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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » We’re hiring! CCATDP Western Regional Organizer

Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is a network of political and social conservatives who question the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles and values. We are a project of Equal Justice USA (EJUSA), a rapidly growing national organization working to transform the justice system by promoting responses to violence that break cycles of trauma. EJUSA works at the intersection of criminal justice, public health, and racial justice to elevate healing and safety over retribution, advance racial equity, and meet the needs of survivors.

EJUSA has 30 extraordinary staff members throughout the country and a small national office in Brooklyn. We are a diverse, passionate team that loves working together to deliver real change.

Job Description

We seek a sharp, personable, organized Western Regional Organizer to help build Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty’s visibility and strengthen our network of state-based groups throughout the western United States. The organizer will build relationships with partners and educate and mobilize conservatives in key states to support campaigns against the death penalty. The ideal candidate will have experience and credibility working with conservatives, comfort collaborating across political differences, strong communication and outreach skills, and a commitment to fairness and racial equity.

This position reports to the Director of National Organizing and Narrative Shifting, will work closely with the National Manager for Conservatives Concerned, and participate in EJUSA’s death penalty team. This will be a full time remote position based in AZ, NV, UT, or WY.

Responsibilities

  • Participate in state-wide anti-death penalty coalitions, including in AZ, UT, NV, and WY, to help implement strategy and tactics that educate the public in those states and elevate support for ending the death penalty.
  • Work with other EJUSA team members to integrate conservative allies into state level death penalty work throughout the region.
  • Build and maintain relationships with individuals and leaders of conservative groups whose interests might align with anti-death penalty arguments, including groups that advocate for limited government, pro-life groups, faith communities, criminal justice reform groups, and others.
  • Recruit, train, and empower new Conservatives Concerned supporters in key states and throughout the region, and mobilize them to take action opposing executions, supporting policy change, and growing the network.
  • Strengthen local Conservatives Concerned branches by providing ongoing coaching, training, and support to increase their recruitment, visibility, and integration with other local efforts to oppose the death penalty; work with anti-death penalty coalitions to recruit and launch new Conservatives Concerned branches.
  • Identify and participate in meetings and events that foster relationships with members of the legal community, faith leaders, current and former law enforcement, family members of murder victims, legislators, and other community leaders.
  • Implement communications plans, including creating content for social media, writing op-eds, organizing press conferences, and giving media interviews.
  • Represent Conservatives Concerned at key conferences and events.
  • Participate in EJUSA staff meetings and internal strategy discussions about how to engage conservatives in all aspects of EJUSA’s work.
  • Participate in relevant grant proposal development, monitoring, and reporting, as needed.
  • Other responsibilities, as needed.

Qualifications

  • At least 2 years of experience in outreach, event organizing, advocacy, or a related field.
  • Experience and familiarity working with conservatives on issue-based campaigns.
  • Familiarity with the political and cultural landscape of states in the western region, including the region’s conservative communities.
  • Excellent interpersonal relationship building, networking, and social skills; ability to connect authentically and build trust with diverse groups of people, especially across religious and political ideologies; excitement about reaching out to and building relationships with new people and groups.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, including experience with public speaking and preparing others to do so.
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects, meet deadlines, keep things moving, and maintain a high attention to detail; flexible and tenacious.
  • A positive attitude, friendly personality, sense of humor, and the ability to get along with many types of people
    Comfort working on a Mac or willingness to learn, and familiarity with Google Suite, Microsoft Office, and Dropbox, preferred.
  • Ability and willingness to travel up to 25% of the time, preferred.
  • Commitment to racial equity.

Additional Information

Location: Remote in AZ, NV, UT, or WY

Target start date: As soon as possible.

Compensation: $70K commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits including employer-paid medical and dental care, retirement plan, paid vacation, sick days, and holidays, disability insurance, and professional development allowance.

To apply: Visit bit.ly/CCATDP-West-Apply to apply online. Upload a cover letter and resume in PDF format only by clicking “I’m interested” at the top of the page. Incomplete applications will not be considered. No calls please.

Deadline: Open until filled

EJUSA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We encourage a diverse pool of candidates to apply, including those impacted by the issues we work on. We consider all applicants on the basis of their ability to perform the job, without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, physical appearance, age, mental or physical disability, credit history, veteran status, uniform service member status, justice system involvement, victims of domestic violence, stalking, or other crimes, political affiliation, or any other legally protected class. EJUSA does not tolerate discrimination or harassment against any of the above listed classes.

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » CCATDP Implores California Governor to Take Action on COVID-19 Prison Outbreak

This week, CCATDP sent a letter to California Governor, Gavin Newsom, imploring him to take action as COVID-19 ravages San Quentin State Prison and other facilities. You can read the full letter below.

 

June 30, 2020

Dear Governor Newsom:
With the rapid spread of COVID-19 inside San Quentin State Prison and across the state, we call for immediate action to save lives.

The COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin was foreseeable and completely preventable. As Judge Tigar acknowledged on June 19, 2020, during a case management conference in Newsom v. Plata, the transfers from the California Institution for Men to San Quentin were a “failure in policy and planning.” Judge Tigar urged CDCR to act quickly to release people to house arrest, furlough, or to another newly created facility, not to include a currently operating prison. Since those comments on June 19, COVID-19 has spread even more rapidly inside San Quentin. As you acknowledged in your public statements on June 25, 2020, the people at San Quentin are some of the most vulnerable in the State. Many people inside are elderly, have pre-existing medical conditions, and cannot observe the same precautions people on the outside observe daily to stay safe to the best of their abilities.

We believe there are at least 27 people inside San Quentin State Prison who have already been granted parole and are still in the 120-150 day review period during which your Office can make referrals back to the Board sitting en banc or reverse grants. Commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings have deemed these 27 people safe for release after decades of rehabilitation; these are people who have solid parole plans, and who have immediate housing to return to in the community to shelter in place safely during this pandemic.
The names of individuals at San Quentin who we know to have been found suitable have already been provided in previous letters to you on this matter.
We ask that you immediately review all of the 27 people with parole grants for expedited release, suspend transfers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in order to save their lives and to reduce the overcrowding inside of San Quentin. Every hour the numbers of positive cases inside rise, we urge you to immediately release all 27 people who have already passed countless levels and layers of oversight and review. Many of these individuals have served decades in prison; to become sick or die awaiting release after they served their time and demonstrated their suitability to rejoin their families and communities would be a cruelty.
This is just one facility in need of immediate action. We urge you to release people who have been granted parole in every prison in this state – not just at San Quentin where the media is currently focusing their attention. Thousands of people are being needlessly exposed daily to the deadly risks inherent to California’s overcrowded prisons and the inability to safely distance inside. Yet hundreds of people who are already cleared for release by the Board of Parole
Hearings remain inside – only exacerbating these conditions, and delaying well-earned freedom.
Unnecessary delays in releasing people granted parole has been a looming injustice for years and have been made particularly heartbreaking by this current pandemic. There are many people inside who are simply hoping they will make it to their first day back on the outside to see their family before family members contract or suffer harm from COVID-19. We know a handful of folks where this was unfortunately not possible in time.
This is unacceptable and must change. We have seen overcrowded prison after overcrowded prison become the center of a COVID-19 outbreak, and keeping people deemed suitable for parole needlessly inside only contributes to the dangerousness of these conditions. Every day that justice is delayed, thousands of people who are our community, friends, clients, and family members are put at risk of potential death.
We urge you to act swiftly to save lives. Do not allow COVID to reverse your moratorium on the Death Penalty in California.

Respectfully,

Hannah Cox
Senior National Manager
Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty

 

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170th Exoneration from Death Row

Today, Kareem Johnson of Pennsylvania became the 170th person exonerated from the nation’s death rows. He is the third death row exoneration of 2020, and the sixth from Pennsylvania.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), Johnson’s case was marked by now familiar problems: official misconduct and junk science.

Read more from DPIC here:

Kareem Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007 based upon evidence and argument falsely informing the jury that DNA evidence linked him to the murder. The prosecution, police, and a prosecution forensic analyst told the jury that Johnson shot the victim, Walter Smith, at such close range that Smith’s blood spattered onto a red baseball cap Johnson was wearing that was recovered at the murder scene. Philadelphia homicide prosecutor Michael Barry falsely linked Johnson to the murder through the hat, telling jurors in his opening statement that it “was left at th[e] scene in the middle of the street [and] has Kareem Johnson’s sweat on it and has Walter Smith’s blood on it.”

Officer William Trenwith then testified that he had found the hat laying 8–10 feet from Smith’s body. He further testified that, in his experience, he had never seen blood travel that far from a victim’s body, after which Barry told jurors: “We know that he [Kareem Johnson] got in real close, within 2 ½ feet, close enough so that Walter Smith’s blood could splash up onto the bill of the cap he was wearing.” Barry argued: “Do you know who says the killer wore the hat? Walter Smith says the killer wore the hat. He says it with his blood.”

In fact, there was no blood on the red hat, nor did the police property receipt for the hat contain any indication of blood. Smith’s blood was actually on a second hat — a black hat he was wearing at the time he was shot in the head. The DNA reports for the red hat also raised questions about the sweat stain attributed to Johnson. The initial DNA report on the sweat stain — which was supplemented twice without explanation — did not link the hat to Johnson.

When post-conviction counsel for Johnson discovered the discrepancies in the evidence, police and prosecutors claimed to have mixed up the hats. The Philadelphia DA’s office agreed that Johnson’s conviction should be overturned but stipulated to its reversal in April 2015 based only “on ineffective assistance of counsel at the guilty-innocence phase of trial.” Prosecutors insisted at the time of the stipulation that Johnson “agree[ ] to withdraw all other claims … including claims alleging prosecutorial misconduct of District Attorney Michael Barry.”

After obtaining additional discovery in preparation for retrial, Johnson moved to bar his retrial on double jeopardy grounds. Although the lower courts described the prosecution’s mishandling of the evidence in the case as “extremely negligent, perhaps even reckless” and called Johnson’s trial a “farce,” they allowed the retrial to proceed.

On May 19, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed, finding that the misconduct — even if not deemed intentional — was so severe that retrying Johnson would violate his constitutional rights. “Under Article I, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution,” it wrote, “prosecutorial overreaching sufficient to invoke double jeopardy protections includes misconduct which not only deprives the defendant of his right to a fair trial, but is undertaken recklessly, that is, with a conscious disregard for a substantial risk that such will be the result.” The ruling expanded Pennsylvania’s double jeopardy protections to include cases not only of intentional misconduct, but also reckless disregard for the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Two justices dissented, saying that granting Johnson a retrial was a sufficient remedy for the prosecution’s actions.

The court returned the case to the trial court with directions to enter an order granting Johnson’s motion to bar retrial. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas formally dismissed the charges on July 1.

Johnson is Pennsylvania’s ninth death-row exoneration and the sixth from Philadelphia. All six Philadelphia exonerations have involved official misconduct. Johnson continues to challenge his incarceration on other unrelated charges.

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » Federal Government Resumes Executions After 17 Years

This week, the U.S. federal government resumed executions after a 17 year hiatus at the national level.

A total of five men were given execution dates for this summer, and thus far, two have been carried out. As expected, there have been many procedural, constitutional, and ethical issues surrounding the cases.

Though the government claimed these executions were to be carried out in the name of the victims’ families, the victims’ family members of Daniel Lewis Lee were adamant and vocal in their disapproval of the death penalty from the very beginning. They made numerous attempts to speak out and have their voices respected. Ultimately, they were not even able to be at the execution due to COVID-19 concerns – thus having this last dignity also taken from them by the administration.

Lee’s execution transpired in the early morning hours of Tuesday. He had been strapped to the gurney for hours as courts decided whether or not he could actually be executed. Only a few members of the media were allowed to be present, and were even sent home at one point before being called back. Though his death warrant had expired Monday night when the clock struck midnight, the courts still allowed his execution to move forward. There are many outstanding questions about the legality of this action.

Wesley Purkey was executed in a similar manner in the early morning hours of Thursday this week. Purkey was diagnosed with schizophrenia and early onset dementia.

There is little hope that the next three executions scheduled will be stopped, just as there is no evidence that indicates these deaths will be a deterrent to crime, make any American safer, or bring healing for the family members involved in the cases. Instead, these events are transpiring in the middle of a global pandemic as a piece of security theater. They are playing politics with American lives, and we’re all losing.

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Pandemic-ravaged state budgets face unavoidable cuts. Some GOP Lawmakers want to start with the death penalty.

As states across the country grapple with the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, some Republican state lawmakers are calling for the death penalty to be one of the first budget items to be cut.

Republican lawmakers from three states held an online news conference to discuss why they believe now is the time to end capital punishment in their states. It was moderated by Hannah Cox, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

The news conference included:

– Ohio Representative Niraj Antani, R-Miami Township
– Georgia Representative Brett Harrell, R-Snellville
– Wyoming Representative Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne

“These Republican leaders recognize the death penalty wastes millions of dollars each year while failing to provide improved public safety outcomes,” Cox said. “As states are struggling to fund the most basic of needs, this is an obvious cut. Dozens of GOP state lawmakers have sponsored death penalty repeal bills this year because it is so costly, ineffective, error-prone, and does not value life.”

Watch the press conference:

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » Wyoming CCATDP Hosts Murder Victims’ Family-Focused Event

Many Americans wrongfully believe that the majority of murder victims’ family members want and need the death penalty. At CCATDP, we know the opposite to be true.

In fact, we work with coalitions of victims’ family members who are opposed to the death penalty and want to see its end in states across this country.

Recently, efforts towards repeal have gained traction in Wyoming, and per usual, there are family members of victims lending their voice to the cause.

Last month, the Wyoming Chapter of CCATDP hosted a local event to provide a space for one of those family members to tell her story. It was a powerful testimonial and one we hope everyone will take the time to watch.

You can stream a recording of the full event here.

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » Virginia Passes Death Penalty Repeal

With a bipartisan bill that moved through its legislature at a rapid pace, Virginia became the twenty-third state to repeal the death penalty this month.

The state house and senate passed identical but separate bills that will now need to be reconciled before moving on to the governor for his signature. There are no roadblocks anticipated in the final phases of the process.

Virginia is the first southern state to end its death penalty system and was formerly one of the leading executioners in the country.

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » Ohio Introduces Bipartisan Repeal Bill

Big things continue to build in Ohio! 

Just this week a new bill to repeal the state’s death penalty was introduced with significant bipartisan support.

Conservative coalitions are revving up, and it looks like the Buckeye State has a good shot at success.

If you are in the state, you can contact your lawmakers here to let them know you want to see them pass this bill.

You can also read more about this effort here.

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » Bills, Bills, Bills!

In two short months, 2021 has already seen quite the flurry of activity around death penalty repeal.

Virginia repealed their system in full, and there are several others at their heels.

This week, Wyoming, Georgia, and Ohio all saw bipartisan bills introduced to repeal their own systems. On top of that, federal legislation has been introduced with 17 sponsors and counting. 

It’s undeniable the momentum is on our side. And it’s easy to see why.

The death penalty is a huge opportunity cost that makes our society less safe. It’s extremely expensive (and not because it takes too long, try again), and it provides no deterrent effect. That means we waste millions on a system that doesn’t improve public safety, instead of spending those resources on intervention programs that actually work, or on solving more crimes – which we’re really bad at.

The death penalty wastes resources and makes us less safe while also constantly risking innocent lives. Just recently, 11 more people were added to the exoneration list – making it one person exonerated from death row for every eight executions. Yikes.

As states struggle to pay their bills in the wake of government lockdowns and the pandemic, the death penalty is an obvious expense to cut. Americans have had enough of this embarrassing and outdated practice.

Be sure to contact your representatives and let them know you support this movement!

 

 

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Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty » Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Questioning a system marked by inefficiency, inequity, and inaccuracy.

Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is a network of political and social conservatives who question the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles and values.

We are a project of Equal Justice USA, a national organization working to end the death penalty in the United States.

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