Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Ballad of Imitative Instinct

This is a translation of the German poem "Die Ballade vom Nachahmungstrieb" by Erich Kästner. Unfortunately - due to translating - cadence and rhyme of the poem got lost. Nevertheless the statement of the poem stays the same and it is definitely worth thinking about it.

The Ballad of Imitative Instinct

It is true after all: nothing spoils a man like poison! The human being, and be he still a minor, is, concerning the vices of the world, of quick apprehension and eager to catch on.

In February, I don’t recall the exact day, it so happened that the children playing in the backyard, decided upon a sudden inspiration by one of them, to hang Naumann’s little Fritz by his neck.

They were accustomed to the stories of police and murder from the news. And so they came to the conclusion that it was proper to execute Naumann for, what they called, the crime of robbery.

They adjusted the rope. Karl was the Pastor, lamenting a lot, and telling him that if he were to scream, the others would call him a spoil sport.

Fritz Naumann expressed no worries. The others led him along, gravity on their faces. They flung the rope over the carpet rail. And then they began to pull him in the air.

He struggled. It was too late. He dangled. They fixed their end of the rope. Fritz twitched, because he still had a little life left. A young girl pinched him in the leg.

He fidgeted noiselessly and moments later a children’s game turned murder. Realizing this the seven little rogues ran away terrified.

Nobody yet knew about the poor child’s fate. The yard was quiet. The sky was red as blood. Little Naumann was swaying in the breeze. He didn’t feel it. As he was dead.

Widow Zickler, who shuffled past the scene, ran across the street and started yelling, although yelling wasn’t approved of in that street. And around six the police appeared.

The mother fainted in front of her boy. Both were swiftly taken inside. Karl, who was arrested, coldly stated: “we just did like the grown-ups do”.

* * * * * * *

Erich Kästner (February 23, 1899 – July 29, 1974) was one of the most famous German authors, screenplay writers, and satirists of the 20th century. His popularity in Germany is primarily due to his humorous and perceptive children's literature and his often satirical poetry. “Die Ballade vom Nachahmungstrieb” (The Ballad of Imitative Instinct) is one of his most famous poems. Some of his other works are: “Emil and the Detectives”, “Lottie and Lisa” (Filmed as “The parent Trap”), “Fabian, the story of a Moralist” and “The flying Classroom”

Friday, May 30, 2008

Note of Celebration from Witness to Innocence/ Concert Tonight 10 PM with Capital "X" Houston

JUST IN: from Witness to Innocence: a note of celebration just below Walk events


Andre Lattalade, also known as Capital “X”, a hip hop artist and activist is in Houston today along with David Atwood and other activists from various places. This is the last part of a 1700 mile walk which started on March 31, 2008. Texas currently has 14 (!) executions scheduled, the first one being Derrick Sonnier on June 3.

At 10pm Tonight a Salute to Capital “X” Concert will take place at Advant Garden, 411 Westheimer, in Houston. Capital "X" and several other artists will perform.

On June 3, Capital "X" and others plan to protest the planned execution of a number of inmates and will be focusing on Derrick Sonnier at the Walls Unit in Huntsville as the time for his scheduled execution draws closer.

Keep watching for more updates! Current contact: Courtney Wilson at 832-704-8900

Scroll below and go right to archives (April and May) for more information.

Dear Andre,

On behalf of Witness to Innocence, the largest network of death row exonerees in the country, we are writing to celebrate the success of your incredible journey across the country on foot. We wish you well in your future abolitionist actions and hope that you continue to find the motivation and strength to move forward in the struggle to abolish capital punishment.

Monica Fauble, Witness to Innocence
Please Note: I am in the office Mon/Wed/Fri
PO Box 34725
Philadelphia, PA 19101
(215) 387-1831

JAPAN - Help needed

Excerpt from "Death row is not knowing when - Inmates wake up every day wondering if it's their last" (taken from Japan Death Penalty Information Center)

..."Conditions on death row are very harsh," the mother of a man facing execution at Tokyo Detention House told an international conference on capital punishment in Tokyo earlier this year.

The mother, who declined to be named, said her son's sentence was finalized by the Supreme Court last year after 10 years of trial at the district, high and top court levels.

Like other death-row inmates, her son is in solitary confinement, she said.

He was convicted of murdering a family of four during a burglary in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, in 1992, when he was a minor.

The mother said his contact with the outside world has been more restricted since his sentence was finalized. Death-row convicts are only allowed to meet close relatives and attorneys working on an appeal -- with guards present.

Every letter written or received by convicts is screened by authorities. According to the inmate's mother, if any part of a letter written by her son is deemed inappropriate, he is forced to rewrite that portion, often to the point that the original meaning is lost. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations said such limits on communication hinder a convict's pursuit of an appeal or retrial.

And then there is the agony of not knowing when the fateful day will come.

"Every time I visit my son, I think today might be the last time I see him," the mother said, noting that neither the family, the lawyer nor the convict will be notified in advance of the execution day. "It's like the state is testing my son's patience, forcing him to lose control and go mad." ...

Please read complete text here

Amnesty International Japan - Center for abolition of Death Penalty is asking for our help:

Dear all,

In Japan, next execution will be taken place in next June. In order to prevent Japanese government from executing prisoners, I'd liket to let you send letters to show your concern on execution in Japan.

Please send the letter to following address.

Minister of Justice, Kunio HATOYAMA
Ministry of Justice
1-1-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Prime minister, Yasuo FUKUDA
office of Prime Minister
2-3-1, Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Sample message is below.


Dear Minister,

I would like to express my grave concern on execution in Japan.

I would like to remind you of the recent UN General Assembly's adoption of resolution 62/149 calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions, which was supported by an overwhelming majority.

I believe that death penalty is absolutely a denial of the right to life and brings a culture of violence to the society.

I call for immediate reintroduction of moratorium on all executions as a first step towards the total abolition of the death penalty in Japan.

Yours respectfully,
***your name***
***your address***

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language.

28 May 2008
Amnesty International Japan
Center for abolition of Death Penalty

Amnesty International Japan
Campainer for abolition of Death Penalty 
Ryosuke Matsuura 

4FKyodo Bldg.2-2 Kandanishiki-cho,Chiyoda-ku,Tokyo 101-0054
TEL. 81-3-3518-6777 FAX. 81-3-3518-6778

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Walk and Concert With Capital "X" in Houston Friday


Andre Lattalade, also known as Capital “X”, a hip hop artist and activist, will be in Houston on Friday, May 30, as the last part of a 1700 mile walk which started on March 31, 2008. The walk started in New Jersey where the death penalty has recently been abolished. It is ending in Texas, the leading death penalty state in the nation with 405 executions since 1982. Texas currently has 14 (!) executions scheduled, the first one being Derrick Sonnier on June 3.

Called the “Walk 4 Life”, Capital “X” has walked through 10 of the 12 states with the highest execution rates in the U.S. He is walking to protest the death penalty and to shed light on the inhumane treatment of prisoners on death row. Capital “X” can be contacted directly at 281-818-8935 and at .

On May 30, at 8am, Capital "X" will begin a walk through downtown Houston (starting at Jackson and Commerce Streets) which will end at KPFT Radio, 419 Lovett Blvd, around 10 am.

Also on May 30, at 10pm, a Salute to Capital “X” Concert will take place at Advant Garden, 411 Westheimer, in Houston. Capital "X" and several other artists will perform at the concert.

On June 3, Capital "X" plans to protest the execution of Derrick Sonnier at the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

Please contact Courtney Wilson at 832-704-8900 for more information.

Videos from the Human Rights conference

After MVFHR's "Reframing the Death Penalty" panel at the U.S. Human Rights Network conference last month, they filmed several short statements from victims' family members who were at the conference. These videos are posted at The Hub, a site through which human rights activists can share video and audio material.

You can see Jeanne Bishop challenge the conventional wisdom about closure, Debra Fifer talk about losing her son to gun violence, Natalie Philips describe how her aunt Debra's words and the experience of attending the conference changed her from a death penalty supporter to an opponent, Renny Cushing talk about his father's murder and his view of the death penalty as a human rights violation, and Delia Flores talk about why working against the death penalty is so important.

Taken from the MVFHR's blog

"X" on

Title: EPISODE281 - Prisoners Rights Activist Capital-"X"
Time: Today, 05/29/2008 09:00 PM EDT

Capital-"X" is a Brooklyn born Puerto Rican who now resides in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey when he is not on tour fighting on the front lines in the war for justice. Spending nearly half of his life trapped within the web of the criminal justice system Capital-"X" transformed himself into a prisoners rights activist.

A strong opponent of capitol punishment Capital-"X" spends much of his time traveling across the US as well as over seas speaking and performing to educate and enlighten the masses on what he considers to be the truth about a corrupt and unjust legal system. Intertwining facts gathered by years of extensive study in criminology, penology, law, personal experience and the experiences of fellow captives with hip hop music "X" intoxicates audiences with what he calls Raptivism. Called the Voice of the Voiceless, Capital-"X" claims to be the spokesman for over 2.4 million captives held in US prisons.

Capital-"X" is affiliated with many organizations such as: Senza Voce, Rome Hip Hop Parade Amnesty International, NJADP, TCADP, Journey of Hope, 4Wardever and the Mikey Powell Campaign just to name a few. "X" has embarked on five European tours performing over 200 shows in 7 countries.

Raised in the streets and in prison, Capital-"X" turned his life around through his music he calls Reality Hip Hop, or Raptivism. A strong supporter for death row inmates, and activist for prison rights, Capital-"X" brings awareness to people and hope to prisoners through his music, and lyrics.


Listen here:
Talkcast ID: 11887
Date: Thursday, May 29, 2008
Time: 6:00 PM PST/9:00 PM EST
Call in:
Dial: (724) 444-7444
Enter: 11887 # (Call ID) Enter: 1 # or your PIN

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What is Forgiveness

An interview with Sunny Jacobs
Sunny Jacobs spent seventeen years in prison in Florida, including five on Death Row, for murders she did not commit. When she was exonerated and released in 1992, it was too late for her husband, Jesse Tafero, who was executed for the same crimes in 1990 – before his innocence could be proven.

Please find more information about Sonia Jacobs at the homepage of the Journey of Hope

Sunny also shared her story in a book called "Stolen Time".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Katia : taking the Walk 4 Life to the State Capitol

Some of the people who were on the Walk, including family of death row prisoner

By Katia

Today was kind an adventure. We all met around 12 at Denny's to have some real cool breakfast as we knew that we would all need a lot of energy! People were always Us meaning Andre, Bill, KC and her sons, Giulia, Kristen and the family of Death row prisoner Jeff Wood, with a lot of kids to bring some more joy to the Walk.

We then went to Office Depot to have some flyers printed out and we got stopped by the police because the people in the store said that one of us looked like someone who had just committed a criminal offense in the store. So they checked our ID and looked into our purses and what not. I'm telling you, it was pretty crazy. But everything ended up good and we got ready to go.

Finally, with some delay we walked to the Capitol. The gardens surrounding the State Capitol were open to the public so we just took the way through the park to reach the front of the Capitol. There were people hanging out there and visitors of the Capitol. We just got there and stood in front of the entrance with our signs high.

We decided to start and do some shouting so we started shouting "What do we want - Abolition!" and also..."they say death row - we say hell no!". It was good. You can bet we had people's attention by then. After a while we decided to move outside of the garden to not get into any we moved outside and in the meantime we spread flyers to the passers by. Me and Bill were singing "We shall overcome" and even if sometimes we were messing up with words we were really believing in what we were doing.

What was really good was that some people asked for the flyers. Some people asked us about what we were doing. It was so great! We moved outside the garden, just in front of the gates of the State Capitol in front of that big street that faces the Capitol. We stayed there with our signs and we got a lot of cars blowing their horns and showing us the peace sign. When we saw passers-by gathering at the corners of the street we started to shout again and a couple of times people showed us support. That was a great encouragement for us all.

It was a great experience to be there and share with all these people what we shared today. Many of these people I didn't know. I had never met them before but the intensity of what we believe in was such a blessing and I am glad I got to share and be part of that.

When people from everywhere and with the most different experiences in life join together for something that is not about themselves but about a common cause--that regards the life of everybody--that is just amazing. That is just God's hand leading the game.

Probably I will never meet many of these people again in my life, but I feel like I have to pay homage to them for the strength and the courage and the incredible desire of justice that they brought in the Walk.

So, to the family of Jeff Wood, I really wanna say thank you and I really send my wishes for many blessings to come.

Bill Pelke has just been a tremendous help and like a "column" in this Walk. He offered one of the most beautiful things that a person can have inside and can share with others: compassion. Bill always has a good word for everyone and a smile to share and I am grateful that I could be among the recipients of such gifts.

The events and the people I met today just led me to think that I still have many things to learn...still have a lot of qualities that I want to acquire and I'm glad that I could have examples in front of me to look at.

While talking with Jeff Wood sister she was telling me how in the previous day there had been people offending and mistreating Kristen and Jeff Wood's daughter, simply because they were trying to educate people about the value of human life. We agreed that we can have different opinions and still respect each others. This made me think about what just happened with another person within this movement in Texas and I just realized how, so many times, we want to teach others that we need to respect human life, but we are unable to respect and cherish our own comrades and people nearest to us.

This tells me that probably, we all have to learn from what we believe in, and use God's grace to open our eyes and others' eyes.


My time with Capital X

by Christy Armell, New Mexico

I spent twelve very exciting days walking the streets with Capital X. His strength and motivation was so inspiring to me, that I knew I would also catch the fever more than ever! I arrived in Arkansas not really knowing what to expect. I was traveling many miles to help fight the atrocity of state sanctioned murder. I have had trouble getting people in New Mexico to step up to the plate and fight with me in this struggle. I guess people feel that since there are only two men on death row in New Mexico, we really don't have a problem. I was even critiqued more when I stood up for Michael Astorga, who is accused of killing a Sheriffs Officer, is facing the death penalty in New Mexico if convicted. I was told that Michael Astorga was not the person to be the poster child for the death penalty. Is there anyonet hat should be the poster child for the death penalty?

It was great to be able to go and meet with Capital X, who is someone I knew would understand my deep desire to be very vocal about the death penalty. I was relieved to finally find someone that I could lean on for support.

The moment I met X, I knew that Arkansas and Texas were in trouble!! The two of us together, well we were going to cause major damage!! When I looked at him, I saw myself!! We made our way into Texas and that experience was very bittersweet for me. I could almost smell the death in the air. All the men and women who sit on death row in Texas, waiting to be killed, I felt them all with me. They are the reason I got up every morning ( even though I am NOT a morning person) and put on my shoes to begin the day. I held tight to the Cross necklace that Rudy Medrano made for me. Rudy sits on Death row in Texas, charged under the Law of Parties. Rudy was not even at the crime scene , but was charged with capital murder because his guns were used in the crime.

I met Rick Halprin, who I admire beyond belief. his dedication to this struggle is never ending, and he taught me many things. I also met a mother and father who's only son is on death row. I felt their pain, as if it was my child sitting there, waiting to die. I thought to myself, how can this be? How can the country I live in kill in the name of Justice? It is not something I chose to be silent about.

I also met a man in the streets of Dallas who came up to me, praising me for standing up against the system. After talking awhile, he took off his sunglasses and told me that he was sentenced to die by electrocution in the late 70's. His sentence was overturned and he is free today. He cried to me when talking about the guys on the row, and said he knows what its like to have people forget about you. I get chills just talking about it now. There is so much pain in the death penalty.

I came home to New Mexico full of energy! I am ready to continue this fight here, and across the world. This is a dark circle we dance in. But together, we can and will end the suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters.

We walked here in New Mexico on May 25th, the day that Capital X was arriving in Austin. My heart was with him, Bill and everyone that was there !! We were in solidarity!!

Capital X will be in New Mexico on June 12th. We will be having activities in Albuquerque on June 13th and we will be in Santa Fe on June 16th, where we will walk from the Capitol to the SuperMax Prison. It is time for New Mexico to wake up and realize that the issue of the death penalty and the need for prison reform does effect us!!

I can be reached at or at 505-299-2795

BIO About me:

I am 34 years old. I am a single mother of a 14 year old daughter. I am a student studying Criminal Justice and I am looking to be a Mitigation Specialist. I have been vocally active against the death penalty and prison reform issues for about a year. I was researching the death penalty for a class when I came across Kenneth's Fosters case. I wrote to Kenny in prison, and became very active in saving his life. Kenny is the reason I found my voice, and i always give him credit for that!! he is my brother in the struggle!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Texas Bridges

Andre Latallade aka Capital "X" has an objective for this Walk 4 Life: "To build a BRIDGE between two groups of victims: the executed and their families, and the victims and families of violent crimes. Latallade said, "separated, we call for life or death. I say we unite and call for solutions. I think it can bring unity. Unite everybody that is fighting injustice, and keep that unity till the end." This is a major focus as well for The Journey of Hope born out in this latest event. (Find this quote in Amnesty & JOH blog & elsewhere.)the first bridge R is Westbound approach to Rainbow Bridge in Orange County, Texas. Veterans Memorial Bridge is on the left in keeping with this long Memorial Weekend. The 2nd bridge on left is an Austin walking bridge As you care and pray for the Walk 4 Life with all parties connected to them, hold them all in the light as bridges with all their further events in Houston, Italy and beyond. Thanks!

Capitol Austin Texas

CONTACTS for Capital "X" /Andre Latallade/Walk 4 Life Texas

CURRENT CONTACT AUSTIN Delia Perez Meyer 512-444-5366 for information on Walk 4 Life

Andre Latallade (he pronounces it La-tah-LAH-day), also known as Capital "X"
The visionary behind The WALK 4 Life Campaign and Walk (PLEASE speak clearly because of crowds and sometimes a hearing difficulty) 281-818-8935

Katia Who's been working closely on Walk

Bill Pelke of The Journey of Hope 305 775-5823

If you have any difficulty reaching the right person, call me & I will try:
Connie 828 884-9467 or email me if time is not of essence at
See just below see: CELEBRATING The End of the Walk 4 Life with Katia (she describes being at the Gov. Mansion with Bill Pelke & Capital X and other protesters and now ONWARD to the Capitol of Texas at Austin.) STAY TUNED FOR A REPORT FROM THERE!

Courtney Wilson 832-704-8900 (Houston, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty)

While in Houston, Capital “X” will be hosted by BOTH the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. (Stay tuned for more info as some of these events are being "fined tuned" & hope to put these up together with a few more contacts)

Please scroll below to find a ballad on how youth copy their elders and blogs not only the Walk but also on MIKE KENNEDY, beloved activist for whom we now grieve, also notes on Susybelle & more from DALLAS. Be sure not to miss the very moving blog with Marietta Jaeger and families & last but NOT least, please sign the petitions on the imminent executions and help all of us protest executions until they are no more...

Release on Walk 4 Life with Capital "X"

Press Release: May 13, 2008 (just sent to this JOH blog by David Atwood)

Contact: Courtney Wilson 832-704-8900 (in Houston)


Capital “X”, a hip hop artist and activist, will be in Houston on May 30 as the last part of a 1700 mile walk which started on March 31, 2008. The walk started in New Jersey where the death penalty has recently been abolished. It is ending in Texas, the leading death penalty state in the nation with 405 executions since 1982. Texas currently has 10 (!) executions scheduled, the first one being Derrick Sonnier on June 3.

Called the “Walk 4 Life”, Capital “X” will walk through 10 of the 12 states with the highest execution rates in the U.S. He is walking to protest the death penalty and to shed light on the inhumane treatment of prisoners on death row. Capital “X” can be contacted directly at 281-818-8935 and at .

On May 30 at 7pm, a salute to Capital “X” will take place at Avant Garden, 411 Westheimer, Houston. On May 31 at 2pm, he plans to protest the death penalty at the Walls Unit in Huntsville where executions take place.

While in Houston, Capital “X” will be hosted by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement.

Please contact Courtney Wilson at 832-704-8900 to request interviews and for more information.

Celebrating the End of the Walk with Katia

Gov. Mansion With Katia , Bill Pelke & Capital X

Hello there Connie,

It's Katia...hope you're doing fine. Some news from Texas... me, KC, My fellow comrade Giulia and KC's two sons drove 4 and a half hours from Livingston to Austin to reach the last leg of the Walk. We met with Capital X and Bill Pelke at Pizza Hut near to the Gov mansion where the other comrades were taking a break before the final step. There were also family members of death row prisoner Jeff Wood...lots of kids and some very motivated people. His wife, his brother-in-law and even his daughter. We were like 20 people.

We started walking downtown carrying signs against the death penalty and a lot of cars who were passing us by showed support by blowing their horns and making the peace sign. it was great. We reached the Gov mansion and we just sit there with our signs exposed. WE CELEBRATED THE END OF THE WALK and like 10 mins later we were joined by two guys who drove from Dallas just to meet us on the last leg of the Walk. One of these guys had met X in Dallas and had talked to him. he made it a point to be present at the end of the Walk. Amazing.

Then we went to the temporary home of Governor Perry. We were lucky enough to find a car that was entering the gates of the we just followed that car. We stopped in front of the Gov's house gate and X went and rang the bell. Security hung up on him. Then i went and rang the bell too. i told security that i was from Italy and that i had come with some citizens to talk to Gov Perry and i asked if he could receive us. The security told me that nobody was in the house.

Like 5 minutes later we were approached by a police officer telling us that we had to move in order not to get in trouble. Other two officers from the inside of the Gov house joined her. We were all very peaceful and even if we had to move we were still able to show our signs to the cameras. Indeed we did what we were supposed to do...and somebody will surely see the images on cameras of people peacefully protesting and asking for an alternative to the death penalty.

Also another resident there passed by with the car showing the new neighbors of the governor don't approve the death penalty.

We will be at the state capitol in a few hours.
That's all for now. Hope this helps.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Note on Texas Video and News

Please check back for updates soon! Meantime click here for video blogs

see here "Emergency Blog" #5 from X in Texas

Please also don't forget to sign petition for Jeff Wood!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Photo by Joshua McKerrow — The Capital X from the early part of the Walk

Andre Latallade, also known as rapper Capital X, spoke about his walk from Trenton, N.J., to Austin, Texas, a 1,700-mile campaign to put an end to the death penalty. A former convict himself, a tattoo on his neck references Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

TODAY WALK 4 LIFE - Sunday, May 25, 2008 - 12:00 - WALK WITH CAPITAL X

Contact: Delia Perez Meyer 512-444-5366
Hello All, 9:00 P.M. SATURDAY - Andre has made it to TEXAS !!! Alison Dieter and I walked with Andre and Bill Pelke yesterday as we made our way from Waco to Kileen, Texas! They arrived in Round Rock this evening; hot,tired, suffering from heat exhaustion, but very excited about the 10 folks that showed up to walk with him today !! So far, Andre's gone through THREE pairs of shoes!! How about a donation?

WALK 4 LIFE - TODAY SUNDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Please "Walk the Last Mile" with Capital X and others towards the Governor's Mansion where we will gather for a rally - special guests are Bill Pelke whose grandmother was murdered many years ago and he continues to fight against the death penalty, sharing his story around the world! Suujah Graham was unable to make it - best wishes to him and his family.

Please make plans for the 15th Annual Fast and Vigil in Washington, DC at the end of June/beginning of July!!

ITINERARY FOR Sunday, May 25th (and 26th) follows:
12:00 Noon - IH 35 and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Turn left at I-35 N 0.6 miles
Turn right at E 11th St 0.6 miles
Turn left at Colorado St 328 feet Governor's Mansion.

May 26th - Austin. 2:00 p.m. Protest in front of the State Capitol.

May 30th - Houston. - Various events to be announced

May 31st - Huntsville - Vigil in front of the Death House. Time will be around 2pm.

June 1st - Live on KDOL Radio Livingston, Texas

Find plenty more on Capital X and the Walk 4 Life here on this blog for The JOH

Check out items on X and the Walk incl. photos beg. April through the end of May.

Also check out the following and use search engine for the next few days: Texas Capital X ANDRE LATALLADE and you may find a new video at You Tube

The Open Door Community: An organization worth knowing

The Open Door Community is a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition (they’re sometimes called a Protestant Catholic Worker House!). They seek to dismantle racism, sexism and (more); abolish the death penalty; and create the Beloved Community on Earth through a loving relationship with some of the most neglected and outcast of God’s children: the homeless and our sisters and brothers who are in prison.

They serve breakfasts and soup-kitchen lunches, provide showers and changes of clothes, staff a free medical clinic, conduct worship services and meetings for the clarification of thought, and provide a prison ministry, including monthly trips for families to visit loved ones at the Hardwick Prisons in central Georgia. They also advocate on behalf of the oppressed, homeless and prisoners through nonviolent protests, grassroots organization and the publication of our monthly newspaper, Hospitality.

Recent visitors:

Charlie Young, Jr. (above), here with Eduard Loring, was once a prisoner on Georgia’s death row. During that time, in the early 1980s, Charlie Young, Sr. came to live at the Open Door Community. Father and son, long estranged, were reunited. Charlie was freed on parole in 2003 and stops by 910 for a visit whenever he comes to Atlanta.

Capital X (left) spent two nights with them while on his 1,700-mile “Walk 4 Life.” The purpose of his walk is to raise public awareness about the death penalty and to bring more people into the movement to end it. He is walking from Trenton, New Jersey – a state which recently abolished the death penalty – to Texas, the state which executes the most prisoners in the U.S.A.

Click to learn more about the Open Door Community!

Bill Pelke on Mike Kennedy, X , Susybelle & More! DALLAS

Mike Kennedy: free-lance abolitionist from Dallas;part of the Journey of Hope Family
Bill Pelke's comments on Mike and more in Dallas

On Tuesday, May 20th, I left Anchorage, Alaska and flew to Dallas, Texas to rejoin Capital X and the final leg of his Walk 4 Life. My friend Dirk Sisson provided me with a first-class round-trip ticket with his frequent-flyer miles. It was one of the few times in my hundreds of flights that I was booked first class. Since it was an all-night flight I knew I would be ready to go when I hit the ground in Dallas and it added to my anticipation of joining X.

I arrived in Dallas at 6:00 am, rented a car and set out to meet-up with Capital X. When I arrived at the home of Susybelle Gosslee who was hosting X during his time in the Dallas area, X was standing in front of the house.

After we greeted each other, I told X about my friend Mike Kennedy who lived about twenty minutes away from Susybelle’s. I explained how Mike was a great abolition friend of mine and that I knew he would appreciate a visit from us if X could take a break in his walk sometime during the day. X said he would like to meet Mike.

It was great to see Susybelle again. Susybelle had been tremendously supportive of the Journey when we toured through Dallas in October of 2007. Then I got online before X was to begin his activities for the day.

One of the first messages I read was from Rick Halperin, my friend and Journey board member. The subject was “The passing of Mike Kennedy”. Mike had died of a heart attack on May 7, but his family did not know how to contact anyone in the movement and we were just finding out.

There was a memorial service the following day and I told X I needed to attend it and asked if he would like to join me. After walking about 20 miles, X got into my car and we headed to Garland,Texas for the service. I am so glad we went. The priest talked about Mike’s dedication to capital punishment. Mike’s brother, Jerry, gave a very heart-touching eulogy and again pointed out Mike activism with the death penalty.

When we left the church we had Mike’s cane that he used in many of his abolition walks. That cane will be a memorial of Mike at future abolition events like "The Annual Fast and Vigil" which Mike always attended in Washington DC. All of us in the Journey of Hope will greatly miss Mike.

In addition to Capital X’s walk we were able to stop by for a surprise visit to Ken and Lois Robison. Ken and Lois have traveled with the Journey on many occasions, including ones in the Philippines and in Europe when they were crusading for their son,Larry, who was eventually executed by the state of Texas in 2000.

Today we walked through Waco and were joined by Delia Perez (whose brother Louis is on death row in Texas) and Allison Dieter, a long time friend of mine. They drove up from Austin and walked a number of miles with X. It was a very hot day, but Allison and Delia were real troopers. X also walked quite a few miles by himself. I would drive on down the road and wait for X to catch up and take a short break. At one point a police officer stopped X and Delia and told them they could not be by the side of interstate and that they had to walk on the access road. I was able to capture most of it on camera.

Tonight we were joined in Temple, Texas by Kristen from Norway (whose husband is on death row in Texas). She had just spend two days in Livingston visiting him and had the sad duty of telling him on Thursday that the State of Texas had given him an execution date for late August. It has been a stressful couple of days for her and she was so happy with Capital X for his love of the death row inmates and their families and for all he was doing for the cause of abolition.

Tomorrow X heads out early trying to get as close as he can to Round Rock and prepare for his walk into Austin on Sunday. Kristen will be joining the walk with about 10 of her husband’s family. They will all be wearing white T-shirts promoting the Walk 4 Life. There is a link on this page (RIGHT COLUMN) for others interested in getting one of those Walk 4 Life T-Shirts.

I will be operating the video camera and it should be a great picture with them all walking with X.

Susybelle, Ken and Lois, Delia and Allison all bought us meals the last three days and Susybelle made a generous donation to help. We are very appreciative as expenses like renting a car, gas (64 dollars when I filled up today) ice, water, lodging and other items add up.

If you would like to help with the Walk 4 Life, please use the DONATE button on this blog and designate it to the Walk for Life.

More later as we approach Austin and are joined by my good friend Katia Rabbaci, the director of the Italian group Voices of the Voiceless, who has orchestrated much of X’s walk. Several others from Italy and other locations will be joining us soon.


PS Bill sent a note reminding me that the photo of Mike and Sister Helen shown just below looks like it's from the 1996 "Journey of Hope".

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Video delay

Video of Marietta delayed to allow space for reflection on the life of Mike.

Memorial Mass: Garland TX 3 PM May 22nd

Mike Kennedy, a member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Garland and a long-time crusader against the death penalty, died May 7. A memorial Mass is being held Thursday, May 22, 3:00 pm at Good Shepherd Church 214 S. Garland Ave. Garland TX 75040.

Please send us a memory or two:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Abe on Mike Kennedy

Sister Helen Prejean with Mike Kennedy

People who didn’t know Mike but saw him could easily have mistaken him for a homeless drunk, but his hard to understand speech and his imbalance was due to his illness. That he was usually bedraggled was as much a matter of choice as it had to do with all the hassle involved for someone with his degenerative cerebral condition. (I forget exactly what it was)...If you look at the Texans Against State Killing march video from 1992, you can see that Mike was using a cane then but still able at that point to set a very fast pace. Mike always had a book and he didn’t just read it, he devoured it. I offered to replace his copy of Dale Recinella’s “The Biblical Truth About the Death Penalty” because it was so dogeared, but he wouldn’t hear of it. I’ve never been to his apartment but a profile I read about him indicated he had quite the extensive library. Mike always wore his t-shirt and his buttons and I can’t recall him missing a Fast & Vigil or a Journey of Hope since I’ve known him – preferring to take the bus all the way from Dallas rather than to fly. As I know him, Mike identified first with Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement, and he put his faith into action every day. Mike was a true human rights hero and he is missed.

Mike was an abolitionist’s abolitionist, and in his honor I am today making a contribution to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. I encourage others to do that same at


Abraham J. Bonowitz
Director of Affiliate Support
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
561-371-5204 (Mobile)

DNA cleared them, but they'll never feel free

Eighteen people have been cleared by DNA in Dallas County after serving years in prison for crimes they didn't commit, but the story doesn't end at exoneration. They are released into a changed world, and it is a challenge to rebuild a life after so long. A article and video explore the difficulty of life after exoneration, and profile Wiley Fountain, who was homeless and has now disappeared, and James Woodard, who was released last month and is working to rebuild his life.

Read complete article at and watch video

Find out more about wrongly convicted at the homepage of the Innocence Project and about exonorated death row inmates at the homepage of Witness to Innocence

Monday, May 19, 2008


Events in Texas

Tuesday May 20th in Austin 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Sneak Preview of "At the Death House Door". Delia Perez Meyer, whose brother is on death row, is hosting the screening at her church. San Jose Catholic Church (South Austin off of Oltorf St.) 2435 Oak Crest Avenue CALL if you have questions: 512-302-6715



MAY 25th. Last 16 miles.
Starting on FM-973/S Lexington St about 9am
Continue to follow FM-973 7.3 miles
Turn right at FM-969 W3.9 miles
Continue on E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd 3.9 miles (WHERE PEOPLE WILL MEET "X")
Turn left at I-35 N 0.6 miles
Turn right at E 11th St 0.6 miles
Turn left at Colorado St 328 feet Governor's Mansion. 16 miles 5 hours

May 25th - Austin. people will gather to walk the last miles of the Walk to the Governor mansion. We will be joined by Shujaa Graham exonerated death row prisoner and Bill Pelke murder victim family member of The
Journey of Hope.

May 26th - Austin. protest in front of the State Capitol.

May 30th - Houston. "Tour" in schools and hip hop venues to speak with kids. Organized by Dave Atwood and his people. May 31st - Huntsville - Vigil in front of the Death House. Time will be around 2pm.

June 1st Live on KDOL Radio Livingston, Texas

WATCH for more updates on this blog soon
Including NEW Walk 4 Life with Capital "X"

The Texas State Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will hold rallies, vigils and other events to publicize the Walk 4 Life - culminating in a protest outside the governor's mansion in Houston/coverage of executions.

The "Walk for Life" has received support from Amnesty International (also see Amnesty USA Blogs)for activism with a beat) and other abolitionist groups in the U.S. and Europe, including Senza Voce ("Voice of the Voiceless"), an Italian group that is co-planning the events in Texas.

"What Andre's doing is quite a feat," says Bill Pelke, co-founder of Journey of Hope, a national group that helps murder victims' families fight capital punishment. "It shows that people can change and do good things. I think he reaches an audience that isn't always reached by the movement."

Pelke, of Alaska, fought a well-publicized battle to get his grandmother's killer off death row in 1986. He joined Latallade for part of his walk near Washington, D.C. and will soon re-join the Walk in Dallas.

Latallade's walk -- he hopes to complete 35 miles a day over 54 days -- comes at a time when a record number of Americans are in prison. According to a study released by the Pew Center on the United States in February, more than one in 100 adults is now incarcerated, the highest number in U.S. history and a figure that tops every other nation in the world.

Walk the Line with Andre Latallade (La-tah-LAH-day)

(Condensed from Story By CARRIE STETLER)

After spending eight years of his life locked up, Andre Latallade still...feels paranoid in social situations...and too much sunlight makes him edgy...yet he won't let that stop him now...

"I want to show inmates on death row that I won't forget about them."

Andre, Capital X's Walk 4 Life began on March 31 in Trenton -- where, in December, New Jersey became the first state in four decades to abolish the death penalty -- and will finish in Huntsville, Texas, the state with the most executions.

Of more than 3,000 prisoners on death row, Texas executed 27 last year, more than 60 percent of the national total.

"I'm not always up on all the statistics," admits Latallade, "But I know what's immoral."

Latallade (he pronounces it La-tah-LAH-day) turned his life around six years ago, after doing time on drug and aggravated assault charges. Since, he has built a name for himself as an activist for prisoners' rights, affiliated with national and international groups that are fighting capital punishment.

For Latallade, death row is the last stop in a system that brutalizes inmates and makes rehabilitation nearly impossible..."You committed a crime, you get removed from society and you pay your debt," says Latallade. "But these are environments that just make people worse, and society pays for that... My purpose is to speak for human beings that are being treated like non-human beings."


It's a process Latallade calls "prisonization." For him, it began when he was sent to Rikers Island after being arrested on a drug charge at 17, three years after he dropped out of school.

"That was the first time I saw a prisoner get killed. I hadn't even made up my bunk yet. These guys were arguing over the phone, one just started shanking the hell out of the other," he says.

Latallade witnessed scores of stabbings, beat-downs and rapes in jails and prisons in New York and New Jersey, he says.

The subtlest slight -- or perceived slight -- could trigger an attack, from failing to return a borrowed cigarette to holding eye contact for too long, a sign of disrespect. Guards also beat inmates, he claims.

For protection, Latallade, whose parents are Puerto Rican, joined the Latin Kings gang. He learned why prison gangs inspire such loyalty. "You have guys telling you you're a king when you're used to people telling you you're nothing--If that's all you hear all day it can destroy you."

His tattoos also tell a story. On his left bicep is an illustration of the gurney on which prisoners are strapped for lethal injections. The word "Freedom" is written across his upper chest. His prison number, 305375, is tattooed on his shoulder blades. It's also the name of the nonprofit corporation he founded to fight the death penalty.

His tattoos also tell a story. On his left bicep is an illustration of the gurney on which prisoners are strapped for lethal injections. The word "Freedom" is written across his upper chest. His prison number, 305375, is tattooed on his shoulder blades. It's also the name of the nonprofit corporation he founded to fight the death penalty.


Latallade was born in Brooklyn but spent most of his childhood in Morris County. In fourth grade, his family moved to Mine Hill, where he was the only Puerto Rican kid in town. Classmates threw rocks at him and called him "spic," he says. He went on to write a song called "The Spic in Black," a play on the famous Cash tune.

"I didn't even know what the word meant, but I knew it was bad," Latallade remembers. With the song, he says, he was trying to transform a slur into a badge of honor.

In his teens, he developed a PCP addiction and was dealing drugs when his criminal record began. It ended when he sought treatment for substance abuse. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Meniere's Disease -- an inner-ear condition that has eroded his hearing and triggers episodes of vertigo. (So if he doesn't answer this is a clue)

In Mine Hill, his parents worked hard to make a new life for themselves and were at a loss to help him adjust, he says. One person he could turn to was his older sister, Mary.

"She was my anchor not to jump over the edge," he says. "When I was in high school, she kept handing me self-help books, like M. Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled," telling me to read these books. I was one of the only cats on the street doing illegal activity, but with a book in my hand."

Mary (his sister)was a college graduate who gave him "tough love" when he kept landing in prison, he says. Now a stay-at-home mom in North Carolina who processes disability claims for the state, she let him know (then) that, until he changed, she couldn't help him.

But the biggest incentive to stay out of jail was his daughter, Sheana, now 18. Latallade's marriage to an exotic dancer in the early 1990s ended after several years, but he formed a close bond with his daughter, whom he raised as a single father in Budd Lake for several years after his ex-wife moved to Texas.

"When I got custody, I told her, 'I'm not pushing you to be an adult, but we're going to be a team.' It was tough, but I learned a lot and so did she. I learned how to be patient and flexible."

His daughter, who now lives with her mother in Texas, will join him on the walk, too.


After his release from prison in 2001, Latallade got a degree in sound technology from the County College of Morris and was about to start an internship for a major music label, but his prison record prevented him from being hired, he says.

That's when he began speaking out against the prison system and started corresponding with inmates on death row.

His stalled rap career picked up after he began writing about his beliefs. He got a slot on the Warped Tour in 2004, which led to gigs in Italy and other European countries, sponsored by Senza Voce.

"His mission is to bring the truth to light," says his manager, Timothy Kostenko, a rapper and financial advisor with Morgan Stanley whose stage name is "Tim Grins."

Kostenko, who grew up in the Sussex County town of Vernon and now lives in Annapolis, Md., is funding Latallade's walk, despite the fact that he's uncertain about the death penalty. "Sometimes I look at (a murderer) who might have killed four people (say) three cops, and I think, 'Why should (that) person be allowed to live?,'" he says.

But he believes in Latallade.

"What he's doing is important. I've seen kids who are the result of three, four generations of poverty. He's an example to them that, listen, you don't have to choose this route. I can see it in his eyes that he's on a mission. I've told him, 'Why don't you convince me?'"

Find a fuller copy of this story here with photos by SAED HINDASH (please comment)

Prevention through Steps to Recovery


Perhaps some who come here would like to look up the radio program about to be aired Monday Evening May 19 2008 6-7 PM on radio or find your local station on . Or find archived with option for free podcast: Speaking of Faith "THE SPIRITUALITY OF ADDICTION AND RECOVERY" is the newest program. Of course, the problems are often deeper than can be articulated or understood. Healing and forgiveness is part of the battle. Yet there is much more required for many.

ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE although the rate at which people become addicted can vary greatly. Some people lose control over their drinking very soon after getting started. Others become dependent only gradually - sometimes so gradually that they don't realize it's happening. The factors that cause addiction are not completely understood.

You may also want to look up a book -DYING FOR A DRINK- by Barbara Thompson with Andy Spickard, MD. Barbara is a friend of mine. Let us know what has helped you or a loved one. Who knows, others may be helped and prevented from wrecking their lives or relationships.

Also notice the site listed in JOH column to right -PREVENTION NOT PUNISHMENT - for related resources. And don't forget to comment and/or tell us your own story:

Carroll Pickett At Death's Door

"At Death's Door" ( a film which documents Pastor Carroll Pickett's work as minister with Texas inmates just before their executions ) premieres on Independent Film Channel (IFC) on May 29th" Terry Gross interviewed Pickett on Fresh Air, an radio program, today. Be sure to see the reminder about a showing in Texas.

For more on Carroll Pickett's beginning in Huntsville with the hostage crisis in 1974 in Chapter 7 "The Death House" from -Living Next Door to the Death House- by Virginia Stem Owens and David Clinton Owens 2003. Then he was in favor of the death penalty. Part of that was because of the siege. "Two of the hostages were members of my surge and both women were killed," Pickett said, "One of the most horrible scenes I'd ever seen in my life...I was getting ready to do one of their daughter's wedding."

Later, Pickett had to minister to the hostage-taker of that siege just before his execution. "He talked and talked and talked....(finally) he confessed he was guilty...I believed him. That was between 11:30 and midnight--I believed him. But then on the table he said 'I am innocent'." Despite situations like this, it was when Pickett talked with his victims' family that he began to see that Texas executions weren't what they were cracked up to be. The victims' family said, "This didn't bring us closure." Pickett said they didn't want him executed. This had quite an impact on the Pastor.

"Many were mentally retarded." Pickett told Terry Gross on Fresh Air today, about the executed. The great majority were either hispanic or black. We only executed one who had a college degree. The average was only up to the 9th grade. But, he said, "They were people."MOST OF THE MEN WERE HIGH ON DRUGS OR ALCOHOL WHEN THEY COMMITTED THEIR CRIMES," Pastor Pickett said, in Terry Gross interview today. Pickett says he's NOT convinced there is no pain with an execution. He heard signs of pain during executions--often happening more when the inmate would fight with the procedure. "Most of them wanted physical contact--wanted me to hold their hand but I couldn't" he said, "but I never lost contact with them, none of them."

"IT'S BURNING" he would sometimes hear. "A LOT OF THEM WOULD NOT GO COMPLETELY TO SLEEP WITH THE FIRST DRUG...SOMETIMES THE NOISES WERE NOT JUST AIR BUT PAIN." Pickett kept emphasizing to Terry how important it was that the one to be executed not fight.

Pickett would practice the men's last words with them and got the execution held up until they were ready. One's last words were a song and wanted to be executed just at certain words in the song. There was no way this could be promised but it happened.

Terry Gross ends her interview asking Pastor Pickett: How are you going to face your own death? He answers, "I had a heart attack right after I quit (this work)," Pickett described complications and further heart problems. "I actually died twice", Pickett said, "I'm not afraid to die...I led (these men their) last eight steps and many were not afraid to die.

Pickett: Not on the judgement committee

Chaplain Carroll Pickett discusses 'Death House' Ministry on Fresh Air with Terry Grove 3 PM EST Check your own station for Fresh Air with Terry Grove or check back to listen on line. No one had heard of lethel injection until Pickett began his work...


Taped his experiences after each execution. "Every one was different..."Can I have five more minutes for you to save me?" one fellow asked. Terry Gross asks how did you handle that? Pickett says that One guy wants to memorize the twenty-third psalm. Reverend Carroll Pickett was the death-house chaplain at the Walls prison unit in Huntsville, Texas for 13 years. During his tenure, he ministered to 95 inmates executed by lethal injection. He is the subject of a new documentary--find more on this blog...

"At the Death House Door" Reminder

See Huntsville and the state killing machinery through the eyes of a man who presided over 95 executions. ( See more on this film in JOH archives and watch for Terry Gross upcoming interview today in some states and archives later on Fresh Air )

TOMORROW/Tuesday May 20th in Austin 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

We would like to invite anyone in the Austin area to a special, free sneak preview of "At the Death House Door". Delia Perez Meyer, whose brother is on death row, is hosting the screening at her church. San Jose Catholic Church (South Austin off of Oltorf St.) 2435 Oak Crest Avenue CALL if you have questions: 512-302-6715

"Like a Neon Light of Faith" "X" Reflects on Walk

From Capital "X" who recently reflected on some days in South Carolina

A lot of young men who's lives have been very difficult being abandoned or abused. They are in this cold world at times alone, scarred to death deep down inside...So believe me I at times am probably more nervous than those that are coming to meet me or having me stay at there homes. What has gotten me passed this, is faith. When Shelly and Ginny pulled up to me I quickly realized I was not in any danger. They jumped out of the car and greeted me like a family member they hadn't seen in years. They instantly touched my heart offering me a drink, food or whatever I needed. Like a neon sign my thoughts were telling me to listen to them closely.

READ MORE here...

Find Shelly's Account of this time: April 23 in Archives of this blog...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tell me in person....

May 12, 1993 - Last statement
I am innocent, innocent, innocent. Make no mistake about this; I owe society nothing. Continue the struggle for human rights, helping those who are innocent, especially Mr. Graham. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight. May God bless you all. I am ready.

Victim Impact Statements

by Sina A. Vogt

The goal behind punishment is to allow the defendant to be rehabilitated, discourage other perpetrators, and make society safer. Punishments should provide justice for the victims and make the defendant atone for his crimes in order to offer his/her (surviving) victims closure and allow them to heal.

The focus of this article is on examining how the understanding of punishment has changed over the last few decades and what changed roles the relatives of murder victims play in capital murder trials. This article’s central object of investigation is the victim impact statement, which provides the relatives of a murder victim with an opportunity to address the court prior to sentencing after a guilty verdict has been reached in the United States. The legal history of victim impact statements will be examined and embedded in the context of how punishments are viewed by society. During this process, I will also refer to how punishments are viewed in Germany. The article will look at the various attitudes of the relatives of murder victims about the death penalty and its impact on trials and understanding of punishment and briefly describe the role of the jury and the effects of the victim impact statements on their decision.

In the United States, the district attorney almost always calls the members of victim’s family to the stand as witnesses in capital cases – even if they have nothing to say about the facts of the case. For example, many family members of the victims were called as witnesses in the case against Timothy McVeigh, who was responsible for blowing up a government building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 – an attack in which 168 people were killed. Glenn A. Seidl testified about the death of his wife, who had worked in the building, and how difficult it was for him to deal with the grief of his nine-year-old son, who constantly asks about his mother and misses her terribly. Seidl also read a letter from his son in court that stated "I miss my Mom, we used to go for walks. She would read to me. We would go to Wal-Mart… Sometimes at school around the holidays I will still make my Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day cards like the other kids.“ (Sarat, p. 9). Glenn A. Seidl was only the last of the 26 family members of those who were killed to be called as witnesses by the prosecution, in addition to three injured survivors and eight rescue or medical workers. The prosecution’s goal was to urge the jurors to not think of what happened as just mass murder: "There are 168 people, all unique, all individual…. All had families, all had friends, and they’re different.“ (Sarat, p. 8).

Read rest of the article here

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mississippi Mess

Earl Wesley Berry is scheduled to be executed May 21 for the murder of Mary Bounds.  Whatever the alleged benefits of the death penalty are in theory, several aspects of this case demonstrate what an ugly sordid mess it is in practice. 

One of the problems in Earl Wesley Berry's case is that he may be mentally retarded.  Or not.  We'll probably never know.  After the US Supreme Court decided in Atkins v. Virginia, 2002, that people with mental retardation could not be executed, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that any inmate with an IQ below 75 could have an evidentiary hearing.  But despite meeting the criteria, Earl Wesley Berry was denied such a hearing because one of his lawyers failed to file an affidavit on time.  With capital punishment in this country, life and death often hinge on such technicalities.

Last year, just before Halloween, Berry's execution was stayed by the US Supreme Court because of the pending Baze lethal injection case.  The stay was granted with only 18 minutes to spare.  I wrote then about how this process tormented the families involved.  Earlier this month, Mary Bounds' daughter Jena Watson reflected on that last minute stay:  "It hit us like a brick in October. We didn't expect it to hit us so hard. It was like she'd died all over again."   

The death penalty and the years spent waiting for an execution have kept this family focused on the killer, the crime, and the traumatic death of their loved one, while a life sentence would have allowed them to begin healing years earlier. 

And last month, when the US Supreme Court ruled in Baze on April 16 that lethal injection could be constitutional and effectively lifted the national moratorium on executions, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood acted swiftly, calling on the Mississippi Supreme Court to set Berry's execution date for May 5. May 5 just happened to be Berry's 49th birthday. 

Was this a coincidence, or a shameless political stunt? 

If the latter, it would be just another example of the way the death penalty, and especially the dramatic spectacle of executions, politicizes criminal justice, which is supposed to be about diligently seeking truth, not a forum for creepy (and probably ineffective) political pandering.  For what it's worth, the Mississippi court didn't accept AG Hood's suggestion, and set the date for May 21.  No hearing has been held on Berry's claims of mental retardation.

You can take action to stop the execution here.


taken from the Death Penalty Blog of ai USA (5/15/08)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Did you already....

.... sign into your calender to attend the Innocence Matters: Rally for Troy Davis, tomorrow, May 17, 2008, 10am-12pm, Georgia Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia, (front steps facing Washington St.) Emcee: Warren Ballentine; Lead organizers: Amnesty International and NAACP?

.... sign the petition for Troy Davis?

.... sign the petition for Greg Wright?

Remember: Every signature counts! Every person attending a demontration and therefore showing his concern and support is one important voice more joining the chorus for humanity and justice! YOU could be the one who finally makes the difference!

"I saw victims on both ends of the gun...."

The amazing "TKF Story" began in San Diego, California on the tragic evening of January 21, 1995 when 20-year-old San Diego State University (SDSU) student Tariq Khamisa was shot and killed while delivering pizzas by a 14-year-old gang recruit. His assailant, Tony Hicks, fired the fatal bullet on orders from an 18-year-old gang leader.

The immediate response of Azim Khamisa, upon learning of his son's murder, was not the usual one of demanding revenge and retribution. Instead, he saw two of America's sons lost - one forever and one to the state prison system:

"From the onset, I saw victims on both ends of the gun. I will mourn Tariq's death for the rest of my life. Now, however, my grief has been transformed into a powerful commitment to change. Change is urgently needed in a society where children kill children."

To honor his son Tariq's life and find meaning in his death, Azim established the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) in October 1995. Remarkably, Azim Khamisa, an international businessman, reached out in forgiveness to Ples Felix, the grandfather and guardian of Tony Hicks, his son's assailant. Ples, a manager for the City of San Diego, joined with Azim in dedicating their lives to ending the plague of youth violence in our country. Together, Azim and Ples have spoken to tens of thousands of school children through TKF's Violence Impact Forum (VIF) program about the "power of forgiveness" to break the cycle of violence.

Read also: and

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A short update from Dave Atwood, TX

Hi Connie,

We have been busy in Houston as you might expect. Earlier in the year we were active with an ad hoc coalition to promote the early retirement of Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. He and his predecessor Johnny Holmes have been responsible for the high number of death sentences coming from Harris County . We are hoping for a sea-change in Harris County politics in the upcoming election, similar to what they recently experienced in Dallas.

On May 3, the Houston Chapter of the TCADP participated in the NAMI Walk here. NAMI stands for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. We carried a big banner that said, "MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A CRIME". We were warmly received by the other marchers and raised over $1000 for NAMI.

On May 9, we had the Houston premier of the movie "At the Death House Door".
The filmmakers Steve James and Peter Gilbert, as well as Rev. Carroll Pickett and Professor David Dow held a panel discussion after the film. It was a great evening.

Right now we are planning on hosting Capital "X" in Houston on May 30 and 31. On May 30 there will be a "Salute to Capital "X" at a local establishment and on May 31 we plan to have a program in front of the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

Best wishes and love to you and the rest of the JOH crew.

Dave Atwood

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Capital "X" with Carolina Activist Connie

Capital "X" with Connie L Nash who's one of the bloggers here. I hope this photo expresses some of the great JOY (she) felt being with "X" for a few energizing days when my faith blossomed anew!

Mini-Profile on Connie Nash
Since I haven't yet offered my profile as has Susanne below (here on this blog) here's a short one: I, Connie, distribute human right information to a number of media and activist sources. I try to act on some of them as well. I am a strong abolition against the death penalty, a pacifist who believes in the "seamless web of non-violence", yet I also call for much better choices for women and others in severe poverty. I am a peace activist, a free-lance writer and am part of The Journey of Hope family. I have a marvelously-gifted physician husband and we have four amazingly unique grown children. I am most grateful to be working on this blog and to be making more visible the many stories and movements which seek alternatives to revenge. More another day.

Capital "X" United We Call for Solutions "Walk" updates

NOTICE NOW YOU CAN ADD COMMENTS & UPDATES FREELY BELOW EACH BLOG, THANKS TO SUSANNE (see her profile just below) USE IT TO MEET UP IN TEXAS TOO! Let folk know if U have a place to stay, a bite to eat who may be coming from a long way to join the WALK.

"X" is a MOTIVATOR...WAIT UNTIL YOU MEET HIM! More than most he lives in the moment.

( Capital "X" ) says "Separated we call for life or death, I say we unite and call for solutions." He asks that life without parole be called for rather than the death sentence and constantly addresses the need for vast improvements in US prisons. He also calls for incentives and options for the many who are behind bars due to our flawed justice system and those who's record shows they have rehabilitated selves and would do plenty of good in other capacities. He comforts the comfort-less and speaks up for the voiceless--those who've had a loved one executed, those who's loved one awaits a state killing and many others as well. (I told him I want to write him into a piece of fiction. It's because he captures for our time and with up-to-date flavor a way to bridge the gaps of age, race, cultures and sub-cultures and stay REAL.)

Bill says he's the "real deal" yet by "X"'s own description of himself has a long way to go on himself and his activist and artistic goals.

There is a palpable yet invisible joy and faith about this man who has for years seen war in the inner cities and severe abuse in New York prisons. By his own admission, "X" has struggled with his own inner wars and demons and rehabilitated himself with the Creator's help. He says he's still got a long way to go--but then who among us is perfect? And we can't let our rough edges keep us from joining the WALK of life for Change. Right?

Although "X" s speaks daily of unspeakable suffering and is not afraid to meet it close up-- there is a subtle cheer with lilt when he walks and talks to audiences because he knows he's a part of real, long-needed change. "We gotta get rid of all the killing" he says often, "So let's start with this little part of it: the death penalty. Let's get rid of that." He doesn't think he's much of a speaker--but you gotta hear him. NOT TRUE.

If you're in Texas, hey, I know it's a gigantic state, but keep the faith and try to catch up with "X", OUR BILL, Dave Atwood and the others and be a part of this massive movement for change. In fact let's ALL be the change we want to see in the world. Thanks for the inspiration and thanks "X" for BEING that change!!! from Connie (one of the bloggers here).

PS Mr. Pelke is soon to join "X" in Texas. So expect more "X" and "Walk" stories from our Bill--beloved friend and founder coming up right here. Please mark this site as a favorite. Also, see column on right and please DONATE to help Bill with the gas and food needs for this trip and for JOH in general. And don't forget to order your T-SHIRT--a nice souvenir of this WALK 4 LIFE on "X" site just under JOH site which is marked by "here"--click on that. Order T's while they last and perhaps throw in a few more dollars so "X" can eat some fried chicken which he loves. Scroll down & go to March Archives here to see much more on this Walk including videos, photos and news coverage and some items from Bill and Abe.
Here are just a few more places to go to learn more and to catch up with the action around Texas and the Walk 4 Life...

This one from INDY MEDIA will lead you to several more places...and features a photo we printed first here on our JOH blog--X with an inmate mom several of us including X stayed with when he did a radio show. (She's in front of my own red van!) Also hear the radio interview you can find...and get up to the present almost with X...

Hear this new video featured on one of "X"'s own sites.

Note on our new blogger: Susanne Cardona

Susanne and I met happily and roomed together at the San Jose January 2008 NCADP Conference. Right away we related on many levels although from two different countries. More importantly, she's the organized one yet still we blend and she doesn't scold me when I get overly-enthusiastic or my brain short-circuits--she just simply "suggests" and is usually right! Recently, with my husband in serious surgery and other family needs--she's pretty much run this blog. And we often see different stories and sites. So this working relationship here on this blog only further adds joy to our friendship across the miles and seas. As far as the blog goes, well see for yourself day-by-day and week-by-week how this blog is improving. THANKS so much Susanne for helping us through some busy times to make this JOH blog just what we've been hoping it would become! Bill Pelke's pleased as well. How good it feels to come back to one's usual work and have everything in such good order. WELCOME SUSANNE!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A brief introduction

Connie has nagged me (incessantly!) to provide a profile and I finally succumbed! ;-)

So who am I?
In a nutshell:

I am Susanne Cardona.
43 years old and single with two (almost – and eagerly anticipated) adult kids.
I am a German engineer specialising in hydraulics and working in my own business.
I chair the German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and am state coordinator for Oklahoma for Alive (another German organisation working against the death penalty).
I have penfriends on death row in OK, TX and FL and I try to travel to visit them as regularly as possible.

Although I'm doing my best, since English is my second language, I can't always guarantee to use perfect English - so please bear with me if I make mistakes.

I hope this provides a sketch of me. I am happy to answer any further questions.


"X" reports on Greg Wright who needs our help

Capital-"X" Reports from the Frontlines. DNA and polygraph test prove the innocence of Texas death row prisoners Greg Wright, yet he sits on death row still with an execution date. Immediate action is being called for internationally.
Watch video here

Please click to find more informaiton about Greg Wright

Click here to sign petition

Monday, May 12, 2008

Steve Earle - Ellis Unit One

Ellis Unit, located in Huntsville, Texas, previously housed the Texas male death row, until it was moved to Polunsky Unit near Livingston, Texas.

Day 22 WALK4LIFE Wake County Vigil

Day 22 made up for day 21 ten fold. The networking I thought was happening all came together. Instead of walking out of Wake county, I walked locally till the later evening when I was to attend a vigil in front of the death house (Central Prison) in Raleigh, NC. I had learned this vigil had been going on every Monday in front of the prison for the past three years. Incredible, that's all I kept saying because it was. This type of dedication to the struggle is exactly what's needed to defeat the killing machine that preys on America's poor.
It wasn't a massive crowd but you wouldn't have known with the amount of energy and passion. Moments after I arrived at the vigil I was joined by attorney Akin "Ice" Adepoju. Akin was one of many lawyers who helped exonerate the 7th wrongfully convicted death row prisoner in North Carolina only day before my arrival. Akin came to the vigil with only moments notice.

As soon as I stepped up to the vigil horns were blowing from people driving by showing their support, showing their approval. I give Akin much credit for coming out and storming the weather. It down poured on us for a good 15 minutes, but he stood with us even picking up a sign himself. He also marched onto the governor's mansion with us after the vigil.

This vigil was powerful for me seeing not long ago I felt like a lone activist. Now here I was with a group of people ranging from ages 8 to 70 all in sharing the same belief's, life should respected, preserved and cherished no matter what. I was honored to be a part of this vigil/march. (...)

Read rest of this post here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Justice Stevens contrasts lethal injection methods

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says the euthanized Kentucky Derby horse Eight Belles probably died more humanely than death row prisoners do.

Stevens's comments Friday night came a month after he voted with a majority of the Supreme Court to approve the most widely used method of lethal injection, while saying for the first time that he now believes the death penalty is unconstitutional.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Stevens told an audience of judges and lawyers that he checked into the procedure used to kill Eight Belles and was surprised to learn it is against the law in Kentucky to kill animals using one of the drugs in a three-drug lethal injection cocktail that many states, including Kentucky, use to execute prisoners. (...)

Please read the complete article in the Washington Post

Marietta Jaeger and Ron Keine in Montana

Marietta and I Did 8 speaking events and Media interviews in Montana this month. It was a pleasure working with Marietta as she is truly a professional speaker. We even had a new experience of speaking to an Indian college on a reservation. It is one of the most beautiful states I have ever been to.

One of the things that made this trip so nice is the people from the Montana Abolition Coalition. Every detail was well planned out and organized. We were right on time for every event on the two day tour. They were the perfect hosts. My thanks to Jennifer Kirby, Rachel, Katy, Matt, Moe, and Scott. Also Lex, from the ACLU, who filmed the whole tour.

Montana was close to abolition at the last legislative session. We lost by just one vote. With the caliber of the abolitionists in Montana it could surely be the next state to abolish the Death Penalty.

Ron Keine

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Murder and the death penalty

In this last week my feelings on the death penalty have been challenged.

About a week ago, my 77-year-old sister was murdered and her 78-year-old husband was wounded as they made their 13th and last stop as Meals on Wheels volunteers. A day later a suspect was captured in Norfolk, Va.
When I was a youth, I was very much pro-death penalty. 4 different levels of academia saw me write term papers on this topic.

But in recent years, I have seen the behavior of prosecutors here in Illinois (particularly in DuPage County).

They have rushed to judgment, been guilty of withholding exculpatory evidence and failed to show remorse when DNA evidence has cleared those on death row (some hours away from execution).

So I've gradually come to oppose the death penalty in most cases (the exception being for the crime of incompetence for high school and college administrators).

So now that my sweet sister has met an untimely death, has this again changed my mind? No.

The death penalty option has been abused so often by ambitious prosecutors anxious to put another notch on their belts as they prepare to run for higher office that they must be denied this punishment optioneven for the obviously guilty.

John Anderson----Beach Park

(source: Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune)

A date to mark in your calenders: May 25th: End of WALK4LIFE in TX

Dear Connie and Susanne,

after talking with Andre, we have thought to plan the end of the Walk as follows. Andre will plan his route from where he will be to the Governor Mansion in Austin and will let us know the details so those who will want to walk with him for the last miles will be able to find him. Meeting place (ending place of the walk) will be the Governor Mansion in the centre of Austin- address: corner between Eleventh and Colorado St. Time: time of meeting - between 3 and 4 pm.
We know that the Governor has temporarily moved to another place but the ending of the Walk there, to the historic home of the Texas Governor is something symbolic.
The idea is that after getting there, we can take our cars and go to where the Governor is living now, which is at 8113 Hickory Creek Drive (about 30 minutes far from the centre of Austin). Once there we will protest with signs and asking the Governor to talk to us. Hopefully we'll get media to cover this.

Also i think we should try to gather as more people as possible to join us at both the places.
Also, we should spread the word about organizing a protest in front of the State Capitol in Austin for the following day (26th May)... with signs and petitions.

Just wanted to update you on this.