This past January, I was fortunate enough to cross an item off my bucket list – with a dear friend and fellow death penalty lawyer, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. After 8 days of camping and more than 40 miles of hiking, we successfully reached the 19,341 foot summit.
When I came off the mountain and turned on my phone after more than a week without service, the first thing I learned was that Governor DeSantis had set the first execution in nearly four years. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, I also learned that our Legislature was poised to eliminate the requirement that juries must be unanimous when recommending a death sentence, allowing the death penalty if only 8 jurors voted for it.
I’ll be honest, my first thought was to turn my phone back off and return to the mountain. But after a few moments, I knew that instead it meant we had a different mountain to climb. And I knew it would take just as much determination and perseverance as my African climb, and probably a lot more.
And every single time in the last 6 months the Governor has set a new execution date, including the most recent date for James Barnes, I feel the urge to wave the white flag and stop climbing. But I know that we cannot. And I know that you will not. Click here to learn about James and sign the petition to stay his execution, which is scheduled for August 3.
Every time we ask, you all step up. You make phone calls and write letters and urge our lawmakers to stop expanding Florida’s death penalty. You write and call the Governor and tell him to stop setting executions. You show up at vigils, rain or shine, and say, Not In My Name.
We need to do more. With executions resumed at an alarming pace and Governor DeSantis on the national stage, now is the time to grow our coalition and increase our influence. Please consider a gift of $50, $150, $250 or $500 today to get us there.
We know what we have to do. The most recent execution of Duane Owen – a man who suffered with severe mental illness his entire life – underscores our need to double down on our efforts to stop executions and to pass legislation, called the SMI Bill, that would make people with serious mental illness not eligible for the death penalty.
But to be honest again, we need a bigger ground game. FADP has to raise enough funds in the coming months to add our first organizer, our greatest need. Please consider a gift of $50, $150, $250 or $500 today and help us get there.
Will you climb this mountain with me? I’m weary, and I know you are too. And yet, I know we are making a difference, we are inching the conversation forward, and we are changing hearts and minds. And we will reach the summit. Together.
FADP Executive Director
PS: We need a ground game to show state leaders they are out of step with their constituents. We’ve set a goal to raise $19,341 – one dollar for every foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and almost exactly the remaining funds we need to raise ASAP to hire an organizer this summer. We are so close. Please help us get there and donate today.