June 13, 2022

Witness to Innocence Receives 2022 Progressive Champion Award from the American Constitution Society

Contact: Pablo Willis, pwillis@acslaw.org

Washington, DC — Witness to Innocence, an organization founded by well-known anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, and Ray Krone, the 100th person exonerated from death row in the U.S., has been selected the recipient of the 2022 Progressive Champion Award by the American Constitution Society (ACS).

One of ACS’s most prestigious honors, the award recognizes extraordinary efforts to ensure that the law is a force to improve the lives of all people. Previous winners have included Peter Edelman, Bryan Stevenson, Stephen Bright, Dahlia Lithwick, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Witness to Innocence (WTI) was chosen as this year’s honoree in recognition of its almost 20-year effort to abolish the death penalty. In particular, ACS was inspired by Witness to Innocence’s success in elevating the voices of system-impacted people in the struggle for abolition of death penalty and its Accuracy & Justice Project, which connects exonerated death row survivors with prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, and other criminal justice professionals in facilitated workshops about the causes of wrongful convictions and strategies for reducing wrongful convictions in the future.

Witness to Innocence Executive Director Kirk Bloodsworth will accept the Progressive Champion Award on behalf of the organization at ACS’s 2022 National Convention in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

“Death Row Exonerees are our new American war heroes surviving something they never should have faced, fighting a battle they never asked for. Yet, they went through the battle to prove their innocence and survive death row and now, as members of Witness to Innocence, they continue to fight to uphold the rights and values embodied by our constitution. They should be remembered and honored every day of their lives. That the American Constitution Society has awarded Witness to Innocence the Progressive Champion Award is a testament to the Society's longstanding commitment to upholding democracy and improving lives. We at Witness to Innocence look forward celebrating with them when capital punishment is finally declared unconstitutional,” said Bloodsworth, who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in Maryland before being exonerated through DNA evidence in 1993.

ACS advocates for the abolition of the death penalty and has joined with other anti-death penalty  groups in calling for the Biden-Harris Administration to commute the sentences of federal death row inmates.

“Capital punishment remains a deeply inhumane and unjust practice that disproportionately threatens the lives of people of color and poor people. Through the dedicated work of organization’s like Witness to Innocence, we are seeing incredible progress in the movement to abolish the death penalty in the United States,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “WTI has played an indispensable advocacy role in every state that has abolished the death penalty over the past 15 years by empowering exonerated death row survivors and ensuring their voices are heard in the fight to end the death penalty. WTI also serves a vital lifeline for exonerees, providing badly needed financial, emotional, and legal support for those who survived years of unjust imprisonment. We are incredibly proud and honored to recognize the tireless work of Witness to Innocence with ACS’s  2022 Progressive Champion Award.”



ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter @acslaw.