Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NCADP 2008: (Co) Abolitionist of the Year

Today we continue our series honoring the NCADP 2008: Reaching for the Dream Awardees. Yesterday we recognized Mike Farrell; today, we are recognizing Stefanie Faucher, program manager at California-based Death Penalty Focus, an NCADP affiliate and co-host of this year's conference.

Please check back through the week as we list additional awardees each day leading up to Saturday!

Stefanie Faucher, Abolitionist of the Year

Stefanie Faucher is the program director for San Francisco-based Death Penalty Focus. Her career in anti-death penalty work has spanned nearly a decade -- since she was a student at the University of California at Berkeley, where she created and taught a class on capital punishment through the Democratic Education at Cal Program.

She is frequently interviewed and quoted by state and national media outlets, including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee and National Public Radio.

Faucher says she is attracted to anti-death penalty work because she believes in the principle that “with great power comes great responsibility.” “Individuals in power should do more than just enforce laws,” she says. “They should act as role models and exemplify the very best of human behavior. Their response to wrongdoing should be fair, thoughtful and tempered. The calculated, state-sponsored killing of another human being lowers society to the level of the killer by repeating the very act that we claim to abhor. It is a fundamental contradiction and I think we can do better.”

Faucher, true to her sense of humor, often references a scene from the movie Batman Begins. In the scene, Bruce Wayne is asked to execute a man who has committed murder. He refuses, responding, “I’m no executioner.” He is challenged by another character who says, “Your compassion is a weakness your enemies will not share.” But Wayne replies, “That’s why it is so important. It separates us from them.”

“While some see compassion as a weakness, I see it as our greatest strength,” Faucher says. “I believe that all human beings are fallible and that a person is more than the very worst thing he or she has ever done. We try to label people and fit them into little boxes because it’s easier if we can think of people as either “good” or “bad,” but it’s never that simple. If we fail to provide a child with a good education, healthcare and a safe home to grow up in, we should not be surprised if that child goes on to make bad choices. As a society we reap what we sow.”

Faucher has been involved in a number of issues beyond the death penalty. Over the past fifteen years, she has mentored high-school students, cared for homeless children, and provided information about HIV, STDs and birth control to teenagers.

In her free time, Stefanie enjoys traveling around the world. She has visited more than thirty countries so far.

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