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My name is Frank Elijah Smith 046920; I have been housed on Florida's death row since 1979. For those of you who believe that the death penalty is antiquated, barbaric, arbitrary and has no place in civilized society, we are in perfect accord.
For those of you who have volunteered your time, energy and finances to the righteous cause of fighting to abolish the heinous act of state and/or government sanctioned murder through capital punishment, I thank you.
However, we must all admit that the fight to end capital punishment in the United States has lost its momentum. It has no direction, no visible or viable course of action. Therefore I am taking it on myself to plot a course that if taken seriously and worked at diligently, we can achieve our goal: the abolishment of capital punishment
The Anti Death Penalty Manifesto
For years anti-death penalty activists have been meeting and discussing strategies to end capital punishment. Everything from protest marches, lobbying in Congress to candlelight vigils.
All of these actions are and/or were being done with the best of intentions, however they alone have proven to be ineffectual. The cause needs innovation, a shot in the arm. I do not advocate or suggest violence be a part of the cause, that would be hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is the primary reason this cause we fight for exists. I do suggest more aggressive tactics, however, in my points of strategy.
The fight to end capital punishment has along the way accumulated a multitude of resources. Organizations such as Amnesty Int'l, the NAACP and church groups, not to mention ordinary citizens from all walks of life, including celebrities, have been literally wasted. Why? The reasons are many but the main reason is we have no leader.
What we do have is many different people and organizations toiling willy-nilly and that's where we should begin, with a consolidation of resources. I myself would be honored to serve but my incarceration would prove to be too much of an impediment. I would gladly serve as an advisor and occasional spokesperson whenever possible.
A leader, not a figurehead, must be chosen from the ranks of the most devout members of the anti-capital punishment crusade. The following should be entrusted to he or she as the new protocol.
The Primary Directive
To cause and effect a change in first, state laws, then federal laws concerning the death penalty.
The death penalty is a political sentence more so than one of criminal justice. Therefore, we must attack the social disease known as capital punishment by injecting key politicians with a "negative image" vaccine. The lifeblood of any politician or political party is their positive image, and therein lies the "Achilles tendon".
Secondly, another key area of attack is state commerce. Promoting a negative view of a state that depends heavily on tourism can be hamstrung if the tourism trade suffers. These two areas are the first order of business once a leader is firmly in place. That leader must seek to consolidate all of the fringe groups involved in the campaign to expurgate capital punishment.
The methods I suggest are based on a twenty-one year observation of the struggle to end the death penalty in the state of Florida. Do not allow past failures to discourage you, for herein lies blessed new hope. It is my wish that the shackles of naivete be flung away from your minds, and that working within the system be a thing of the past.
I am not suggesting that you break any existing laws, far from it. Rather, I am asking you to adopt a new and different approach. Our aim should always be to educate, to exploit, and then educate some more. It is innately human to resist change until one realizes the necessity for change. The realization of necessity usually comes through the educational process and that process must entail the negative effects on our society that is irrefutably caused by capital punishment.
If we are to believe as a society that killing human beings is not what civilized societies ought to be participating in, then that message must come from the top. This means our community, government, religious and industry leaders, parents, the media and particularly those who run our academic institutions -many of whom are outspoken against the death penalty.
Plan of Attack
Phase one: Heighten the awareness of our cause
How: Advertisement campaigns, hire billboard space in all the non-death penalty states, complete with a photo of a botched electrocution (re: Allen "Tiny" Davis). The message should read something like "The Barbarians are Inside the Gate" or "Vengeance is Mine Sayeth the Lord (Romans 12:19)". "God Now Resides in Tallahassee", 'Not in My Name" or "Vengeance is Cool, where Kids Get Their Ideas". Place ads in the nation's top newspapers and periodicals outlining all the pertinent stats (race of victim, economic background, quality of defense, wrongful convictions, executions, etc.).
If you have trouble with posting a photo of Allen Davis for all to see, think of the trouble the next person might have imagining the future Allen Davises that their unenlightened states could create. The ads could draw a parallel between capital punishment advocates and villainous historical figures, (e.g. Jeb Bush shown with Gestapo head Heinrich Himmler). The idea is to create a negative caricature, one the average person would want to disassociate themselves with - a political nightmare!
Phase two: Boycott
Why? To attack the economic structure of the state of Florida - to strain commerce.
How? Those of you who do not live in the target state, Florida in this case, will urge as many people as you can to go elsewhere on vacation, not to buy Florida fruits and produce. Those in the entertainment field that support this cause should not make movies or encourage their movies to be shown in the offending states.
Those who live inside the state buy products that are shipped in from the outside (i.e. demand California oranges from their grocer). Discourage attendance of in-state flinctions, let the presence of the movement be felt economically wherever possible. Let the economists show that the offending states are being hurt in the pocketbooks by their antiquated practices.
Phase three: Poster children
Select the perfect candidates to be shown as poster children, for the possibility of the state executing an innocent person.
Why? Because the most dreaded occurrence by both sides of the death penalty issue is the prospect of killing an innocent person. And it will happen if we do nothing.
How? Research the weakest cases in which a death row inmate has maintained his innocence (approximately 99% of them are male). Find out which inmates have been convicted on the least amount of actual evidence and/or circumstantial evidence with no voluntary confession. These cases of obvious injustice should be profiled, publicized and included in the aforementioned ads.
Avoid those cases where the defendant is unquestionably guilty of a heinous crime regardless of the technicalities. We need absolute sympathy on our side.
Phase four: Religious politics
Why: Because if one politician who supports capital punishment is blocked from gaining high office (i.e. governor or president) then it will no doubt make other politicians rethink their position on the death penalty. Most politicians will only support a position that will assuredly keep them in elective office.
How? Appeal to His Holiness Pope John Paul II to excommunicate any member of the Church who knowingly and willingly seeks to gain a political position that requires him or his designee to execute a fellow human being. This stern and consistent action on the part of the Church could easily devastate a politician's career.
We need to develop dire consequences
for politicians who support capital punishment. Most have found ways
to immunize themselves, even when they
execute an innocent person. They walk away clean and that must he stopped!
Phase five: Stratagem I intelligence gathering
Why ? Knowledge is a key element in the fight to end capital punishment. We must seek and obtain as much of the Opponent's strategy and intent as possible. Oftentimes there is information that will not he revealed to the courts, the defense teams and - just as importantly - to the public at large.
Many times the decision to pursue the death penalty in a capital case is politically motivated and this fact may he revealed in an office memo, casual conservation or the like, always in private. While the public is deceived into believing that the motivation is justice, in actuality, it is pure self-interest on the part of the governors, prosecutors and other politicians. It is vital that the true nature of these individuals be exposed!
Nothing can weaken the forces of the pro-death penalty movement like the revelation of the truth. We must find a way to expose prosecutorial misconduct, hidden philosophies exchanged only on the golf course, the true character of those demagogic hypocrites. Exposing these matters is relevant and appropriate if we are to be victorious.
How? By recruiting attorneys, secretaries, paralegals and others to seek and gain employment in the enemy's camp. And the enemy, in this case, is the governor's office, the state attorney general's office and the offices of the various state attorneys, public defenders, circuit court judges and the various law enforcement agencies dealing in capital cases. An insider in the office of the CCRC would be invaluable-we need whistleblowers!
We need deep cover operatives and we need those who are willing to withstand the usual scorn placed on those who dare to tell secrets. These jobs should be looked upon as temporary, for the good of the cause. This cause is one in which we must firmly believe, one in which we take immeasurable pride. We should be prepared to record conversations, copy documents, even denounce our cause if necessary to protect the subterfuge.
Many of you are already in place,
an untapped resource. Stay hidden until a leader emerges and then make
yourself known only to him or her. You are extremely vital to the cause.
No information is unimportant-record, report, remember all!
I am simply a man, one whose life
has been riddled with bad decisions and mistakes.
I have been no angel in my past, but I have been no murderer either. When I was first arrested and charged with a capital crime, I was merely nineteen years of age, poorly educated (sixth grade) and profoundly ignorant. After being convicted and sentenced to death I experienced a transformation, a kind of spiritual enlightenment. This did not occur overnight, it is a transformation that is ongoing.
Nonetheless, I have come a long way in many areas and have fully rehabilitated myself-socially, spiritually, psychologically and academically. It is ironic but true that I am the type of person that they look to release from prison, not to kill. But, what with politics, I fear that I may never be released from bondage. Yet I will not be dissuaded from trying to do something good with my life, and that good is helping to put an end to capital punishment.
Although I am incarcerated, that restriction only extends to my anatomy, my physical being, not to my mind. I may never have an opportunity to prove or share my true worth outside these fences. To those of you who believe that capital punishment should be abolished I urge you to embrace the principles that I have set forth in this manifesto. If you firmiy commit yourselves to this cause, to this life or death issue, we can bring our nation into the 21st century with renewed hope.
That said, I leave you with an inspirational poem which I have written:
When the cause is good and the feeling
Unite my friends, take your stand to fight
And we shall win if our cause be just
The righteous shall toil to victory as we must
To my brothers and sisters everywhere
Like cannon fire our voices pierce the air
Our pens of truth are the swords we thrust
For in diligence and perseverance we trust
Our goal is forthright and plain
It's this: The truth shall set us free
And with you there marching by my side
The cause of justice and freedom shall never die
Thank you, my friends, the song of victory shall be ours!
by Frank Elijah Smith
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