Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Last night, a few minutes before midnight, the state of Arkansas executed Ledell Lee. This was the first execution in our state in 12 years.
The justice system failed Ledell Lee repeatedly. Lee was a black man, accused of killing a white woman. Lee suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage, and intellectual disabilities – issues his trial attorney never raised. He was represented by a lawyer who was drunk in court; and in his original trial the Judge was having an affair with the assistant prosecutor. He was convicted, in part, based on hair “science” that has since been debunked. He consistently maintained his innocence, but as late as this week courts refused to allow his DNA to be tested. [emphasis added]
Capital cases start with a murder, which means there is a grieving family at the heart of every case. We must never forget the families of the victims of Arkansas murders. For those whose cases become death cases, they become ensnared in the legal system for decades. Death Penalty abolitionists have been joined by countless murder victims’ families who have shared their pain at this lengthy, uncertain, public process. Our hearts break knowing with every legal twist and turn, the victims’ families are taken on a painful ride. We oppose the death penalty because we believe we should do better by all victims.
Ledell Lee also had family who cared about him. They stood outside the prison late in the night waiting to see whether or not the state would take their loved one. They are hurting today.
We worry about the men and women who formed the execution team. We’ve heard from past corrections’ officials who’ve participated in executions that there is often lasting psychological damage from the process of strapping down a person rendered defenseless and taking his life.
And we who have followed these cases – because we know the men, or we are worried about the reputation of our state and nation, or because we are determined to build a more just system – we are also hurting today. It’s painful when the state does something so senseless.
We may be hurting, but we are not giving up. And I remain proud of all we’ve done.
There are currently 3 executions scheduled for next week so we continue to gather signatures on our petition to the Governor. If you’ve not yet signed or shared this petition with your family please do so: www.arkansasabolish.org/8in10 You can also continue to support the work of ACADP with a donation today, we hope to be able to donate funds to the families travelling to attend executions.
We will gather as a community again Monday evening starting at 6 outside of the Governor’s mansion.
This hard work is only possible because we do it together.
Executive Director, ACADP
It appears that there will be no happy ending for the other death row inmates that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutichingson is so hell bent on killing this month (before the expiration date on some of the execution drugs) …
Radley Balko’s coverage of who was selected for slaughter and why is perhaps the best I’ve read. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/04/21/the-debacle-in-arkansas-reaffirms-that-the-death-penalty-is-arbitrary-unchecked-and-unfair/?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.85acf2bd06f8] It’s dark. But it’s our obligation to know what’s being done on our dimes, in the name of justice.
And thankfully, there is some light in the darkness.
In observing the Twitter wars to stop executions, some people are publicly changing their minds about the death penalty …
And after much deliberation, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe listened to pleas for him to take a harder look at Ivan Telguz’ death sentence …
And in addition to dozens of human rights organizations, legal eagles are now squaring off against Florida Governor Rick Scott in support of Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s enlightened decision not to pursue the death penalty in any case in her circuit …
We’ve executed innocents. We’ve got to put this medieval evil behind us again … this time, for good.
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