Activists Hold Annual Fast Outside Supreme Court to Protest Death Penalty
WASHINGTON, D.C. - George White says he never thought much about capital punishment until he was wrongfully convicted, sentenced to life-in-prison and narrowly escaped death row.
“An innocent man or woman can be convicted of something they didn’t do in this country. That happened to me,” said White.
“Thirty four years ago at my place of business, my wife and I were shot multiple times by an armed robber and left for dead. Sixteen months later I was indicted, arrested and charged with the murder but for the grace of God and the fact that I had an all-White jury, that’s why I didn’t get the death penalty. I looked too much like they did. And that’s wrong. That’s wrong,” he added.
The majority of prisoners sentenced to death are in fact guilty of gruesome crimes but the evidence that proved White’s innocence was eventually uncovered. He now advocates for the elimination of the death penalty at an annual demonstration where activists like him spend several days fasting outside of the Supreme Court.
“I think people like myself who have lost loved ones to murder, who are opposed to the cycle of violence continuing even through the death penalty, it’s important for us to tell our stories, said Rev. Jack Sullivan Jr., Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Churches. Sullivan’s sister, Jennifer Ann McCoy, was murdered twenty two years ago. The perpetrator has still not been caught.
“We’re here to say, don’t kill in our names. Don’t execute in our names,” he added.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court bumped the case of convicted murderer Larry Lamont White back to the lower court in Kentucky. They want the court to look again at his claim of an intellectual disability as a reason to spare his life. Though support for capital punishment is far lower than it was just two decades ago, most Americans still favor it including many in the law enforcement community like the Fraternal Order of Police.
“People can continue to disagree with us but they can’t dismiss the experience,” said White.
According to the Pew Research Center, 54% of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder.
There are currently 29 prisoners in Kentucky on death row.
The last person to be executed in the Commonwealth was Marco Allen Chapman in 2008.
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