The death penalty is frequently criticised as a cruel and inhumane punishment that is riddled with problems – from innocent people being put to death and racial bias, to false evidence and overzealous prosecutors – so why does it still exist?
I have always felt strongly that people need to have access to all the facts in order to form balanced and fair opinions. It’s one of the reasons I became so passionate about telling stories through the medium of film in the first place – it's important to engage people at the most human level, a level everyone can relate to, in order to have the best chance at having a positive impact.
Last week my production company, Sundog Pictures, launched three films as part of a broader social media campaign to help end the death penalty for good. By using three different types of storytelling, a fast-paced animation, a real-life testimony documentary and visceral footage of an execution room, we have addressed many of the core issues at the heart of the death penalty debate. Our aim is to shed a light on the hard facts surrounding the death penalty and bring them to life in a way that feels fresh and compelling; I encourage you to watch them.
Over the last few years, executions in the US have been on the decline, with the practise fraught with practical, economic and constitutional problems. And yet, the US remains one of the top executing nations in the world.
Executions also cost huge amounts of taxpayer money. More than 15 different studies have found that every capital case costs millions of dollars and up to 10 times more than a sentence of life without parole. Some US counties have had to close libraries, freeze salaries or even raised taxes, just to pay for the cost of a single death penalty case.
Through the #DeathPenaltyFail campaign, our aim is to capture the attention of people of all stripes across the US and world over. We want to provide key facts around the issues at the heart of the death penalty debate so they can’t help but become active participants in the outcome of this immoral and impractical practise.
Anyone should be able to watch our films and take something valuable from them, no matter what your background, demographic, political persuasion and no matter what your current stance is on the death penalty.
…And it couldn’t come at a more important time. This November, voters in Nebraska and California will decide about the future of the death penalty in their states, meaning we have a very real opportunity to make progress in our relationship with our common humanity.
I have always thought that legal ruling needs to be higher than any bad act a person can make – now is the time to put some 'justice' back into the justice system.
You are now part of this important story and we hope that the films provide a great platform for discussion and learning. Usually, I’d say – ‘Enjoy the film!’ – but this isn’t a case of watching for pleasure. I’m proud to say it’s some of the most important work that we produced at Sundog Pictures. We hope these films will inspire and mobilise you to take action.
Let's be on the right side of history!