Witness to Innocence: The Death Penalty and Race

Last week, I attended a wonderful event held by Witness to Innocence at Gonzaga University. Witness to Innocence is a non-profit organization advocating for the abolition of America’s death penalty. Two death penalty exonerees shared their experiences of living in inhumane, torturous conditions and what their lives have entailed after release. Their stories were moving, eye-opening, and life-changing. I was surprised to hear that these exonerees were not offered any re-entry services, reimbursement from the government, or a clearing of their record.

From what I gathered, it seems that Witness to Innocence’s goal is to persuade people through these exoneree’s stories to oppose the death penalty and instead, replace it with life in prison without release. This raised questions for me, as it was interesting to hear the exonerees talk about their traumatic experiences while incarcerated, but agreed that some people may be deserving of such punishment. I left the event with a lot to think about…

-Megan, Intern at PJALS