The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) was established in 1976 as the first “fully staffed national organization exclusively devoted to abolishing capital punishment.” NCADP says that it “provides information, advocates for public policy, and mobilizes and supports individuals and institutions that share our unconditional rejection of capital punishment.” “Our commitment to abolition of the death penalty is rooted in several critical concerns,” explains the organization. “First and foremost, the death penalty devalues all human life — eliminating the possibility for transformation of spirit that is intrinsic to humanity. Secondly, the death penalty is fallible and irrevocable — over one hundred people have been released from death row on grounds of innocence in this ‘modern era’ of capital punishment. Thirdly, the death penalty continues to be tainted with race and class bias. It is overwhelming a punishment reserved for the poor … and for racial minorities. … Finally, the death penalty is a violation of our most fundamental human rights — indeed, the United States is the only western democracy that still uses the death penalty as a form of punishment.”
In its quest to do away with capital punishment, NCADP organizes its work around four core areas:
Legislative Advocacy : “working with policy-makers and their constituencies to adopt legislation in opposition to the death penalty at the local, state and national level”
Media Advocacy : “expanding the public’s critique of the death penalty using primarily local and state media outlets from which most Americans get their news”
Grassroots Advocacy: “assisting our affiliates in organizing activities in opposition to the death penalty and in reaching out to communities to speak out against the death penalty”
Human Rights Advocacy : “spotlighting the death penalty as a violation of human rights and gaining the support of the global community to abolishing the U.S. death penalty”
NCADP Executive Director Diann Rust-Tierney has also served as Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Capital Punishment Project since 1991. NCADP calls Rust-Tierney “the ACLU’s lead strategist and spokeswoman on the death penalty.”
NCADP Communications Director David Elliot is a former staff writer with the Austin American-Statesman. He has also worked with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and People for the American Way.
Notable members of NCADP’s Board of Directors include Ajamu Baraka (Director of the Human Rights Network and a former Regional Director of Amnesty International), and Claudia Whitman of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants.
From September through November 2004, NCADP joined forces with several other leftist organizations, including Amnesty International, Friendship House, and Campaign to End the Death Penalty, to bring debates about the role of racism in capital punishment to college campuses across the United States. Be Magazine, which is distributed to some 60,000 students at historically black colleges and universities, helped organize the tour.
NCADP shares its Internet Events Board with Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP). Past events jointly promoted by these organizations include a May 12, 2001 “International Day of Solidarity with [convicted cop-killer] Mumia Abu-Jamal“; a January 17, 2002 rally protesting the 25th anniversary of the execution of Gary Gilmore, a convicted double murderer whose guilt they do not dispute; and an August 31, 2002 demonstration condemning the USA PATRIOT Act, which NCADP and CUADP claim “may be the single most concentrated assault in history on core civil liberties.” The Events Board also promoted International A.N.S.W.E.R.‘s “Calls to Action” of October 26, 2002 and January 18, 2003.
In February 2000, NCADP joined forces with 42 organizations and 22 prominent individuals in endorsing the “Emergency National Conference to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal,” organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Among the co-endorsers of this measure were: the American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, the International Action Center, the National Council of Churches, the National Lawyers Guild, Refuse and Resist, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Z Magazine, Ed Asner, Ramsey Clark, Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon, Al Sharpton, Gloria Steinem, Desmond Tutu, and Howard Zinn.
Among the entities that NCADP identifies as its “national affiliate” organizations and projects are: the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, the American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Urban League, Pax Christi USA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the War Resisters League.