Executive Director and Board of Directors ·
Who We Are
Above is the original telegram from 1976 inviting people to attend a meeting on the Gregg v. Georgia decision. Click to enlarge the image.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty. We are comprised of an extensive network representing more than 100 state and national Affiliate organizations and thousands of advocates and volunteers. Our members include families of murder victims, persons from all points on the political and religious spectrums, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial justice organizations working to end the death penalty forever.
The origins of NCADP are rooted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1976 Gregg v. Georgia decision, which permitted individual states to resume executions. Following that ruling, a group of leading civil and human rights activists founded the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Building upon the passion of the founders, NCADP has grown into an organization that makes a difference across the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., our seasoned professionals provide strategic political analysis and leadership to the larger anti-death penalty movement and hands-on direct assistance to state Affiliates working to end the death penalty. Through strategic planning, campaign development and training services, we help enable our Affiliate organizations, and thousands of individuals in every state, to be effective, compelling advocates for change, building a broad, powerful national constituency favoring death penalty repeal.
“The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause is stronger than all the hosts of error.” -William Jennings Bryan
We believe that the struggle against the death penalty will be won state by state when good people of all walks of life demand change. The public is increasingly seeing that the death penalty operates unfairly and harms the very people it purports to help. People understand more and more that capital punishment drains precious resources from solutions that prevent crime, hold people accountable and keep our communities safe. Thus the public is demanding that policymakers support measures to narrow the scope and reach of the practice and ultimately repeal death penalty statutes.
NCADP assists national and state Affiliates by educating and reaching out to citizens around the country who want to see a criminal justice system that operates fairly and delivers on the results that are promised. We help to build organizational infrastructure, provide training and strategic planning, and support the leadership of locally-led campaigns.
In addition, NCADP supports its Affiliates in making the necessary connections between key components of an effective campaign. This includes, for example, helping to forge alliances between death penalty abolition advocates, capital crime litigators, advocates for criminal justice reform and effective crime prevention, and advocates for victims’ rights and services. We believe that together, strong local campaigns add up to a strong national movement for abolition.
Our achievements include our pivotal role in ending the death penalty for juveniles in the United States. Building through our visionary “Stop Killing Kids” campaign, NCADP staff worked with members and state affiliates in states like South Dakota and Wyoming to pass measures banning capital punishment for crimes committed by individuals under 18 years old.
NCADP helped successfully block death penalty reinstatement efforts in Wisconsin and Alaska.
One of our movement’s most prominent victories occurred on March 18, 2009. Because of our Affiliate, the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty (NM Repeal), our work, and the work of other allies, New Mexico became the third state in three years to abandon capital punishment. NCADP supported and advised NM Repeal’s Executive Director and Board, helping them to develop the comprehensive and sophisticated strategy necessary to achieve repeal.Our efforts in New York and New Jersey also contributed to those states abandoning capital punishment.
In recent years, there has been a significant national decline in the number of death sentences sought by prosecutors and returned by juries across the country. Public support for the death penalty continues to weaken. The media and elected leaders are much more aware of the probability that innocent defendants are being executed. This progress is the result of NCADP’s strategically planned hard-fought efforts to organize, lobby, and disseminate our messages.
While these have certainly been great victories, NCADP’s work is ongoing. Supported in part by our training, mentoring, assistance and hands-on support, other NCADP state Affiliates are making progress to repeal, restrict or halt expansion of the death penalty.
NCADP: A 30th Anniversary History
In recognition of NCADP’s 30th anniversary in 2006, Eugene G. Wanger of Lansing, Michigan, wrote a history of our organization up to that point. Wanger is an attorney, a long-time abolitionist and a former member of NCADP’s Executive Committee. He has co-chaired the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment since 1972. As a delegate to the 1961 Michigan Constitutional Convention, Wanger, who was the convention’s youngest Republican delegate, authored the state's constitutional prohibition of the death penalty. In part to honor his abolition efforts, Michigan’s State Bar presented Wanger with its 2005 Champion of Justice Award.
As NCADP approaches its 35th anniversary next year, we share this history with you to illustrate how much we have grown organizationally. The rock-solid foundation built by the dedicated men and women who created NCADP enables us to confront, and surmount, all present and future challenges we face in our fight to end capital punishment nationally, and support the movement to abolish it worldwide. To read “A 30th Anniversary History,” click here.
To download a PDF copy of the history, please click here.
Foundations and Institutions Providing Support: The Atlantic Philanthropies Carnegie; Corporation of New York; Elias Foundation; Open Society Institute; Proteus Action League; Edna C. Wardlaw Charitable Trust; Working Assets/ CREDO.
Special Program Support: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Ford Foundation; The European Commission.