Witness Against the Death Penalty

Death Penalty Resources

New York Yearly Meeting Resource Person – Judy Meikle


Advice #7: New York Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice

“Friends are advised to work toward removing the causes of misery and suffering. They are urged to support efforts to overcome racial, social, economic, and educational discrimination; to bear testimony against all forms of oppression; to exert influence for such treatment of prisoners as may help reconstruct their lives; and to work for the abolition of the death penalty.”


Organizations working on abolition of the death penalty in the United States:

Death Penalty Action

Witness to Innocence

Death Penalty Focus

Equal Justice USA

Sign up with these organizations now for updates, action alerts and to donate!


Check out the NYYM Death Penalty Bulletin - an occasional update on major developments with capital punishment in the United States – and our suggested reading list.


Background on the death penalty

The death penalty in America was suspended as unconstitutional in 1972 by the Supreme Court (Furman v Georgia) on the grounds of arbitrariness. States immediately began to rewrite their statutes to eliminate the problems cited in Furman which culminated in the 1976 Gregg decision reinstating the death penalty. Read more about the history of the death penalty here.


In the modern era since 1976, there have been 1,582 executions (as of the end of December 2023) with 195 exonerations of people found legally innocent and released from death row. That is to say that for every 8.1 people executed, we’ve identified one person who has been exonerated, an astonishing error rate.


For data and analysis on issues concerning capital punishment and the people it affects visit the Death Penalty Information Center



History of NYYM and the Death Penalty


New York - The death penalty has been abolished and reinstated several times in New York State. In 1995 newly elected Governor George Pataki fulfilled a campaign promise and signed legislation reinstating the death penalty in New York. In 2004, public hearings were held in Albany to repeal that statute and Linda Chidsey gave testimony on behalf of NYYM. The statute was declared unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals, and in 2007 the last remaining death sentence was reduced to life, leaving New York with a vacant death row and no viable death penalty laws.


New Jersey - The death penalty was abolished in New Jersey in 2007. Friends from New Jersey and the Yearly Meeting supported the legislation – see this article in Spark.


Connecticut - The death penalty was abolished in Connecticut in 2012. Public hearings were held by the Judiciary Committee and Judy Meikle gave Testimony on behalf of NYYM. The death penalty in Connecticut has been replaced with Life Without Parole.