Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
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P.O. Box 120552
Nashville, TN 37212
Organization Details



Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP) seeks to honor life by abolishing the death penalty, preventing violence, and supporting those who experience harm. TADP works to accomplish this mission by educating Tennesseans about the problems with the death penalty, as well as the broader criminal legal system, while empowering citizens to act for change.

Racial equity is a core value of our work.


Fifty years of experience has taught us that no matter how hard the State tries to get the death penalty right, it fails at every turn, from convicting innocent people to botching execution procedures, all while spending millions of taxpayer dollars and trapping victims' families in the decadeslong process. Racial disparities continue to impact who is sentenced to death. Almost 40% of Tennessee homicide victims are white, but 74% of death sentences imposed in Tennessee since 1972 have involved white victims. And factors such as how much money one has and what county one lives in can be more determinative of who gets a death sentence than the crime itself. The death penalty system also risks the execution of innocent people with over 190 individuals nationwide released from death rows since 1973 after evidence of their innocence emerged, three of whom are from Tennessee.

If Tennesseans truly want to embrace a culture of life and to find effective responses to crime, we should be focused on healing and crime prevention, investing in trauma informed solutions that focus on accountability, mental health, and early intervention to prevent crime. We should be solving more violent crime, and we should get victims of violence and surviving families of murder victims the resources that they need to heal so that their healing isn't reliant on what happens to the people who've caused them harm.

In 2006, Reverend Stacy Rector became the Executive Director, and over the last seventeen years, she has worked with supporters and partners to educate Tennesseans about the death penalty's myriad problems. In 2015, TADP launched Tennessee Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty (TNCC), and TNCC Coordinator Jasmine Woodson reaches out to political conservatives in Tennessee, educating them about the reasons that the current death penalty system does not align with their conservative values. TADP Community Outreach Coordinator Rafiah Muhammad McCormick, a surviving family of murder victim, educates Tennesseans about the impact of the death penalty system on victims as well as people of color, in particular. TADP works to ensure that the voices of those who are most impacted are highlighted including death row exonerees, surviving family members of murder victims, correctional staff, and those who are system impacted.


Twenty-three states have now ended the death penalty. In 2021, Virginia became the 23rd state and the first Southern state to achieve repeal. Red states like Utah and Wyoming are considering ending the practice, with more conservative voices raising concerns. TADP provides opportunities for critical conversations across Tennessee to create a climate for citizens to move away from the death penalty. TADP's work has led to historically low death sentencing, with only three death sentences in Tennessee between 2013-2023 and more voices, including death row exonerees, murder victims' families, correctional staff, and conservatives raising concerns. TADP is a member of the TASMIE coalition which educates Tennesseans about why those with severe mental illness should be excluded from the death penalty. This educational effort led to legislation that passed through a key committee in the 2020 legislative session. In 2021, TADP pivoted from our work on severe mental illness to partner with the Tennessee Disability Coalition to educate Tennesseans about why individuals with intellectual disability, like Pervis Payne (a Black man with strong evidence of innocence), should not be executed and in 2021, legislation to protect those with intellectual disability from execution in Tennessee became law.

Because of this new law, the Shelby County District Attorney conceded that Mr. Payne is living with intellectual disability, and on November 23, 2021, his death sentence was officially removed after he spent 34 years on death row! With his new sentence, he will now be eligible for parole in four years. Since Mr. Payne's resentencing, another man, Michael Sample who is also living with intellectual disability, has also been removed from death row after 30 years awaiting execution.

TADP's work to create a climate more conducive to preventing executions contributed to Governor Bill Lee's decision to pause five scheduled executions in 2022 in order for an independent investigation into the problems with the state's lethal injection protocol to be conducted. The report found that the Tennessee Department of Correction had failed to follow its own lethal injection protocol since 2018, including the proper testing of the drugs. TADP is organizing the medical community as well as conservatives and others to demand more transparency in this process. The state's unwillingness to carry out executions in the light of day reinforces TADP's belief that we shouldn't be carrying them out at all. In response to the troubling findings of the report, a lawmaker introduced a bill in 2023 to add the firing squad as a method of execution. TADP educated Tennesseans and organized opposition to this effort, leading to its defeat.

TADP's Community Outreach Coordinator builds partnerships statewide with others working on criminal legal reform and racial justice, educating Tennesseans about the historical connections between racial violence and the death penalty, and empowering communities of color to lead the work for repeal. TADP highlights the voices of murder victims' families; exonerees; and communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by violence, to educate Tennesseans about why we should invest our resources into evidence-based initiatives that actually reduce crime and make our communities safer, such as trauma informed policing, community based violence prevention, and more access to mental health care rather than spending resources on a failed death penalty policy. Currently, TADPis partnering with victims' advocates statewide to make the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund more accessible to those impacted by violence, particularly people of color who are denied compensation at a higher rate. Tennessee is currently tied for 5th among the state for the most denials of compensation with a 62% denial rate. The CICF is a fund of last resort to assist with burial costs, counseling, and other services to recover from the impact of violent crime.


TADP serves the entire state of Tennessee with three full-time staff. We receive no funding from any state or federal government sources. Instead, TADP relies on individuals and private foundations for all of its funding. With the assistance of a communications firm/specialist, TADP would have a larger digital impact as well and more reach into media outlets statewide. Every dollar invested in TADP makes a large impact on the work that we are able to accomplish. With a well-funded campaign, TADP believes that we could achieve our mission in Tennessee within the next five years.

CEO Statement

Though Tennesseans have a wide variety of opinions on the death penalty both for and against, as a public policy, the death penalty system is a failure. The administration of the death penalty in Tennessee is unfair, particularly to those who are poor, is racially biased, and continues to execute those with severe mental illness. The system costs taxpayers far more than a system which utilizes alternative sentences, and most disturbingly, the system is unreliable with over 190 people to date released from death rows nationwide since 1973 when evidence of their innocence was finally considered, including three individuals from Tennessee. TADP is committed to educating the public about this failed public policy that drains vital resources away from effective crime prevention measures, such as drug treatment, mental health care, trauma informed policing as well as funding to support surviving family members of murder. We can hold offenders accountable, protect our families, and prevent violent crime without the death penalty. Join us to make your voice heard.

Board Chair Statement

TADP has a singular mission: to educate Tennesseans about why the death penalty is a failed policy that needs to end. In the current political climate in this state, our mission requires education of Tennessee citizens and legislators on an issue that most people wish to avoid consideration of altogether. When people are confronted with the facts and are compelled to consider them, they tend to agree, regardless of their political orientation, that the death penalty should be reconsidered. However, this is not an issue that affects the day to day lives of many people and getting their attention and compelling action is a challenge. The road is long, and we need sustained action and funding of that action even though our progress (changing hearts and minds one person at a time) is not always apparent. We are making real progress. We have had some substantial monetary support from surprising sources, but we need more for the long journey. The public, the media, and legislators from both sides of the aisle are listening. People are increasingly skeptical of the state prosecutorial apparatus; through our efforts they have seen and heard from the growing number of exonerees who were wrongfully accused and convicted. People are tiring of the enormous cost of the death penalty. The tide is turning. TADP's board is currently a diverse group of Tennesseans, some of whom are longtime activists on the issue, others are directly impacted by this policy, while others bring fundraising connections and skills. TADP seeks out board representation from across the state to ensure a wide range of perspectives and broadening networks.

Service Categories

Primary Category: Public & Societal Benefit  - Citizen Participation 
Secondary Category: Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy  - Alliances & Advocacy 
Tertiary Category: -

Areas Served

TADP serves the entire state of Tennessee.