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Voices: Shujaa Graham

“You know it’s hard every day sitting in a courtroom knowing you’re totally innocent,” Graham says. “I was framed because of my beliefs and because I was outspoken about prison conditions.”

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Voices: Ron Briggs

“We actually thought at the time, naively, that a broader death penalty would deter criminals,” Briggs says. “We truly believed the bill would reduce crime in California.”

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Voices: Dionne Wilson

“I described to the jury how I had to tell my six-year old daughter that she would never see her daddy again. I told them about her putting a flower on the coffin, hugging his coffin. I pulled no punches, let me tell you. I made that jury understand how much pain I was in, how much pain my family was in. I was very persuasive.”

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Voices: Sharon Risher

“If putting him to death would bring my mama back, I’d want him dead. But that won’t happen, so what’s the point of killing him? I’m just trying to do the best I can and honor the memory of my mama. I believe in my heart she wouldn’t want this boy put to death.”

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Voices: Quin Denvir

“I have represented several death row inmates who were able to avoid execution, and I lost one, Tom Thompson. He was very likely innocent of capital murder, and his case has been chronicled by Judge Reinhardt as a miscarriage of justice.”

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Voices: Nancy Vollertsen

“I’m doing the best I can through letters,” Nancy remembers. “I just kept thinking that they’re going to figure out they’ve got the wrong guy. And Mom wrote that everything was going to be fine.”

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Voices: Darryl Stallworth

“When I got called into the office and was told I was going to try this case I was fired up. I was excited to be recognized . . . It was a promotion,”

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Voices: Dale and Susan Recinella

“In Florida, there is no witness room for the family and friends of the condemned. They have to leave after they say goodbye in the morning, and never see that person again. As the spiritual advisor, I remain in the death house until it’s time to prepare [the inmate] for the gurney. I’m present in the witness room, and I sit in the front row, where he can see me. He knows he can look at me when the time comes.”

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Voices: Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

“We chose Bill’s story because we wanted to crack open the failures of the criminal justice system, systemically. The racism, the lack of care for veterans and the mentally ill . . . . The only time the government takes control is in punishment.”

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Voices: Bethany Webb

“We know from the grand jury report that my sister pleaded for her life, saying ‘Please don’t shoot me, you don’t have to do this.

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Voices: Frank Thompson

“No one can speak personally about conducting and being personally responsible for killing people in the name of society better than I can.”

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Voices: Kirk Bloodsworth

“You’re talking about a person who was basically saved by half of one cell. A cell the size of a mustard seed saved my life. I always think of the Bible and how Jesus said, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you.’ I knew I was an innocent man, and that trumped everything for me.”

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