Friday, March 23, 2007

Introducing: the bloggers

Abolish the Death Penalty is well into its third year -- actually, June marks our third birthday. And it occurred to me that, especially with the addition of a new blogger here at Abolish, it might be a good time for us to tell you exactly who we are.

I'll start with myself. My name's David and I'm the communications guy at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. We like to call ourselves the only fully staffed organization exclusively devoted to abolishing the death penalty. But the truth is, our strength is in our affiliate structure. We have affiliates in almost every state, some small, some large. We have national affiliates (some much, much larger than us, like the ACLU or Amnesty International). We have lots of religious affiliates -- all in all, we have just under 100 affiliate members.

As for me, in my former career, I was a newspaper reporter in Texas, which is how I got interested in this issue. (I won't go at length into my bio -- you can read it here.) My hobbies/interests include almost anything sports-related, checking out new places to eat in D.C. and, when I can steal the time, going on any sort of vacation outside of D.C.

I guess I'm the founder of this blog. Back when I launched, no one was reading it except maybe my ex-girlfriend, my sister and my sister's cat. That was over 100,000 visitors ago!

Next up I'd like to introduce Karl Keys. Karl is the technical guru behind the blog, to the extent that we are technical. Karl is a lawyer whose done death penalty appeals and other stuff. He began practicing law in the mid-90s. On his first day of admission to the bar he represented two death row inmates under active death warrant; sworn in to the bar in the morning he argued a stay of execution as lead counsel that afternoon. (What a welcome to the death penalty world!)

At this point in his offline career he has handled more than 1,000 felony cases and more than a few where the defendant was facing life or even death. Offline Karl is an avid hiker, poker-player, artie, foodie, Marine Gulf War vet, as well as a board member of both New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, both of whom are NCADP affiliates. He has been writing online for a decade on the death penalty & defense in criminal cases, including, for many years, reviews of every published capital case in the nation. He and his wife Celia are expecting their first child this fall.

Last -- but never least -- I'd like to introduce our newest blogger, who, like Karl, is someone I see only a few times a year but is someone I consider a good friend. He's Abraham J. Bonowitz and he brings the grassroots element to our blog. The first thing you should know about Abe is that he has the biggest dog I have ever seen in my life. The dog is named "Governor," Abe explains, because he wanted there to be at least one "governor" that listens to an abolitionist. I made the mistake of volunteering to look after this dog one day, while Abe was in town tending to some important business, and when I went to take him for a walk, well, he walked me.

Abe -- who can be reached at -- currently serves as Field Manager with New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. While serving in this position, he is on sabbatical from his role as director of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a national non-profit organization that promotes positive dialogue regarding capital punishment and invigorated tactical grassroots activism by the global death penalty abolition movement. Bonowitz gained first-hand knowledge of the death penalty by working in the death penalty section of the Ohio Public Defender Commission, with murder victims' family members, and with death row inmates. He appears briefly in the film Dead Man Walking and has worked closely on several projects with author and spiritual advisor Helen Prejean, CSJ.

Abe is a long-time activist with Amnesty International (AIUSA), including four years as a member of the Board of Directors of AIUSA, and he currently serves on the board of directors of Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing, Inc. as well as the board of directors of NCADP. In
2005, he received NCADP's annual Abolitionist of the Year Award.

Abe was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and he currently lives in New Jersey with his wife Beth, their son Isaac, dogs Governor and Sir Lancelot, and Bucky Kat. Before he became an abolitionist and a daddy, he was an avid canoe and mountaineering enthusiast, but with all the abolition bills moving these days, he says it's been a while since he's gotten to pursue those hobbies!

So that's your Abolish the Death Penalty blogging committee. Keep coming back and we'll try to keep the blog interesting, compelling and vibrant!

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