We're all coming together to fight the death penalty. And it's working!
I've been doing death penalty work for a long time, and I've watched and been part of the evolution of the movement for abolition both as a filmmaker, and campaigner. It might just be that it has my full attention at the moment because of my new project - One For Ten - but I feel more than ever that it's a fight we're starting to win.
Last year, California had a public vote on whether to abolish the death penalty, and although the public decided to retain capital punishment, the vote was extremely tight and showed that public opinion in the state has moved dramatically in the right direction. 48 percent of the population, more than 5.8 million voters voiced their support for replacing the death penalty where California voters once favored the death penalty by more than 70%. It may actually be on the back of this defeat that the anti-death penalty movement seems to be reinvigorated. 2013 has started with a bang with Maryland looking to abolish the death penalty, Arkansas governor Mike Beebe signalling similar intentions for his state and talk of repeal in Colorado and Montana. This is being accompanied by big calls for abolition from varied sources like The New York Times and former executioners.
All said, it feels like we're heading in the right direction and I truly believe that I will see the death penalty abolished in the USA in my lifetime, which is why I'm so excited to be making our new interactive documentary series - One For Ten - at this juncture.
One For Ten focuses on the stories of 10 people who were on death row but were innocent and are now living on the outside. Each film is 5 minutes long and will be shot and edited on the road during a 5-week road trip through America in April and May. The films are shot and released 'live' so that YOU can interact with us while we make them. These will be YOUR films and it's never felt like such a good time to build a crowd... a movement if you will. We like to think of the films as being ‘democratic’ and interactive and will give away all our footage for free at the end.
All of the aforementioned developments have come about as a result of big groups of people making themselves heard and it really does feel that public opinion in America is changing. The impact of the internet and social media cannot be overplayed, and these new tools are allowing us to connect and create change in amazing new ways. This strength in numbers, and collective energy is something that we're really trying to harness with One For Ten and we believe that by forming coalitions of organisations and media outlets, and engaging with an army of people on facebook and twitter, we can hopefully effect change and further widen the important debate that has already begun. Any chance we have to talk about the topic, it is imperative that we do and we're hoping that through our project, we'll be able to start a big conversation.
As I said, I believe that we will win this fight in my lifetime and I'm looking forward to being able to say that I did my part. Please join us and start to look forward to being able to say the same.
One For Ten will be having a launch party in New York for their crowd funding campaign this Wednesday at Session 73 in Manhattan that's open to all.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.