“For each 9 individuals we have executed in the US, one harmless particular person on dying row has been recognized,” Stevenson informed AFP in an interview.
The 61-year-old African-American legal professional is to be honored with three different rights activists on Thursday with the Swedish basis award established in 1980 which has been described because the “Different Nobel Prize.”
The founding father of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson has been in a position to show the innocence or commute the sentences of 130 condemned prisoners, a battle which is recounted in his e book “Simply Mercy” and a film of the identical title starring Michael B. Jordan.
For Stevenson, mistaken convictions ought to have resulted in a right away “shutdown” to executions.
“Like in aviation,” he stated. “When a airplane crashes, we’ve to determine why. We do not enable planes to fly.
“In well being and meals and security we do the identical factor, however someway in our justice system, not solely will we proceed executing individuals, we do not even attempt to determine why it’s the charge of error is so excessive,” he stated.
The Trump administration resumed executions of federal prisoners in July after a 17-year hiatus.
There have been eight since then and 5 others are scheduled, together with one on January 15, simply 5 days earlier than President-elect Joe Biden is to be inaugurated.
Till July, there had been solely three federal executions previously 45 years.
“It suppose that is tragic,” Stevenson stated of the resumption of federal executions beneath Trump. “I really would like to see the federal dying penalty abolished.
“It is clearly being utilized in a political method,” he stated. “And the previous couple of months have proven that it’s a political software, at a minimal.”
– ‘Hopeful’ – Biden has pledged to work in direction of abolishing the dying penalty on the federal stage however he’ll want the approval of Congress to take action and Democrats might want to take again the Senate.
For Stevenson, the dying penalty embodies a few of the shortcomings of the US judicial system together with the criminalization of psychological sickness and incarceration of minors, however above all discrimination towards African-People.
Orlando Corridor, a Black man who was executed final month, “was convicted by an all-white jury after 80 p.c of the African-People had been excluded by a prosecutor with a historical past of racial bias,” Stevenson stated. “Our courts refused to handle that problem.”
The nationwide “Black Lives Matter” protests following the homicide of George Floyd by a white police officer in May targeted consideration on police brutality in the US in direction of African-People.
However Stevenson stated prosecutors and judges may also exhibit racial bias.
“There is a presumption of dangerousness and guilt that will get assigned to Black and Brown individuals which makes them very susceptible in a really aggressive, predatory legal justice system,” he stated. “So we’ve plenty of Black individuals who get wrongly accused and wrongly arrested, wrongly convicted.”
Stevenson is talking from private expertise.
“I am an African-American legal professional. I went to Harvard Regulation Faculty,” he stated. “I have been pulled out of my automotive and threatened by police who stated they had been going to blow my brains out.”
Racism isn’t just going to go away, he stated.
“I believe for a very long time individuals have argued… ultimately these toxins created by slavery and these contaminants created by lynching and segregation will simply dissipate,” he stated. “And we all know that that is not true.
“We will should affirmatively tackle these pollution,” he stated. “We will should confront these points. We will have to speak about issues that we’ve not talked about earlier than.”
To that finish, his group has created the Nationwide Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, devoted to the 4,000 African-People lynched in the US and an related museum about slavery.
The e book, film and prize have forged a lightweight on a battle that Stevenson has lengthy carried out within the shadows.
“We have accomplished this work with little or no data and recognition,” he stated.
“It is onerous at occasions to be hopeful in areas the place there’s a lot ache and struggling and abuse,” he stated. “Encouragement and recognition can actually affirm the value of continuous to be hopeful.”