Three acclaimed books by the late noted human rights attorney,
author Rachel King
(who passed away in 2008; obituaries below*)

Tales of the District cover

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Rachel King's novel, "Tales of the District" evokes the style of Charles Dickens and Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. This amusing, action-packed story of life in the nation's capital post-September 11 explores themes of terrorism, sexuality, being vegetarian, alternative families and community.
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More about Don't Kill in Our Names: Families of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty**

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"Capital Consequences" book cover

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More about Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories**

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Rachel King n Peru

About Rachel King:
Rachel King passed away Aug. 25, 2008 ending a five-year battle against cancer. Until then, she served on staff for the U.S. House Committee of the Judiciary, where she covered issues of crime, terrorism and homeland security. On September 11, 2001, she was a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, working on criminal justice issues. She and her colleagues worked tirelessly to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act and other changes that compromised constitutional protections.
See obituaries below.

*In Memoriam Rachel King: July 2, 1963 - August 25, 2008

Washington Post p. B06
Washington Post, Friday Sept. 5, 2008

[Download printable PDF version]

Rachel C. King, 45; Lawyer for
House Judiciary Subcommittee

Rachel Carol King, 45, a lawyer for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime and homeland security, died Aug. 25 of breast cancer at her summer home in Wayne, Maine. She lived in Washington.

Ms. King moved to Washington in 1998 and was a legislative counsel and lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked on limiting the scope of the USA Patriot Act. She joined the House subcommittee in 2007.

Ms. King, a longtime activist against the death penalty, was a founding member of Takoma Village Cohousing in Northwest Washington, where she lived.

She was born in Enid, Okla., and moved to Wayne as a child. She graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts and then worked for the Girl Scouts of America in Massachusetts while volunteering in the sanctuary movement, a religious and political movement that sheltered Central American refugees.

She received a law degree in 1990 from Northeastern University in Boston and received a master's degree in law in 1998 from Temple University in Philadelphia.

At the time of her death, she was in a master's degree program in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.

During the 1990s, she worked as a public defender in Alaska and became the first executive director of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty.

She was also executive director of the Alaska Civil Liberties Union and was active in the state's Green Party.

Ms. King, a Quaker, was chairwoman of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which announced in July that it planned to give her its lifetime achievement award.

She was a photographer and a long-distance runner, and she competed in more than a dozen marathons, including the Boston Marathon. She also taught law classes at Howard University.

She wrote "Don't Kill in Our Names: Families of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty" (2003) and "Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories" (2005). She self-published a novel, "Tales of the District," last year.

Survivors include her husband of three years, Richard G. McAlee of Washington; three stepdaughters, Lauren McAlee of Washington, Julia McAlee of Olympia, Wash., and Livia McAlee of Crofton; her mother and stepfather, Jill Howes and David Rogers of Wayne; her father, Charles H. King of Wayne; and two brothers.

-- Patricia Sullivan

Rachel King

ACLU Capital Punishment Project, Aug. 26

It is with sadness that we report the passing of Rachel King. Rachel was the former State Strategies Coordinator and later the Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project.

Rachel passed away in Wayne, Maine where she was raised and later she and her husband, Richard McAlee, built a vacation home. Her last moments were spent surrounded by family and friends.

Although Rachel was a staunch abolitionist, her career took her in many directions, always where she could be of service to her fellow person. At the time of her death Rachel was on the staff of the US House Committee of the Judiciary where she covered issues of crime, terrorism and homeland security. Rachel also taught at the Howard University School of Law.

Her service to the ACLU was not solely in the Capital Punishment Project. In fact, she served as Legislative Counsel for the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office and Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska. Rachel’s dedication to the cause of death penalty abolition could be seen in not only her ACLU work but she was also the Director of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty and Chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Rachel’s public service career started early. Prior to law school she was a human rights monitor in Guatemala with the Sanctuary Movement. An internship during her studies at Northeastern Law School took her to Alaska and upon receiving her Juris Doctor degree she returned to work as counsel for the Alaska Public Defender Agency. She earned a Masters from Temple University School of Law.

She wrote and lectured tirelessly to abolish capital punishment. Her first book, Don’t Kill In Our Names: Families Of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty was published in 2003. The book told the stories of family members of murder victims who believed that revenge through the death penalty was not the way to honor their loved ones. In 2005, Rachel authored one of the first investigations on the experiences of the families of the executed, Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories.

While teaching us all how to live a full life with cancer she wrote her first novel, Tales Of The District: Life In The Nation’s Capital In A Time Of Terror which was published in late 2007. Rachel was also the primary author of Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Virginia (2003), Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama (2005), Not in Our Name (1997), and The Forgotten Population: A Look at Death Row in the United States Through the Experiences of Women (2004) and many similar publications for organizations such as the ACLU, the American Friends Service Committee and Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation.

Those of us who were privileged to work with Rachel know that she rarely took credit for her endeavors, was patient with those who failed to keep up with her pace, and was an excellent colleague as well as a good friend.

It is typical of Rachel that in lieu of flowers she asked that those wishing to send a memorial please make a donation to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty ( She may be gone but her spirit lives on in all those who continue to advance her work of abolition of the death penalty and social justice. As they say in Guatemala on the passing of a friend, Rachel King, Presenté!


Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, Aug. 26

We are sad to announce that long-time anti-death penalty activist Rachel King died August 25 after a long battle with cancer. Rachel died far too young (age 45) but accomplished a great deal in her lifetime. As acting director of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty, Rachel helped to defeat a death penalty reinstatement bill in 1994. As part of that effort, Rachel and her colleague Barbara Hood had invited Marietta Jaeger, whose 7-year-old daughter had been murdered years before, to speak to Alaskan lawmakers about her opposition to the death penatly.  Many of those lawmakers later said that listening to Marietta conviced them to change their minds and vote against the death penalty. 

Recognizing the power of victims’ voices against the death penalty, Rachel and Barbara collaborated to produce the first edition of "Not in Our Name: Murder Victims’ Families Speak Out Against the Death Penalty," and Rachel subsequently wrote and published the book "Don’t Kill in Our Names" and its companion volume "Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories," which was one of the first investigations into the experience of families of the executed. 

Rachel worked as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, lobbying on many criminal justice issues including the death penalty, served as chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and taught law school classes (Howard University). When she attended Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights’ founding ceremony on December 10, 2004, Rachel offered these public remarks:

"I first learned about the power of murder victims to talk about this sisue when I was working in Alaska back in 1994. The leader of the Senate had a bill to introduce the death penalty. He had the votes to pass it, and it looked like it was a foregone conclusion that Alaska, like a lot of other states, was going to have the death penalty. And then we brought some murder victims’ families to Alaska. We brought Marietta Jaeger, whose 7-year-old daughter Susie had been kidnapped and murdered, and she changed peoples hearts and minds. Leiglsators told us later that she had changed their position on this issue. Im proud to say that Alaska does not have the death penalty. We fought it back that year, we fought it back two years after that. We kept bringing back the murder victims’ family members, and even got one of them, Bill Pelke, to move up there, and now they just dont have a prayer of bringing the death penalty back. The momentum has totally shifted.

"I'm personally interested in Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights because before I went to law school I was a human rights monitor in Guatemala, and I have a lot of feeling for that country and for the people there who suffered greatly. I got involved in going to Guatemala when I met people in the Sanctuary movement here in the U.S.  who were fleeing from political persecution in Guatemala. When I was in Guatemala I worked with a woman named Annette de Garcia who had started a group for families and friends of the disappeared. One time I was in her home watching, guarding, her 4-year-old daughter, and I was looking through this closet, and there were volumes of books, literally dozens of them, and they were all photographs of family members who had been diappeared.

"Now this is another kind of death penalty; it's not the kind we think about in the U.S. but its state- sponored execution. Really its the same issue of the state sponsoring violence, and how we need to move away from that. There really isn't any other group out there making that kind of linkage between the issues, and I think MVFHR is going to do it. So the ACLU really looks forward to working with you all and Im really glad to be here...."

We remain grateful for all of Rachel’s work on behalf of a better world. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.