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Delivering the Message: End the Death Penalty

On March 21, 2024, 19 volunteers as part of the No Death Penalty Ohio coalition delivered over 1688 postcards to 89 legislators’ offices. Postcards had been collected at community festivals, from communities of faith, and at other gatherings across the state where constituents shared their disapproval of the death penalty and wrote their legislators asking them to support repeal. 

Ben Dickison, a Xavier University student interning at Ignite Peace, wrote about his experience of Postcard Day. 

“One of the most unfair aspects of Ohio’s death penalty, and an underrated one, is the fact that only a few of the counties in our state even have enough funding to bring forth a death penalty case. If you commit a murder, your chance of being put to death is in large part determined by where the crime was committed,” remarked Ohio State Senator Stephen Huffman as three advocates and I congregated next to the security checkpoint in the Ohio Statehouse. 

In my time in the role of Anti-Death Penalty Organizing Intern at Ignite Peace, the myriad of opportunities I’ve had to grow in the anti-death penalty movement, amongst fellow advocates, has been nothing short of miraculous. I’ve learned that movements move at the pace of trust, and that solidarity organically emerges among people truly passionate about making a positive difference, regardless of their background.

Let me tell you about the team. Some of us are named Great Living Cincinnatians, such as Sister Sally Duffy, SC; some of us are retired adults seeking to be the best positive change agents possible; some of us are college students who are aflame with passion to be part of something bigger than ourselves in the adult world. Some of us specialize in lobbying and understanding political action. Some of us make a direct impact by cultivating relationships with those on death row by becoming their pen pal. But we all understand that the death penalty is a broken system that cannot ever be made just.

One of the great manifestations of this reality was my experience visiting legislative offices with my partner for the day, Peter. He and I have different communication styles, different reasons we believe the death penalty should be abolished, and different journeys to becoming members of the same team. Peter is a retired graduate of the University of Cincinnati and I am a student in formation at Xavier University, identities that typically have us at odds with one another. But we are both social workers and understand that politics is the top of the social work hierarchy. We understand that people are so much more than their worst decision and deserve not to be defined by said decision.

Walking into the office of State Senators with Peter to deliver postcards from their constituents became our highest form of social work. Peter explained his various concerns about what he called a “barbaric” practice while I got to hear the journey of each legislative aide. We, despite never having met before, shared a mission. And then insights on our own lives. And then laughs. And then, by the end of the day, a hug with each of the advocates who had joined us. We entered in solidarity, left in solidarity and gained a wealth of knowledge, such as what Senator Huffman noted, as a collective.