To the Honorable Governor Asa Hutchinson:
Compassion Works for All, a prison outreach organization, strongly urges the cancellation of the eight scheduled executions.
Over the twenty-three years that Compassion Works for All has provided therapeutic services to people in prison, including people on death row, we have witnessed that offenders were victims long before they harmed others. Violence perpetuates violence, and state sanctioned killing will only continue this cycle of harm and trauma.
Executions are harmful to all. State sanctioned violence does not offer resolution or healing for victim’s families, it causes tremendous stress to Department of Correction employees, and it implicates each citizen. There is no person who has the wisdom to decide who should die by our hand.
The majority of the country’s criminologists are opposed to the death penalty, and research shows its use does not deter crime. There are many flaws in our criminal justice system that leads to mistakes and disparities for those sentenced to death. More than one hundred people have been executed in our country who were later proven innocent, and people of color are far more likely to receive a death sentence. This system is expensive and flawed -- marred by inequality, systemic racism and arbitrariness.
Violence and crime create fear and trauma in communities. These are conditions that must be addressed. While extremely challenging, crime also creates opportunities for our society to have conversations about justice, healing, compassion and hope.
As governor, you have shown deep compassion and willingness to confront poverty, trauma, education and family stability in our state, and you have made the connection between these adverse experiences and criminal outcomes. You have encouraged second chances and hope for children in the foster care system and people reentering society after serving time in prison.
We urge you to extend this compassion to those on death row. We cannot know what led these eight individuals scheduled for execution to act in the way that they did to cause such harm. We can transform that violence with compassion and understanding. As a state, we can break this cycle of violence and harm. Human decency demands that we cancel these executions and end the death penalty.
Anna Cox, ACSW
Founder, Compassion Works for All
Morgan Holladay, LMSW
Executive Director, Compassion Works for All
Judith Elane, JD
Communication Specialist, Compassion Works for All
Volunteer, Compassion Works for All
Board of Directors
Cindy Brown, MBA, LCSW
Jean Crume, LCSW, Therapist
Dent Gitchel, PhD, Associate Professor
Jim Harper, LCSW, Therapist
Jim Hathaway, Attorney
Dave Hoffpauir, LCSW, Therapist
Ani Tendron (Kathy Downs), Nun
Robynn Zinser, DC, Chiropractor
Take Action Now1. Write your own letter to Governor Asa Hutchinson and send it to:
Governor Asa Hutchinson
500 Woodlane, St.
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
2. Call the Arkansas Governor's office (501) 682-2345
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper