Senator Hank Sanders, speaking at the kick-off of the Auburn segment of the “Journey of Hope—from Violence to Healing” at the Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on January 8, 2012, announced that in addition to the moratorium bill and other death penalty related bills, which he has filed for years in the legislature, he would this year also file an abolition bill.
In an impassioned speech Senator Sanders declared that he had always been against the death penalty, which discriminates against minorities and the poor. He further stated that the death penalty is irreconcilable with Christian values and that a change is needed in Alabama, which ranks first per capita as far as death sentences and executions.
Sanders said he would introduce a bill to totally abolish the death penalty in Alabama. “The entire system is so unfair.” he said. “Even trying to get a moratorium is up one mountain. Trying to abolish it entirely is up two mountains.
“Nationally capital punishment is being used less,” he said. “In Alabama, it is being used more. We have one of the four highest incarceration rates in the world. The system is broken.
“I think that capital punishment in Alabama is rife with injustice. People, especially poor people, are not getting adequate representation.”
Sanders explained that race plays a big part in who is sentenced to death and who isn’t. A Black man is much more likely to get the death penalty than is a white man. “Even gender plays a part,” he said.
“And poverty certainly plays a big part in whether or not the jury decides on the death penalty. If you are poor, you are much more likely to get on death row. There are no rich folk on death row.”
Senator Hank Sander’s announcement was greeted with applause by the overflowing church, which had come to hear him speak from places like Tuskegee, Opelika, Alexander City, Lanett, as well as from Georgia.
“We are very grateful to Senator Hank Sanders who has stood with us for so many years,” said Esther Brown, Executive Director of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. “His steadfastness and resolve give us hope.” In addition, Esther Brown expressed appreciation to Judy Collins for organizing the event and to the Rev. Diana Allende of the Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and its members for their ongoing support.
“This announcement by Senator Hank Sanders comes at a time when we have been contacted by Witness to Innocence which is interested in working more closely with us to help educate Alabamians about the injustice of the death penalty,” said Brown.
She continued, “Meanwhile we hope that many will attend the various events of The Journey of Hope in Alabama, details of which can be found on our website, www.phadp.org.”
Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing is a non-profit organization led by murder victim family members addressing alternatives to the death penalty and violence worldwide.
The group will tour the state to encourage the community to support the abolishment of the death penalty in Alabama. The schedule includes the following venues:
On Thursday, Jan. 12, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty and the AU student chapter of Alabama Arise will sponsor a “Journey of Hope” gathering in the Haley Center Auditorium, Room 2370, at 6:00 p.m.
Cullman: Jan 12th, Sacred Heart Monastery Retreat Center, 916 Convent Way NE, 7 pm;
Huntsville: Jan. 17, Trinity United Methodist Church, 607 Airport Rd SW, 35802, 7 pm;
Jacksonville: Jan. 19, Houston Cole Library on the JSU Campus, 6:30 pm;
Demopolis: Jan. 24, 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 401 N Main St.;
Mobile: Jan. 31, St. Luke Episcopal Church, 1050 Azalea Rd.. 7pm;
Valley: Feb. 1st, Chambers County Valley Library, 3419 20th St, 7 pm EST;
The group will be in Eutaw, Alabama on February 2 at 5:30 p.m at the Eutaw Activity Center, 107 Harris Avenue.
Montgomery; Feb. 6th, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 8790 Vaughn Rd;
People from the university and general community are warmly invited to bring what may well be disparate perspectives on violence and the use of the death penalty in Alabama.
After a brief initial sharing of those perspectives, Journey resource people, including the mother of a murder victim, a retired police chief, and a former death row inmate, will share their stories.
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Friday Saturday SundayPartly Cloudy81/57Clear79/61Partly Cloudy88/64
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