Human Rights Organizations and Faith Leaders Launch a Statewide Walk to Protest the Death Penalty

SAN DIEGO – A “Walk to Stop Executions” will commence here in San Diego on Saturday, September 15, 2007 and proceed nearly the entire length of California, visiting 15 counties along the way, calling on the state and local district attorneys to end the death penalty in our state.

The issue is especially relevant in San Diego, where, since her election in 2003, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has doubled the number of cases in which the city seeks the death penalty. All other cities in California have decreased the number of capital cases being sought.

San Diego resident and human rights activist Jeff Ghelardi will walk the entire route, from San Diego to Sacramento over the next three months. A veteran of the Marine Corps and Peace Corps, Ghelardi says, “I have been a lifelong opponent of the death penalty and hope this walk will open people’s eyes to the injustice of capital punishment.” Joining Gherlardi will be Orange County resident Richard Carlburg, who led the first walk against executions in 2000. Hundreds of other Californians will join the two marchers for shorter legs all along the march route.

To kick off the walk, San Diegans who will walk one to five miles will hold a rally and prayer service at 9:00 a.m. at the San Diego County Hall of Justice, 330 W. Broadway, downtown San Diego. Speakers will include Kevin Keenan of the ACLU, Jeff Chinn of the California Innocence Project and Tim Spann of Amnesty International. The walk will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m.

The Walk to Stop Executions is sponsored by Amnesty International, California Innocence Project, California People of Faith, Death Penalty Focus, and the ACLU.

When district attorneys pursue death sentences, the lengthy and complex legal proceedings not only perpetuate the suffering of the survivors but also focus all the attention on the accused instead of the victims.

Seeking the death penalty also costs far more than seeking the alternative sentence, life without parole. While some district attorneys do not to pursue the death penalty, the district attorneys in the 15 counties being visited do. As a result, California has the highest rate of death sentencing in the country.