December 01, 2017

Message from the Director

Emily Olson-Gault

Dear Friends and Supporters:

This has been a challenging year in many respects, and the death penalty has been no exception. Although new death sentences have remained at historic lows, death penalty jurisdictions across the country have been aggressively pursuing executions for the nearly 3,000 people who are already on death row, while simultaneously slashing defender budgets that are essential to high quality representation. This past spring, Arkansas attempted to execute 8 people in 11 days, an unprecedented schedule wholly incompatible with due process; California, Alabama, and the federal government have all implemented legislation designed to speed up the death penalty system, jeopardizing both fairness and accuracy in the process; and capital defenders in places like Utah, Texas, and Louisiana have all been systematically denied necessary funding.

The Death Penalty Representation Project has been there to help through all of this and much more. Our small, four-person staff goes wherever there is a need, providing training and technical assistance, recruiting pro bono lawyers, and advocating for systemic reform. Because of our work in partnership with our volunteers and defender colleagues, there have been many moments worth celebrating in spite of the challenges. Just a few of these successes are described in the pages that follow, along with stories about efforts that did not fully succeed but that we nonetheless count as victories, because they laid groundwork for future change and ensured that prisoners had legal champions fighting for their rights to the very end.

The need for our assistance only continues to increase, and you have the power to help. If you are a lawyer and have been thinking about volunteering, there is no better time to reach out. We have a wide variety of different types of cases and projects to fit your needs and interests, and we will ensure you have the training and resources you need to be an effective advocate. If you are not a lawyer, you can still get involved by following us on social media, signing up for our newsletter, and helping us educate about the need for reform. And anyone can be a critical part of our work by making a financial contribution. Our continued success is dependent on the generosity of our donors, and every dollar you give goes directly to ensuring that each person facing the death penalty has a committed advocate by his side.

Please consider becoming a part of our work, and help us continue our fight to protect fairness and due process for the most vulnerable among us.

With thanks,

Emily Olson-Gault
Director, ABA Death Penalty Representation Project

Emily Olson-Gault