Reprieve successful in two death penalty cases

In February 2020, SRT grantee Reprieve helped to secure the release of Evance, the 143rd person to have been released from death row in Malawi, with the support of Reprieve’s award-winning resentencing programme. Through this programme, Reprieve trains lawyers and judges on the skills needed to resentence those awaiting execution in Malawi, after the country’s abolition of the mandatory death penalty in 2007. As a result of the programme, over 150 cases were heard, none were re-sentenced to death, and the vast majority released into the care of their families and communities. Evance spent a total of 20 years in prison. He was originally sentenced to the mandatory death penalty, subsequently commuted to a whole life prison term. After the death penalty abolition, Evance was afforded a new discretionary hearing and his sentence amended to 27 years in prison. With a reduction for good behaviour, Evance was finally released last month, looking healthy and stating that the re-sentencing to a determinate prison term had restored his hope.

Meanwhile in the United States, the Colorado State legislature has just voted to repeal the death penalty. Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign the repeal bill in the next ten days, making Colorado the 22nd state in the US to abolish the death penalty. This result was enabled by Reprieve’s Stop Lethal Injection Project, an initiative which made it impossible for Colorado to obtain the drugs needed to carry out executions. As a result, Colorado has only undertaken one execution since adopting lethal injection as its execution method in 1988. By making lethal injection executions in Colorado nearly impossible, Reprieve’s work helped to open up the space for measured debate on the death penalty – ultimately giving legislators the political momentum needed to abolish the death penalty altogether.

More about Reprieve’s work can be found here:

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