NJADP Speakers list (alphabetical order)
all speakers are subject to availability
Abraham J. Bonowitz serves as Field Manager with New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Previously, he served 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. Bonowitz 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. and also the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP). In 2005, he received NCADP's annual Abolitionist of the Year Award, a national award.
As a former supporter of the death penalty, Bonowitz brings a unique perspective to this issue. He is available to share his experience moving from being for the death penalty to actively working to end it. Bonowitz can address the death penalty in the United States and in New Jersey, its impact on families of both the victim and the condemned, and grassroots activities aimed at suspending and ending executions, including New Jersey's grassroots effort to end capital punishment.
The Rev. Bruce H. Davidson is Director of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey (LOGM/NJ), a state public policy office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LOGM/NJ focuses primarily on issues related to hunger and poverty in New Jersey. The ELCA and it predecessor church bodies have been on record opposing the death penalty for over 40 years, and LOGM/NJ has been active in the movement to end the death penalty since it was established in 1984. Pastor Davidson is on the Executive Committee of NJDAP, and has presented numerous workshops related to the death penalty over the past 30 years. The Rev. Davidson is a co-convenor of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, co-chair of Homes For New Jersey, and a co-chair of the Central New Jersey Regional Equity Coalition.
Pastor Davidsons Presentations focus on moral and religious issues related to the death penalty, especially the fact that the death penalty falls disproportionately on low income people. As a faith-based advocate, Rev. Davidson also addresses specific actions concerned citizens can take to communicate their concerns to elected officials.
Ray Deeney teaches Law and Mental Disability at Seton Hall Law School, including a class on the death penalty as applied to individuals with mental disability. Throughout his professional career, Deeney has focused on the areas of law and mental disability. He worked for many years as an attorney at the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services and has extensive experience providing lectures and training presentations. He also serves as President at The Unitarian Society in East Brunswick New Jersey.
Ray is available to speak about New Jerseys death penalty and the successful moratorium campaign. He can also speak on the death penalty as applied to individuals with mental disability.
Celeste Fitzgerald, director of NJADP, has extensive experience in state and national death penalty abolition and moratorium campaigns. Fitzgerald was NJADPs chairperson from its founding in 1999 until 2001, when she joined the staff of Equal Justice USA, a national organization that assists state moratorium campaigns. While with Equal Justice USA, Fitzgerald coordinated the campaign that led to passage of a moratorium resolution in the New York City Council as well as NJADPs 2002-2003 study bill campaign. NJADPs full time director since January 2004, Fitzgerald directed the groups successful moratorium campaign, which led to passage of the nations first legislative moratorium. She coordinates a team of organiz 4. ers, interns, and media, legal, and political professionals who join the committed network of NJADP volunteers and allied organizations in NJADPs abolition campaign. A much sought after speaker, Fitzgerald has spoken at universities, law schools, and national and state conferences and workshops.
Fitzgerald is available to speak about the death penalty in New Jersey, the successful moratorium campaign, and next steps for New Jerseys effort to end capital punishment. A Catholic, Fitzgerald is also available to speak about the Catholic Churchs position on the death penalty and the new U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops campaign to end capital punishment.
Eddie Hicks and his wife of more than 30 years, Karen, live in Galloway Twp. They have two surviving adult children. Their oldest daughter, Jamila, was murdered on May 29, 2000 at the age of 26. Hicks, a field organizer with NJADP, retired from the Atlantic City Fire department in April 2002, after 25 years of service. Prior to the Fire Service, he was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Viet Nam war era. He is a Past President of the Atlantic City Chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters. Hicks volunteers in a New Jersey Department of Corrections program called Focus on the Victim, through which he visits state prisons to speak to the incarcerated about the impact of violence on families and the community.
Hicks speaks movingly of the loss of his daughter to murder, his journey toward healing, and his work to end the death penalty at churches, schools, and community groups throughout the state.
Sandra Manning is chair of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and is also a lawyer, writer, and teacher. Her legal experience includes four years at the New York firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, two years as a Deputy Attorney General, and three years as a pool attorney for the public defender. She has written and spoken extensively on the issue of wrongful convictions and the death penalty. She wrote and co-produced the video, Time Out. She also authored an article in the New Jersey Law Journal, The Risk of Executing the Innocent.
Manning can speak on criminal law and procedure in New Jersey, on the death penalty, and on wrongful convictions.
Ed Martone, NJADP treasurer and executive committee member, is the Director of Public Education and Policy for the New Jersey Association on Correction and also serves as Chair of North Jersey Community Research Initiative (an HIV/AIDS service provider). Martone is the former Executive Director of the ACLU-NJ and a former Mayor and Councilman in North Arlington (Bergen Co.) New Jersey.
A well know public policy figure and sought after speaker on criminal justice issues, Martone is available to speak about New Jerseys criminal justice system, the death penalty in New Jersey, the successful moratorium campaign, and next steps for New Jerseys effort to end capital punishment.
Lorry Post, field organizer with NJADP, is a retired Legal Services attorney who has devoted the last six years of his life to the abolition of the death penalty. Founder and past director of NJADP, he does this work, along with his wife, June, in memory of and in honor of his murdered daughter, Lisa, stabbed to death by her husband in Georgia in 1988. Post is the former Executive Director of NJADP and is also a co-facilitator, along with his wife, of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, New Jersey branch, and co- facilitator of Amnesty International's New Jersey efforts to end the death penalty. He is also a volunteer with a New Jersey Department of Corrections program called Focus on the Victim, through which he visits state prisons to speak to the incarcerated about the impact of violence on families and the community.
Post has spoken to diverse audiences throughout New Jersey as well as in other states. He is available to speak about his personal experience as the father of a murder victim, the inspiring journey that has led him to his groundbreaking work to end capital punishment, his work with Focus on the Victim, and NJADPs campaign to end capital punishment.
Father Bob Schulze, a priest in the Trenton Diocese since 1969, was the Chaplain and Chaplain Administrator with the Federal Bureau of Prisons 1976-1996. Since 1997, Father Bob has served as Director of the Office of Jail and Prison Ministry for the Trenton Diocese and part-time chaplain with the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Father Bob has also served as President of the American Catholic Chaplains Association since 2001.
Fr. Bob is available to speak about the Catholic Churchs position on the death penalty and his own personal experience as a New Jersey prison chaplain.
David Shepard, of Newark, was wrongfully convicted of rape and spent 10 years in prison before DNA testing proved his innocence. Shepard, a member of NJADPs executive committee and strong death penalty opponent who has worked with groups such as The Innocence Project, has been speaking about his experience at schools and other venues throughout New Jersey.
Shepard is available to speak about the causes of wrongful convictions, life as an exonoree, and the risk of wrongful execution - all from the perspective of someone who was wrongfully convicted.
Lois Teer Seeligsohn, a public relations consultant, is president of Word Association in Collingswood. She joined NJADP shortly after its 1999 founding, serves on the Executive Committee and is its coordinator of public information.
Seeligsohn's unique perspective is as loved one of a murder victim and of her killer. She describes how two families endured a murder, opposed the death penalty, achieved reconciliation and prayed for victim, killer and each other, while keeping their families and faith intact. Unrepentant for years, the killer underwent a dramatic religious conversion, repented his crime and sought forgiveness from his children, extended family and God. Imprisoned for the rest of his life, he organized Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Bible study groups there, and counselled younger prisoners on avoiding drugs, alcohol, violence and crime when they got out of prison.
Kevin Walsh is the Chair of the Legal Committee of NJADP. Walsh led NJADPs successful legal challenge to the States procedures for lethal injection, which resulted in a legal suspension of all executions in New Jersey. Walsh clerked for the Honorable Gary S. Stein, Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. As an attorney in South Jersey, he works on affordable housing issues.
Walsh is available to speak about the death penalty in New Jersey, the successful moratorium campaign, and next steps for New Jerseys effort to end capital punishment. A Catholic, Walsh is also available to speak about the Catholic Churchs position on the death penalty and the new U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops campaign to end capital punishment.
Out of State Speakers:
Ray Krone was a mail carrier and Marine Corp veteran living in Arizona when he was falsely convicted of murder. Branded the snaggle-toothed killer, Krone was convicted on evidence that the murderer had crooked front teeth - like his - and was sent to death row. In 2002, after DNA tests cleared him and identified the real killer, Krone became the 100th U.S. death row inmate to be exonerated. A much sought after speaker, in 2004, Krone was featured as a special guest on the TV reality show, Extreme Makeover.
Krone speaks eloquently about his ordeal and struggle to win his freedom. His extraordinary and inspiring story is one of faith and courage in the face of injustice. He is in high demand as a speaker and has shared his story with hundreds of audiences throughout the world.
Kirk Bloodsworth, was the first death row inmate in the United States to be freed as a result of DNA testing. A former Marine and Maryland resident, Bloodsworth was convicted of sexual assault, rape, and murder and sentenced to death in 1985. After years of fighting for a DNA test, evidence from the crime scene was sent to a lab for testing. On June 28, 1993, a Baltimore County circuit judge ordered Bloodsworth released from prison due to the results of his DNA test, and in December 1993, Maryland's governor pardoned Bloodsworth. By the time of his release, Bloodsworth served almost nine years in prison, including two on death row for a crime he did not commit. In 2003, almost a decade later, Bloodsworth heard the news he had been waiting to hear for 20 years: the state of Maryland finally matched DNA evidence to the real killer. In 2004, that man pled guilty to the murder for which Bloodsworth had been wrongfully convicted.
Today, Bloodsworth is a Program Officer for The Justice Project's Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform and the Criminal Justice Reform Education Fund, and he has been an ardent supporter of the Innocence Protection Act (IPA). The IPA will establish the "Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program," a program that will help states defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.
In September 2004, Bloodsworth took part in the release of a book that chronicles his 20-year journey, Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA by Tim Junkin. And, in 2005, along with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and others, Bloodsworth participated in the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops press event to announce the launching of the new USCCB campaign to end capital punishment.
Bloodsworth is available to speak about his personal experience, the issues surrounding wrongful convictions and innocence, and the terrible injustices of the capital punishment system. His book is available for sale at his events, which include free book signing.
Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon spent seventeen years on Floridas death row for a crime he did not commit. Upon his exoneration and release from death row in 2002, he became the 99th death row inmate in the country to be exonerated and released since 1973.
There was no physical evidence ever linking Mr. Melendez to the crime and his conviction and death sentence hinged on the testimony of two questionable witnesses. In 2000, sixteen years after Mr. Melendez was convicted and sentenced to death, a long-forgotten transcript of a taped confession by the real killer, was fortuitously discovered. Ultimately, it came to light that the real killer made statements to no less than sixteen individuals either directly confessing to the murder or stating that Mr. Melendez was not involved.
Upon his release from death row, without bitterness, anger or hatred towards those responsible for wrongfully convicting and sentencing him to death, Mr. Melendez has traveled throughout the United States speaking to audiences about his story of supreme injustice. When he is not speaking throughout the country, he works at home in Puerto Rico in a plantain field where he counsels troubled youth who work alongside him. As a former migrant farm worker, Mr. Melendezs idol and inspiration was and continues to be Cesar Chavez.
Mr. Melendez has spoken at numerous conventions, conferences and symposiums, including the national LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) convention in San Antonio, July 2004. Mr. Melendez is a board member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Journey of Hope . . .From Violence to Healing.
Mr. Melendez is a uniquely dynamic and exceptional speaker who shares an inspirational personal story of human resilience, courage, faith, and hope in English or Spanish. His legal case highlights the pervasive problems that exist in the death penalty system, such as its unreliability and its unfair and unequal application to people of color and the poor. His story of injustice is so powerful that it profoundly impacts people all across the political spectrum.