Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that “Capital punishment is against the best judgment of modern criminology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.”
His call for abolition was upheld after his assassination by his wife, Coretta Scott King, who said that “as one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder.”
Speaking as a victim, Mrs. King continued to believe that the pursuit of justice should reject aggression, revenge, and retaliation. As a civil rights activist, she also believed that the nation could only be rehabilitated from racism by “embracing the offender” through love, persuasion and direct action.
With love, respect, persuasion and direct action, we can achieve justice evolved from aggression and retaliation that focuses on the needs of our communities—like education, healthcare, and victims support services.
Each day we get closer. Across the nation, your voices have made the impossible possible. Thanks to your support, Connecticut became the 5th state in five years to abolish the death penalty. In California, the polls showed overwhelming support for repeal. In Maryland, Delaware and Colorado, campaigns for death penalty repeal are stronger than ever because of victims’ families voices.
Dr. King and his wife were civil rights activists who believed in a compassionate criminal justice system built on rehabilitation and restoration. To them, the death penalty stood in the way of creating a “beloved community,” where the moral responsibility of each person guided their behavior towards their brothers and sisters.
Their example guides us. Each day we get closer to “the arc of the universe that bends towards justice.” And each day, we are grateful for your strength and support in moving us there.