Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Walk4Life - From GA into AL

It's getting difficult for me to write and film at this point of the walk. It's now more about direct action meeting with all that call upon me, going where ever I am sent.

Leaving La Grange I reached Open Door Community in GA this was a great experience. After walking the entire day cover some 25 miles of down town ATL which included visiting an empowering visit to the home where Martin Luther King was born, and where he now rests I made my way back to Open door. Just before returning there I even stopped to talk to local drug dealers who where all ears. There was no danger. If anything these young men were concerned for my safety. They told me to watch my back.

At open door they had a discussion outside with about 20 residents and visitors. We sat in a big circle right out front. I spoke about the walk and what it was all about and I rapped for everyone. We prayed together. We then grabbed signs protesting the WAR. Passer byes honked their horns in approval. After a while we then stood in circle holding hands where I was asked to bless the meal we were about to be indulge in. I was filled with the spirit of God and the spirit of all His children which filled me with power. We than sat and broke bread together like on big beautiful family. I was touched by every single child of God at Open door.
The following day I was helped to reach Columbus where I met the loved ones of a prisoner. I walked around Columbus the entire day. This day was important, meeting the 16 child of a man wrongly accused and convicted. This young man hugged me in a way I can't put into words. I can't understand why people can't understand the victimization. Why does society ignore the children. He thanked me for doing what I can to help his father. I made my way into Alabama the following day.

In Alabama I was met by Ester a woman filled with words backed by actions. She teamed up with Judy who I met in LaGrange, another woman all about taking action. Upon arriving I was blessed with an amazing meal and an amazing phone call from Alabama's death row.

I spoke to Jefferey who empowered me. I connected with Jeffery like I had known him for years. Here this man sat on D/R but he was more concerned with children. He coached me you can say telling me to reach the children before they wind up in a place like Alabama's death row. He armed my mind for what I was to do the following day.

I was taken to 5 points elementary school where I spoke to an 8th grade class. Judy brought me there and let me say it was amazing. I covered a lot of issues. I first spoke about myself a bit then talked on racial issues, drugs, gangs and violence, the state of the culture of hip hop, the history of hip hop seeing the culture has such an influence on our children. I told them to be careful not to be influenced by the negative images projected by some wealth seeking artists. We talked about capital punishment. When 70 percent of the class raised their hands when I asked if any had loved ones in prison I knew they would have no problem understanding the issues concerning capital punishment. I took question that ranged from personal to the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams the famed co-founder of the Crips gang who had turned his life around writing many children's books steering them away from gangs and violence. Tookie was nominated 3 time for a Nobel peace prize. I looked up to this man, and fought for his life. Before leaving these angels they all one by one gave me a hug it was beautiful.

Before leaving the school I was asked to speak to some 7th graders. It was brief seeing we were late to meet a local activist news reporter but I did the best I could with the limited time. I guess God spoke through me because a few hours later one of the 7th graders e-mailed me thanking me for stopping by. He touched my heart.
I did two news paper interviews rapping for the reporters as I was asked to rap the song I did for the children. "Spic in Black" inspired by Johnny Cash's "Man in Black". For the children I change the lyrics to "The Kid in Black". I then attended a political debate. 4 men running for city council. I spoke a bit to some of the attendees. I said something right. I was invited to speak the following day at some conference. I have a full day ahead me on day 31.

Peace and progress.

Exonerated Ex-Inmates Struggle to Shed Stigma

Tabitha Pollock was asleep when her boyfriend killed her 3-year-old daughter. Charged with first-degree murder because prosecutors believed she should have known of the danger, Pollock spent more than 6 years in prison before the Illinois Supreme Court threw out the conviction.

"Should have known," the high court ruled, was not nearly enough to keep Pollock behind bars.

5 years later, Pollock remains in limbo, freed from prison but not free from the snags of a wrongful conviction that upended her life. With a felony record, she cannot become a teacher, as she wants. She cannot collect damages from the Illinois government. On a trip to Australia,where customs officials questioned her when she arrived, she learned that the murder conviction always follows her.

To fully clear her name, Pollock -- as well as a dozen or so other former Illinois inmates who have been exonerated -- needs an official pardon,which only the governor can give. She applied in 2002 but has received no word.

"I was raised to believe America is a wonderful country, but I have serious doubts about Illinois now," said Pollock, 37. "This whole experience has taught me not to have any hopes or dreams."

A spokesman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) said last month that the governoris flooded with petitions and has not had time to focus on Pollock's case.

Pollock's predicament is becoming more common across the country as more people are exonerated. The New York-based Innocence Project has tallied 215 wrongful convictions in the United States that have been reversed on the basis of DNA evidence.

Many of those former prisoners are seeking redress from the governments that mistakenly jailed them -- but they are kept waiting, whether because of the slow pace of bureaucracy or a lack of procedures or political will to handle their cases.

When the authorities do not certify innocence, "in effect, the sentence just goes on," said Stephen Saloom, policy director of the Innocence Project. Noting that legislators are recognizing "the lingering problems"of the exonerated after their release, he said 22 states and the District provide official compensation in one form or another.

"A recent trend is not only to compensate at a monetary value per year incarcerated, but also to provide immediate services upon release," said Saloom, who said the project's clients spent an average of 11 years in prison. Advocates say the exonerated need help making the transition back into society, especially finding a job.

"It's not enough to let the person out of prison," Saloom said.

Alabama pays exonerated ex-prisoners $50,000 for each year they were incarcerated. New Jersey pays $40,000 or twice the inmate's previous annual income. Louisiana offers $15,000 a year plus counseling, medicalcare and job training, according to Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions.

In Illinois, to regain a certifiably clean record and collect compensation-- a lump payment of $60,150 for 5 years or less in prison, or $120,300 for six to 14 years -- an exonerated inmate must obtain a "pardon based on innocence" from the governor. A 15-member state review board interviews the petitioners and makes a recommendation, but the governor is not obligated to make a decision.

"The governor is not acting on them," said Karen Daniel, senior staff lawyer with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which is pressing Blagojevich to decide on Pollock's case and others. "In most of these cases, it's really not a hard decision. Sometimes there's still some controversy left after the conviction is thrown out, but in most of these cases there is no disagreement.

"Illinois law gives exonerated former prisoners fewer services than paroled convicts. A bill recently passed by the Illinois House and now under consideration by the Senate would change that, while allowing cleared inmates to receive a "certificate of innocence," which would have the same power as a pardon, without going to the governor.

Robert Wilson's experience with the Chicago courts was a case of mistaken identity. He spent nine years behind bars for another man's crime, and it haunts him still.

On Feb. 28, 1997, someone slashed June Siler, 24, with a box cutter as she waited for a bus on Chicago's South Side. The next day, at the same busstop, police arrested Wilson. Interrogated for nearly 30 hours, he signed a written confession and was charged with attempted murder.

Wilson pleaded not guilty, but Siler pointed him out in court as the man who cut her face and throat. What the jury did not know was that 5 other victims -- all white, as Siler was -- were attacked and slashed at Chicagobus stops in the 2 weeks after Wilson's arrest. The slasher was caught and confessed, but police never asked him about the Siler case.

Nine years later, on an appeal filed by the Northwestern team, a court ruled that the jury should have been told about the other cases. Siler came forward and said she had fingered the wrong man.

Wilson, at long last, was free. Yet he left prison with few prospects and deeply in debt because he was assessed child support for his 3 boys while behind bars. These days, his boys are teenagers and he is "barely making it."

"I feel so bad, I figure I would be better off back in the penitentiary,"said Wilson, 52. "Whenever I apply for a job, they see the criminal recordand say no. I'm not asking for welfare or a handout; just give me what I deserve."

Marlon Pendleton is also bitter. In 1993, a rape and robbery victim picked him from a police lineup. His attorneys believe that the victim was influenced by seeing Pendleton in handcuffs before she viewed the entire group. Although he repeatedly asked for DNA testing, he was told it would be impossible.

In 2006, a DNA test established his innocence and Pendleton went free. But he has not been pardoned, has not received compensation and has not seen the conviction wiped off his record. Unable to meet the mortgage, his family lost his late mother's home in Gary, Ind. He says his children are suffering.

"I can't get a job," Pendleton said. "Every time I fill out an application, it comes up. What can you do with a prison record and a not very good education? Life has been a living hell."

Daniel, the Northwestern lawyer, said the number of exonerated inmates "probably seems small" in a nation with 2 million people behind bars. "But to me, it's important."

"It's just an enormous wrong we've inflicted on these people, not necessarily intentionally," Daniel said. "His possessions are gone, job is gone, family members are often gone. There's little worse a government can do to a person. We can't in good conscience have a so-called criminal justice system unless we make people whole when we screw up."

One of Daniel's clients is Marcus Lyons, a former Navy Reservist and aspiring computer programmer who spent 3 years in prison on an erroneous sexual assault conviction.

Lyons was so distraught that after his release in 1991, he tried to nail himself to a cross outside the DuPage County Courthouse.

DNA evidence cleared him last year. He is still waiting for the Illinois government to make amends.

(source: Washington Post)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Margaret with Capital X in South Carolina

I want to express with the Moms of DR and other inmates in SC our support for X's walk 4 life. Even if we are not with him in person we are daily there in spirit. Hey X - when you come back through we'll have another all you can eat chicken fest.


X is leaving South Carolina and Georgia

New Calendar
Soon: Walk/travel from Atlanta to Anniston, Alabama
Wednesday 30th or soon: 2 days walk to Birmingham, AL
Thursday 1st: 4 day walk to Tupelo, MS
Monday 5th: 4 day walk to Texarkana, TX
Sunday 10th: 5 day walk to Dallas
Friday 16th: 6 day walk to Austin
(He may be running just a little behind schedule dueto a few special happenings?)
If you want to be surprised, think out of the box, getunexpected energy for the cause, support somethingthat is flowing with improbable grace: Walk with X!
We in SC and Georgia found ourselves in sacred"street" places and profound moments of conversationyet never without occasions of fun and joy. We have anew perspective for Spring! We're filled with renewedhearts of love, light and prayer for loved ones behindbars as well as our family and friends at home.
A huge part of our bliss with X on this Walk isre-connecting with one another! Along with prayers forour brothers, sisters, sons, husbands and friends inprison -- including those still facing the deathpenalty -- we send a deep heart of love for those whohave lost their loved ones to this wretched system ofstate killing. We call with X: "Stop the Killing!" Aspecial heartfelt blessing to all the family ofinmates in the Carolinas and Georgia!
And Check-out more on this walk in our archives andlook for contact info on the right. Support the saleof Walk 4 Life T-shirts (LINK on right column)and tryto do whatever you can to make X's stay blessed whenhe's in your neck of the wood.

T-Shirts still available
The shirts can be purchased online on >Andre's myspace page
There are all the different shirts, including the Walk 4 Life ones.
You can also write to to purchase a shirt.
The problem with the myspace thing is that it doesnt allow you to chose size and you can only purchase 1 shirt.Therefore it might be better to make a donation (of the amount of a shirt) and write to this email to specify the size and quantity.

A Condensed Update from the Walk4Life blogs by

Day 19 from end of April
I woke up way before the sun and got dropped off indowntown Raleigh for my trip up north to participatein the H2A Hip Hop festival in the Bronx. H2A or HipHop Association is about facilitating, fostering andpreserving the hip hop culture. It's a non-profitorganization dedicated to serving educators and thosecommitted to reaching youth through hip hop culturewhich is what I do. I educate youth and adults aboutour criminal justice system, about the history ofprisons and about capital punishment. This three dayfestival was held at the Ralph Hernandez School ofperforming arts in the South Bronx about 7 or 8 blocksfrom my old neighborhood. Let me tell you it was anhonor for me to be invited to sit on a panel to sharewhat I have been doing world wide with hip hop as wellas what I am currently doing, the Walk 4 Life...
On a daily basis I find it amazing that I continuouslyfind myself talking to people that don't agree withcapital punishment. Now the media states that we aredivided by 60% pro and 40% against. I believe thesepolls are most likely taken in areas that consist ofthose people I never see...I believe if these pollswere taken where common folk live and in the ghettosacross America a different story would be told. Ibelieve just like in the days of the civil rightsmovement where they held voter registrations in poorareas, we need to hold death penalty opponent registrations.
I think that many people that may be against the deathpenalty remain silent out of fear... They just need tosee us out in numbers. Most importantly politiciansneed to see us out in numbers. Politicians areattracted to large organized groups of registeredvoters...Uniting out on the streets of America is theonly way we will counter the effects of the fear themedia instills in Americans...uniting in such way insolidarity would also cause a ripple effect that wouldalso see a drop in violent crimes. Young men and womenacross America that feel abandoned would surly beattracted by such a powerful unification of the people. the Richmond station I noticed a large number ofprisoners waiting for buses on their home. How do Iknow they were prisoners? Because I was one of them atone time. As I watched them walk around confused Iwondered how many of them would make it in the freeworld knowing they were released with nothing. When Isay nothing I mean no money, no job and no educationor rehabilitation. I prayed for them.
Keep reading more from Capital X here:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rare Spoken Interview with Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has agreed to a few select interviews to promote his new book,Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, written with lexicographer Brian Garner. This is the first of a three-part interview with NPR.

Justice Antonin Scalia has carried the conservative banner in the U.S. Supreme Court for more than a quarter century. Though he has failed to persuade a majority of his colleagues on many high profile cases, supporters and critics alike agree that he has changed the terms of the debate.

What more, with the addition of two appointees during President George Bush's time in office, he is on the verge of prevailing in most cases for the first time in his tenure on the court.

Scalia is a man of many contradictions. An only child, he is the father of nine children. Tough-minded and thick-skinned in public, in private he suffers when attacked. Often confrontational on the bench, and sarcastic in dissent, he is charming and funny in private.

Scalia has made his biggest mark, so far, in those famous biting dissents. He has mocked Chief Justice John Roberts, a fellow conservative, accusing him of "faux judicial restraint." He's said that former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's view on abortion "cannot be taken seriously." Just this month, he derided Justice John Paul Stevens' views on the death penalty, calling them "the purest form of rule by judicial fiat," even though Stevens agreed with Scalia on the end result.

"I think when it's wrong, it should be destroyed," Scalia says, when asked whether such language might not alienate potential allies. "[If] it is profoundly wrong, [it] should be pointed out and pointed out forcefully. And I don't mind people doing that to my opinions. A good hard-hitting dissent keeps you honest."

Read complete article and listen to interview at: npr

Correction on "Marietta Jaeger is having a birthday!"

Please see newly-edited blog for Marietta's
birthday, April 5th, 2008! (in Archives Apirl)

The Candidates on the Death Penalty

Clinton has been a longtime advocate of the death penalty. Clinton cosponsored the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 which became law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. The bill provides funding for post-conviction DNA testing and establishes a DNA testing process for individuals sentenced to the death penalty under federal law. As first lady, she lobbied for President Clinton's crime bill, which expanded the list of crimes subject to the federal death penalty.

McCain supports the death penalty for federal crimes. As a U.S. senator from Arizona, he has voted to prohibit the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals and to ban the death penalty for minors. He has also supported legislation to allow the death penalty for acts of terrorism and has said he would consider further expansion of capital punishment laws for other crimes.

Obama says the death penalty "does little to deter crime" but he supports it for cases in which "the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage." While a state senator, Obama pushed for reform of the Illinois capital punishment system and authored a bill to mandate the videotaping of interrogations and confessions.

Paul opposes the death penalty and would vote against it in "any legislative body he was a member of," according to campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. In 2005, Paul praised the late Pope John Paul II for being an "eloquent and consistent advocate for an ethic of life, exemplified by his struggles against abortion, war, euthanasia and the death penalty."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Innocence Matters: Rally for Troy Davis

Saturday, May 17, 2008
Georgia Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia
(front steps facing Washington St.)
Emcee: Warren Ballentine; Lead organizers: Amnesty International and NAACP

Spread the word! Come out and show your support!

Latest: Georgia Supreme Court denies reconsideration of the denied appeal for new trial (4/14/2008)

The Current, Harrowing Timeline:

The "motion for reconsideration" with the Georgia Supreme Court in the hopes that they would change their decision and grant either an evidentiary hearing or new trial was denied on 4/14/2008. Other legal avenues are being considered; howvever, Troy's main line of appeals have been exhausted. Now that the US Supreme Court has ruled on the Baze v. Rees lethal injection case out of Kentucky, executions are starting to be scheduled across the country. It is possible that a date could be set against Troy this summer unless a legal appeal to the US Supreme Court is filed, which could lead to a fall date. We are on high alert in Georgia. Other prisoners are likely to get dates set before Troy. We must act with urgency as an execution date is likely this year. It is possible that it would be not be as soon, but we must act quickly in case we do not have much time. Once the Superior Court in Chatham County issues an execution warrant, the Department of Corrections will set the execution date. Then the Parole Board will be in a position to hold a clemency hearing, which it does not do when there is no execution date. Usually, the Board holds the hearing the day before the execution date. Last summer, Troy came within 23 hours of being executed before the Board issued a stay of execution. He had already been asked to request his last meal and put on death watch.

Focus of the Troy Davis Campaign: Appeal to the parole board to prevent the execution by granting a stay and commuting the death sentence to life (which is what is in their power). This would keep alive the possibility of a new trial request. Currently, the courts have failed Troy and we have little hope that the judicial branch will stop the madness.

Case Background:

Troy Davis was sent to Georgia’s death row in 1991 for the murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, a white police officer in Savannah, Georgia in 1989.

The conviction was not based on any physical evidence
The murder weapon was never found. The prosecution relied on witness testimony.

7 out of 9 witnesses have recanted or contradicted their story
Many alleged coercion by the police.

Find more about his case and the link to the PETITION for Troy Davis here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Short Note from the Carolinas

THANKS to all who are supporting this WALK 4 LIFE. We must get the word out NOW: The CRITICAL EMERGENCY is HERE RIGHT NOW--We MUST stop the KILLINGS NATION-WIDE. WE Must ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY NOW...before a rash of executions all across the nation take us down the river of A NEW LOW OF SOUL. This river-raft to death includes especially the upcoming CRESCENDO OF THE TRASHING of LIFE in TEXAS. CONNIE

Friday, April 25, 2008

Capital X talking from the Carolinas about decision on lethal injection

Watch for more updates on this soon including in Comments Section...send your own

New Book: THE ROAD to ABOLITION - How New Jersey abolished the Death Penalty

During my 30 years in the state Legislature, I never prepared statements to be delivered in committee, on the floor or at public appearances, always relying on my glibness to either captivate an audience or stumble through a presentation of my views.

The death penalty debate was different.


Lives were at risk.

The Road to Abolition is the result.

-- Senator Raymond J. Lesniak


IN 1982, as a second term New Jersey Assemblyman, I voted to reinstate the death penalty after the United States Supreme Court reversed its 1972 holding that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eight Amendment of the US Constitution.

My vote was based solely on the politics of the issue. The death penalty was popular. Being against the death penalty was the same as being soft on crime.

I gave no thought to the morality of the issue or to the possibility of executing an innocent person.

When Celeste Fitzgerald from New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Lorry Post from Murder Victims’ for Reconciliation visited me in 2004 to solicit my support to repeal the death penalty, they met a different person than that 2nd term assemblyman.

The 20 plus intervening years taught me that public service should not be about seeking approval, glory or fame. Trinkets. They’re nothing more than trinkets.

What should society, as fashioned by its elected officials, look like? That is now my guiding principal, as shaped by my spiritual beliefs. My spiritual beliefs lead me to envision a society that could do justice without need for revenge, without a need to take a life.

But I also knew, as a consummate politician, a power broker as called by some, if I tried to convince my fellow legislators to repeal the death penalty based on my spiritual beliefs, I would get nothing but blank stares and puzzled looks in return from most.

The resulting speeches, letters and articles reflect both my spiritual beliefs, as well as practical arguments, for repealing the death penalty.

The combination worked as New Jersey became the first state in over 40 years to legislatively repeal its death penalty.

Much more than any trinket. Much, much more.


08 Introduction
10 Report, Celeste Fitzgerald/Director New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty / May 01. 2006
14 Testimony, New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission/ September 13. 2006
16 Executive Summary, New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission/ January 2. 2007
20 Testimony, New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee/ May 9. 2007
24 Forum, The Star Ledger/July 30. 2007
26 Letter, To Members of the New Jersey State Senate/ November 21. 2007
30 Op-Ed, The Star Ledger/ December 3. 2007
34 Testimony, New Jersey State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee/ December 3. 2007
38 Letter, To Members of the New Jersey State Legislature/ December 4. 2007
40 Article, The New York Times/ December 4. 2007
46 Speech, New Jersey State Senate/ December 10. 2007
50 Testimony from Family Members of Murder Victims, Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee/ December 13, 2007
56 Official Vote Tally, New Jersey State Senate/ December 10. 2007
58 Official Vote Tally, New Jersey General Assembly/ December 13. 2007
58 Statement, New Jersey Office of the Governor/ December 17. 2007
64 Remarks, Governor Corzine/ December 17. 2007
70 Article, Catholic Star Herald/ December 21. 2007
74 Speech, National Coalition Against the Death Penalty/ January 18. 2007
78 Forum, The Star Ledger/ January 20. 2008
80 Letter, California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice/ February 13. 2008
84 Speech, “Celebration of Abolition” New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty/ March 1. 2008
87 Biography, Senator Raymond J. Lesniak
92 Epilogue

Details, and a link to buy the book are on-line here

Thursday, April 24, 2008

T-Shirts: WALK4LIFE 2008

Dear All,

I am writing you to once again seek your help for what concerns the Walk that Capital X is doing.
We still have 97 Walk 4 Life shirts that Andre is bringing with him along with his other stuff. We need to get rid of them, not only to have some more money to be destined to the cause but also to unload Andre a little bit.

Therefore I am asking you to please spread the voice to your contacts about the shirts, seeing if there is someone who wants to buy them, while considering about buying one yourself. The shirts are cheap and buying one would serve the cause.

Thanks to you all in advance.

Here's a site to order them.

In the struggle

Judge overrides jury and imposes death penalty

In Birmingham, a Jefferson County judge has overridden a jury's decision and imposed the death penalty on Montez Spradley for stalking and killing a woman.

A jury convicted Spradley in February and voted 10-2 to recommend life without parole.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Gloria Bahakel imposed the sentence of death by lethal injection on Monday after a brief hearing.

Spradley is the fourth person in Jefferson County in the last three years to be sentenced to death after 10 jurors called for the lesser sentence. Seven votes are needed for a jury to recommend life without parole.

Alabama allows judges to override a jury's sentencing verdict.

The 25-year-old Spradley was convicted of capital murder in the January 9th, 2004, death of 58-year-old Marlene Jason after a struggle outside her home. Authorities say Spradley followed her home from a shopping trip to buy clothes for her grandchildren.

One of Spradley's lawyers, Robert Sanford, said jurors think their decisions mean something "when in Alabama, it doesn't mean anything."

Prosecutor Mike Anderton says Spradley shot Jason, beat her and broke her hand.

Jason's 2 adult children favored life without parole for Spradley but said they would accept death. The woman's husband, Edward Jason, says death was the proper punishment.

(source: Associated Press)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walk 4 Peace - Tuesday Report from the Carolinas

Here we are with Capital X !!!
In both Rutherfordton, NC & Spartanburg, SC.
We had a powerful visit sharing the journey.
God Be with You Capital X! We Love You & all that you are doing!

We met up with X in Spartanburg, SC !!!
wow! it was like Divine Intervention!!!
...the endless power of Love & goodness!!!

We took X to Greer, SC, last night...then onto Greenville, SC, today~Ginny, Connie N. & I are going to try to walk with X today. Leslie is driving Greenville to Anderson, SC.

*Stop the Death Penalty World Wide !!!

We are sending much Love, many Blessings & Powerful Prayers,Every Single Day!!!!
Many times a day... to *you X
Love to you,
Love to Wesley Aron Shafer, Wes is at McCormick in SC.
Love to All the families!
Love to *All who have suffered!
Love & Thanks to X !
Love to All abolitionists!
Thanks to Amy for the pic!!!
Love, Peace & Prayers to All of the "Rows", *everywhere.


Cruel and Unusual History


THE Supreme Court concluded last week, in a 7-2 ruling, that Kentucky’s three-drug method of execution by lethal injection does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts cited a Supreme Court principle from a ruling in 1890 that defines cruelty as limited to punishments that “involve torture or a lingering death.”
But the court was wrong in the 19th century, an error that has infected its jurisprudence for more than 100 years. In this nation’s landmark capital punishment cases, the resultant executions were anything but free from torture and prolonged deaths.

The first of those landmark cases, the 1879 case of Wilkerson v. Utah, was cited by Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion in the Kentucky case. The court “had no difficulty concluding that death by firing squad” did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment, Justice Thomas wrote.

Wallace Wilkerson might have begged to differ. Once the Supreme Court affirmed Utah’s right to eradicate him by rifle, Wilkerson was let into a jailyard where he declined to be blindfolded. A sheriff gave the command to fire and Wilkerson braced for the barrage. He moved just enough for the bullets to strike his arm and torso but not his heart.

“My God!” Wilkerson shrieked. “My God! They have missed!” More than 27 minutes passed as Wilkerson bled to death in front of astonished witnesses and a helpless doctor.

Just 11 years later, the Supreme Court heard the case of William Kemmler, who had been sentenced to death by electric chair in New York. The court, in affirming the state’s right to execute Kemmler, ruled that electrocution reduced substantial risks of pain or “a lingering death” when compared to executions by hanging. Kemmler, had he lived through the ensuing execution (and he nearly did), might too have disagreed.

After a thousand volts of current struck Kemmler on Aug. 6, 1890, the smell of burnt flesh permeated the room. He was still breathing. Saliva dripped from his mouth and down his beard as he gasped for air. Nauseated witnesses and a tearful sheriff fled the room as Kemmler’s coat burst into flames.

Another surge was applied, but minutes passed as the current built to a lethal voltage. Some witnesses thought Kemmler was about to regain consciousness, but eight long minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

Perhaps the most egregious case came to the court more than 50 years later. “Lucky” Willie Francis, as the press called him, was a stuttering 17-year-old from St. Martinville, La. In 1946, he walked away from the electric chair known as “Gruesome Gertie” when two executioners (an inmate and a guard) from the state penitentiary at Angola botched the wiring of the chair.

When the switch was thrown, Francis strained against the straps and began rocking and sliding in the chair, pleading with the sheriff and the executioners to halt the proceedings. “I am n-n-not dying!” he screamed. Gov. Jimmie Davis ordered Francis returned to the chair six days later.

Francis’ lawyers obtained a stay, and the case reached the Supreme Court. Justice Felix Frankfurter defined the teenager’s ordeal as an “innocent misadventure.” In the decision, Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber, the court held that “accidents happen for which no man is to blame,” and that such “an accident, with no suggestion of malevolence” did not violate the Constitution.

Fewer than 24 hours before Francis’ second scheduled execution, his lawyers tried to bring the case before the Supreme Court again. They had obtained affidavits from witnesses stating that the two executioners from Angola were, as one of the witnesses put it, “so drunk it would have been impossible for them to have known what they were doing.” Although the court rejected this last-minute appeal, it noted the “grave nature of the new allegations” and encouraged the lawyers to pursue the matter in state court first, as required by law.

Willie Francis was executed the next morning. Because his case never made it back to the Supreme Court, the ruling lingers, influencing the decisions of today’s justices. In his majority opinion last week, Chief Justice Roberts called Louisiana’s first attempt at executing Francis an “isolated mishap” that “while regrettable, does not suggest cruelty.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing separately, also mentioned the Francis case: “No one suggested that Louisiana was required to implement additional safeguards or alternative procedures in order to reduce the risk of a second malfunction.” In fact, Louisiana did just that. Two weeks after the botched execution of Willie Francis, its Legislature required that the operator of the electric chair “shall be a competent electrician who shall not have been previously convicted of a felony.” This law would have prohibited both executioners from participating in Francis’ failed execution.

The court’s majority opinion in the Willie Francis case acknowledged, “The traditional humanity of modern Anglo-American law forbids the infliction of unnecessary pain in the execution of the death sentence.” Yet the Supreme Court continues to flout that standard.

In its ruling last week, the court once more ignored the consequences of its rulings for men like Wallace Wilkerson, William Kemmler and Willie Francis. The justices cited and applied Wilkerson’s and Kemmler’s cases as if their executions went off without a hitch.

And 60 years after two drunken executioners disregarded the tortured screams of a teenage boy named Willie Francis, the Supreme Court continues to do so.
Gilbert King is the author of “The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Several editorials on Supreme Court decision about lethal injections

Please read:

The executions and the questions shall continue (Austin American-Statesman)

Capital injustice (The Boston Globe)

Capital Punishment Common Sense (Los Angeles Times)

Big questions still remain about death penalty (The Sacramento Bee)

Missouri's poor record on capital punishment calls for caution (The Kansas City Star)

Lethal injections ruled legal, but they're hardly humane (Des Moines Register)

A Supreme muddle
High court's ruling in death case gives states little guidance (The Charlotte Observer)

Lethal injection method can be cruel(Roanoke Times)

A Journey toward Forgiveness

The Marianist Death Penalty Team encourages people to consider the Christian mandate to love and forgive.
By Shelly Reese

“We, as the Marianist Family, because of our belief in the sanctity of all human life and in the dignity of all persons, pledge ourselves to prayer, education, reflection and action to abolish the death penalty. This practice is unjust, inhumane and inconsistent with the Gospel message. By our witness we seek to change hearts and minds concerning this injustice.”( From the mission statement of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative’s Death Penalty Team)

In the cab of his crane , Bethlehem Steel worker Bill Pelke prayed. He cried. He thought about his grandmother: her faith, her gentleness, how she loved to tell Bible stories to children. In that moment, 50-feet above the foundry floor, Pelke forgave the girl on Death Row who had killed his grandmother.

“Forgiveness is so misunderstood,” Pelke told students at a gathering at St. Mary’s Univer sity and Central Catholic High School, both Marianist schools in San Antonio. “People think if we forgive someone we’re condoning what they did. But forgiveness is a selfish act. When Jesus tells us to forgive someone it’s not for the sake of the bad guy, it’s for us. It takes the millstone off our neck.”

Today Pelke is a member of Journey of Hope, an organization led by family members of murder victims, as well as families of Death Row inmates and those who have been executed. Individuals who have been exonerated also have found solidarity with the group. Journey of Hope conducts public education speaking tours and addresses alternatives to the death penalty. In October, the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative’s Death Penalty Team hosted speakers from the Journey of Hope as they wound their way through Texas, the state with the highest rate of executions.

By bringing that message of healing and forgiveness to students and faculty at Marianist schools, Death Penalty Team members hope not only to educate others about the immorality of the death penalty but also to encourage them to contemplate the Christian mandate to love and forgive.

Marianist Sister Grace Walle, Death Penalty Team chairperson, notes, “These stories are about pain and suffering and forgiveness. As a listener, it’s a God moment.

“On one level, it’s an educational moment about the death penalty,” says Sister Grace, campus minister at St. Mary’s Law School, “but at the heart of it, listening to these people makes you think: Where is forgiveness in my life?”


Wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” Marianist Brother Brian Halderman, a founding member of the Death Penalty Team, explores the contradictory nature of the death penalty.

“Scripture calls us to be our brother’s keeper — to live a life of compassion and forgiveness,” says Brother Brian. “I don’t see the logic of using homicide to deter further homicides. The death penalty creates more victims, more pain and more violence.”

People oppose the death penalty for many reasons. For some, it’s a miscarriage of social justice. As a lawyer, Marianist Brother Frank O’Donnell, a Death Penalty Team member, has witnessed firsthand the many inequities of the justice system. Poor people are at a disadvantage, he says, and the system of incarceration promotes violence rather than reformation.

“People on the outside are quick to paint inmates — particularly those accused of murder — with a broad brush and to write them off as members of society.

“Jesus and the Gospel teach us to have a high regard for life,” Brother Frank says. “It doesn’t say a high regard for some life. It’s a high regard for life.”

Lay Marianist Bob Stoughton, who worked with a Dayton-based group against the death penalty for more than 10 years before joining the MSJC team, says his opposition is rooted in Catholic social teaching and in a gut feeling that capital punishment is wrong.

“If it’s wrong to kill, then it’s wrong for the state to kill,” he says. “Catholic social teaching professes the sanctity of life.”

Others decry the system’s failings: Capital punishment is expensive, arbitrary and an ineffective deterrent. What’s more, there’s always the risk — particularly when a defendant is poor and cannot afford adequate counsel — that an innocent person may be convicted and sentenced to death. Since 1973, 124 Death Row inmates have been exonerated. At the same time, serious questions have been raised about the guilt of some of the 1,099 people put to death since 1976.


In opposing the death penalty, the MSJC Death Penalty Team has focused its energies on moratorium campaigns in five states: Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Maryland and California. As part of that effort, the team supported a rally and a prayer vigil last September at the Ohio statehouse in Columbus. The event drew more than 200 protestors. Two weeks later the team sponsored several stops on the 17-day Journey of Hope campaign through Texas.

In taking a stand against the death penalty, speakers for the Journey of Hope agree on one essential point: Another killing will not restore their loved ones.

“I came to understand that God’s sense of justice is restoration,” says Journey of Hope speaker Marietta Jaeger-Lane, whose seven-year-old daughter, Susie, was kidnapped and murdered. “The death penalty is revenge.”

In sharing their stories of loss, rage, healing and forgiveness, Journey of Hope members wish to convince listeners that capital punishment, far from resolving the problem, merely perpetuates a cycle of violence.

“Timothy McVeigh’s execution didn’t bring me any peace,” says Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was murdered, along with 167 other people, in the Oklahoma City bombing. “I’ve spoken to a lot of family members since and they’ve said it didn’t help them the way they thought it would.”

Today, Welch travels around the world with the Journey of Hope speaking out against the death penalty. He admits that in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, he wanted McVeigh executed. But he knew that wouldn’t bring Julie back. As he learned more about the anger and desire for revenge that had fueled McVeigh’s attack, he came to recognize what revenge and hatred can do to a person.

“You have to get rid of the rage before you can heal,” he says.


Welch still grieves for his daughter. “When you bury your child, you bury them every day in your heart,” he says. Healing hasn’t diminished his loss, but it has enabled him to move forward with his life without a heart blackened by hatred.

That’s a sentiment Jaeger-Lane echoes more than 25 years after Susie’s death.

“Just because you forgive doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten,” she says. “It’s precisely because you will never forget that you must find a way to go on in a healthy manner. Jesus still had his wounds when he rose from the dead.”

Because of the pain, forgiveness can be a long and difficult process. Welch admits he still struggles at times.

“Forgiveness is not an event,” he says. “It’s a process and it happens for the rest of your life. You have moments when you revert back and think, ‘that bastard didn’t deserve to live,’ but you get past those moments. I’m not sure that people have to forgive to heal, but I’ll tell you, when you do, it sure makes you feel better.”

Jaeger-Lane compares her experience in learning to forgive with an alcoholic craving a drink. “I had to take it minuteby- minute,” she says. “I had to think, ‘I can get through this minute without hating this person.’

“Forgiveness is not easy,” she says. “It takes daily, devoted discipline. My mind would go one way and I would have to call myself back. I had to remind myself, ‘This is who I am, and this is what God wants me to do.’

About a month after her daughter’s abduction, Jaeger-Lane bought a Bible and started reading it. “I realized I was called to pray for my enemies,” she said, and so she began to pray for the nameless man who had taken Susie. “I’d pray things like, ‘if he’s traveling may he not have car trouble’ or ‘if he’s fishing may he have a good catch.’ Little things. But the more I prayed the easier it got.”

That’s a powerful message for listeners who can’t imagine praying for someone who had violated them in such a ruthless way.

“It was very inspirational to listen to her,” says 19-year-old Sean Stilson, a sophomore at St. Mary’s who attended the Journey of Hope session. “She initially reacted the way any person would, but through God’s grace she learned to forgive. It puts forgiveness in my own life into perspective. It’s a reminder that there are people with problems that are so much bigger than my own. If they can forgive, then I can forgive the little things in my life.”

Article taken from
Alive - Marianist Culture, faith and community

Monday, April 21, 2008

Email X or Katia at to Connect.

See more contact info & schedule in COMMENTS OR BELOW in previous posts.

"My feet are tender, I heal them by night..." X

X early on the Walk 4 Life with a "Very Spiritual" Walking Stick

Published: Apr 21, 2008 05:47 PM

Hip-hop activist protests at Central Prison By David Ranii,Staff Writer

RALEIGH — A hip hop artist and activist who is walking from New Jersey to Texas to protest the death penalty joined protesters outside Central Prison today.
Andre Latallade, who goes by the name Capital X, joined a group that gathers each Monday at 5 p.m. outside Central Prison on Western Boulevard to demonstrate against the death penalty and pray for murder victims, their families and those who are on death row, said local organizer Scott Bass. Afterward, the eight demonstrators and Capital X planned to continue their protest by walking from Central Prison to the governor's mansion.

Capital X, who says he is probably better known for his activism than his music, embarked on his 1,700-mile trek March 31st. Raleigh wasn't originally on his itinerary but he said he changed his route in order to see his mother and sister, Maria Burgos and Mary Ann Bryson, who live in Willow Spring — and in response to calls and e-mails from local supporters.

Capital X, who was born in Brooklyn and now lives in Newark, N.J., calls himself a "raptivist" — a rapper whose lyrics reflect his social activism. He is working on his first CD.

Since starting his protest march in Trenton, N.J., Capital X said he has walked a minimum of 10 hours a day.

"My feet are tender," he said. "I heal them by night and then beat them up by day." or (919) 829-4877 Please go to other info and contact #s/ urls below...

Capital X and Walk 4 Life Entering South Carolina

The Walk is NOW headed through South Carolina

For now, please Call Connie Nash if you're in the South Carolina areas at
cell 828 384-1501 or home 828 884-9467

If this fails, do try Bill Pelke -- as he may be Cap. X #1 Abolitionist Supporter in US-- at 305 775-5823 . Bill's in Alaska right now having returned from transportation, etc. with X. Our Bill's remodeling and trying to take care of his health.

Please call soon to offer hospitality, transportation & transporting equipment costs, matters related to reporting, etc.

Tuesday 22: Spartanburg, SC area
Wednesday 23: Andreson, SC area
Thursday 24: Athens, GA
Friday 25: Atlanta, GA
Saturday 26: On or around this day need a ride to Columbus, GA to meet
with press and Prisoners loved one. I will walk into Columbus. I then
need to be returned up north towards ATL to walk into Alabama
Monday 28: 3 day walk to Anniston, Alabama
Wednesday 30th: 2 days walk to Birmingham, AL
Thusday 1: 4 day walk to Tupelo, MS
Monday 5: 4 day walk to Texarkana, TX
Sunday 10: 5 day walk to Dallas
Friday 16: 6 day walk to Austin

Know anyone in those areas of SC?

The WALK 4 PEACE in the Triangle will probably be a really interesting blog with photos soon! So, keep tuning in here at The JOH Blog as well as at Andre's blog...


Keep in mind that a documentary is being made of this walk (much of it by Andre himself) & some of you may want to be in that documentary or AT LEAST counted as background support!

Find great personal and descriptive blogs here of this challenging walk for us all

NOTE on cell phones FOR ALL RIGHTS FOLK:
X may right now be trying to get technical-financial? help for his phone system. A tip for any here who've been underwhelmed with costs and rights issues with many cell phones....Maybe a track phone like NOKIA? would be great for many of us activists?

NOKIA I understand was begun & still is probably "clean" from other company schemes. I understand that it was originally founded by a human rights person-- I think it's still not subject to what Verizon & others face in terms of illegal practices/non-constitutionality! And cheap! I love mine! If you want to know the problems with other cell phones simply check out the archives here and search engine verizon (other cell companies) and spying/rights issues.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

To Contact Capital X or Steve Dear For Sunday Events

Capital "X" /Andre 218 818 8935

Steve Dear PFADP Durham, NC 919 622-1739

Please call to offer hospitality, transportation, matters related to reporting, etc.

Cap. X & Walk 4 Life to be in Raleigh/Durham Sunday!

And there will be a Co-Event in New Mexico Sunday as well. See full report below Execution Dates...

From Cap. X

Here is my route for Sunday the 19th from Durham to the Wake county court house where I would like to gather with those who share the belief that creating more victims is not the solution. I will start walking between 5:30am and 6:30am arriving betwwen 1:30 and 2:30 335 S. Salisbury St.Raleigh, NC 27602 News 14 plans to cover this event.

A: Durham, NC
1: Start out going NORTHWEST on E MAIN ST toward S CHURCH ST. 0.1 mi
2: Turn LEFT onto S MANGUM ST/US-15 BR S/US-501 BR S. 0.1 mi
3: Turn LEFT onto E PETTIGREW ST. 2.5 mi
4: Turn LEFT onto ELLIS RD.0.0 mi
5: Turn RIGHT onto ANGIER AVE. 3.8 mi
6: Turn RIGHT onto US-70 E/NEW RALEIGH HWY. Continue to follow US-70 E.14.2 mi
7: US-70 E becomes GLENWOOD AVE. 1.2 mi
8: Turn LEFT onto W MORGAN ST. 0.4 mi
9: Turn RIGHT onto S SALISBURY ST. 0.2 mi
10: End at 335 S Salisbury St Raleigh, NC 27601-1728
Estimated Time: 38 minutesEstimated Distance: 22.60 miles
B: 335 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601-1728 Total Time: 38 minutesTotal Distance: 22.60 miles

Contact Capital X at 218 818-8935 project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Conveyer Belt Spins Again
See Christy's piece just below the execution dates...
April 19, 2008 at 10 AM ~ District Courthouse, Albuquerque, NM Meet with this solidarity support if you're in New Mexico.

Contact: Christy Armell
Telephone: 505-299-2795

X plans to continue to speak along the way, arriving in Texas in May and in NM where he will speak and perform in mid-June. X has been joined at gatherings by nationally recognized opponents of the DP like Bill Pelke of the Journey of Hope whose grandmother was brutally murdered, and Abe Bonowitz, co-founder and director of the National Coalition to Abolish the DP and board member of the US Section of Amnesty International (AIUSA). Sunday, April 20th, Capital X will be walking for Michael Astorga to help bring awareness to the state of New Mexico about the atrocity of the death penalty.

ON April 20th, same time Andre will be in North Carolina, where he will speak-- Christy Armell, an Albuquerque activist vocally opposed to the death penalty, is holding a press conference in NM in solidarity with Capital X as he speaks about the treachery and inherent monstrosity of State murder and mass incarceration. The resent decision of the Supreme Court regarding the use of lethal injection will effect the two men currently sitting on death row in New Mexico, as well as any defendants that face the penalty of death in this state. One in a hundred Americans are now locked up and over 3,000 are in death row across the nation. Christy will be joined by other activists and prisoner families.

Andre will be available to ABQ media by phone, and together he and Christy will speak out regarding the current status of the death penalty in both NM and the nation. They will speak in support of Michael Astorga, as well as a young Texas death row inmate, Rudy Medrano

Friday, April 18, 2008

New execution dates set already

May 27th - Kevin Green, Virginia
July 15th - Darrell Robinson, Louisiana
July 24th - Edward Nathaniel Bell, Virginia
Oct. 7th - 13th - Briley Piper, South Dakota

Pending U.S. executions can always also be looked up here

The Conveyer Belt Spins Again


April 19, 2008 at 10 AM ~ District Courthouse, Albuquerque, NM


Christy Armell
Telephone: 505-299-2795

Capital X
Telephone: 218-818-8935

On March 31, 2008 Capital X, a well-known NYC hip-hop artist, activist and ex-con, began his 1700-mile trek, Walk for Life, from Trenton NJ to Austin, Texas, the death penalty capital of the USA. Traveling without an entourage and relying only on other activists for support along the road, X has been meeting and greeting thousands of people on this amazing trip. He has spoken to hundreds of university and high school students at the U of MD, in community centers and activists' homes and will continue to speak along the way, arriving in Texas in May and in NM where he will speak and perform in mid-June. X has been joined at gatherings by nationally recognized opponents of the DP like Bill Pelke of the Journey of Hope whose grandmother was brutally murdered, and Abe Bonowitz, co-founder and director of the National Coalition to Abolish the DP and board member of the US Section of Amnesty International (AIUSA). Sunday, April 20th, Capital X will be walking for Michael Astorga to help bring awareness to the state of New Mexico about the atrocity of the death penalty.

ON April 20th, Andre will be in North Carolina, where he will speak. Christy Armell, an Albuquerque activist vocally opposed to the death penalty, is holding a press conference in NM in solidarity with Capital X as he speaks about the treachery and inherent monstrosity of State murder and mass incarceration. The resent decision of the Supreme Court regarding the use of lethal injection will effect the two men currently sitting on death row in New Mexico, as well as any defendants that face the penalty of death in this state. One in a hundred Americans are now locked up and over 3,000 are in death row across the nation. Christy will be joined by other activists and prisoner families.

Andre will be available to ABQ media by phone, and together he and Christy will speak out regarding the current status of the death penalty in both NM and the nation. They will speak in support of Michael Astorga, as well as a young Texas death row inmate, Rudy Medrano, who was not at the crime scene but was convicted of a capital crime because he gave guns to murderers.

In addition, Christy will talk about the current death penalty crisis in NM: the trial of Michael Paul Astorga who sits in solitary confinement without any
outside contact whatsoever. His lawyer was recently denied a legal visit with him. Astorga is accused and faces capital prosecution for the murder of a sheriff's deputy in 2005. He has not been tried or convicted, yet he is assumed by many to be guilty.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Capital X With Terri Steinberg and Bill Pelke

See EXCERPTS from Capital X and The Campaign for Life just below...Please see his blog for much more! I am only covering highlights because I'm behind and also there's a lot more to cover on on a number of the "spokes" of death penalty issues that touch on JOH issues all of a sudden. We have included items from our JOH family below so please scroll down or go to the archives! See here for X's full journal entries for each day...and find more in our JOH blog archives. Keep checkin' back! and NOTE, always include the in how about putting both of these in your favorites?

Links and blog will be "sharpened up" soon if not already thanks to Susanne of Germany. More on what she's doing for this blog soon. Thanks Susanne and thanks to you too, Andre, Capital X!


We will try to catch up tomorrow. But here X mentions our JOH Terri and Bill, so we can't miss this part.

...DAY TEN was filled with blessings. First I was met by Illana Naylor early in the morning as I set out for my day of walking. This is one amazing woman...She is a nurse and had worked the night shift. For having just worked all night she was filled with energy. I was feeding off her energy without a doubt because let me tell you, it was good energy, a pure energy that can only come from love the most powerful energy in the world.

Illana didn't hesitate to jump in front of the camera with me where she told me she was an activist for as long as she could remember. She then proceeded to present me with a check to help fund the walk. She explained that she wanted to walk with me a bit, but would only be able to for 15 minutes seeing she had a meeting that she needed to attend. Well instead she chose to just go to her meeting to then catch up with me afterwards so that she could spend more than 15 minutes walking with me. She stated this would be if her energy held up. I have to confess, I had no doubt that she would be back. After she took off I began walking.

As I walked along I seen this older gentleman getting his morning paper out of his mailbox, this gave me an idea. See I had been giving out fliers with information on Justin Wolfe's case who is on death row in Virginia, I have done this for a number of prisoners. Anyway, I had a pocket full of fliers and began slipping them into peoples mailboxes, the ones holding the morning paper. I figured I would give the people of Virginia something to really read this morning. I placed them right in their morning papers. After a number of miles and dozens of mailboxes I was surprised by Terri Steinberg once again, she appeared out of nowhere like super woman...

...After a few miles Illana showed up with a big smile and a hand full sandwiches. For someone that worked all night, then went on to a meeting--man she was still beaming with energy. She had no problem keeping up with me as she carried a big sign reading "Execution is not the Solution". I carried the sandwiches in my belly, yea I ate them so fast I didn't taste them till the next day.

The road we walked on was pretty dangerous, there was no shoulder really big trucks flew past us. About three different people stopped and asked if we needed a ride as we tackled this road. I was surprised by this actually people just stopping, yea but it was nice made me realize that there are good people out here, everywhere if you take the time to notice.

After a hand full of miles Terri and Illana had to part. I hated to see them go but in truth I knew they would be with me for the rest of my journey. Angels do walk the earth.

...I hit the road with Bill Pelke near by doing roadside. Though this road was dangerous the sights where beautiful. I took a lot of pictures as I walked this day, I also prayed a lot as always...

...It was a great day, but the ending was a little sad for me. After speaking at the local 7-11 Bill drove ahead and booked a hotel for me and dropped my gear off, it was about 15 miles or so up the highway. He then came back and gave the the key and we then said our see you laters. After a hand full of days my comrade had to leave, it was time for Bill to head back to Alaska.

Bill made this part of my journey everything it was. He did road side, stayed on the computer and cell phone he had my back like the Lord has my back for real. What this man brings to the struggle can't be put into words, the sacrifices, the dedication and his drive. We need more like Bill Pelke in this struggle. I raise my fist in honor of my brother. Thanks is not enough for what Bill brought to this walk. May God bless him.


David Elliot - NCADP Communications Director - April, 16 2008

April 16, 2008 – The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol sidesteps the critical issues surrounding the death penalty debate in the U.S., the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said today.

“The death penalty system was a flawed public policy before the Supreme Court agreed to review Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol,” said NCADP Executive Director Diann Rust-Tierney. “It was a flawed public policy while the Court debated the protocol. And now that the Court has ruled, it remains as deeply a flawed public policy as ever.”

The relatively narrow scope of the Court’s deliberations did not address basic issues of fairness, bias, ineffective assistance of counsel or innocent people being convicted and sentenced to death, Rust-Tierney said. She noted that the U.S. has gone almost seven months since an execution – the longest period of time without an execution since a 17-month hiatus that stretched from early 1981 into late 1982.

“Now, with the possible resumption of executions, we renew our commitment to discuss the critical issues surrounding the death penalty system,” Rust-Tierney said. “Since the last person was executed – on Sept. 24, 2007 – we have seen a number of remarkable events. Four names have been added to the list of people freed from death row after evidence of their innocence emerged, bringing that number to at least 128. New Jersey has abolished the death penalty. Nebraska has no effective death penalty after its Supreme Court ruled the electric chair unconstitutional. The American Bar Association has called for a nationwide moratorium on executions. And the United Nations, reflecting evolving trends around the globe, has voted for a worldwide moratorium.”

In addition, Rust-Tierney said, California and Tennessee have held state hearings in order to study their respective death penalty systems. Constitutional questions have been raised in New Hampshire and New Mexico and wrongful conviction and DNA lab scandals continue in Texas.

“And that’s just in seven months,” Rust-Tierney noted. “It seems that the more we learn about the death penalty, the more we learn we can live without it.”

Indeed, Rust-Tierney noted Justice Stevens’ concurrence in today’s opinion in which he warned that debate will continue – not just over lethal injection protocols “but also about the justification for the death penalty itself.”

Visit the website of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Executions Poised to Resume After Court Ruling

by Nina Totenberg - NPR

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the most commonly used method of execution in the United States is constitutional. Prisoners from Kentucky had argued that the three-drug combination could cause them to die in excruciating pain if it were administered incorrectly. Many states have been delaying executions waiting for the ruling.

Q&A: The Lethal Injections Case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Kentucky's method of execution by lethal injection. In a 7-2 ruling, the justices said the state's use of a three-drug combination does not violate the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Lethal injections are the most common method for carrying out the death penalty across the United States. The high court's decision clears the way for executions to resume across the country. Here, an overview of the case and its implications.

What was the case about?

At the heart of the case was the lethal three-drug protocol used in most states that carry out the death penalty. The case stemmed from Kentucky; lawyers for two defendants sentenced to death there argued that lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment." They argued that animals are put to death by using a simple — and they claim, more humane — single drug. They also pointed to a botched execution in 2006 in Ohio, where it took an hour to dispatch an inmate. At one point, according to court records, the inmate cried out, "It don't work."

What did the high court say about the "cruel and unusual" argument?

In the governing opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the risks of giving someone the wrong injection dosage "are not so substantial or imminent as to amount to an Eighth Amendment violation."

Was the question ever about abolishing the death penalty?

No. The case was about the method used to execute convicted criminals, not the larger issue of whether the United States should abolish the death penalty. But the court opinions addressed whether the death penalty should be used in the United States. In an opinion concurring with the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "Current decisions by state legislatures, by the Congress of the United States, and by this Court to retain the death penalty as a part of our law are the product of habit and inattention rather than an acceptable deliberative process." Justice Antonin Scalia responded in another concurring opinion by asking how Stevens could "adopt the astounding position that a criminal sanction expressly mentioned in the Constitution violates the Constitution."

How exactly does lethal injection work?

The condemned inmate is strapped to a gurney and sedated with sodium thiopental, rendering the person unconscious. The inmate is then injected with a paralyzing agent, pancuronium bromide, which stops the breathing muscles, and finally a dose of potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Why do opponents call this method of lethal injection inhumane?

Death penalty opponents argue that there is ample evidence that the current three-drug cocktail poses an unnecessary risk of pain and suffering. Anesthesiologists and end-of-life doctors contended in briefs filed with the court that if a person is not properly anesthetized, the paralyzing agent will prevent him from being able to indicate any distress, and that pancuronium bromide can make him feel as if he is suffocating. And medical experts say that if the person isn't properly anesthetized, then the third drug, which stops the heart, will be excruciatingly painful, making the prisoner feel as if his veins are on fire.

Why do most states use lethal injection to carry out the death penalty?

Because it was considered a more humane way of executing the condemned than other methods such as electrocution. The lethal injection method was developed in Oklahoma and first used in 1977.

How widespread is the use of lethal injection today?

Very. Of the 37 states that have the death penalty on their books, 36 use basically the same three-drug protocol as Kentucky for lethal injection. Nebraska uses the electric chair to execute people. (Four other states use the electric chair as an "optional" form of execution.)

Does this mean that lethal injections may now resume?

Yes — in Kentucky and nationally. After the court announced its decision, Florida became the first to announce that executions there will now go forward.

With reporting by Eric Weiner, Ari Shapiro and Nina Totenberg.

Letter to the Macomb Daily by Ron Keine

Dear Macomb Daily.

As A Death Row exonerated I take offence to your recent opinion piece.

The law according to Scalia

The recent News of Supreme court Justice Antonin Scalia¢s speech at a law school in Rhode Island is indeed disheartening. Justice Scalia is not in tune with the public anymore. He openly admits that he could only get 60 votes from the senate today as to
his qualifications to serve on the Supreme court.

-That is to ratify his appointment. I do not believe he could get 40.

Justice Scalia is the front-line enemy of the Anti Death Penalty forces. It is widely accepted that no appeals will get a fair hearing as long as he sits on
that court. He adamantly promotes an agenda of a government which executes it¢s own citizens.

He says that he is an originalist. He says that the constitution should be interpreted according to the intent of the framers of our constitution. I wonder,
does he mean the same framers whose intent was to subjugate the entire black race? Does he mean the same framers who themselves owned slaves, denied them the
right to vote, education and any other basic human rights? * article 4 sec.2. U.S. constitution.

I am not in favor of a living constitution and shudder at the thought of a constitutional convention.

However, the framers did realize that times and social values change. They did understand the need for some flexibility. Attitudes change. Things that may have
been the status quo back then are no longer acceptable in a modern society
We do not eviscerate, draw, quarter, burn at the stake, torture or behead our citizens anymore. But we do still kill them. We are one of the last few nations
in the world that still has the death penalty. Out of all the 220 nations of the world today, only a few have capital punishment. Our peers are China, North
Korea and Iran. Most have realized, long ago, that it is archaic, barbaric, morally wrong and not indicative of a modern civilization. We need to advance out of
the dark ages.

I was totally taken aback on your paper¢s lack of out cry on Justice Scalia¢s stand on the first amendment.

What are you guys smoking there? He gave a public speech at a high school in Mississippi and sent the federal marshals there to confiscate reporters tape
recordings of the event. When does the book burning begin? Am I classified as a threat to him by authoring this article? Are the federal Marshals going to come
and kick my door down?

At his speeches, he hands out lists of questions that reporters may ask and may not ask during the audience Q&A and refuses them the right to an interview. He
even tries to ban any media from his events what so ever. At his recent speech in Rhode Island it was the college who fought not to violate the first amendment
and admit the media to the event. Still, they were not allowed to ask any questions.

This is a public servant. We write his paycheck He does not have the right to refuse public scrutiny. Why not just write the news himself and then all you guys have to do is put your byline on it?

Justice Scalia has claimed that no innocent person has ever been executed in the united states, and if there were, we would be shouting it from the roof tops. How
about the Salem witch trials? Were they all guilty? How about all the Indians we slaughtered just to take their land? How about the cases of William Marion or
Charles Hudspeth? Both of these cases were of the murder victim being found alive and well but only discovered after the executions of these innocent men.
Hudspeth v. State 50 ark 534 (1888). Marion v. Nebraska,16 Neb. 349 (1884) and so Neb.233

I am one of 128 innocent people whom have been wrongfully convicted, sentenced to death and later proven innocent and released. There have been several innocent people executed in the last 30 years. We are killing innocent people while Scalia stands guard over our constitution. Innocent people are sitting on Death
Rows in our nation as Scalia issues his personal gag orders on the media.

Byron once wrote " One drop of ink can make hundreds perhaps thousands of people think". Today that means thousands, perhaps millions. You have the power of the
pen. Don¢t let anyone usurp this by telling you what you can ask, write about or record at public events.

Ps. Scalia has openly defied God and his Pope with his stand on capital punishment. I hope the Pope gives him a good talking to as he visits the United States.

Ronald Keine

Visit the website of Ron Keine here


Troy Davis came within 24 hours of execution in July, 2007 before receiving a temporary stay of execution. Two weeks later the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear his extraordinary motion for a new trial.

On Monday, March 17, 2008 the court denied Mr. Davis’ appeal.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even during the trial.

Since then, all but two of the state's nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

Read more about Troy Davis here
Sign petition for Troy Davis here

Two decades in prison for a crime he didn't commit

Moments ago, Innocence Project client Thomas McGowan stood on the steps of a Dallas courthouse, free for the first time in 23 years. And while he should be enjoying his first day of freedom, he was already thinking of other innocent people he’d left behind. He told reporters today that he’ll do whatever he can to prevent the injustice of a misidentification and wrongful conviction from happening to another person.

McGowan was joined at the courthouse today by his mother, his sister and other supportive friends and relatives. He will live with his sister while he begins to rebuild his life. His mother told reporters yesterday that Thomas’ release is an answer to years of prayers.

"It's in the Bible," she said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

The truth set McGowan free, but it was a flawed photo lineup that led to his conviction in the mid-1980s for a rape he didn’t commit. In Texas alone, 31 people have been exonerated by DNA testing — more than in any other state. In 24 of those cases, eyewitness misidentification contributed to the wrongful conviction. And McGowan’s case is an example of the kind of lineups that have sent countless innocent people to prison across the country. Most of these cases don't involve biological evidence and will never be overturned by DNA testing.

McGowan’s photo was included in a lineup because it was on record from a traffic violation. The photos were different from one another — one was black and white, some were photocopies, and others were marked with the names of police departments. The victim told the officer conducting the lineup that she “thought” McGowan was the perpetrator. “You have to be sure, yes or no,” the officer told her. After hearing these instructions, she said McGowan was “definitely” the perpetrator. With this as the main evidence against him, he was convicted and sentenced to two life terms in prison.

"Just a few simple words can change everything. In this case, a few words from the police officer adminstering the lineup cost Thomas McGowan 23 years of his life," Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said. "The officer forced the victim into certainty when she wasn't sure whether Mr. McGowan was the perpetrator. While we sometimes hear of outrageous lineup procedures, improperly pushing a witness into certainty is much more common."

Visit the website of the Innocence Project to learn more about Thomas McGowan’s release, and reforms proposed by the Innocence Project to prevent misidentifications and wrongful convictions.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Help the WALK 4 LIFE

PLEASE KEEP THESE HANDY and POST to your lists RIGHT AWAY! WE need some major transportation support for Andre/Capital X Right Away! Contact first of all Andre Latallade/Cap. "X" 281 818-8935 Failing that try Connie Nash 828 384-1501, 828 884-9467 or contact Bill Pelke. U can also email Katia/Capital X at

SEE Terri's blog and on down to Andre's Support of NCADP and read Abe's report and Capital X journal here at JOH blog and also at

I had a call a few hours ago from Andre (X) and just now from Bill Pelke. Andre continues strong, determined and ready to keep walking! Andre with his Campaign 4 Life is entering North Carolina on schedule. He plans to be in Reidsville, NC (a city located in Rockingham County near the NC/VA border) sometime soon.

He is cheerfully needing ALL of us to send out the call for folk willing to help transport his equipment (quite a bit!)while he walks. He will also need places to stay on his way. Venues and reporters would be nice too -- yet the main thing is TRANSPORTATION for the equipment, PLACES to STAY and some funds to keep the the WALK going.

Let's help Andre avoid having to hire any more mini-vans to carry his equipment. IF you know anyone with a little time and a vehicle willing to help out and/or anyone near Reidsville or on down between Reidsville and Charlotte, NC as well as other spots in NC, SC and Georgia Please call RIGHT AWAY!

SUPPORT CAPITAL X & CAMPAIGN 4 LIFE IN THE CAROLINAS, GEORGIA AND ON INTO TEXAS!! (Call Andre if you can help out! 281 818-8935)

Thanks for tuning in,
Connie Nash for The Journey of Hope Blog

Terri Steinberg on the Walk 4 Life

From Terri Steinberg

My Visit with Capital X and the Walk for Life:

I picked Bill up at his hotel Sunday morning. It is always so good to see him. His smile can brighten any day! We went on to Union Station to find Shujaa and head downtown to find Capital X. We pulled up to the front of Union Station and here comes Shujaa, a smile on his face and a skip in his step. I shudder to think we could have lost him to the system. What a waste that could have been! Trying to find X in DC was a challenge! Even when we were all in the same area, finding parking and getting to a meeting spot was tricky! But then again, when is there ever a Journey event that has no challenge?? We met up on the Monument grounds and here comes X, from around the corner on crutches. My first thought was that he will never be able to do this with an injury this early into his walk. But after spending time with this determined spirit, I know that nothing will stop him.
The first thing we did was to introduce everyone and get a bit of filming in. As we finished up there and planned to get some lunch, I got a call from Justin! I was glad to be able to tell him why I had to skip the visit he had expected from me that day in order to meet X, and great to have him be able to thank X himself for his valiant effort in the cause for abolition. X said he would walk some of the days through Virginia in Justin's name. We are very grateful and honored for that.
We finally sat down to lunch @ 3:00 and got to know a bit about X and Sonia. Sonia had been his roadside assistant for a few days and was so amazed by him, she offered to pick up a day in Virginia to help again. She is another great activist in the movement. We then tried to map out the schedule a bit and coordinate the next days work. X is pretty much a one-man band. He walks all day, films and then when he goes in for the night, edits and posts his days walk on the blog. His energy is amazing!
I dropped Shujaa back off at Union Station and got a quick visit and hug from Phyllis. Such a beautiful person, her voice so calming and comforting. I love Phyllis and Shujaa. I am blessed to call them friends. I had the privilege of hosting Bill at my house that night. Capital X stayed with Abe. It was great for my family to meet and spend time with the man I speak about so often. It was a comfort to me to have him sleep in Justin's room since he has done so much for me and Justin since I met him on the steps of the Supreme Court 2 days after Justin was sentenced to death in 2002. It is a small token of appreciation for a debt I can never repay. He is welcome here any time!
I dropped Bill off at the NCADP the next morning to meet up with X and Abe. Unfortunately, I had to take my uncle to the doctor and could not join them for the day. It was good to know Bill had Abe's Journey van to help X for the next few days.
On Tuesday morning, I caught up with X on Lee Highway not far from my home. It was great to hear the story of how he got into this movement, to hear of his past struggles and how he has turned his life into such a positive force and example. We walked about 6 miles then drove to Manassas to get some filming in front of the court steps which put Justin on the row. I still get the shakes driving to that court house. As we tried to film in front of the courthouse, but were stopped by a deputy, so we moved down the street a bit and filmed there. Then we went to the Manassas Journal newspaper office to meet with a reporter Illana Naylor had set up to interview X. The reporter was not ready at the time, and said he would catch up with him as he walked through Manassas in a few hours. I had to get to my daughter's school and left X to walk through my dreaded Manassas by himself. Since he was not "with anyone local" when he crossed through Manassas, the reported decided not to interview and unfortunately, we lost the opportunity to get him some well deserved publicity. This was disappointing to have him doing something so great and not get the recognition for himself and his cause.
I found him again on Wednesday morning, walking down route 28 in Bristow, which ironically is where the murder took place that changed our lives forever. He had stopped to take a quick picture of the town sign. Even though this walk is not an easy task, Capital X makes sure he stops to take pictures of the beautiful scenery along the way and make the best of his journey. I joined him and we walked past Justin's grandparents old house and on down 28. The time passes quickly as we walk and talk. I was shocked to learn I had put in 9 miles with him! We only stopped to take pictures of the scenery and some beautiful horses that came to the fence for a pose. He has inspiring energy and determination for this cause. He walks with the last number he wore in prison on his back, determined not to go back again. He is a kind man and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to walk a few miles with him! I only wish I could do more.
Iliana Naylor caught up with us as we walked down 28 in Fauquier County. She had met Bill and X in the morning after just getting off night shift duty at the hospital, then to a meeting and catching us on route 28 @ 11. In her usual Illana ways, she showed up with 2 sandwiches for X and a sign to carry as we continued on. She is always thinking of others and always has a positive way to brighten the day. It was so good to see her. She is a breath of fresh air, such a kind and peace filled soul.
I had been walking for over 3 hours at this point and my foot was swelling (I had surgery just a few months ago!) but I could only think of how I was almost done and X would continue on. Though I wasn't ready to say goodbye, I had to get to my daughter's performance at school, and my foot was ready! Just before Bill pulled up to get us, a big truck went by us and honked in support. On the back of his truck was painted a pair of wings and the words "touched by an angel". I do believe I had just been touched by a few!

(NOTE: Look for more from Terri in the near future!)

From Capital "X" : Support The NCADP!

Posted Today about Day # 8: Day 8 started out in downtown Washington DC about 6 blocks from the white house at the offices of the National Coalition to Abolish The Death Penalty. I can't tell you what an honor it was to stop in and meet other soldiers fighting on the front lines for true justice. At one time years ago when I first thought of fighting for prisoners rights I honestly thought I stood alone. Slowly it was revealed to me that I wasn't alone.

After seven days of walking this visit is exactly what I needed; it was very empowering for me. I was not just introduced to everyone vigorously fighting against the death penalty I was given important material to use while on my personal quest to educate and enlighten people on the injustices going on here in America. I urge everyone that is against the death penalty to contact the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and register as an opponent no matter where you are located...

See the rest of this blog and others with GREAT photos at