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I am very pleased to announce The Nebraska Journey of Hope July 15-24, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Age: 4 Years
By: Bill Pelke


Fellow abolitionists,

I have GREAT NEWS for all who love and support the mission of the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing.  

Stephen Griffith, the Executive Director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, has invited the Journey of Hope to share our message of “Love and Compassion for all of humanity” on an educational speaking tour across their state. We will be urging Nebraskans to RETAIN the Unicameral’s bi-partisan vote to end the death penalty in Nebraska.

Nebraska’s Death Penalty

In May 2015 the Nebraska legislature, with a bi-partisan super-majority, voted to end Nebraska’s death penalty. Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts, a staunch supporter of the death penalty, immediately vetoed the abolition bill. Despite strong opposition from the Governor, the Nebraska legislatures voted to override his veto and Nebraska was death penalty free. This was the first time in over 40 years a red state had abolished the death penalty.

But wait, the Governor announced he would find another way around the legislature’s decision to abolish the death penalty. With help from his billionaire father they began a petition drive that gathered enough signatures to make it a ballot issue in this November’s election. The reason for the vote is an attempt of the Governor to override the legislature’s decision. In other words the Governor is trying to get the voters to REPEAL the abolition bill that was passed while we want the voters to RETAIN the abolition bill.

I believe this is possibly the most important Journey we have ever undertaken. We have been in over 40 states and twenty countries and the time is right for a Nebraska Journey of Hope. When Nebraska kills the death penalty for good, I believe other states will follow at an even quicker pace than the one which has seen 7 states abolish the death penalty in the last ten years. Nebraska's abolition would make 19 states that are death penalty free.

The Journey of Hope will be preaching RETAIN, RETAIN, RETAIN so that the voters of Nebraska will understand the importance of voting RETAIN.     WE KNOW OUR VOICE WILL BE HEARD!

Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing

The Journey of Hope is led by murder victim families who oppose the death penalty. We know that the death penalty has nothing to do with the healing that a murder victim family member needs when a loved one has been killed and that the death penalty only continues the cycle of violence.  We promote forgiveness as a way of healing and restorative justice as a way of life. On our speaking tours we are joined by death row family members, death row exonerees and other leaders in the abolition movement.  We clearly portray the human face of the death penalty as we share our stories.

We know that the answer is love and compassion for all of humanity. No one can have love and compassion for all of humanity and want to see anyone executed in their name. It is impossible to reconcile. On our Journey we hope to compel Nebraskans to RETAIN Love and compassion for all of humanity.

I am very pleased to announce The Nebraska Journey of Hope July 15-24, 2016

Our Team  

Joining the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing and Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty in planning and implementing this event are five additional partners:

  • RETAIN a Just Nebraska, which coordinates the local campaign to retain the legislature’s vote
  • Catholic Mobilizing Network, which works to educate and mobilize Catholics and people of faith to end the death penalty
  • Witness to Innocence, which empowers exonerated death row survivors to be powerful and effective in the struggle to end the death penalty
  • Amnesty International USA, which works to fight injustices like the death penalty and to promote human rights.
  • Equal Justice USA, which was the lead National Partner in the legislative repeal, is now providing staff to the retain A Just Nebraska Campaign.

These partners will work with the Journey of Hope and NADP to carry out an extensive and impactful speaking tour that will show thousands of Nebraskans that the death penalty is a risky, expensive, biased, and unnecessary policy that this state is better off without.

The Speakers

The Journey will have four teams of speakers on tour around the state July 15-24, 2016. Journey events will begin in Omaha, and then the teams will spread out through the state speaking in at least 15 different cities and towns.  Each team will have a death row family connection, a murder victim family member, and a local activist.

We have a great team of speakers joining the Nebraska Journey of Hope. Marietta Jaeger Lane, SueZann Bosler and George White helped me co-found the Journey of Hope and we have been telling our stories around the world for over 20 years.

Marietta’s 7 year old daughter Susie was kidnapped, raped and murdered.  Marietta says "Loved ones, wrenched from our lives by violent crime, deserve more beautiful, noble and honorable memorials than pre-meditated, state-sanctioned killings. The death penalty only creates more victims and more grieving families. By becoming that which we deplore -- people who kill people -- we insult the sacred memory of all our precious victims."

SueZann’s father, Reverend Bill Bosler, was stabbed to death and SueZann was left for dead in a home invasion. SueZann worked for over 10 years to get the perpetrator's sentence commuted to life.  Her favorite song is "Let there be Peace on earth and let it begin with me".

George White's wife, Charlene, died in his arms after they were both shot by a masked man during a robbery.  George was falsely convicted of her murder. His young children heard the state of Alabama say "Your daddy did it" as the state sought the death penalty for George. He was able to prove his innocence but it took seven years. George is the Journey Ambassador.

Bess Klassen-Landis is a former Journey of Hope Board member. Bess’ mother, Helen Klassen was beat, striped, raped, strangled and shot 4 times in their rural home in Elkhart, Indiana when Bess was 13 years old. Bess' first Journey of Hope in Texas in 2005 had a profound affect on her. Beautiful songwriter, singer and friend we welcome Bess.

Shujaa Graham has the undesirable distinction of being both, a murder victim family member and a death row exoneree.  Shujaa is a former Journey of Hope board member and is a mentor to Derrick Jamison, a death row exoneree from Ohio who will be joining us for his first Journey.

Bill Babbitt and Randy Gardner both had brothers who were executed. Manny Babbitt was executed in California in 1999 and Ronnie Lee Gardner was shot through the heart by Utah's firing squad in 2010. 

Sandrine Ageorges Skinner's husband Hank is presently on Texas’s infamous death row. A few years ago Hank came within several hours of being executed.  Sandrine, who presently lives in Paris, has become a renowned activist in the global abolishment movement working with organizations like the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the French ECPM organization.

Unfortunately Bud Welch will not be able to make this Journey as planned due to serve hip pain and treatment.  Please keep Bud in your thoughts and prayers.

Love and compassion for all of humanity

These are powerful voices, spreading precious seed throughout the state of Nebraska. You can help us as we spread these seeds.
Many thanks to all who have supported the Journey though out the years with prayers and financial contributions. Please consider investing in the precious seed we will be sowing in Nebraska. Your prayers and gifts are greatly appreciated.

Yours truly for abolition!
Bill Pelke
President, Journey of Hope from Violence to Healing

PS: Shane Claiborne just wrote a new book called Executing Grace. Its release date was June 6. He talks about the Journey of Hope and shares some of our stories of from Violence to Healing.

< Journey Members to speak in Northern Virginia June 26-28