CASE STUDY: SOCIAL JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY

Maryland Citizens Against State Executions

Abolishing the Death Penalty in Maryland

The Challenge


Since 1973, more than 160 individuals have been exonerated from death row after presenting evidence proving their innocence. Additionally, study after study has shown that death sentences are more likely to be recommended for black defendants and/or if the murder victim is white. Maryland Citizens Against State Executions (MCASE) was a coalition of individuals and groups of individuals united to end the death penalty in Maryland through education, grassroots action, and public demonstration.

PROJECT SCOPE

Strategic Communication
Policy Outreach

Our Strategy


With MCASE, The Hatcher Group collaborated with a range of advocacy groups, including the NAACP and Amnesty International. Through this multi-year campaign, we:

  • Developed compelling messages, generated steady media coverage through press conferences and press releases, and deployed a social media strategy that rallied hundreds.
  • Placed op-eds and generated editorials in a range of publications, including the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, The Gazette, and Easton Star-Democrat.
  • Coordinated with grass-roots campaigns in key legislative districts and helped plan high-profile events featuring death penalty opponents including NAACP President Ben Jealous, DNA expert Barry Scheck, author and attorney Scott Turow, and Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking).

Our Impact


The Maryland General Assembly passed the repeal bill, making Maryland the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. The legislation culminated in a high-profile signing ceremony. In attendance was Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate in the U.S. to be exonerated by DNA evidence.

Social media highlights include the following:

  • Our Twitterswarm generated 3,306 tweets which achieved 8,141,738 impressions over the course of one day.
  • During the concentrated 12pm-1pm effort that day, a staggering 661 tweets blasted Governor O’Malley’s feed in only one hour, a strong digital reminder that the public supported his position against the death penalty.
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