Peace and Justice

Death Penalty Abolition Committee

Death Penalty Abolition Committee [formerly: Witness Against State Homicide (WASH)], is the death penalty abolition committee of the Friends Meeting of Austin, Texas.

Mission: We care for the condemned, the victims, all persons touched by executions and ourselves as we work together to end the death penalty in Texas and elsewhere.
  • “. . . I was in prison and you visited me.” - Matthew 25:36
  • “Society has done enough for its own protection when it has rendered a murderer harmless by putting him in prison; if it does more it is acting in a spirit of revenge.” – John Bellers, 1699
  • “True Godliness don’t turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it, and excites their endeavours to mend it: not hide their candle under a bushel, but set it upon a table in a candlestick. – William Penn, 1692
  • “The death penalty restores no victim to life and only compounds the wrong committed in the first place. There is no justification for taking the life of any man or woman for any reason.” - AFSC Board Minutes, November 1976 (found in Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System by Laura Magnani and Harmon L. Wray, 2006, Fortress Press, Minneapolis)
  • "We seek the abolition of the death penalty because it denies the sacredness of human life." - From the Friends Committee on National Legislation Statement of Legislative Policy approved November 2003

Our witness and work include:

  • Connecting with the condemned through letters, visits to death row, ministry as a spiritual advisors, facilitating family connections, responding to inmate requests as we are able.
  • Spiritual support for Death Row inmates
  • Holiday cards sent to each person residing on death row in Texas.
  • Commutation requests made to the Governor and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for each person in Texas with an execution date. (See sample commutation letter.)
  • Prayer/protest vigils during executions
  • Support for those considering prison ministry
  • Guidelines for those with friends, pen pals, or relatives on Death Row
  • Guidelines and resources for clemency letter-writing appeals
  • Facilitating pen pals between Quaker community members and death row inmates. See Guidelines.
  • Guidelines and a sample letter for those writing or considering writing to Death Row inmates
  • Support group – For those who minister to people on death row; either by correspondence or visitation, a regularly scheduled support group meets which endeavors to provide emotional acceptance and spiritual encouragement.

Other organizations working with capital punishment:

Send an email to WASH