We are so grateful for your participation in #GivingTuesday! It’s a great start into our year end fund raising effort – we hope to secure donations of $50,000 in December to launch us into the most active and ambitious year of our history.
We began an initiative and are collecting signatures to remove the death penalty from Arizona Revised Statutes replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. As you can imagine securing 175,000 signatures – the amount we estimate necessary to have the required number of valid signatures – demands both work and substantial funding. Volunteers are requested to assist in gathering signature, but we realize volunteers alone won’t be able to obtain all the signatures so we will employ paid petition gatherers. We will also need money to hire an executive director and a field organizer to manage the campaign. When we are successful, the initiative will be placed on the ballot and Arizona can join Nebraska, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey & New York (7 states which have recently stopped executions) and the other 16 states which don’t execute! 23 states do not kill!
While gathering the necessary signatures is a huge task, it is certainly not all that is required. Getting the initiative on the ballot is just the start and will mean little if it is not passed by the voters. The number of citizens favoring executions is at the lowest point in years. While it still hovers around 60%, the number drops below 50% when those polled are offered the option of life without the possibility of parole. It will be our task therefore not only to gather the signatures, but also to educate the public and explain why state executions are bad public policy and how they don’t serve society.
Those who advocate state sponsored killing claim it is a deterrent – there is no proof that this is true, in fact see the opposite – states which execute have a higher capital crime rate… violence begets violence. Some claim it is a closure for the victims friends and family members, yet many will acknowledge that there is no “closure” and peace comes with forgiveness, not with vengeance. Only 2% of the nations 3,143 counties account for the majority of the executions in our nation, unfortunately Maricopa and Pima counties are ranked among the leaders. Let us not forget the costs – not only financial (estimated to be 4 to 7 times more expensive than life incarceration) but also emotional as the pain that survivors experience in our broken system is heart-wrenching. Lastly, we risk killing the innocent – studies show an estimated 4% of the prisoners on death row are innocent and sadly we have killed innocent people.
As a youngster Mom always told me I would be known by the company I kept. As long as we practice state killing we are keeping company with China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Have these nations not been identified as “The Axis of Evil”?
Please join with us – you have an opportunity to make a real difference in our society as you donate your time, talent and resources.
Bob Hungerford, President