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Creating Momentum: The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Investments to Repeal the Death Penalty in the United States

Resource type: Evaluation

Michael Quinn Patton and Kay E. Sherwood |

Atlantic’s investments totaling about $60 million between 2004 and 2016 have been a contributing factor in the growing momentum to abolish the death penalty in the United States, according to an evaluation of the foundation’s work to end capital punishment.

As noted in the report, the death penalty has been in decline in recent years. For example, between 2007 and 2015, seven states outlawed its use, and governors in four states suspended executions. In addition, prosecutors have been pursuing fewer capital cases and juries have frequently opted for life without parole instead of voting to sentence defendants to death.

In their report, evaluators describe the dynamic interaction among the history and politics of the death penalty in the United States, the foundation’s decision to intervene in the abolition effort, and the unfolding revelations about the practices, outcomes and laws affecting the use of the death penalty at the state and federal levels. (For more, see graphic below from the Death Penalty Information Center showing the drop in both executions and death sentences since the mid- to late 1990s.)

The evaluation brief summarizes evaluators’ findings and presents lessons and strategies for other grantmakers supporting advocacy campaigns.

Atlantic commissioned this evaluation.

Source: Death Penalty Information Center
Source: Death Penalty Information Center

Related Resources


Death Penalty, Human Rights & Reconciliation

Global Impact:

United States