Witness to Innocence is the nation’s only organization dedicated to empowering exonerated death row survivors to be the most powerful and effective voice in the struggle to end the death penalty in the United States. Through public speaking, testifying in state legislatures, media work, and active participation in their nation’s cultural life, their members are helping to end the death penalty by educating the public about innocence and wrongful convictions. WTI also provides an essential network of peer support for the exonerated, most of whom received no compensation or access to reentry services when released from death row.
Witness to Innocence initially began its program operations in 2003 under the fiscal sponsorship of the Moratorium Campaign Education Fund, a project of Sister Helen Prejean, renowned anti-death penalty activist, author, and Nobel Prize nominee. They launched their first visible national organizing campaign in September 2005, when 25 exonerated death row survivors, family members, and allies came together near Atlanta, Georgia, for a three-day gathering of the exonerated community. Since their official launching in 2005, their members have played an essential and unique role in the anti-death penalty movement by sharing their stories with millions of people around the country and around the world.
WTI members are the most powerful advocates for abolition and criminal justice reform in the United States. They played an instrumental role in ending the death penalty in Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey, and New Mexico; participated in the successful abolition campaign in Connecticut, and worked tirelessly in California on behalf of Proposition 34. They also engage in direct action as part of WTI’s annual Gathering of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones in states across the country, holding press conferences in front of state capitols, marching to the governor’s mansion in Texas, and testifying as a group in state legislatures.
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