Issues of Concern
The mission of South Carolinians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is to abolish the death penalty in South Carolina. As we work to achieve this mission, we believe there are issues of concern that directly impact our work and inform our approach. By working to promote policy change in these core areas we believe are moving the benchmark forward in our fight to end the death penalty in South Carolina.
Criminal Justice Reform
Ending the death penalty is major work, AND it's part of a larger vision towards criminal justice reform. There are so many issues when it comes to the U.S. penal system. For example, trying youth and children as adults in a court of law; criminalizing substance abuse instead of treating the addiction; perpetuating persistent mental health problems by ignoring or exacerbating triggers; sentencing people to to different prison sentences for arbitrary reasons. All of these injustices can be found in South Carolina's courts and prisons. As we work to end the death penalty , we will work for a justice system that fosters healing and wholeness instead of bitterness and despair.
Almost all of the people sentenced to Death Row come from low-income and working class backgrounds. People with financial means can usually afford to hire better quality lawyers. The death penalty, therefore, becomes a way to criminalize the poorest members of our society. A person's economic status also affects their entire human development. One's ability to succeed in school, get a well-paying job, and make long-term healthy decisions for one's physical and emotional health is extremely dependent on their level of wealth. Death Row residents struggle in almost all of these areas before they commit the crime which sentences them to death. Alleviating poverty, therefore, can help prevent the circumstances for which someone would receive Capital Punishment.
As a state, South Carolina has one of the highest levels of violence in the country. People who are exposed to violence at an early age (like most Death Row residents) often carry that violence with them, until they begin to embody it for themselves. Add the reality of unsafe circumstances, with little familial or community stability, and potential exposure to unsafe foster care conditions, and these traumatic experiences become an inexorable part of Death Row residents came to commit their crimes. By drawing attention to the importance of community safety nets, and strengthening our state's social services, we hope to prevent violence before it starts, thus affecting the way the death penalty is sentenced.