Student Week Against the Death Penalty

What will you do for the abolitionist movement this year?

Each year, NLG students all over the country come together to celebrate Student Week Against the Death Penalty. By hosting events and planning actions, students raise awareness of the unjust capital punishment system in the United States. This year's SWADP will take place from March 2-6, 2015.

SWADP Organizing Materials

Past events have included:

  • Letter writing campaigns
  • Panel discussions
  • Film screenings
  • Collecting petition signatures
  • Hosting speakers like death row honorees or public defenders
  • Distributing posters, flyers, black ribbons, or buttons

Background

 

Those of us who have long expressed moral indignation at our nation's capital punishment laws have recently been joined by individuals and groups who are attacking the death penalty on theoretical, financial, and practical fronts. Yet challenges still remain. Some recent developments include:

  • According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 35 people were put to death in 2014, the lowest number in 20 years. There were 72 death sentences in 2014, the lowest number in the 40 years of the modern death penalty. 
  • The death penalty is becoming limited to a few regions: All but 7 of the executions that took place in 2014 were in Texas, Missouri, and Florida. 
  • More states are abolishing the death penalty: In October 2013, Maryland's repeal of the death penalty became law, making it the 18th state to abolish the death penalty and the sixth state to end capital punishment in the last six years. More recently, Governer Martin O'Malley commuted all of Maryland's death row prisoner's sentences to life without parole
  • Other countries are exerting pressure on the United States to end the death penalty: European companies have cut off supplies of certain execution drugs because of opposition to capital punishment in Europe. Botched executions with experimental drugs in 2014 have caused public outcry and delays. 
  • Public support for the death penalty is at its lowest levels in four decades: 42% of people surveyed by in 2014 Gallup say that they do not believe it is administered fairly. In 2014, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that a majority of Americans favored life without parole over the death penalty. 

While these developments represent the tremendous momentum that is gathering behind abolition, the need for action has never been more urgent!