This is going to be one of those newsletters with a big DONATE button in it. We try not to hound you for donations. In fact, there are only two times each year when we come to you specifically for financial support. Tuesday June 2, GiveNOLA Day, is one of those days.
Why I need your support more than ever
I'd like to give you a little background on why your contribution this year is so vital.
For the first time since the early 1990s, I've been at home in my New Orleans apartment for a stretch of more than a couple of weeks. It's thanks to the pandemic, of course, a pandemic that has upended all our lives. Some people have suffered terribly. I am one of the fortunate ones with a support network that has sustained me. I've had the huge privilege of being able to enjoy this enforced time at home, to relish time watching the birds on my patio, to plant flowers and be here long enough to tend them and watch them grow.
But this pandemic has thrown a huge roadblock in my work. I've been on the road visiting prisons and educating the public about the death penalty since the early 90s, and now that's all come to a screeching halt. For us here at the Ministry Against the Death Penalty, the pandemic has meant we've had to find an entirely new way of working, as have so many others. And pronto -- justice cannot wait!*
So I say thank God for our very own tech queen, Rose Vines (my nickname for her is Gutenberg). It was around 2002 that Rose started urging us to get online, to use Twitter and Facebook, to connect with people both face-to-face and remotely. To say that it took a while for that message to filter through would be an understatement. It wasn't until 2015, when our social media team of Rose and Griffin Hardy were absolutely central in our campaign to save the life of Richard Glossip in Oklahoma, that I began to grasp the power of social media. And it has taken another five years to realize how much, much more there is we can do to harness technology for good.
Rose's persistent nudging, and quiet foundational work in the background, has helped propel our work into the newly mandatory world of online everything. And we have taken off, engaging in a raft of online exchanges:
There's been an occasional cocktail Zoom in there, too. It is going soooo well I'm over the moon.
- We're developing models to help teachers do Zoom classrooms (the classes I've done so far have been intimate and powerful.)
- I've spoken at online conferences and symposia.
- I've testified to a Congressional committee about COVID-19 in prisons.
No more in-person events
But we had to cancel all in-person events for this year, and that's meant no speaking honorariums - our primary source of income. So we really do need your support, because our work has become even more pressing:
Please help as much as you can by donating to the Ministry Against the Death Penalty on GiveNOLA Day. You can donate any time until 11:59:59pm on June 2nd (Central US time, that is!).
- This pandemic has hit the incarcerated particularly hard. Treatment is either woefully inadequate or non-existent in jails, prisons and immigration detention centers.
- The pandemic has also brought an end to visitation in prisons. Our guys in Angola prison tell us they might not be able to have visitors until spring or summer of 2021. They're in lockdown in their cells or dorms, not allowed to work, with countless officers and inmates falling prey to the virus.
- Many court cases have simply stopped. Manuel Ortiz, who is still waiting for justice after 26 years on death row, is now in judicial limbo as his case stalls in the courts. The wait gets ever more agonizing.
- Across the country, the stories repeat.
With heartfelt thanks,
PS. This year a generous donor has pledged to double every dollar donated to MADP on GiveNOLA Day, up to $10,000!