October 10 is World Day Against the Death Penalty — a day first established in 2003 for all people and nations to unite in condemning and calling for an end to capital punishment. World Day Against the Death Penalty aims to raise awareness of political leaders and the general public about the death penalty in both retentionist and abolitionist countries. This day unites abolitionist movements and gives global support to the worldwide movement against the death penalty.
For years, the number of executions and new death sentences in the United States has dwindled. As more members of the public recognize the injustice and brutality in the system, some states have voted to ban the death penalty while others have announced moratoriums on executions.
In 2023 in Florida, however, our leaders have taken us backwards.
Florida has the fourth-highest number of post-Gregg executions with 105. Florida also leads the nation in the number of death row exonerees with 30. Florida has executed more people this year than any other state with 6. Florida has the lowest juror threshold to impose a death sentence with 8.
How can you commemorate this day? Last week, I asked you to share Michael Zack’s story with one other person in your life. So many of you emailed to let me know you were doing exactly that. Let’s keep the conversation going – we have gathered these materials together to share with you as you advocate today and every other day for an end to the death penalty.
The statistics and facts are on our side. Florida does not need the death penalty to be safe. We stand in support of our other states and nations who are ending the death penalty, and we look to them for inspiration and hope. This year, Governor Inslee of Washington State signed into law a bill to finally abolish the state statute of the death penalty. A bill was introduced with bipartisan support to abolish the death penalty in Ohio.
More than 70% of nations have abolished capital punishment in law or practice. The amazing winner of the just announced Nobel Peace Prize, Narges Mohammadi from Iran, has been an outspoken opponent of executions since her nephew was executed.
But as most of the world unites to condemn the death penalty, the United States remains an outlier, the only developed country in the Western Hemisphere that kills its own people.
And Florida is at the epicenter of this state-sanctioned violence.
Here are some options for how you can commemorate this day and strengthen your resolve to end the death penalty in Florida.
A list of faith-led events for World Day Against the Death Penalty compiled by Catholic Mobilizing Network.
National Christian Prayer Call – via Zoom – Tuesday October 10 at 6:30 PM Eastern hosted by EJUSA Evangelical Network in partnership with LiveFree, FLOCC, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, and the Justice for Julius Institute.
“Death is Not Justice” World Day Against the Death Penalty Gathering – In Person and via Zoom – Tuesday, October 10, 6:00 – 7:30 PM Mountain Time hosted by Arizona Faith Network, Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona, and Arizona Jews for Justice.
Finally, I want to leave you with an email we received from Michael Zack’s wife, Ann-Kristin, which both broke my heart and reminded me that what we are all doing together matters, even though we couldn’t stop his execution. Michael knew you were all fighting for him until his last breath:
“He was very much aware of all you did for him out there. I sent him emails at least twice a day every day and he got it all to read. He really appreciated it and read every word about what you all did for him. It meant the world to me also.
So never forget what you do really makes a difference.”
Please keep making a difference with me. I know in my soul that one day it will be our last “World Against the Death Penalty Day” in Florida and beyond.
FADP Executive Director