Who Decides, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non profit educational organization, incorporated under the provisions of Arkansas law
To educate the general public about the practice and history of the death penalty in America through the medium of art.
To establish a National Museum on capital punishment devoted to the study, procurement and care of national archives, art exhibits and artifacts that capture the history of capital punishment in America.
Who Decides, Inc. was conceived by Arkansas Death Row Inmate, Kenneth Reams in June of 2012. Kenneth’s vision and aim was to raise consciousness about the death penalty in America and build support for establishing a National Museum on Capital Punishment to preserve its deep history for present and future generations.
His plan was to use the (unrestricted powers of art) as a vehicle to help spark meaningful dialog around the provocative issue that continues to genuinely divide many Americans who struggle with the notion of equity, the opinions of justice and the thoughts of forgiveness.
After recruiting a Board of Directors and gaining assistance and support from numerous public supporters, a non-profit educational organization was incorporated in the State of Arkansas in May of 2014, under the name Who Decides, Inc.
On November 05, 2014, Who Decides Inc. would launch its first public art exhibition titled: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides. This public display would present approximately 50 visual art exhibits created entirely by Kenneth Reams and his French fiancé Isabelle Watson. The exhibition opening took place in the 3rd floor gallery at the Cox Creative Center in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas and received multiple exceptional reviews.
In 2015, the IRS would officially grant Who Decides Inc., 501 (C) (3) tax exempt status-giving higher establishment to the organization, its goal to build a National Museum on Capital Punishment and its committed efforts to use art to support, aid and advance education in the history of the death penalty in the United States.
About the founder
In December 1993, a Jefferson County jury composed of eleven whites and one black convicted and sentenced Kenneth Reams,
an 18-year-old black male, to death by lethal injection as an accomplice in a capital murder case.
Kenneth Reams was not innocent. There is no question that he participated in the crime that took place, but he did not pull the trigger that caused the death of the victim, Gary Turner.
Months earlier, Reams and a friend, 19-year-old Alford Goodwin, had waited for a victim to rob at the Worthen National Bank ATM in Pine Bluff. It was not in the plot to take someone’s life, but that is exactly what transpired when Goodwin, who handled the gun, demanded money from the motorist, Mr. Turner. Turner opposed the demand, and Goodwin then shot and killed him.
In this case, it is clear that Kenneth Reams was not the killer. Goodwin handled the weapon and shot the victim. Months later, Alford Goodwin would decide to enter a guilty plea for his part in the crime and was sentenced, in a plea agreement, to life in prison without parole. A few days later, Reams would face a jury trial.
Even though Reams was not the actual shooter of Mr. Turner, the state sought the death penalty. During his trial, Reams was the only witness to testify that he did not shoot and kill Mr. Turner. His inexperienced defense never called Alford Goodwin to testify to being the one who actually shot Mr. Turner. When the jury came back, the verdict was guilty of capital murder. The jury could have recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole; however it chose to sentence Kenneth Reams to death by lethal injection.
For the past 20 years, Reams has remained in solitary confinement on death row in Arkansas, fighting against his execution. For Kenneth Reams to be sentenced to death and Alford Goodwin to life in prison without parole resembles an injustice.
In memory of David L. Rickard (1939-2013)
On May 13, 2013, Who Decides, Inc. lost one of its most influential champions. In 2012, Rickard and Isabelle Watson became the two main people who initially gave aid, supported, and encouraged Arkansas' death row inmate Kenneth Reams to follow his vision of creating our ongoing art exhibitions and the movement to establish a National Museum of Capital Punishment. Even though David Rickard was instrumental as a key supporter, he would not live long enough to see any of the soul-stirring traveling events presented to the public. However, his spirit remains a constant part of our organization and every attraction we publicly present.
FOUNDER’S MISSION STATEMENT
Back in the latter part of 2012, I began to develop the framework for “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides,” the Art Event on Capital Punishment. My initial aspiration for creating this art event was to bring people from different spaces and places together to think critically about the practice and history of capital punishment in America in a fresh and new way. Whether one was for or against capital punishment, the attraction would summon all to come out and observe the unique presentation of art. My aim would be to present distinctive pieces of eclectic artwork that spanned more than 400 years of America’s death penalty history. The imagery of art produced for this event would radiate thought-provoking powers about the death penalty, rather than make a specific statement on the death penalty itself. The art would chronicle multiple historically known and unknown events and acknowledge several of the fundamental issues that continue to fuel debates around the controversial subject that deeply divides many Americans who grapple with the notions of fairness, justice and forgiveness. The fact that I considered myself to be a student of capital punishment and had spent over half of my natural life on death row served as a tremendous bonus to me. My data awareness and intelligence on the topic equipped me with a field of sufficient material that provided a starting point. With that contained knowledge, I began researching capital punishment intensely in order to help design a well-balanced and educated show. I searched for information, details and happenings to accurately shape thought-provoking art about. My journey into research proved to be more than an exploratory affair. The historical facts that I did not know amazed me turn after turn and made evident to me that the vault of information, about which most people were oblivious, around the life of the death penalty in America should not be forgotten by generations, which seemed to be the case. The absent accounts I unearthed and the raw statistics I discovered stimulated my creative imagination as an artist in an unparalleled way. The extensive knowledge I accumulated through my research on the history of the death penalty in America had such a stirring emotional impact on me that it in effect changed the course of my life as an individual and an artist. I was influenced to think outside the box and dream beyond the simple exhibition of Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides, which initially put me on this path. In spite of my current circumstances, limited resources and the odds against me, I reached the decision that I would do everything in my power to shine a light not just on the current death penalty system but also on the entire criminal justice history of capital punishment in America. From my perch in solitary confinement, I would begin devoting my time and energy constructing not just the framework of Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides, but ultimately a non-profit organization titled Who Decides, Inc. Unaware of the necessary process that it would require to construct a non-profit organization, I began writing countless letters seeking a wide range of public support and spreading the vague thoughts behind my vision for Who Decides, Inc. A great number of my letters to potential supporters went unanswered, while plenty of others considered my vision to be too lofty to reach, even though it had strong marks of relevance. In those early moments, what remained unknown was my unfaltering determination. Within time, from the confines of my cell on death row, I would slowly structure Who Decides, Inc. The mission of the organization would be built around educating the general public about the practice and history of the death penalty in America through the medium of art. The working goal of Who Decides, Inc. would aim towards establishing a National Museum on Capital Punishment devoted to the study, procurement and care of national archives, art exhibits and artifacts that capture the history of capital punishment in America. On November 5, 2014, Who Decides, Inc. would unveil its first traveling exhibition to the American public. The exhibit included 50 pieces of art produced by my fiancé, Isabelle Watson, and me. On November 13, 2014, a confluence of more than 80 guests would attend the Who Decides, Inc. opening reception at the Cox Creative Center Gallery in Little Rock, Arkansas, to witness and support the launching of Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides, the Art Event on Capital Punishment. The exhibit was informative, provocative and deeply moving according to many of the written reviews. The diverse group of onlookers who viewed the exhibition during the two-month gallery display would validate the power of my vision and the need for Who Decides, Inc. to exist. Kenneth Reams Founder of Who Decides, Inc.
Welcome to Who Decides, Inc. Who Decides, Inc. is a public-benefit organization. As a national network of activists, volunteers and dedicated people, we are committed to using various mediums of art such as creative writing, plays, visual art, dance, music and film as a way of educating society about the practice and history of capital punishment in America. The public events and forums that we present explore more than 400 years of the U.S. death penalty from all perspectives: the crime, the victims, the condemned, the methods of execution, and the laws. Our ultimate goal at Who Decides is to preserve the history of this controversial practice by establishing a national museum on the death penalty. This national museum will serve as an educational institution devoted to collecting, studying, exhibiting and interpreting America's extensive history on capital punishment.