AUSTIN, TX – Rodney Reed sits on the most dangerous Death Row in the U.S. Texas has a reputation for executing condemned men that persists, but Rodney Reed’s case gained so much national attention after a petition from Change.org circulated globally that the kill-happy state took pause.
The 21st century has brought more than smartphones into our lives. The exponential growth of the internet is helping save lives through a multitude of crowdsourcing- and petition-signing platforms. Change.org has been a trailblazer in this area, crowdsourcing justice one name at a time, one dollar at a time.
As has the Innocence Project, which represents those facing death sentences for crimes they say they did no commit, including Rodney Reed. The joining together of the Innocence Project and crowdfunding/sourcing like Change.org is becoming a new and promising method of gaining leverage in a judicial setting, which typically is resistant to change.
Five days before his execution date, Rodney Reed was granted an indefinite stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Petition signatures from over half a million people from around the country helped make it happen.
This is a story of how petitions can bring about change, and in some cases, even save lives.
Tiffany McMillan has spent decades fighting for her friend Rodney Reed. She took that fight to the next level when she started a petition on Change.org to save his life and see him freed. Rodney had already been in prison for over 20 years, but more new evidence pointed to his innocence. Tiffany saw a new opportunity and took action.
But the clock was quickly counting down. Despite the flaws in his trial, Rodney was set to be executed on November 20, 2019.
Massive outcry built up for several months as Rodney’s execution date drew closer. Tiffany’s petition grew to over half a million signatures. The story made headlines in Newsweek, TIME and CBS News among many other news outlets.
The intensity of the coverage put even more pressure on the governor to take action.
Thousands of supporters rallied in Austin outside of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. And celebrities like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Dr. Phil, and Kim Kardashian drummed up even more support on social media. All these voices combined made a powerful impact.
And this is not the first time the Change.org community helped a prisoner with no other hope.
Every year, millions of people use Change.org to fix what our justice system gets wrong. They are tired of watching innocent people lose their freedom, so they turn to sites and organizations dedicated cases like these to take action. And these petitions and efforts work, because they’ve won before.
Alice Johnson was granted clemency after her daughter started a Change.org petition. And Cyntoia Brown was pardoned after a petition was signed by 375,000 supporters.
Now Rodney, too, has seen the power of what we can all do when we act together. But this fight is not over. Tiffany is still campaigning to get a full exoneration for Rodney. She won’t stop until he is released from prison.
And other petition starters need the power of your voice too. Cece started a petition for Julius Jones, who is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Julius faces the death penalty despite evidence that suggests he was wrongly convicted. Visit CeCe’s petition today to learn more about Julius’s story.
Change.org gives people the tools to stand up to injustice, especially in cases when all else has failed.
“I’m more convinced than ever that when we act together, anything is possible,” remarked Alex Rapson, Senior Campaigner for Change.org. “Thank you for supporting the petitions you believe in. You can help change lives with your support.”
Do you know of a cause Change.org could help? If so contact them through their help center.
Change.org’s physical location/address is 548 Market St #29993, San Francisco, CA 94104-5401, USA.