By Mishi Faruqee, Campaign Manager
Safe and Just Alternatives is engaged in a multi-strategy, statewide campaign aimed at winning legislation to repeal the death penalty in Washington. Our efforts include grassroots organizing, coalition-building, public education and media outreach, and legislative advocacy. November marks the one-year anniversary of our campaign — and thanks to our work with WCADP and other like-minded organizations and individuals across the state, we have made real progress towards our goal.
We are building a statewide, multi-racial, interfaith campaign and have partnered with organizations working on promoting social and racial justice, civil rights, and more effective criminal justice policies. SJA convenes a campaign stakeholder group that meets on the last Wednesday of the month, and we work closely with our partner organizations to strengthen the network of support for SJA.
As a part of our legislative efforts, we are working to enlist new voices for repeal – including police chiefs, corrections officials, and retired prosecutors and judges. I am proud to report that among our supporters are Chuck Fulton, recently retired police chief of Walla Walla; Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle; retired judge David Nichols; and Chase Riveland and Dick Morgan, two former heads of the Washington Department of Corrections.
Among the most effective spokespeople for ending the death penalty are individuals who have lost family members to murder. In order to inject the voices of these families into the public debate about death penalty abolition, we will hold a press conference with victims’ family members on November 29th in Olympia.
Over the summer, we laid the groundwork for our legislative efforts by having one-on-one discussions with key legislators in the House and Senate leadership as well as members of the Judiciary Committees in both bodies. We also worked with constituents to set up meetings with their elected officials in their districts. To help constituents prepare for meetings with their legislators, we organized a series of death penalty abolition lobbying trainings. These training helped participants learn effective messaging on the death penalty as well as develop concrete lobbying skills through role-playing of legislative meetings.
Safe and Just Alternatives is now gearing up for the 2013 legislative session. We plan to conduct more death penalty abolition lobbying trainings across the state. As we did prior to our last Lobby Day, we will use a “Training for Trainers” model in which we will help individuals set up and facilitate trainings for their respective organizations or congregations. If you are part of a congregation, civic club or other community organization, please let us know if you are interested in setting up a legislative advocacy training for your group.
Our goal is make our Safe and Just Alternatives Lobby Day in January 2013 even bigger than our 2012 Lobby Day. As we did last year, we plan for Lobby Day to fall on the same day as the Senate (or House) Judiciary Committee’s public hearing on our death penalty repeal bill. We will again provide transportation from Seattle and Tacoma to Olympia. Additionally, the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane is planning their own carpool from the east side. To join them, please contact Shar Lichty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please stay tuned for the date! Your participation in Lobby Day will help make SJA a strong, visible presence in Olympia and will help us raise a clear and compelling voice for ending the death penalty in Washington.