Many of us woke up this morning with a heavy heart, still in disbelief over the legal murder of Troy Davis last night. We must take our pain and channel it productively if we don’t want to see the Davis story play out over and over again. This goes for those folks who have long since been active in the fight to end the death penalty as well as those of us who were largely silent or undecided on the matter until recently.

The Innocence Project, which provides legal aid to death row inmates in an attempt to exonerate those who may have been wrongly accused, has provided a list of action steps we can take to protect and support prisoners like Troy Davis. Among them:

Build relationships with elected representatives
“Call or meet with your state and federal representatives well before the legislative session starts and discuss your concerns. By simply introducing yourself to your legislators and their staff before the session starts and providing a brief overview of innocence-related policy concerns, you can establish useful relationships with them and help them see the value of supporting legislation that would protect the innocent. When the session starts, they may reach out to you or take your call because they know you’re actively involved in these issues.”

Reach out to the media
“When a local or national media outlet runs a story about an exoneration or the causes of wrongful convictions, call or write to the reporter to say you are pleased to see the coverage and interested in seeing additional stories on these issues. Share your perspective and thoughts about why wrongful convictions must be discussed and addressed. Write letters to the editor in response to articles or editorials so that the media – and policymakers who are in a position to help prevent wrongful convictions — know that the public is concerned about these issues. ”

Become more knowledgeable about wrongful convictions – and spread the word
“There are scores of books, films, television specials and other resources that can deepen people’s understanding of the causes of wrongful convictions, the need for reform, the challenges people face after exoneration and other issues. Spend some time learning more about the issues, and then share books or films with your friends, coworkers or community members (some of them are great gifts!).”

Engage allies in addressing wrongful convictions
“Everyone is impacted by wrongful convictions, but some individuals and groups aren’t yet involved in preventing injustice. Ask your friends, colleagues and community organizations to get involved when policy reforms are being discussed; encourage them to join the Innocence Project’s online community. Offer to speak about wrongful convictions at a local Rotary, Kiwanis, or similar civic groups’ meeting. You can address the group yourself, or you can ask a local Innocence Network representative or professor to speak. During the speech, encourage people to become more actively involved in these issues.”

Check out The Innocent Project’s website and other ways to get involved with the organization’s work here. If you are interested in working to end capital punishment, also check out the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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  • doreen

    Black women stay losing. Anyone who has seen pictures and news reels of the protestors can observe the fact that the vast majority of black folks protesting on the behalf of Mr. Davis were indeed black WOMEN. Black men clearly stayed home while Black women were hell bent on making themselves look like angry guard dogs eager to protect a Black man at all costs.

    The protesting on behalf of Mr Davis just makes us look very masculine. That’s NOT what we need right now. Coupled with the fact that when Black women need supporters, Black men are no where to be found, we really need to cut this loyalty crap. It makes us look foolish and desperate.

  • PGS

    “The protesting on behalf of Mr Davis just makes us look very masculine. That’s NOT what we need right now”

    You’re kidding, right?

    First of all, protesting doesn’t make anyone look masculine or feminine. It highlights their humanity.

    Second: Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP, a Black man, SPEARHEADED the fight. Al Sharpton has been instrumental. Troy Davis’ nephew, Big Boi from Outkast, and many many more. They don’t count in your assertion that “Black men are no where to be found”?

    Third: Black men, white men, Black women, White women, Asians, Latinos….I saw ALL of those people protesting last night. To try to frame this as a another showing of “desperate Black women” speaks VOLUMES about you.

    If you don’t want to be involved in sparing the life of a person who HAPPENS to be a Black man…fine…stay on the sidelines. But don’t knock the people who stood up for him, and by extension stood up for their sons, brothers, friends, lovers, uncles, grandfathers, fathers, neighbors, etc, etc.