September 2, 2014
The Death Penalty: Why Oppose It?

We who support Jarvis Masters call ourselves abolitionists. This was the proud name of those Americans who worked to abolish slavery. We want to abolish the death penalty.

Because the present incarceration of two million people in America, and the accellerating executions impact mostly poor people and people of color, some call these widespread injustices the new American slavery. This historical analogy is not a perfect one, but we join in the proud tradition of American abolitionists who worked for change. As Sister Helen Prejean has said, "The death penalty is a poor person's issue...in the end, it is the poor who are selected to die." Some are juveniles, many are mentally ill, developmentally disabled, traumatized, or addicted. We believe that the cruelty of capital punishment harms everyone in America, because it demeans human life. When capital punishment is abolished in the United States, we will enjoy membership in the community of civilized nations.

We also work against the death penalty because we have come to know Jarvis Masters, who, like many on America's death rows, is a rehabilitated and healed man of many talents. We do not want our dear friend Jarvis to be executed. And we realize that if the government has the power to execute anyone, it can also kill him. We believe that the violence in our society can better be reduced by spending the huge resources we are now wasting on incarceration and execution for education, early intervention with youthful offenders, treatment for addictions and mental illness and help for victims of violence. We invite everyone to explore these issues with us on websites linked to this one.

Many people in the country are seeking a moratorium on the death penalty. You can visit Moratorium 2000 to sign an online death penalty moratorium petition in a drive led by Sister Helen Prejean, and read The New Abolitionist published by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

See What the State of California Says About Its Death Row

Visit the California Department of Corrections web page for statistics about the over 640 people on California's Death Rows and photos of the death chamber and condemned prisoners' housing.