Four World Coalition members among NCADP award winners


on 3 February 2008

Stephanie Faucher, programme director for Death Penalty Focus, was named Abolitionist of the Year. Her career in anti-death penalty work has spanned nearly a decade – since she was a student at the University of California at Berkeley, where she created and taught a class on capital punishment.
Faucher says she is attracted to anti-death penalty work because she believes in the principle that “with great power comes great responsibility.” “Individuals in power should do more than just enforce laws,” she says. “They should act as role models and exemplify the very best of human behavior.”

The Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty (photo), representing the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, received the Lighting the Torch Award. Although Puerto Rico abolished the death penalty in 1929, the US federal government has been trying to reintroduce it on repeated occasions. Puerto Ricans have remained strong and have begun to organise aggressively. The Puerto Rico Coalition Against the Death Penalty now consists of 42 different groups and more than 400 individuals.

Actor, filmmaker and Death Penalty Focus president Mike Farrell received a Lifetime Achievement Award and gave a passionate speech at the conference (see video below). “I believe in hope because I believe in the human spirit… This force beyond our understanding that empowers whatever is good in the world to stand against what is not,” he said. He added: “It is this system, the death system, and the willingness of some to submit to it out of fear while others use it to serve their own political ends, that we must expose to the light.”

Bill Pelke of Journey of Hope… From Violence to Healing received special recognition as outgoing NCADP board chair. He has been one of the best advocates of the idea that the death penalty utterly fails to heal the wounds of the victims of crime and said: “The death penalty has absolutely nothing to do with healing. It just continues the cycle of violence and creates more murder victims’ family members. We become what we hate. We become killers.”

Non-World Coalition members honoured by the NCADP this year include:
– Natasha Minsker, death penalty policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. This attorney, whose career has traversed a bridge between public defender work and abolition work, was named Abolitionist of the Year along Stephanie Faucher.
– Lawyers David E. Kendall, William & Connolly; Death Penalty Clinic, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and Elizabeth Semel; and Morrison & Foerster, who received a legal service award.

Related articles:
USA: reaching for the dream
Abolition in the US: what role for overseas activists?


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