End executions now!

Nearly two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Oklahoma, where a man named Richard Glossip was facing execution for a 1997 murder many people say he was not involved in. I learned about Richard’s case when actress Susan Sarandon contacted me, expressing deep concern that the State of Oklahoma was just about to kill an innocent man. After reviewing the facts, I too became convinced of Richard’s innocence, and we decided to make a public plea for the governor to grant reprieve.

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On 30 September 2015, Richard came within minutes of execution by lethal injection, when officials suddenly stopped the proceedings. As it turned out, the state of Oklahoma had procured the wrong execution drug, risking another botched execution that would lead to a slow and painful death. At the last minute, Governor Mary Fallin, not exactly an opponent of the death penalty, issued a stay of Richard’s execution.

Today, Richard’s situation is nowhere near being resolved. As the state of Oklahoma is investigating and reassessing its own death penalty protocol, executions could resume in the not-too-distant future, placing Richard on top of the wait list. His wonderful defence team, led by the intrepid Don Knight, are hoping for another chance to prove his innocence, but their pro-bono work requires resources to cover research and forensic work. Head over to www.richardglossip.com to see how you can help.

Richard Branson Abolition Award from Death Penalty Focus

Richard Branson Abolition Award from Death Penalty Focus

Those interested in the details of Richard’s case and his fight for exoneration should watch Joe Berlinger’s compelling documentary Killing Richard Glossip, which airs tonight and tomorrow on Investigation Discovery in the US. It’s an amazing exposé on the absurdity of Oklahoma’s stubborn determination to kill Richard, despite more than reasonable doubt about his guilt.

You’d think that deeply flawed cases like Richard’s cast enough of a shadow on the barbarity that is the death penalty. And yet, not too far away, in neighbouring Arkansas, the state is determined to carry out what has been described as the mass execution of seven death row inmates over the next ten days. The only reason Governor Asa Hutchinson is in such a mad rush to kill is the fact that the state’s supply of Midazolam, one of the drugs used in executions there, will expire on April 30th. It’s truly absurd. The “use by” date of a pharmaceutical product designed to make life more bearable has now become the “kill by” date of a deeply flawed criminal justice system. Writer John Grisham, an Arkansas native, earlier this week made a very powerful case why this state-sanctioned killing spree is a horrible idea.

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Thankfully, state and federal courts have now stepped in and blocked the executions – for now. The state is currently appealing these rulings, and we may know more today. At this stage, I think every voice counts.  Please call the governor's office +1-501-682-2345 today and ask him to accept the court rulings put an end to this brutality. The death penalty isn’t working. It doesn’t deter crime, nor does it bring justice. It’s time to end it.

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