Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NORTH CAROLINA: New Campaign - Sister Helen Prejean to Speak

"Dead Man Walking" Author Helen Prejean, NC Clergy to Speak at Launch of
New Grassroots Campaign for Repeal of NC's Death Penalty (sent Nov 30 from Steve Dear, PFADP)

RALEIGH – On Friday People of Faith Against the Death Penalty will formally launch a new grassroots campaign calling on North Carolina to repeal the death penalty. We invite all of our members to attend this press conference. Look for more information on how you can help build this campaign soon.

The press conference will take place at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 2 at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin St., Raleigh. Coffee, Krispy Kreme donuts, and other refreshments will be served.

Speakers expected at the press conference include:

Fr. Minlib Dallh, Dominican Friars of Raleigh
Rev. Frank Dew, New Creation Community Presbyterian Church, Greensboro
Pastor Alan Felton, Salem United Methodist Church, Oxford
Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, The Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Chapel Hill
Rev. Dr. William Haley, Harris Chapel Baptist Church, Youngsville
Rev. Dr. Earl C. Johnson, Martin Street Baptist Church
Rev. Lacy Joyner, First Baptist Church, Oxford
Rev. Nathan Parrish, Peace Haven Baptist Church, Winston-Salem
Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh
Sr. Helen Prejean, PFADP Kairos Campaign Chair and author, Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents

Already more than 300 congregations and local businesses in 36 North Carolina counties have passed PFADP's resolutions calling on North Carolina to replace the death penalty with life without parole and to use the funds that would be saved to help murder victims' family members.

Examples of faith communities and businesses that have passed resolutions include:

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina (Kinston)
Hot Rod Installations (Warrenton)
JJ Ashley Bakery (Goldsboro)
Kuttin' Up Barber Shop (Selma)
Main Street Café (Tarboro)
Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community (Raleigh)
Zen Center of Chapel Hill

PFADP is calling this new campaign the Kairos Campaign to Mobilize Religious Action to Repeal North Carolina's Death Penalty. Kairos is a Greek word meaning a special time. The initial goals of the campaign include more than 1,000 resolutions from faith communities, businesses, community groups and even local governments in every county in North Carolina. The campaign will also include a petition, a statewide letter for repeal from faith leaders, and the formation of denominational task forces to promote the campaign within religious traditions.

In 1999 PFADP launched the NC Moratorium Now campaign calling for a two-year moratorium on executions, a study or the state's death penalty system, and needed reforms. The campaign yielded more than 1,000 resolutions for a moratorium from faith communities, businesses, community groups, and 39 local governments in North Carolina, and 50,000 petition signatures. There has not been an execution in North Carolina since 2006 largely because of court battles involving execution protocols. The NC Racial Justice Act is one of the reforms supported by PFADP's moratorium campaign. The RJA was passed into law in 2009 but on Monday the NC Senate passed Senate Bill 9, which repeals it. Gov. Bev Perdue has not announced whether she will veto the repeal of the RJA.

"The NC Racial Justice Act is not about repealing the death penalty," said PFADP Executive Director Stephen Dear. "The Racial Justice Act is a reform aimed at addressing the historic and insidious influence of racial bias in capital cases. As long as North Carolina has a death penalty it needs checks on the system like the Racial Justice Act to make the death penalty less unfair and less error-prone.

But Racial Justice Act or not, the only way we can ever ensure people are not sentenced to death unfairly is to not have a death penalty. Even if the death penalty could somehow be administered fairly and accurately we would oppose it on moral and religious grounds."

PFADP will not stop this campaign until enough people, faith communities and institutions have taken action until the death penalty is repealed no matter how long that takes, Dear said.

"We are in this for the long haul."

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