The Death Penalty is Just the Tip of an Iceberg of Injustice

Source: Amnesty International USA

By Steven Hawkins

The Death Penalty is Just the Tip of an Iceberg of InjusticeFor much of my working, adult life, I have been witness to the consequences of our country’s addiction to the death penalty, and to the damage it does even as we loosen its grip.

This week, we at Amnesty International USA and anti-death penalty activists around the country hope to witness a moment we will one day say was another important step towards our collective recovery.

Wednesday, March 12, the New Hampshire House of Representatives will vote on a bill that, when signed into law, would end the death penalty in the state. Thirty-two states throughout this country have yet to rid themselves of a punishment that is not just cruel, unfair and expensive, but is tainted with human error.

To date, 143 people have been exonerated from death row based on new evidence of their wrongful conviction. There are also those whose death sentences were carried out before they had the chance to prove their innocence.

Amnesty’s work to end executions in the United States is a central part of our global effort to stop all governments from using the death penalty. For me, it is absolutely essential that we bring human rights home by working for justice in the United States as relentlessly as we work to advance human rights overseas.

The death penalty is one of the most acute challenges in our struggle for universal human rights, the tip of an iceberg of injustice that inspired my lifelong commitment to advocacy.

I began to understand the deep roots of this injustice as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where I represented mostly African American men facing the death penalty in the Deep South. Iwitnessed first hand how...

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