How the Innocence Project mobilized thousands of advocates to stop an execution

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How the Innocence Project mobilized thousands of advocates to stop an execution—with days to spare

For two decades, Rodney Reed has fought the justice system, maintaining his innocence in the murder of a Texas woman. The efforts landed him on death row, scheduled for execution by the state—until the Innocence Project got active. The organization had long fought for Reed in court. Adopting Phone2Action last year, it mobilized more than 40,000 Texans to generate almost 8,000 phone calls and emails to Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to spare Reed’s life. Nationwide, more than 60,000 people signed a petition supporting Reed. 

The effort worked. On Nov. 15 of 2019—five days before his execution—the board recommended that Abbott halt the execution. Hours later, a court ordered a new trial for Reed, where new evidence, including testimony from eyewitnesses, will be considered. Reed continues his fight—and so does the Innocence Project, using digital advocacy as a powerful new weapon to shine the light on cases like Reed’s. As Rebecca Brown, the organization’s director of policy, put it, "This is how Democracy is supposed to operate.”


petitions signed in support of Rodney Reed
total advocates

Rodney Reed’s life was spared. And it couldn’t have been done without our community, without Phone2Action, without lawmakers who spoke up.”

Alicia Maule, Digital Engagement Director, Innocence Project


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