Published on: Friday, October 20, 2023

Ruth E. Friedman, Director of the Federal Capital Habeas (or “§ 2255”) Project since its inception in 2006, was surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues yesterday evening as she was honored with the prestigious Frederick Douglass Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR).

Throughout her career, Ruth has shown unwavering dedication to advocating for the rights and lives of individuals facing the death penalty. She began her work on behalf of state-sentenced prisoners in Alabama and Georgia before extending her efforts to those condemned to die in the federal system. Under Ruth's steadfast leadership, the § 2255 Project has not only recruited and supported counsel in nearly every federal death row case but has also provided direct representation. Today, Ruth's office stands as the central hub for information, policy analysis, and strategic assistance regarding the implementation of the federal death penalty. In its tireless pursuit of justice, the § 2255 Project has spotlighted the systemic issues of racial bias, prosecutorial overreaching, and human error that persist within a well-funded system often touted as a "gold standard" in capital punishment.

Ruth was honored alongside Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor, co-creators of the award-winning podcast Ear Hustle, which features stories of the daily realities of life inside San Quentin State Prison and people’s experiences after release from incarceration.

The Frederick Douglass Awards Dinner is SCHR’s flagship gala to recognize and celebrate those who demonstrate exceptional courage and tenacity in defending human rights and equal justice.