Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Finding Easter Eggs" Gilles discovers David Kaczynski's article

Did you find Easter eggs? I certainly did! I found a wonderfully-supportive article by David Kaczynski, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Although this blog was only meant to advertise and promote our Texas Journey of Hope 2010, it keeps getting subscribers and visitors. This blog was viewed about 5,600 times between September and December 2010. It has now reached 7,000 views all-time!

Yesterday, I came across an article by David Kaczynski, originally published on October 18, 2010. At the time, we were already in Texas. David, discreet and modest as always, never mentioned it. But I found it at last and have quoted it below. Thank you for your generosity and support David!

On the Journey October 18, 2010 by David Kaczynski
“Journey” is a wonderful word that evokes notions of a story, a process, and an adventure. When we complement the idea of a worldly journey with an inward journey, then we are also talking about emotional and spiritual transformation.

As of last Friday and for most of the next two weeks, my own journey has taken me back to the state of Texas as a member of The Journey of Hope – from Violence to Healing, founded by Bill Pelke as a promise to his grandmother – a deeply religious woman who was murdered by a group of teenagers in Indiana. I agreed to go on the current Texas journey out of deep respect for Bill, who in my mind is the purest spirit in the abolitionist movement.

Bill’s motto is “Love and compassion for all humanity.” He is kind, patient, always willing to lend an ear or a hand. I learned only yesterday that he has no set funding for the Texas journey and has committed $15,000 of his own money – carefully saved from his steelworker’s pension – to pay for twelve journeyers to travel, eat and lodge ourselves in Texas until the end of the month. (With a knowing wink, I asked Bill about that number, twelve, but he assures me it came about by accident.) Our volunteer support staff includes an opera singer from Germany; two Amnesty International members from Italy; and various local chapter members of the Texas Abolition Coalition. (One thing I want people to know: someone can look and walk and talk like a Texan and still be strongly, even viscerally opposed to the death penalty.)

The Journey was originally formed by murder victim family members, but was later expanded to include death row exonerees and death row family members. Our current cast includes Curtis McCarty, a man who spent 19 years on death row in Oklahoma before he was definitively exonerated by DNA.

On Saturday, we held a vigil with about 100 people outside the Walls unit in Huntsville, where 14 executions have been carried out this year and where more than 450 executions have taken place since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in the late 1970′s. What I found most surprising was the prison’s location in a peaceful, shady residential community. How does a family – especially a family with young children – sit down to dinner knowing that someone (probably but not certainly guilty) is being strapped to a gurney and put to death near by?

In Texas, the concern about executing the innocent is not theoretical. Try googling the name Cameron Todd Willingham and see what you find. But here’s the short version: Forensic experts who reviewed Willingham’s case have concluded that the fire that claimed the lives of Willingham’s three children was accidental. But the review came too late to save Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting the fire and executed in 2004. Now Governor Rick Perry is doing everything within his power to squelch further investigation into how and why this miscarriage of justice took place.

In San Antonio, I hope to see former district attorney Sam Millsap, whom I first met while on a Journey tour of Montana. Sam says he always believed in the death penalty. As the district attorney for San Antonio, he sent a number of people to death row, including a juvenile named Ruben Cantu who was eventually executed. Sam is now convinced that Mr. Cantu was innocent and had nothing to do with the crime for which he was put to death. Sam has the character and grace to admit his mistake.

You would think the writing is on the wall in Texas: the death penalty is a bad system and should be ended. But Texans are no different than the rest of us. It seems that the most difficult truths are always the hardest to acknowledge.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Journey of Hope, you can do so by CLICKING here

This is by far the best Easter egg I found last weekend! If you would like to make a contribution to New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, you can do so by GOING here I encourage you also to join NYADP’s page on Facebook.

Gilles Denizot
Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing board member & Secretary

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MARIE DEANS: Bill Pelke remembers

I will never forget when I met Marie Deans. It was in the summer of 1988 in Albany, New York. A new organization was started that day called SOLACE (Survivors Of Loss Against Capitol Executions).

While organizing for that meeting in Albany of murder victim family members we heard about Marie Deans who was well known for her work with the Southern Coalition of Jail’s and Prisons. Marie had a small ad hoc group of friends around the country and went by the name of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation. We invited Marie to come to Albany. She told us that she had no time to pursue anything much more than friendship and exchanging of information between them. Marie was happy to put her group in with this new group SOLACE and she continued her work with the Jails and Prison project.

Unfortunately because of lack of leadership, SOLACE began to fall by the wayside and at the National Coalition to Abolish the death penalty conference in Washington, DC in 1990 murder victims’ family members took a new direction.

Marie and Joe Engel were honored as Abolitionist of the Year by the NCADP and it was during the conference that Marie talked with Sam Sheppard, Pat Bane, Teresa Mathis and me about going back to the old name of MVFR and her taking leadership on it again. Marie said that since the five of us were the only murder victim families who came to the different conferences we should become the board for MVFR. And like that, the five of us became the MVFR founding board and begin to work on getting our non-profit status. We wanted to become a force in the abolition movement.

About six months later on the TASK March in Texas, I had an idea and shared with Sam and Marie. That idea became the Indiana 1993 Indiana Journey of Hope.

During the Indiana Journey Marie made this statement.

“As we were about to finish the class this young girl raised her hand and said, ‘You have changed my mind. You have got to get around everywhere. You have got to give everybody this message.’“

This is our First, Big, Public: HERE WE ARE FOLK, And We Mean It. It is not the end of our Journey, but it is a coming home. It feels that way to me. This Journey of Hope has got to go on until we reach real justice.”

The 1993 Indiana Journey of Hope put MVFR on the map and that map has gone around the world and back. Renny Cushing, Founder and Director of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights once called me the grandfather of the victims’ movement for abolition.

If that is true, then Marie Deans was truly the Great Grandmother of the victims’ movement.

Marie Deans, Rest In Peace April 2011

Bill Pelke, President Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing

Monday, April 18, 2011

IN MEMORIAM: Marie Deans

April 20, 2011

On April 15, 2011, Marie McFadden Deans died in Charlottesville, Virginia.

For three decades, Deans sought justice for death row inmates who had no other recourse and who had been poorly represented.

Professor Todd Peppers of Roanoke College wrote in an op-ed about her life that she brought "basic conditions of decency to the men who inhabited Virginia’s death row,... refin[ed] the use of mitigation evidence in death penalty trials, [and] struggl[ed] to exonerate factually innocent men."

Deans's commitment to repealing the death penalty was sparked after the murder of her mother-in-law, Penny Deans, by an escaped convict. Marie founded Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, an organization, designed to give those who opposed the death penalty “a safe place from which they could speak out.”

She was a self-taught mitigation expert, and, largely because of her efforts, only two of the 200 men that she helped defend during their sentencing hearings were ultimately given the death penalty.

Perhaps her greatest triumph was the exoneration of Virginia death row inmate Earl Washington, Jr., a man with intellectual disabilities, whose false confession was the product of police coercion and manipulation. Washington was awarded almost $2 million dollars in damages "for the imprisonment that resulted from the fabrication of evidence against him and would become one of the compelling stories cited in the steady rise of death row exonerations across the country."

(T. Peppers, "Celebrating the Life of a Death Penalty Pioneer," April 2011). Marie's son, Robert Deans, formerly worked as DPIC's Information Specialist.

The above was entitled: IN MEMORIAM: Marie Deans - A Life of Commitment to Justice and Founder of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation - Posted on Death Penalty Information Center website

See info on a book about the Earl Washington, Jr. case GO here “Explores the dark side of the system of capital punishment." Criminal Justice Review.

Here's another extra-special memory or two from Abe Bonowitz Friday, April 15, 2011

Dear Friends,
Henry called a little while ago to share the news that Marie Deans died earlier this evening. R.I.P...I know that many of you have no idea who Marie was - she's been pretty much out of the loop for a decade or more. Here's a bit... Click on the URL's to see images. For those of us who were around in the 70's, 80's, and 90's (I started in 1988 or so), this woman needs no introduction. Love her or hate her, there's no denying she made a big difference.

Marie has been a friend to many men on Virginia’s Death Row and has spent countless hours with their families around the times of their execution. 34 of Marie’s habeas clients asked her to stay with them on their deathwatches and until they were killed, and she did...

I did not get around to sending a note to Marie until today. She won't get it in the mail, but maybe she'll get it anyway.... Here's the part that demonstrates just one bit of how she lives on in our movement today....

Dear Marie,

I am so glad to be able to send you this little hug. I hope you are comfortable.

And I am glad you have some time to reflect a bit on the world of a difference YOU have made in so many lives. Marie, you inspired me in so many ways. Most notably, I can still see and hear the welcome you and Henry gave to the Virginia Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing in 1996, when you talked about the evolution of the name to Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. [VADP started as Virginians Against the Death Penalty, then became Virginians Against State Killing, and when the annual Quality of Life poll in Virginia started asking if people preferred executions or life imprisonment and more than 50% preferred the latter - way back in the early 1990's, then went with what Virginians wanted - the current VADP.] It was on that Journey that I was inspired to start up CUADP, and it was your experiences coupled with my own that led us to take that name – Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Of course, now that I’m at NCADP, CUADP has become defunct. BUT, I wonder if you know just how many others have followed in your footsteps with the “For Alternatives” motif. Let me tell you...To read the full amazing list and memory from Abe GO here and to see the photo of the award banquet GO here

Read another memory about Marie Deans here

Don't fail to read Bill Pelke's touching remembrance in the post just above this one the Journey of Hope site.

KY Study: Executions Fail to Deliver Closure for Victims' Families

Posted on Public News Service on April 15th

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Two University of Louisville sociologists say justifications for the death penalty are relying less on traditional arguments of crime deterrence, perceived cost-savings and public safety – and more on the notions of serving justice and offering closure to the victim's surviving family members.

However, their study shows a backlash against that rationale in a growing victims' clemency movement, as well as recent data that indicates a death sentence rarely eases the emotional pain for families. Coauthor Ryan Schroeder, assistant professor of sociology, says states justify executions by shifting the onus onto victims.

"And, instead of abandoning their support for the death penalty, they've now turned to the justification of closure - that we need the death penalty to help the families. That the families need the death penalty in order to obtain to this emotional catharsis, that we call 'closure.'"

Schroeder says studies reveal most victims' families don't earn that peace of mind during the death penalty process, or even after an execution. The researchers analyzed newspaper accounts of capital offense trials from 1992-2009 to track the trends. The study is found in a recent edition of Western Criminology Review, and online at http://wcr.sonoma.edu/v12n1/Mowen.pdf.

The study's lead researcher, Thomas Mowen, is a graduate student and University of Louisville instructor. He says a murderer's execution is not a soothing salve for many surviving family members, as they still feel victimized, and cites a 2007 study that makes that point.

"Only 2.5 percent of co-victims actually reported that the death penalty brought them closure. And, that includes people that were advocates for the death penalty from the very beginning. At the conclusion, it turns out that almost no one experienced closure at the end of the death penalty process."

In fact, adds Mowen, the expectation of closure from a death sentence is shown to cause even more suffering by surviving family members, and they often turn in opposition to the measure.

"And, so there's been this rise of co-victim opposition, but it's gone relatively unnoticed by the justice system and the American public."

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Kentucky is among 34 states with the death penalty. Illinois recently repealed its death penalty, and several other states have considered similar legislation this year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

NC: Help out with Glenn Edward Chapman's Pardon

Ed Chapman (R) with lawyer and supporter Alex Cury (L)

Please share this post and/or the following posted information with anyone interested in helping toward NC Edward Chapman's full legal pardon. The pardon was filed over two weeks ago...

We have heard nothing from the NC Governor's Office of Clemency yet, other than that
Edward's pardon materials are under consideration. The Governor Bev Perdue granted clemency to Greg Taylor last August in a matter of weeks, and Edward's case is at least as good, if not better, than Taylor's case. We are hopeful she will make a timely decision.

For those who want to help Edward NOW, it would probably help most to write, call or email Governor Perdue. Even if you've done so in the past, it wouldn't hurt to let her know that we are eagerly awaiting and watching for her response.

Her email is: clemency@nc.gov, and her the mailing address for the Office of Clemency can be found on Ed's new website, which was just launched:

www.glenedwardchapman.com or CLICK here

Along with checking out the above NEW website for Ed, you may want to learn more by reading this post http://thejourneyofhope.blogspot.com/2011/03/asheville-north-carolina-third-annual.html OR CLICK here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Updated: TONITE! North Carolina: Skype Call on the Racial Justice Act

April 20, 2011

"Death penalty ineffective, too expensive, racially biased" - Winston-Salem Journal

North Carolina should repeal the death penalty because it is expensive, ineffective and racially biased, an Appalachian State University professor says in a new study.

The study was done by Matthew Robinson, a professor of government and justice studies. Robinson analyzed data from more than 20 studies on the death penalty and released his findings Monday at a news conference in Raleigh.

"In the past six years, three states have abolished the death penalty: Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey," Robinson said in an interview after the news conference. "They did it for the same reason. They found racial bias, they found it to be costly, they found it to be ineffective and a threat to innocent people."

FIND this posting here [ Via Crime Report feed - with an interesting set of links ]

April 12, 2011

Join the NC PFADP Kairos Call

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty is launching a new series of live telephone-Skype calls to keep you informed on all things death penalty in North Carolina. We're calling these calls the NC Kairos Calls because this decade is our special opportunity towards abolishing the death penalty.

Today from 7:30 - 8:00 pm join PFADP staff and attorney and legal expert Tye Hunter to learn more about the Racial Justice Act and other death penalty developments, get your questions answered, and learn what you can do in the wake of the introduction of H615, the bill that threatens to effectively repeal the Racial Justice Act if passed.

To reserve a spot, please complete the following online form, http://bit.ly/fvEDKm or GO here

For more information, contact Amanda Lattanzio at amanda@pfadp.org or 919-933-7567.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Capital punishment: an offence against victims' relatives

For grieving families hoping for closure as well as justice, the death penalty with its endless delays and appeals can be cruel

By Maura Kelly, posted in The Guardian

On Tuesday, death row inmate Cleve Foster was granted his second stay of execution this year. His first came on 11 January, just moments after Foster – who maintains he is innocent and would have been the first Texan executed with a cocktail containing a chemical used to euthanise animals – had eaten what he believed was his last meal; that's when the call came, informing him that the US supreme court would consider an appeal.

The parents of Rachel Urnosky, a 22-year-old woman whose murder Foster was charged with (though never tried for, being found guilty instead of a related homicide), found out about the decision after making a long trip across the "lone star state", when they arrived at the prison where Foster's execution was supposed to take place. Terry Urnosky, Rachel's father, a therapist, told The Texas Star-Telegram how shocked he felt:

"It's like – if you've ever played football – getting hit in the stomach with a helmet in the gut. […] We were expecting closure. But unfortunately, we're reliving all the thoughts, the trials, the evidence. […] The nightmare continues."

Death penalty proponents argue that executions help victims' family members feel that justice has been done, and indeed, Terry Urnosky said back in 2003 that he thought the death sentence was part of God's plan for Foster. But others who've endured similar tragedies oppose the capital punishment, arguing that the agonising appeals process that so often accompanies a death penalty case exacerbates their pain and, far from helping them overcome their loss, keeps it in the forefront of their minds.

No judge wants to be responsible for allowing the execution of an innocent person, which helps explain why there tend to be an unusually high number of appeals in a capital case. But appeals are costly – and not just figuratively, for victims' families, but literally, for taxpayers. North Carolinians, for instance, pay $2.16m more for every death row inmate than for those sentenced to life, and Florida spends $51m more annually than it would if life-without-parole were the most severe sentence allowed there.

More to the point, the long, slow appeals process exacts a toll from victims' families. Sure, some survivors do say things like, "I was really looking forward to sitting in the front row while they executed this guy," (as Karen Bond told the Chicago Tribune after Illinois Governor Pat Quinn commuted her son's murderer's sentence). But others want the criminals who ruined their lives to get nothing less than … life. For instance, last month 82 relatives of murder victims signed an open letter to Connecticut lawmakers, saying:

"The death penalty is a false promise that goes unfulfilled, leaving victims' families frustrated and angry [and] wastes millions of dollars that could go toward much needed victims' services."

Similarly, Laura Porter from Equal Justice USA, a grassroots organisation working to improve the justice system, increase services for families of homicide victims and repeal the death penalty, says:

"I work with many murder victim's family members […] and I'm hearing more and more voices calling for repeal of the death penalty, citing the fact that the endless appeals process harms victims."

Or take it from Walter Everett, a 76-year-old retired minister whose son was killed when a crack addict shot him point blank. He recently told the Connecticut Post:

"There is an incredible cost of the death penalty […] emotionally for families of victims because they tend to wait seemingly forever, for the execution."

That doesn't sound just. Emotional closure is going to be difficult, under any circumstances, for people who have suffered as he and the Urnoskys have. But the legal case, at least, is more likely to be closed quickly if it's a question of a life prison sentence rather than a penalty of death.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

ACTION: North Carolina Racial Justice Act

April 5, 2011 (Also see info on 30 min. conference call for April 12th below - all info left without links below for easy passing on your own edited version to friends & co-activists)

Take Action on New Bill to Repeal NC Racial Justice Act

Yesterday—on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.—North Carolina legislators introduced a bill that guts the NC Racial Justice Act, literally repealing it if it were to pass.

Take action now. Click here to instantly send custom messages to your legislators to stop this bill, HB615. Look below for two important announcements about press conferences in your area and a statewide telephone/Skype conference call open to all about the RJA.

North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act is a model law for addressing the effects of racial bias in the death penalty system. Passed and signed in 2009 the RJA allows for court reviews of allegations of racial bias in death penalty cases. About 150 people on death row have filed claims under the Racial Justice Act. If racial bias can be proven, the defendant will have his sentence converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In February a Forsyth County Superior Court found the act to be constitutional. The Racial Justice Act was enacted with support by a majority of North Carolinians: 58% of polled registered voters said defendants should not be executed if a judge finds that racial bias played a role in their trials. (Public Policy Polling, November 2010). Failing in their challenges to the RJA in the courtroom, the NC Association of District Attorneys last week announced repealing the RJA was one of their top priorities.

There’s no need to change a thing. We need the RJA now as much as ever. Consider:

NC’s Death Penalty System: All-White Juries Valuing White Lives Most

After the passage of the RJA, unprecedented comprehensive studies were undertaken that reveal strong and pervasive discrimination in NC capital cases. The race of the victim is often a driving factor in death penalty cases. A defendant’s odds of getting the death penalty increase significantly when the victim is white. Qualified black jurors are being excluded from jury service at more than twice the rate of white jurors, according to a study by Michigan State University. That exclusion effectively disenfranchises black jurors from their rights to participate on capital juries in their communities. For those currently on death row, 33 cases had all-white juries and 40 had juries with a single person of color.

NC’s Death Penalty System: Sentencing Innocent Minorities to Death

In the modern death penalty era seven innocent men have been exonerated from North Carolina’s death row. Five are black, one is Latino, and one is white. None has been offered compensation by the state. The white exoneree sued the state in civil court and won a settlement.

NC’s Death Penalty System: Racial Epithets, Noose Lapel Pins

Other death penalty cases in North Carolina in recent years involved prosecutors celebrating death sentences by distributing lapel pins in the shape of a noose and white jurors using racial epithets to argue for death sentences. The historical influence of racism is so strong in North Carolina that the US Justice Department must pre-approve legislative district maps.

So what? Say this new bill’s sponsors. The primary sponsors of the RJA repeal bill are Justin Burr (R-Albemarle), Sarah Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), Dan Ingle (R-Burlington), and Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Apex). Their bill literally repeals the RJA in section 2.

Reps. Burr, Ingle, Stam, and Stevens, seem to want to take us back to the days of noose lapel pins in the courtroom and racial epithets in the jury room. They seem to like the days of no checks on all-white juries. They seem to like that 76 percent of all people executed by the state of North Carolina have been black. They seem to like the fact that defendants who kill white victims are three times more likely to receive a death sentence than those who kill non-whites.

Setting the Clock Back to the Worst Supreme Court Decision

Reps. Burr, Ingle, Stam, and Stevens and those who support this bill want to set the clock back three decades to the days of McCleskey v. Kemp when there were virtually no protections against the insidious effects of racial bias. They refer to McCleskey in the first sentence of the bill. The 1987 McCleskey decision to uphold a Georgia death sentence says the "racially disproportionate impact" in Georgia’s death penalty indicated by a comprehensive scientific study was not enough to overturn the guilty verdict without showing a "racially discriminatory purpose."

McCleskey has been called by legal scholars one of the worst Supreme Court decisions since World War II. New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis writes that it “effectively condones the expression of racism in a profound aspect of our law.” The McCleskey case was the one case late Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell said he wanted to change his vote in.

But ignoring the effects of racial bias and outright expressions of racism is what Reps. Stevens, Stam, Burr and Ingle and this bill’s supporters want to do. Ironically, the Supreme Court in the McCleskey ruling said it is up to legislatures to address racial bias in the death penalty system. That’s what the RJA does—and that’s what the supporters of this new bill want to undo.

Don’t let them. Speak up today. Contact your legislators right now, http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1576/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6422


Conference Call April 12

Join PFADP staff and attorney and RJA expert Tye Hunter on a 30-minute statewide conference call and Skype conference on Tuesday, April 12 at 7:30 pm to learn more about the RJA, get questions answered, and learn what you can do. To reserve a spot on the call email amanda@pfadp.org or call 919-933-7567 and we will send you details.

Help with Upcoming NC Press Conferences for the RJA

PFADP is organizing more press conferences featuring local religious leaders speaking up for the RJA. The next one is in Shallotte, NC on Thursday, April 7 at 11 a.m. at St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church. Others are scheduled for Oxford, Hope Mills, Raleigh and possibly other NC cities. If you know religious leaders in these areas or want to help organize such a press conference in your area contact amanda@pfadp.org or call 919-933.7567.

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty
110 W. Main St., Suite 2-G, Carrboro NC 27510
(919) 933-7567

Be sure to see just below for items on Glenn Edward Chapman (NC Exoneree) as well as the ACTIONS happening in Texas right now & calls needed there...

What about passing on this and other info to at least one other possibly interested person?

Thanx for tuning in...


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

TEXAS: Execution Stopped!

Death row exoneree Clarence Brandley speaking to a reporter outside the committee hearing on March 29 before he testified to the committee urging them to vote for the bill to enact a moratorium on executions. Clarence is an innocent man who spent ten years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court Has Stopped Today's Scheduled Execution of Cleve Foster in Texas

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday morning granted a stay of execution to Cleve Foster, a former Army recruiter convicted of killing a woman he met in a Fort Worth bar who was scheduled to be executed Tuesday evening in Texas. It is the second time he has been spared hours before his appointed death by the Supreme Court.

The reprieve, in place while the court examines the case of Mr. Foster, 47, is based on whether he received adequate counsel during the course of the case, as well as questions related to his guilt, said Maurie Levin, one of Mr. Foster’s lawyers.
Ms. Levin has also challenged the execution of Mr. Foster based on one of the drugs that is to be used to kill him.

“I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court stayed Mr. Foster’s execution, and we hope they will be looking at the issues raised, including effective Habeus counsel and Mr. Foster’s claims of innocence,” Ms. Levin said. “I am also relieved that at least today that we will not be seeing an execution in the midst of the chaos surrounding questions about lethal injection.”

There will be no protest at 5:30 in Austin today since the execution has been stayed.
Please Call the Committee Members Below and Urge them to Vote in Favor of the Bill for a Moratorium on Executions

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence held a hearing on March 29 on several death penalty related bills, including a bill for a moratorium on executions and a death penalty study commission. Texas Death Row Exoneree Clarence Brandley attended the hearing and spoke in favor of a moratorium on executions and in favor of abolishing the death penalty.

Texas Moratorium Network's Scott Cobb read a letter to the Committee in support of the moratorium bill from former Texas Governor Mark White (watch video). TMN also delivered a letter to the committee from Charles Terrell, former chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Department. The Dallas Morning News published the letters under the headline: "Widespread support for a moratorium on display today in Austin".

Media coverage of the hearing on a moratorium on executions and other bills

"Texas House panel considers death penalty bills"
AP (distributed nationwide)

"Bill calls for two-year moratorium on executions in Texas"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Texas House Panel Considers Bills on Death Penalty Moratorium" (Video)
Includes statements by death row exoneree Clarence Brandley and State Rep Harold Dutton. FOX 7 Austin See this and other videos here

We had a successful hearing, now we need your help in convincing the committee members to vote in favor of the bill for a moratorium on executions.

There is no set schedule for a vote. Usually what happens is that if the chair of the committee, with input from the author of the bill or others on the committee, determines that there are enough votes to pass a bill, then the chair will bring up the bill for a vote.

Please call the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1641, the bill for a moratorium on executions and a death penalty study commission. We need at least five members of the committee to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass out of the committee. We are close to getting that number for the moratorium bill, so please call the committee members and urge them to vote for HB 1641, the bill for a moratorium on executions.

Below are three of the members of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee that we would like to target this week. We will target others next week. Right now, please call these three members, who are all Republicans, and urge them to vote for HB 1641 because you are concerned that innocent people are at risk of being executed. Tell them that the case of Anthony Graves makes it clear that Texas needs a moratorium on executions. (leaving these easy to cut and paste. If you want to use the email form (clearly not my favorite way as I do believe calls usually have more impact) - simply cut and paste the email URL into the search or google space.

Jose Aliseda (Republican, District 35 - Beeville)
fax: (512) 463-0559
phone: (512) 463-0645
Email form http://tinyurl.com/josealiseda

Cindy Burkett (Republican, District101 – Mesquite)
fax: (512) 463-9295
phone: (512) 463-0464
Email form http://tinyurl.com/cindyburkett

Stefani Carter (Republican,District 102 – Dallas)
fax: (512) 463-1121
phone: (512) 463-0454
Email form http://tinyurl.com/stefanicarter

You can also donate by sending a check made out to Texas Moratorium Network
3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251
Austin, Texas 78731

Yours sincerely,

Texas Moratorium Network


CEDP is holding an event this Thursday in Austin with Anthony Graves, who was exonerated from death row just last year.

"Lethal Injustice: Standing up against the death penalty and other harsh punishments"

Featuring recently exonerated death row prisoner Anthony Graves!

Austin, Tx

April 7th at 7PM

At UT Austin, UTC Rm. 1.102 (Campus Map)

(On 21st between University and Speedway - paid parking in Jester Garage)

RSVP here

Featuring Anthony Graves, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years on Texas death row before he was freed just last year. Lawrence Foster, grandfather of Kenneth Foster who spent 11 years on death row before his sentence was commuted in 2007 by Governor Perry. Laura Brady, abolitionist and activist with the Campaign to END the Death Penalty.