He’s been to space – now Richard Branson’s next mission is ending the death penalty

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Sir Richard Branson says that no country can call itself civilized as long as it implements the death penalty – and that includes the United States.

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“I think in order to have a truly civilized country, you must realize that killing people as a way of trying to teach people not to kill is not the way to do it,” Branson explains. Granthshala On a gray afternoon in New York City. “It’s inhumane, and it’s wrong.”

The British billionaire’s new mission is a noble one: to end the death penalty around the world, and in particular, here in America. It’s a project that is in some ways more ambitious than his recent space travel, and certainly more complex to pursue.


To accomplish this, Branson is working with Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ), a non-profit organization that is building an army of business leaders to stand together against the death penalty. Granthshala Our latest campaign is as committed to the fight as pledged.

RBIJ Chief Executive Celia Ouellette believes that the time is right to end this practice in America forever. The country has the highest rate of executions per year in the world, but most states have now abolished the death penalty or banned the death penalty.

Sir Richard Branson promotes business to abolish the death penalty
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“When you get to this type of tipping point, the voices of the business leaders really have a huge impact,” she says.

Branson and RBIJ have made great progress together. Today more than 150 officers will sign Business leaders against the death penalty Announcement, a campaign led by Branson. Those signatories include names known as Sheryl Sandberg, Ariana Huffington, and Branson himself.

“I promise you we’ll get at least 150 more,” he says sharply.

But why would Virgin Group’s multi-billionaire founder Branson choose to do battle with an ancient, incurable social problem instead of spending more time in his Virgin Islands home or on his fleet of spacecraft?

Because they have the power to do so, they say.

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“I think if you take the generation before yourself, business leaders thought they were there to make money,” Branson says. “But we have a voice.”

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs despise the death penalty. At the top of the list is the number of US death row prisoners who have been proven innocent – ​​some of whom Branson has met personally. One of those people is Anthony Ray Hinton, whom he calls “the most delightful person you can meet”.

Mr Hinton was convicted of killing two people in 1985. In 2015, he was acquitted by the Supreme Court after spending 28 years on Alabama’s death sentence.

“It was a fabricated, racist allegation,” Branson says.

Anthony Ray Hinton wipes tears outside the Jefferson County Jail upon his release after serving 28 years on the death penalty

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Anthony Ray Hinton wipes tears outside the Jefferson County Jail upon his release after serving 28 years on the death penalty

That racism is another reason for Branson to protest. Numerous studies have shown that the death penalty is disproportionately used in America on its black citizens. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, African Americans make up 41 percent The country’s number of death row prisoners – but only 13 percent of American population.

“Black people are the ones who tend to be established instead of white people,” Branson says. “I’ve seen so many injustices happen in this system.”

And as long as governments have the power to kill, they fear they will abuse it.

“The second danger of allowing the death penalty is that if the government falls into the wrong hands, people can also be killed for political reasons,” he says.

Advocates of the death penalty argue that the hanging provides a powerful deterrent for murder and other capital crimes. But as Branson points out, the death penalty has been banned in almost every country in Europe, and those countries have not seen an increase in violent crime since.

Sir Richard Branson Spaceship to Unity 22. depicted on giving a message from space

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Sir Richard Branson Spaceship to Unity 22. depicted on giving a message from space

Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes are the only countries to share America’s commitment to uphold the death penalty.

“You’ve got North Korea, you’ve got Iran, you’ve got Saudi Arabia,” Branson says. “They are not the best bedfellows on some issue.”

The founders of Virgin Galactic make a compelling case for abolishing the death penalty. Was it his journey into space, seeing the fragile earth beneath him, that gave him such a profound perspective on the value of human life?

Broadly, the 71-year-old admitted, perhaps it influenced his thinking.

Branson says, “It definitely made me more committed to spending the next – if I’m lucky – 20, 25 years of my life trying to help solve the myriad issues in this world. ” “And the death penalty is one of those very big ones.”

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Richard Branson

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