odds suggest that several of the 63 men who are currently on our state’s death row may very well be innocent.

The likelihood that innocent people are being put to death is not the only grave injustice associated with the death penalty in South Carolina. The death penalty is racist. A black person convicted of killing a white person is six times more likely to be sentenced to death than any other defendant, and 60 percent of the men on death row are African-American. The death penalty targets poor people who cannot afford expensive lawyers. And although mental illness is supposed to be a mitigating circumstance, we routinely execute men with mental disabilities. Jamie Wilson desperately sought treatment for his schizophrenia, but was refused because his insurance had run out. The judge at his murder trial ruled that he was “guilty but mentally ill” and that his mental illness had made it impossible for him to comply with the law. Nevertheless Jamie Wilson was sentenced to death and is currently awaiting execution.

At SCADP, we believe that when enough of our fellow South Carolinians become aware of the injustice associated with the death penalty, the grave errors that are routinely committed, and the millions of dollars our state would save if it abolished the death penalty, they will help us end this barbaric practice. For the past year, we have been visiting college campuses and community organizations, educating people about the death penalty, and enlisting their help. We have printed educational and promotional materials, which we offer free of charge, and we have begun a website, www.sc-abolish.org. The response both from individuals and from other organizations has been very encouraging.

But we need to do much more. We need more speakers, more organizers, more fact sheets, more t-shirts and other promotional materials, and we need to put on many more events throughout the state. We need your help. Whether you have a couple of hours a month to attend an event, or several hours a week to help us man tables, create art, or write letters and articles, please fill out the attached form and let us know (in the comment section or on the back) how you can help. And please send us the most generous contribution you can, so that we can continue to educate the people in our state about the terrible injustice that is the death penalty. Contributions are tax deductible, and checks should be made out to SCADP and sent to the address below. You can also go to our website, www.sc-abolish.org, and use PayPal. Thank you for your help and for all you do.

 

Sincerely,

Anna, Cindy, Don, Jerry, Kate, Margaret, Maria, Ron, Sal, and Skip

South Carolinians Abolishing the Death Penalty * PMB#338, 100 Old Cherokee Road Suite F * Lexington, SC 29072 *   803-399-0226  843-367-7202 *   info@sc-abolish.org   *   www.sc-abolish.org