Friday, October 31, 2008

Watch Today's 2 PM (CDT) WEBCAST from TEXAS/Special Notice from NCADP

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT TODAY'S WEBCAST FROM THE TEXAS STATE CAPITOL BY EXONERATED DEATH ROW PRISONERS Witness to Innocence's Friday news conference should be available for viewing at:

It will be the Live Stream from the Speaker's Committee Room. The news conference is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time. Real Player is required for viewing the webcast.
(See more on this amazing event which was posted recently--just below on this the JOH weblog & on another sent a few days ago by Ron Keine--both on this weblog... Most likely this program will also be archived on this same link later...

Also from NCADP...How many people know about El Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of The Dead)?

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and beyond on November 2nd. Families spend time at the cemetery, visiting the graves of their relatives, cleaning and perhaps painting the headstones, arranging flowers, especially flowers of the dead (marigolds) and lighting candles. It is also the time when families construct special home altars dedicated to the spirits of their deceased loved ones. The altars range from simple to very elaborate and are usually filled with objects that provided pleasure to the departed person in life, including favorite food and drink. Altars dedicated to the spirits of deceased children often include toys, candy and other sweets.

I never knew about it until I went to work for the family of Cesar Chavez at the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, where I lived from 1994-1996. The focus on El Dia De Los Muertos was always on the "UFW Martyrs," workers and organizers killed in struggle for human rights. We in the abolition movement might consider participating in this celebration as a way to recognize and celebrate the lives of those lost both to criminal murder and state sponsored exterminations. Those of you who have attended the Rededication Ceremony at the past few NCADP annual conferences have participated in dedications to our departed loved ones on an El Dia De Los Muertos-style altar.

We should also note that Nov. 2nd is All Souls Day, a day of remembrance for the faithful departed. Because it falls on a Sunday this year, some parts of the observance are done on Nov. 3.

No matter how you come to it, in particular this weekend NCADP wishes to recognize the leaders in our movement who honor the memory of their murdered and executed loved ones every day by speaking out as members of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, and the Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing, Inc. Please visit those web (and blog) pages and make a special contribution to one or all of them today!
Thank You so much, NCADP for sending out this notice on both these items to the E-Abolitionists list today! We at the Journey of Hope and The JOH blog enjoy working with you!

Also for an easy connections to see a number of other related links, go to column at the lower right on this the JOH blogsite >>>

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gregory Wright Executed -- See Note of Empathy

NEW NOTE: Sadly, Gregory Wright's execution took place as premeditated Thursday, October 30, 2008. The program from Texas may be available Friday and a FEW days beyond on KPFT dot org out of Houston (90.1) Also perhaps use this link Here


We here at The Journey of Hope weblog are grieving with you who have suffered this most recent terrible loss. We also send our empathy to those who are reminded of similar losses from state executions or other equally horrific murder. We hope to offer and encourage more statements of empathy in the future. If you have something empathetic or of insightful nature, be sure to COMMENT and watch the COMMENTS. Help us establish this the JOH blogspot as a truly interactive and healing place.

There are several items already posted under the entries for Gregory Wright.

How inhumane and beyond - this terrible state killing of so many. Yet another just took place yesterday eventing which continues to make Texas famous for the worst reasons world-wide and overshadows with terrible gloom the many beauties of this wide state and of her generous peoples!

To multiply the travesty of this killing of Gregory Wright is the fact that a number of lawyers and other experts are not at all convinced the "right" guy was executed!

So wherein is safety and justice served by such a state premeditated death? So why THIS execution? Is this merely punitive? Why is there so little concern as to whether or not justice and fairness has been served?

Of course - at the JOH - most regular readers of our website and blogspot know that we don't believe there is such thing as a "right" execution.

We also send prayers to all the family members of murder victims and the family of the executed (and those who may be reading this who've suffered both!).

All over the USA and over the wide world there are so many who are reminded over and over of their own tragedies in so many ways - including via the many trials leading to the executions of others which are so constantly in the news.

We pray and work for alternatives to execution such as PREVENTION to crime (which includes the reduction of homelessness, untreated mental illness, other kinds of poverty, the trauma of war and police systems with observable and accountable integrity). We strive with many others for improvements in our Court Systems - for true and clear, transparent justice.

We also work and pray for the oft slow-coming of healing through forgiveness (of self and others). This transformative grace-filled epiphany (not always experienced with feelings of peace) may simply begin with a determined intention to forgive.

Yet, over time, this goal or prayer or even longing for healing - a more constructive inner direction than revenge - may help to alleviate in some measure such tragedy...and much of the ongoing effect of tragedy.

There are many role-models here at The Journey of Hope - who, while they have experienced varying degree of forgiving - are still human like the rest of us. They come from a WIDE variety of experiences, places and personality.

May you who have been through something like Connie Wright (or like other family members have experienced of state killings or other kinds of murder) PLEASE reach out to Connie and others? You who have experienced similar loss - along with some portion of forgiveness and healing - are in a perfect position to offer the kind of empathy which is most helpful.

For others who want to comfort those close-by and far away--JUST LISTENING with compassion and good timing is often ALL that is required and beneficial as you may well know.

Let's continue to make sure that the murder of loved ones, the state killing of loved ones and the deaths of hard-working abolitionists before us - as well as the death of Gregory Wright - is NOT in vain.

Thank You for Listening and Tuning In,
Connie Nash, blogger at The Journey of Hope weblog

Live Stream: Watch Witness to Innocence's news conference

Kurt Rosenberg would like you to know that Witness to Innocence's Friday news conference should be available for viewing at:

It will be the Live Stream from the Speaker's Committee Room. The news conference is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time. Real Player is required for viewing the webcast.


Two dozen exonerated ex-death row prisoners from across the country will hold a news conference to call for the establishment of a statewide commission on wrongful convictions while a moratorium is imposed on executions in Texas.

WHEN: 2:00 p.m., Friday, October 31, 2008
WHERE: Speaker's Committee Room. Room 2W.6 Texas State Capitol

DETAILS: The 24 men are members of Witness to Innocence, a national organization composed of exonerated former death row prisoners and their loved ones. They spent a combined total of nearly 200 years on death row for crimes they did not commit. They will be joined by State Rep. Elliott Naishtat and former Bexar County District Attorney Sam Millsap. Naishtat (D-Austin) is a longtime supporter of a moratorium on executions, while Millsap has become an outspoken critic of the death penalty since the 1993 execution of Ruben Cantu, who many believe was innocent.

Execution Watch
6:00 -- 7:00 pm CDT tonight

EXECUTION WATCH -- produced by Elizabeth Stein, hosted by Ray Hill, made possible by Otis McClay

Unless Gregory Wright gets the stay his attorneys and other supporters have been working to obtain, EXECUTION WATCH will have a show today at 6 p.m. CDT today to cover the state's execution of a man many believe to be innocent of the crime for which he was condemned.

Although KPFT's HD-2 channel remains out of service with Ike damage, EXECUTION WATCH may be heard on the internet, streaming live at Go to the website at 6 o'clock Central Daylight Time and click on the word "LISTEN". We'll do a show only if the state follows through with its plan to put Wright to death.


Person to be executed: GREGORY EDWARD WRIGHT

Wright's 43rd birthday is this Saturday. He received a stay for his previous date, September 9th, for additional DNA testing on clothing used to convict him in the 1997 stabbing death of Donna Duncan Vick at her home in DeSoto, south of Dallas. The prosecution said she took in Wright, who was homeless, giving him food, money and shelter. His wife, Connie Wright, met him while he was in prison.

Legal Analyst: JIM SKELTON, Esq.

Featured Interview: PROF. MARY PENROSE
Professor Penrose is a member of the legal team for Wright's appeals. She teaches at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Her areas of emphasis include human rights, civil rights and habeas corpus.

Began corresponding with Wright after applying to a UK organization called Human Writes, , which finds penpals for US death row inmates. Bellamy, a retired educator who lives near London, became convinced of Wright's innocence.

Reporter, Huntsville, Death House: GLORIA RUBAC
Gloria is a leader in the movement to abolish the death penalty and has been active for many years in efforts to reform the prison system.

Additional Reporting, Huntsville: NANCY BAILEY
She's accompanying Wright's wife, Connie, to Huntsville. Nancy is on the board of Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, She is the death penalty coordinator for Amnesty International' s Houston chapter.

Any updates on Wright's stay will appear at executionwatch. org.
Creator of the site and EXECUTION WATCH technical director extraordinaire is Otis Maclay.

Elizabeth Ann Stein

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Greg Wright - Take action NOW!

Greg Wright is supposed to be executed on Oct. 30th. There are severe doubts about his guilt (see excerpts from the Amnesty International Petition below).

ACT NOW! Reed Urgent Action by Amnesty and write a petition!

Taken from:
PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/120/2008
UA 291/08 Death penalty / Legal concern 22 October 2008
USA (Texas) Gregory Edward Wright (m), white, aged 42
(Accentuations added for this blog, not part of the original UA)

Gregory Wright is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 30 October. He was sentenced to death in December 1997 for a murder committed nine months earlier.

Donna Vick was killed in her home in DeSoto, near Dallas, in the early hours of 21 March 1997. Later that day, John Adams entered a video store in Dallas and told the shop assistant to call the police because there had been a murder and he wanted to turn himself in. Adams was arrested and gave a statement to the police that he and Gregory Wright had been at Donna Vick’s house and that Wright had stabbed her to death.

Gregory Wright was tried first. Adams did not testify, but the prosecution used the statement he had given to the police that Wright was the actual murderer. The statement was a detailed account of the stabbing that was highly prejudicial to Wright. Wright was tried as the primary actor in the murder. The trial judge instructed the jury that it could convict Wright only if it found that he had actually attacked Donna Vick. The court did not instruct the jury on the “law of parties”, the Texas law under which the distinction between principal actor and accomplice in a crime is abolished and each defendant may be held equally culpable. Wright was convicted and sentenced to death. John Adams was tried some six months later under the law of parties. He too was sentenced to death, and he remains on death row without an execution date.

On 21 June 2008, John Adams signed a statement that “I want the record clear that Greg Wright is innocent of the crime he’s here on death row for. If you kill him your [sic] killing a innocent man. Greg Wright was used as a scape goat. I’m doing this because I’m tired of seeing innocent people being killed for murders they’ve not done. The statement I made is a lie the one that I made at the first of our arrest. Greg Wright is innocent! I was there and know better.” In follow-up statements signed on 6 August 2008, Adams said that he had placed the murder on Wright “because I was trying to get it off my hands”. He said that he, not Wright, had killed Donna Vick, indicating that it was because of his newly found religious conviction that he was coming forward now. Adams has not testified to the truth of his declarations in open court. Another Texas death row prisoner has signed a statement that Adams “has told me several times that he panicked and was scared [after the crime] and that [Gregory Wright] did not kill the lady”.

Wright’s clemency petition also raises other issues. One relates to statements made by Daniel McGaughey, the shop assistant who was told by Adams to phone the police after the murder. A written statement that McGaughey gave to police on 25 March 1997 stated that Adams had approached him at the store and told him that “there was a murder and he wanted to turn himself in”, because he “could not live with himself any longer”. However, prior to giving this statement, McGaughey apparently told an investigator that Adams had said “I murdered someone in DeSoto and I can’t deal with it. I want to turn myself in”. The inconsistency between the statements attributed to McGaughey could render any tape recordings of his phone call to the police crucial. In a pre-trial hearing the prosecution informed Wright’s lawyers that there were no tapes, but after the trial began the defence learned that there was a tape of a call made by McGaughey. Questioned by the judge, the prosecutor said that a tape “did exist at one point”, but that he did not know where it was. The tape remains missing and has never been provided to Wright’s legal counsel.

According to the clemency petition, Wright’s trial lawyers did not learn of McGaughey’s earlier statement until after Wright’s trial had started, when the prosecution provided them with documents pertaining to the case. Wright’s lawyers attempted to locate McGaughey, but were unsuccessful and the prosecution claimed not to know his whereabouts. McGaughey signed an affidavit in December 2001 that the authorities investigating the case knew where he was living in 1997. He further stated that in early 1998, after Wright’s trial, he received a number of visits from the prosecution authorities preparing for the trial of John Adams. He was subpoenaed to testify at the trial, and spent two days at the courthouse, but he was never called by the state.

Wright’s trial lawyers signed affidavits in 2002 that the prosecution failed to disclose to them the existence of a witness, Jerry Causey, who subsequently testified at Adams’ trial that he had been in Donna Vick’s car with John Adams hours after the murder, and that Adams had told him that he had killed Vicks. In 2001, Causey signed an affidavit restating this claim and adding that he had been contacted by the prosecution in “approximately November of 1997”, i.e. before Wright’s trial. The trial lawyers’ affidavits assert that if they had known about Causey they would have called him at trial.

The prosecution linked Wright to the murder via articles found in a shack that Wright was said to sometimes stay in. Among the articles seized was a pair of jeans and a knife. DNA testing established that the blood on them was Donna Vick’s. The 2002 affidavits of Wright’s trial lawyers state that they had not learned until the third day of the trial that letters belonging to Adams had also been found in the shack. Each asserts that if he had known this he “would have used the letters to impeach the State’s evidence that the…shack and its contents were solely my client’s property”. At Adams’ trial six months after Wright’s, the prosecution emphasised to the jury that the shack was shared by Adams and Wright. Wright’s current lawyers state that preliminary DNA testing on the jeans found at the shack indicate Adams’ DNA on the inside thigh.

In its closing argument at Wright’s trial, the prosecution emphasised to the jury that Wright’s “bloody fingerprint is on the pillowcase that is right next to the head of the deceased”. According to the clemency petition, this partial fingerprint is the only physical evidence directly linking Wright to the victim’s body or the room in which the murder occurred. The reliability of this fingerprint evidence has been called into question. Before the trial, two detectives had failed to identify the print as Wright’s, and were not called to testify by the state. Instead the prosecution chose a retired print examiner to testify that there was a positive correlation. The clemency petition accuses the state of having “witness shopped” until it found an expert who would testify in this way. Two forensic scientists have signed affidavits since the trial that the fingerprint lacked sufficient detail or clarity to be identifiable to Wright or any other person. [...]

Please follow this link to go to the ai site and write appeals as soon as possible!

Montana Journey of Hope Reflections

Dearest Friends,

It has truly been an inspiring experience of hope and healing to be part of the Montana Journey of Hope. There have been 22 speakers on the Journey, including murder victim family members, death row exonerees, and relatives who have family members on death row. Marietta Jaeger-Lane, whose daughter Susie was kidnapped and murdered on a camping trip in Montana 35 years ago, has been a guiding light to many on the Journey. A founding member of the Journey of Hope (JOH), she, along with Bill Pelke, another JOH founding member, were instrumental in bringing the JOH to Montana.

Also on the Journey are Charlie King and Karen Brandow who have inspired many Montanans with their amazing life-giving music. There are also some incredible abolitionists from around the US. David Kaczynski, brother of Unabomber Ted, who was captured in Montana and subject of the federal government seeking the death penalty, is also with us. There is also Bill Babbitt who witnessed his brother's execution. Bill's brother, Manny, who was a Vietnam vet and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness, was responsible for the death of an elderly woman.

Our primary host group, the Montana Abolition Coalition, has been exceptional in every phase of organizing--from providing hospitality and transportation to organizing speaking events.

Montana is a state of breath-taking beauty. The mountainous terrain is spectacular. Most, but not all of the people I've encountered, are against the death penalty. Journey members have traveled hundreds of miles around this beautiful state to do what we can to turn the tide and help Montanans to abolish the death penalty. There are currently 2 people on death row and the Montana legislature is just a few votes shy of repealing the death penalty.

During the week I've been here, I and other Journey members have spoken to youth groups, high school and college students, law students, church groups and other public forums. It has been a special time to share the story of my brother Paul's murder, to ask people to pray for Dennis Soutar, the man who killed Paul, and to appeal to people to work to create a society where the mentally ill poor, like Dennis, get the treatment and help they need so that tragedies like what happened to Paul will be averted.

I and other Journey members have shared our stories at schools at three Indian reservations. At Stone Child College, located on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation which is comprised of Cree and Chippewa tribes, I began my talk with a confession and apology. I acknowledged that as a white person, I am a beneficary of legacy of genocide and slavery committed against native peoples. I addressed the pain and suffering that whites have caused Native peoples, and that I repent for my complicity in this suffering. I also spoke about when I was arrested with Dave Dellinger and others at the Justice Department ten years ago for calling for the freedom of Leonard Peltier--the courageous Native American political prisoner who is serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.

There have been many moving moments during the Journey. Among the most moving has been speaking with and hearing the stories of the death row exonerees who are on the Journey. Curtis McCarty spent 19 years on death row in Oklahoma. Greg Wilhoit spent 5 years on Oklahoma's death row. Juan Melindez spent 18 years on Florida's death row. Shujaa Graham spent 5 years on death row in San Quentin. They are among the 130 condemned to death who have now been exonerated.

As the JOH leaves Montana, we are very hopeful that Montana will soon join New Jersey to be the 15th state to abolish the death penalty. I am deeply grateful for your prayers and support in this great effort to end state-sanctioned homicide.

With love and gratitude,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Newspaper articles generated by the Journey of Hope in Montana October 2-11

These are some of the examples of newpaper articles about the Montana Journey along with some other media sources

Enjoy the power of the Journey of Hope. Remember that you can bring the Journey of Hope to your state.

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

October 2nd

Montana Standard

October 3rd

Belgrade News
Bozeman Daily Chronichle

October 5th

Montana Standard

October 8th

University of Montana Kaimin
Queen City News

October 9th

Great Falls Tribune

October 10th

Kalispell Daily Interlake
Ravalli Republic

Ocotber 11th

Helena Independent Record

October 12th

Billings Gazette

October 14th

Flathead Beacon

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mothers in pain

This morning I read an artice in the news. "Mothers of killer and victim hug" - an atricle about something which happened just a few days ago. Let me give you an abstract from it and ask you how it makes YOU feel:

NORFOLK - Two mothers faced each other across the courtroom, one whose boy died at the hands of the other's only son.

Elsie Young recounted the last moments of her 15-year-old son, Dominic, at Norfolk's Enlanka Restaurant in November, when robbers holding guns made her cry out.

"I was scared," Young said from the witness stand in Norfolk Circuit Court on Friday. "They were young, and they don't think. I didn't know if they were going to get the money or they were going to shoot somebody."

Dominic, who had been using a pay phone outside, came running when his mother called, and Elsie's fears were realized: Dwayne Epps, 19, shot Dominic once in his chest.

When Epps' lawyer, B. Thomas Reed, pushed Young — implying through his questioning that perhaps Dominic had grabbed Epps and caused the gun to go off — her temper flared. "I'm tired of this crap. It's all about killing and robbing," she said.

Young had first urged prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Epps. Christmas was so hard without Dominic, she said; she had been used to having him nearby.

But she softened as the months passed. Epps sent her a letter from jail. "I'm sorry I killed your son," Young said he wrote to her. "I never killed somebody before. It hurts me that I did this."

She no longer wanted Epps to die, she said Friday. She had forgiven him.

Young took her seat in the courtroom, wearing a long black T-shirt with Dominic's image. The back read, "We love you. We miss you."

The defendant's mother, Marcia Epps, rose. "I want to express my sympathy to your family," she said. "I can't say anything to take this pain away. I thank you for forgiving my son. Whenever I think about my son, I'll think about your Dominic."

As she spoke, Marcia Epps moved across the courtroom, crossing the aisle that separates the rows of benches behind the defendant and the prosecutor. Epps moved among Young's family, embracing Elsie.[...]

I have a son as well -he's 19 years old now.

And I know that it would kill something inside of me if anyone would do something to him. I thank god every day that I cannot totally imagine how the mother of the victim must feel since one can only understand things one lived through already. But I know it would be the most painful experience of my life. It would just drive me crazy.

And then I think of the other mother this courtroom. Sitting there and having to listen to what your loved one did. And still loving him. Sitting there and having to fear for his life - not only for a minute or even a day but all the time until the trial is over with (and - if the worst thing happens - until he'll somewhen get executed). Always living with the reality that the child you had born is incarcerated and will get killed soomer or later. Plus the pain of what he did to others...a pain which will hunt you day and night - just as much as the the loos of the loved one hunts the mother of the victim.

The death penalty only creates more victims. Reading this story it just gives this sentence so much more meaning, let's it come to life instead of being just plain and very far away theory.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stay for Troy Davis!

Today the federal appeals court in Atlanta stayed the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, who was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection Monday evening. The stay is based on a new appeal that was filed Wednesday seeking permission to file a new lawsuit based on innocence claims.
Please read more about this here

Oct 30th to Nov 2nd:
Witness to Innocence speaks in Texas

Witness to Innocence Exonerates and other members will be in Austin Texas for our largest ever seminar from Thursday Oct 30th to Sunday Nov. 2. See more under the blog on Events & Wright appeal...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

End of Month: URGENT Actions/Events: Gregory Wright: Reprieve Appeal/Exonerees & More Events in Texas ...

Greg Wright with his wife Connie during their June, 7, 2008 visit

Please keep coming back right here & be sure to read to the end of this post &/or scroll if you've already seen & acted on Wright's appeal. Other Events will be Posted under this Amnesty I/USA Urgent Action Appeal (which only takes but a couple of minutes) Since there are so many other events of keen interest to all abolitionists and the JOH, we will keep them posted here...let us know if we miss any?

Even if you have already sent a clemency letter (or signed a petition seeking reprieve for Gregory Wright) please send another via the Amnesty International USA website.

Here is how this letter reads:

lPlease grant clemency for Gregory Wright. Mr. Wright is scheduled to be executed on October 30 for the 1997 murder of Donna Vick. On the day of the murder, March 21, 1997, John Adams went to a Dallas video store and instructed the shop assistant to call the police, because he wanted to turn himself in for committing murder in nearby Desoto. Adams was arrested, but he gave a statement declaring that Wright stabbed Vick to death.

On June 21, 2008, Adams signed a statement declaring, “I want the record clear that Greg Wright is innocent of the crime he’s here on death row for. If you kill him your [sic] killing a innocent man.” In a follow-up statement dated August 6, 2008, Adams said that he, not Wright, killed Vick. Adams said he had blamed Wright to get the murder “off [his] hands,” but that his newly found religious conviction was leading him to confess. Another Texas death row inmate has signed a statement declaring that Adams “has told me several times that he panicked and was scared [after the crime] and that [Gregory Wright] did not kill the lady.”

Wright’s lawyers were never given a tape of the call made by the video store employee to the police on the day of the murder. Additionally, prosecutors failed to disclose the employee’s whereabouts to Wright’s lawyers, though affidavits submitted by the employee suggest that they knew where he was living at the time of Wright’s trial. Wright’s lawyers were also not made aware of the existence of another witness, who signed affidavits in 2001 stating that he had been with Adams when Adams admitted to killing Vick.

Furthermore, though prosecutors linked Wright to Vick’s murder via articles found in a shack where Wright sometimes stayed, Wright’s lawyers were not made aware until after the trial began that letters belonging to Adams were also taken from the shack. The lawyers assert that, had they known of these letters, they would have used them to refute that prosecution’s claim that the shack’s contents were solely Wright’s property. Also, preliminary DNA testing shows that blood on a pair of jeans taken from the shack matches Adams’.

Finally, in closing arguments at Wright’s trial, prosecutors focused on the bloody fingerprint found on a pillowcase in Vick’s bedroom. This partial fingerprint was the only physical evidence directly linking Wright to Vick’s murder. However, prosecutors had not called two detectives that failed to identify the print as Wright’s to testify. Instead, they called a retired print examiner, who testified that the prints on the pillowcase matched Wright’s. This suggests that prosecutors “witness shopped.” Moreover, since Wright’s trial, two forensic scientists have signed affidavits that the fingerprint lacked sufficient detail or clarity to be identifiable to anyone, let alone Wright.

We strongly urge you to demonstrate your respect for justice and human life by doing everything in your power to commute the death sentence of Gregory Wright, and support a moratorium on executions in Texas. Thank you for your time and attention to this serious matter.

To Sign this Letter, please take two minutes to go to the Amnesty Site:

PPS: donations, however small, are desperately needed for legal and/or funeral expenses--You can offer such support: » here


Witness to Innocence Exonerates and other members will be in Austin, Texas for our largest ever seminar from Thursday Oct 30th to Sunday Nov. 2.

Talk about the belly of the beast! We will be there as Death Star State has accelerated it's extermination of lesser human beings at the rate of two per week. The average in Texas is usually 24 executions per year with the one year record going to Geo W. at a heart stopping rate of 25.

Keep in mind the fact that for every 8 people executed, One is exonerated. How many people would put their kids on a school bus if they knew that the kid had a 1 in 8 chance of dying before reaching the school. Then the kid still has a return trip with the same odds. You bet your ass that the government would be all over it with investigations, studies, and immediate moratorium on all buses.

Yet with these same odds of one in eight we trust our government to decide who lives and who they get to kill. Knowing all along that mistakes are made and many of these errors are the cognizant actions of corrupt prosecutors. As Juan Melendez says in the book Executioners doorstep "We need to pass legislation to hold prosecutors and investigators accountable who proceed with a death penalty case when they know they have an innocent man on their hands."

I find it astonishing that two thirds of all death penalty cases are overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct and still the voting populace and the Supreme Court have no problem with it.

As we of Witness to Innocence launch our incursion into the state of Texas, we hope to be well in the face of the Arrogant, Smug, and Moronic proponents of the death penalty. This is the same state that executed Carlos De Luna on Dec. 7th 1989, Rubin Cantu on August 24 1993 and Todd Willingham on Feb 17 2004 knowing fully that all three of these men were innocent.

On Friday afternoon Oct. 31st. we will be doing a large press conference at the state capitol where we expect to be a powerful witness. I encourage all our Texas abolitionists and friends to attend.

When when we speak out in Texas, I promise you we will be loud. I just hope they listen.

Ron Keine

To the living we owe respect. To the dead we owe the truth . Voltaire

I firmly believe that every man, woman and child on this earth No matter what their race, color, ethnicity, religion or political preferences has the right and is entitled---- to my opinion. ---- Ron Keine

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No One is Above the Law: Jon Burge's Legacy of Tortured Confessions -- 122 torture victims

Photo of Jon Burge credit to Steve Nesius

How coerced torture confessions (frequently, as in Burge's case, applied to African-Americans)--such confessions can and do lead to death penalty or life without parole--ruined lives, an angry legacy for the young...


Outrage Lies at Heart of Burge Charges Published on October 22, 2008

BY CAROL MARIN (Chicago's) Sun-Times

Justice for Melvin Jones is coming late.

Jones is dying. In and out of consciousness, according to his lawyers, it's possible he doesn't yet know the big news that broke Tuesday. That former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, the man he met in an interrogation room years ago, heard a loud federal knock on the door of his lovely home nestled beside a boat dock in Florida early Tuesday morning.

Arrested and cuffed, Burge is now charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, and he is ordered to appear in federal court in Chicago Monday.

It took too long, 26 years. And it took the intervention of the feds.

That's because neither the Chicago Police Department nor the Cook County state's attorney's office nor Mayor Daley, who once served as state's attorney, nor a court-appointed special prosecutor had the courage or the political will to stand up against the shame that Burge brought upon this city.

It's not that Melvin Jones is a sympathetic character. He is a career criminal I met nine years ago in state prison. But the story he told then -- the one he never wavered from -- was chilling. And corroborated, by the way, by attorneys for the city of Chicago. It's not something they've ever wanted to talk about.

Here's the story.

And here's why it should outrage every one of us who sends a nickel in tax money to city or county officials.

In 1982, Melvin Jones was picked up on suspicion of murder. He was taken to Area 2 police headquarters on the South Side. That's where he met the infamous Jon Burge.

In a 1999 interview for CBS' 60 Minutes II, Jones quoted Burge as saying, "You only have two rights when you come in here, and that's to confess or get your ass kicked."

Jones said he refused to confess to a crime he didn't commit. That's when, he told me, Jon Burge and two other officers brought out a small hand-cranked electrical device with alligator clips. He saw it spark, then felt a shock as they touched his foot with the clip, and then his inner thigh. And then, Jones said Burge told him, "I'm going to put it on your testicles." Jones said he was in tears, "Trying to holler as loud as I can. . . . I was begging them to stop."

They didn't until Jones confessed. Convicted by one court, Jones was ultimately freed by another.

In 1993, when the heat on the city was too great, Burge was finally fired for the torture of murder suspect Andrew Wilson. Little-noticed at the time was that city attorneys admitted in court that Wilson wasn't Burge's only victim. The city acknowledged, "Burge electro shocked Melvin Jones on the genitals and thigh and threatened him with a gun."

The same city officials who until that point defended Burge, deserted him, offering not a shred a public explanation. But they continued to pay for his defense in all the civil suits that would follow. As a result, you and I are still paying. Twenty million dollars in just four cases.

Seven million for one investigation. Uncounted millions in outside legal counsel for Burge and his band of officers.

Jack Byrne is one of them.

A decorated sergeant, he is now retired and working as a private detective.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Byrne said, "I feel very bad for Jon Burge. I've known him all my life. I don't believe these charges. And I stand by all my statements that I never tortured anyone."

Byrne said one more time, "I feel bad for Jon."

I don't. I feel bad for the suspects -- 122 of them by one count -- who were tortured.

I feel sorry for Melvin Jones. A thug and crook, you bet. Even he admitted police had a good reason to question him.

"I'm a prime candidate," he told me. "But I also could be innocent."


Blogger's Note: Well, there's a lot of muddle still--looks like--who knows who was guilty for sure among the many Burge tortured into confession--122 folk--mostly AFRICAN-AMERICAN...Twenty-six years and still the facts are being debated...

Yet this story seems way too important with so many implications for prevention, justice and more--both at home and abroad--for the reputation of the US, the well being of our own citizens and immigrants--and the future implications of those detained in US prisons, GTMO (whom Bush had and has not intentions of closing), ABU G., the hundreds of sites around the globe.

All of these are holding and torturing psychologically and otherwise without let-up, harassing, intimidating CONFESSIONS FOR the US (where those in charge still believe that they will remain ABOVE THE LAW.

According to many former military officers, prosecutors, lawyers, international human rights lawyers, those who've worked with our own death penalty inmates such as Clive Stafford Smith (Reprieve) and many once in this present administration-- Many if not most of those held are innocent of their detainment, most not yet charged...but who will ever know in most their cases the facts because those who hold them believe they are ABOVE THE LAW...and the constitution??

The simple fact is that BURGE and a lot of his cronies -- Law Officers still (Now isn't that a MISUSE of the term--Law Officers?)--a lot of these police past and present thought (and still think) Burge was above the law and the clarity by a simple search on the internet is that Death Penalty lawyers and many other experts involved in seeking his indictment...for way too long...

As my two young adult sons, both African-American, asked me last night "How come all the fat cats always get off and all the little guys don't have a chance?" Well--what are we going to answer if not, well here is one case when a fat cat just might finally have to answer to the law. IF not, what can we use to help our youth to WANT to follow the least until they really get human and civil rights & ethics fully firm and instilled inside? And no matter how wired any of us are with internal human rights and ethics--we all really appreciate an occasional back up from law once in awhile, no?

What does this one case among multitudes say about the rule of law and the value of human rights, civil rights and ethics in our Nation -- A country which once in awhile was sometimes a light to the Nations on such values?

This month the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be celebrated...will we as a nation still be able to celebrate this occasion or will we have to hang our heads in shame and look BACK to a better day?

And if we are truly anti-death penalty folk, we can't forget all the hundreds of EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS and ASSASSINATIONS that have happened with secret US awareness since the occupations of Iraq/Afghanistan -- there and all over the world...and all the detainees held around the world by US military who've been coerced by torture, intimidation and psychological abuse to confess to facts that are completely untrue. Let me know if you're interested in THESE EXECUTIONS and False (Please entitle it on Jorge piece-JOH--subject heading)

Well, I could go on...but will wait for some of your responses and some more expert analysis, reporting and OpEd...

By Connie, one of The JOH blogsite's bloggers

Event in Western North Carolina Thursday October 23 7-8 PM UNC-A

The North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium would like to extend an invitation to you and your organization to participate in a discussion on efforts to create a coordinated campaign amongst those connected with the issues of capital punishment reform.

The meeting is scheduled for October 23, 2008 to occur between 7-8pm at the UNC-Asheville Campus. The Meeting will take place in the “Grotto” location-basement of the Highsmith Center next to the food court.

For a campus map view: Here

The purpose of this meeting will be to bring together representatives from the
legal community, academia, social work and mitigation field and faith-community groups who are already committed to the issues of reform, abolition, restorative justice and moratorium efforts. NCCM would like to connect such individuals/
/organizations so as issues arise, a central coalition in Western NC exists to distribute information, discuss future death penalty reform related plans,coordinate actions,facilitate new events. It is our intention to extend any necessary resources and work effort as needed to maintain such a coalition.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quotes Related to the Race Issues --A Prayer for the World

I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty and, as a person of faith, I believe in the scripture where God says, "Vengeance is mine." Tavis Smiley (See more on & by Tavis after the following Prayer-Poem)

President Nixon emphasizes that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this, while not appearing to." H. R. Haldeman, -The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House-.

In my state, North Carolina, there are suddenly a rash of state-wide, race-related incidents--some petty hate-crimes, slashing of tires, refusal to serve folk in restaurants, taunting blacks at polling sites, use of the N-word, killing of a bear & wrapping it with the word of a half-black candidate, etc.--folk are using the campaign as an excuse for deep-seated animosity. (Connie, blogger here)

So, here's a "Prayer-Poem" to express some Journey values both in reference to a sense of caring, forgiveness and looking deeper than color at such times as ours and also the kind of compassion for all humanity which we need to be as effective as possible in abolishing the death penalty:

A Prayer for the World (anonymous)

Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds, held and nurtured over generations. Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.

Then let the Sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows. Let the warmth of the Sun heal us wherever we are broken. Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly. So that we can see BEYOND LABELS, beyond accents, gender or SKIN COLOR.

Let the warmth and brightness of the Sun melt our selfishness--so that we can share the joys and feel the sorrows of our neighbors.

And let the light of the Sun be so strong that we will see ALL people as our neighbors.

Let the earth, nourished by rain, bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty.

And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to Heaven.


From his celebrated conversations with world figures, to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, as a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change.

Smiley started his career as an aide to the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. In 1996, he became the resident social and political commentator on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a post he held for 12 years.

Currently, Smiley hosts the late night television talk show, Tavis Smiley on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). Smiley is the first American to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio. Newsweek profiled him as one of the "20 people changing how Americans get their news" and dubbed him one of the nation's "captains of the airwaves." He is an outspoken abolitionist (of the death penalty) and says so over the air--his guests often include those who also speak out against the death penalty. Find some of these by your own search (I have yet to find the best links to put on this site) See the Charles Ogletree interview which is about Georgia (100 miles from Atlanta) a well-researched mistaken Race-related profiling story--the 2006 book, -From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State- and an older interview with a forever youthful Diann Rust Tierney, director of NCADP.

Also be sure to see this Film and Project Here More on this below...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Race to Execution

With recent and upcoming scheduled state killings where race may appear to be a major issue, here is a film to consider showing and discussing...and a strong issue we must come back to again and of "the line-up" from the film

About the Film
Through personal narratives and often unexpected results from research on race, justice and the media, Race to Execution follows the haunting stories of two death row inmates, exposing the role race plays in who lives and who dies at the hands of the state.

The film, produced and directed by Emmy Award-winner Rachel Lyon and co-produced by Jim Lopes, is a powerful documentary that enlarges the conversation regarding the death penalty, focusing attention to racial bias against black defendants that arise from unfair media coverage, race-of-jury and race-of-victim.

Race to Execution explores the deep and disturbing link between race and the death penalty in America. Following the stories of two Death Row inmates - Madison Hobley of Chicago, Illinois and Robert Tarver of Russell County, Alabama - the film interweaves their compelling personal stories together with groundbreaking scholarship.

Revealing how race infects our capital punishment system, Race to Execution invites dialogue into the larger community about this systemic crisis within our justice system.

Race to Execution reveals that once a victim's body is discovered, the race-of-the-victim and the accused deeply influence the legal process: from how a crime scene is investigated, to the deployment of police resources, to the interrogation and arrest of major suspects, to how media portrays the crime, and ultimately, jury selection and sentencing. Beyond DNA and beyond innocence, the shameful open secret of our capital punishment system is -- and always has been -- a matter of race.

View trailer, find information and purchase a copy of the film Here

The Race to Execution Outreach Project is an exciting new collaboration with the DePaul University Center for Justice in Capital Cases and Lioness Media Arts, Inc. that leverages the documentary "Race to Execution" to help build awareness and eradicate race bias in the criminal justice system and in the media.

Together, we are working with the film and filmmaker to reach new audiences and create new educational materials — including a brand new media module focused on racialized representation of minority communities in the news, entertainment television, movies and on the internet. Much of the activities culminate(d) in spring 2008, with several key partners presenting this work and related research at major conferences. DePaul University's Center for Justice in Capital Cases is the first of several (which hosted a major symposium on race and the death penalty in March 2008.)

Project objectives:

* Spark a critical analysis of the role of the media in disproportionate sentencing.
* Cultivate and engage new allies, particularly among communities of color, communities of faith and youth.
* Boost the work of those seeking to influence local, state and/or federal policies towards achieving a fairer justice system.
* Build support for a state-based Juror's Bill of Rights to address race discrimination in jury selection.

Project elements:

* A series of community screenings in partnership with organizations across the country dedicated to raising awareness about race bias in the criminal justice system, often generated within the media.
* Special presentations at conferences and other venues where stakeholders in criminal justice, law, civil rights, human rights, media studies and journalism convene.
* A brand new DVD module, Juror Number Six, with remarkable archival footage which focuses on the role of media representation in perpetuating race bias.
* Educational materials to help up-and-coming professionals in law and media to cultivate a set of "best practices" in presenting race and crime.

For more information about the campaign please contact

Or contact

Freed La. inmate helps others wrongfully convicted

Years ago, John Thompson's life was drastically altered by two unrelated crimes that took place in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - John Thompson thought his problems were over when he was cleared of the 1984 murder he had been charged with and freed from prison. After 18 years in Louisiana State Penitentiary _ 16 of them on death row where he survived seven execution dates _ he was ready to get back to his life.

But for Thompson, and the 24 other Louisiana prisoners exonerated since 1990, that was much more difficult than expected.

Now, five years after he walked away from Angola, Thompson is launching Resurrection After Exoneration, a program to provide medical and mental help, job skills, education and other services for the wrongfully convicted.

The center will open on Tuesday and is designed to provide financial, emotional and job skills needed to live a successful post-prison life. It will also provide immediate help by giving those released a place to stay while they get on their feet.

``When you first get out, there are lots of people around you, talking to you, taking your picture, congratulating you,'' Thompson said on Friday. ``But the next day you are on your own and trying to figure out what to do, and that is not easy.''

Resurrection After Exoneration, called RAY, is the first program especially for exonerated prisoners in the country, said Emily Maw, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans.

Thompson received a $60,000 grant from Echoing Green, a New York-based foundation, for the project.

``Most people don't have much family left, don't really have a place to go,'' Thompson said. ``So we're going to provide that.''

Those who stay in the transitional housing will be asked to set aside at least 25 percent of their paychecks. After a year, savings will be matched to help them find housing.

``The four bedrooms we have are already assigned,'' Thompson said. ``We already need another building. People want this help. They sure don't want to go back to prison.''

Louisiana has the Innocence Compensation Fund, which started in 2005 and gives up to $150,000 to the exonerated, along with job training, counseling services and college tuition. The application process is long and difficult, Maw said, and few have received the money so far.

Thompson left Angola with a garbage bag filled with his belongings and $10. He quickly landed a job with The Center for Equal Justice after his release.

Thompson, 45, said he saw training programs for everyone from homeless to AIDS victims when he first left Angola but nothing that dealt with the specific problems he faced. He believed it was something that would be in more demand as exonerations rose nationwide.

``You're better off being convicted for something you did than something you didn't do,'' Thompson said. ``They have all kinds of programs out here for ex-cons. There's nothing for those of us that did the time but not the crime.''

Innocence Project currently lists 222 people nationally who have been cleared by DNA alone.

``People who are exonerated definitely struggle,'' Maw said. ``They have all the regular problems a longtime prisoner has on getting out, and an additional set of problems. They suffer a lot of anger, a condition a lot like post-traumatic syndrome.''

Tri-parish (last updated on October 20, 2008)

BBC Video Update on Lethal Injection

NEW RESOURCES: BBC Documentary Examines US Capital Punishment System Through the Lethal Injection Issue (with gratitude to Death Penalty Information Center for posting this. There are now also items in various languages available on that site.)

The BBC documentary "Lethal Solution" chronicles reporter Vivian White’s exploration of the death penalty in the US through the prism of the lethal injection issue. White traveled across the US to execution chambers where lethal injection executions are carried out and interviewed participants from a wide variety of perspectives.

Includes interviews in Texas

To listen to the interview please click here

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Mother's Nightmare

Meet Terri Steinberg and listen to her story. An ordinary mom of an ordinary family living in an ordinary neighbourhood.

Then Terri’s son, Justin Wolfe, was sentenced to death by the state of Virginia, becoming their youngest resident on death row.

Terri was devastated. She heard about a group protesting the death penalty at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Not knowing the system Terri decided to come to DC to meet those fighting to abolish the Death Penalty at the annual Fast and Vigil.

Meeting people from Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Journey of Hope and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Terri began her journey to save Justin’s life.

Terri is living in an ongoing nightmare. An experience that would cause many to retreat into their own worlds has only enlarged Terri's. Those who meet her and hear her agree: she's an absolutely extraordinary and caring person.

Listen to her tell her story here:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Public Defenders:
Defending Our Freedoms

posted by Senator Raymond Lesniak on NY voices

Murderers who commit heinous, life destroying acts of violence should not precipitate a policy that hurts America and Americans. A policy that results in the execution of innocent persons and cruelly places many on death row for years, even decades, waiting to be executed for a crime they did not commit. A policy that does not allow the families of murder victims to grieve in private, as most have expressed the desire, on a timetable of their choosing. A policy that deprives law enforcement of resources better spent, in their words, fighting gangs, drug dealers and gun runners.

But that's what we're doing when we believe we need a death penalty. We turn our backs on the innocent, on the family members of murder victims and on law enforcement officials. The death penalty doesn't discriminate. It affects the good as well as the bad.

One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, quoting from the renown Jurist, Justice Blackstone, said that it's better to allow 100 guilty go free than to imprison an innocent person. When Governor Corzine signed my legislation last year to abolish New Jersey's death penalty, he signed a law that set no one free. My legislation will imprison more murders for life, without parole. It also guarantees that we will never put to death an innocent person, nor cause the innocent to suffer the daily threat of being put to death for a crime they did not commit.

Since the repeal of our death penalty on December 17, 2008, I've written a book, The Road to Abolition: How New Jersey Abolished the Death Penalty. I pray to God it can help legislators in the 36 states which still have the death penalty heed the words of others who support the abolitionist movement, such as the 63 family members of murder victims who stated, in a letter to the New Jersey Legislature:

We are family members and loved ones of murder victims. We desperately miss the parents, children, siblings, and spouses we have lost. We live with the pain and heartbreak of their absence every day and would do anything to have them back. We have been touched by the criminal justice system in ways we never imagined and would never wish on anyone. Our experience compels us to speak out for change.

Though we share different perspectives on the death penalty, every one of us agrees that New Jersey's capital punishment system doesn't work, and that our state is better off without it.

Or more specifically stated by Vicki Schieber whose daughter, Shannon, was murdered in 1998, "The death penalty is a harmful policy that exacerbates the pain for murdered victims' families."

Supporters of the death penalty will say we need to keep the death penalty for the monsters who commit the most heinous murders: monsters such as Byron Halsey, who was convicted of murdering, after sexually assaulting, a seven and eight year old boy and girl. He even confessed to the crime. But this was no monster - just an innocent person convicted of murder.

You who serve so nobly as public defenders understand that when emotions run high, as in the case of the most dramatic, heinous crimes, mistakes are most likely to occur.

Our forefathers, the framers of our Constitution that has protected the rights and liberties of our citizens against intrusion by government, understood the utmost, the highest, importance of the need to protect individual rights: something Public Defenders do, without any glory or much recognition, on a daily basis.

Throughout the course of history of our great nation, the principals of our founding fathers have been challenged by fear. Fear of US citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Fear of Communism during the Cold War. Fear of US citizens demonstrating for civil rights or against the Vietnam War in the sixties. Fear of non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And fear of attack from terrorists.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to threats against the principals established by our founding fathers in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Public Defenders protect our constitutional rights against the threat of fear. Many believe what you do is try to keep criminals out of jail. That belief could not be more wrong. You answer to a higher calling.

I am grateful for the honor you bestow upon me today, but it is I who honor you. If Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the other founders of our great country were here today, they would join me in honoring you, for protecting the United States of American and our Constitution from the threat of fear. I salute you. Keep up the good work. There is no better calling than that our guarding our individual rights and liberties.

On Oct. 17th Senator Lesniak delivered this speech at the Annual Training Conference of the NJ Office of the Public Defender where he was honored for blazing the trail to end the death penalty in New Jersey

Friday, October 17, 2008

Global Day of Action for Troy Davis
October 23, 2008

Rally in Atlanta! Download the flyer.

Organize a solidarity event in your hometown! Go here for more information.

Download a photo of Troy Davis to hold at your rally.

Download a fact sheet to provide passersby with more information.

The Georgia Board has the power to step in at any point, so we encourage you to continue to collect letters and petitions asking them to issue clemency.

» TAKE ACTION! Write a letter to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles

To see what activists are doing in Georgia, please visit GFADP.
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It's quick and easy using the ACLU's website.
Text "TROY" to 90999 to help spread the word with your cell phone.

Listen to Troy tell his story
Hear from Troy's sister
Join the discussion on aiusa blog
(Yes, it does go all the way up to mid-October...)


One more action--this one for Clergy (and people of faith)

We are looking to organize a sign-on letter to Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue on behalf of Troy Davis. A letter specifically for Georgia clergy is also being circulated within that state, but below is a letter for non-Georgia clergy.

If you are a member of the clergy, please see the below, sign it, and send it in.

If you know a member of the clergy, please send or take this to them THIS WEEKEND or on Monday or Tuesday, and ask them to sign it and send it in before the deadline of October 23 at 10am EDT.

If you know someone who knows a member of the clergy... well, you get the idea.

Details and the letter are pasted below ...

(Georgia man with strong innocence case)

To endorse this letter, please send your name, title, affiliation
(e.g. congregation or organization if applicable), mailing address,
phone number and email address to Amnesty International:
bevans@aiusa. org / Phone: 202-544-0200 x 496

Please share this letter with other clergy contacts of yours, so that we can build a strong list!

Note: we will publicize this letter, including all of its endorsers; therefore, by signing on to this letter you agree that we can publicly list your name in association with this letter. We will not use your name for other purposes unless expressly permitted by you.

Please send your endorsement as soon as possible or by October 23, 10am.

Thank you for your support!

Brian Evans
Amnesty International USA
202-544-0200 x 496

Dear Governor Perdue,

We the undersigned clergy write to you as the chief political leader of your state. As leaders in our respective faith communities, we all find within our teachings a divine directive to support justice in the world and to uphold the sacredness of life. As Governor, you too bear a responsibility to support and promote justice for the people of Georgia. As such, our faith compels us to share with you our concern for Troy Anthony Davis, who faces execution by the state of Georgia on behalf of its citizens.

Almost twenty years ago, a police officer was tragically murdered in Savannah. We are deeply troubled that an innocent man may be executed for this awful crime. Should the state of Georgia carry out the execution of Troy Davis on October, 27, it is possible that justice will be denied for both Davis and Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

We are distressed by the inability of the appeals courts to provide a hearing or new trial to examine evidence that Troy Davis did not murder Mark MacPhail. We are distressed that in a case based solely on witness testimony the unprecedented number of witness recantations has not impressed the courts enough to re-examine the case. We are distressed that the appeals process has become so restrictive that the bar for proving innocence has become virtually unattainable. Finality and procedure must never be deemed of higher importance than questions of innocence and truth in the pursuit of justice, especially when human life is at stake.

In 2005, despite his feeling that Robin Lovitt was guilty of murder, enough doubts emerged to suggest his innocence so that Governor Mark Warner of Virginia commuted the sentence of death to life in order to prevent the possibility of a wrongful execution. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has the same option. Questions of innocence in the Davis case have not been resolved in a court of law. Such questions weigh very heavily on our hearts. Commuting Davis's sentence to life would affirm the principle that doubt is not acceptable in the application of a system that irreversibly takes human life.

We are aware that executive clemency power in Georgia rests in the hands of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. We are also aware that the board acts on behalf of the executive branch of government and is a governor-appointed body. We believe that the reputation of your state is on the line. The faith Georgia citizens have in the justice system is also on the line. We believe you have tremendous influence and moral authority as the leader of your state. We pray that you will ask God for guidance on how best to use the prestige of your office to ensure that a terrible, but preventable, tragedy does not befall your state on October 27.

Yours truly,

[List of endorsers]

Name: ____________ _________ _________ _________ ___
Title: ____________ _________ _________ _________ ___
Affiliation: ____________ _________ _________ _______
Address: ____________ _________ _________ _________
Telephone: ____________ _________ _________ ________
Email: ____________ _________ _________ _________ ___

Fear of the death penalty leads to an innocent man being in prison for close to two decades

Nineteen years ago, three witnesses testified that they saw Joseph E. White and Thomas Winslow take turns raping a 68-year-old Beatrice woman, who was suffocated to death in the assault.

On Wednesday, DNA evidence indicated that all three witnesses had lied.

In a history-making ruling, White, 45, is now a free man after being awarded a new trial, one that may never be held. He was serving a life sentence for murder.

Winslow, 42, convicted of second-degree murder, was granted a resentencing hearing on Friday, and he is expected to be released at that time.

Both men served 19 years in prison.[...]

New DNA tests -- permitted under a 2001 state law -- showed that semen samples and hair found at the scene didn't match either White or Winslow. They were both convicted in the brutal rape and slaying of Helen Wilson in 1985.

The only DNA match was for another male, as yet unidentified.

The test results, presented while several members of the victim's family watched in stunned silence, marked the first time anyone in Nebraska won a new trial or resentencing due to DNA testing.

"We just don't know what to say -- it's mind-boggling,'' said Wilson's brother, Larry Wilson of Scottsbluff, Neb., during a break in the hearing.

The family thought justice had been delivered two decades ago, he said.[...]

Why would three witnesses lie?

(Attorneys) Stratton and Soucie said the three witnesses were pressured by the threat of the death penalty and enticed by offers of reduced charges and shorter sentences if they testified.

"A decision was made to tell a story'' to avoid death row
, Soucie said, and that "raises very serious ethical questions'' for those who support the death penalty.

"They were scared to death by the police,'' White said about the witnesses after Wednesday's hearing.

Taken from DNA evidence lets man walk free from prison after 19 years. Please read complete article by Paul Hammel, Midlands News Service here

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Houston Radio Show Thursday (Executioners Doorstep)

Leslie Lytle will be on this houston radio station tonight (Thursday)at 6:30 local time. Go Here to HEAR the show.

For those of you whom were not on the Montana Journey of Hope or do not know her, She is one of us. She is the author of the new, hot selling, book called -Executoners Doorstep-. Amazon has just sold out and reordered. It is a book about 5 men exonorated from death row. It took 4 years to write this well researched book and one of the only ones actually endorsed by the 5 men.

See more about the book at here

Notice Submitted by Ron Keine

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GEORGIA: Execution date set for Troy Anthony Davis: October 27th

Parole board says it won't reconsider execution. (But we must do ALL we can to stop this travesty of the rule of law and denial of a reasonably fair trial.)

Troy Anthony Davis, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in 1989, is to be executed October. 27. The date was set after a Chatham County judge signed a warrant Wednesday afternoon setting the time frame from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3 for the execution.

This is Davis 3rd execution date in little more than a year.

Last month, just 2 hours before he was to die by lethal injection, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped his execution so it could decide if it would hear Davis challenge based on the recantations of seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him.

On Tuesday, the court without explanation refused to hear the appeal.

Davis was condemned to die for the Aug. 19, 1989 killing of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. The 27-year-old father of 2 was working off duty when he was shot in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant.

(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

There is a world-wide cry against this move for execution...Please note the Actions and Updates a few posts below. Keep checking back.

Any abolitionists here, please do all you can also to help save the life of Gregory Wright...see the post just below...

Thanks for tuning in! Keep coming back...

ACTION NOW for Gregory Wright--Texas Execution Date October 30th!

For those who want to participate in the Clemency Campaign for Gregory Wright and would like to fax, please use the fax number for the Board of Pardons and Paroles: Fax (512) 467-0945. This # goes directly to the Clemency Section. Then, if you have time, ALSO send a message and/or call the Governor. For this, use the fax number (512) 463-1849. Bear in mind that the President of the U. S. no longer has an active role in the Texas Clemency process. Even if you've already signed petitions and/or called, faxing is almost always highly recommended if you are able to do so for both the Board of Pardons and Paroles first and also the Governor.

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008 for the murder of Donna Vick on March 21, 1997 in Desoto, Texas. Mr. Wright was one of two defendants sentenced to death in this case in separate trials. A petition for Commutation of his death sentence or in the alternative, a 180-day Reprieve has been submitted by his attorneys.

We are requesting that letters (and/or Faxes) of support be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to recommend these actions to the Governor, and to the Governor asking him to commute the death sentence to life or to grant a 180-day reprieve.

Some of the issues in Mr. Wright's case have never been considered on appeal because his State Habeas Attorney did virtually no work on his behalf leaving these issues unpreserved and preventing them from being raised in further appeals. So that you and others might realize how serious the State Habeas Attorney's neglect has been: This attorney is no longer on the list of attorneys approved to represent capital defendants in their appeals.

The other defendant in this case made confessions to the murder to a number of individuals both before the trial and after conviction. However he has never confessed under oath. One such confession was to an individual working at a 24-hour video story on the evening of the murder. The other defendant then asked him to call 911 for him. Both of them made calls to 911, but the tapes, which might have been helpful to Mr. Wright's defense, have disappeared.

Mr. Wright's attorneys were unable to find this witness to interview him, and the prosecutor's office claimed they did not know his whereabouts. An affidavit by this witness confirms: the prosecutor's office maintained contact with him before the trial.

There was another person to whom the other defendant confessed shortly after the murder while driving the victim's car that the defense was never aware of until after the trial.

The prosecution made an undisclosed deal with another person who testified against Mr. Wright at his trial, providing information not available from any other source that was very damaging to Mr. Wright such as a cheerful demeanor after the murder. Although witness testified to actions that would have subjected him to a lengthy prison sentence, he was never charged with a crime. Upon questioning by the defense attorney, both the witness and the prosecutor denied the existence of any deal. However testimony during trial of the other defendant in the murder confirms the existence of a deal made prior to Mr. Wright's trial.

A lot of emphasis was placed on the testimony of this witness during both the trial and the punishment phase. Failure to disclose a deal rendered the defense unable to point out the bias of this witness. Not only did the prosecution deny a deal but repeatedly insisted that none existed.

Items related to the crime, papers and clothing, such as jeans containing Mr. Vick's blood, were found in a shack in Desoto. Although police and the prosecutor were aware that both men had access to this shack, at trial the information was withheld that paperwork belonging to the other defendant was also present and access was attributed only to Mr. Wright.

In the other defendant's trial, the shack was described as being shared by both men.

There remain questions about the ownership of the jeans--questionable DNA inside a pant leg, and DNA testing is ongoing. Further testing is being opposed by the prosecution.

The state presented as their only physical evidence against Mr. Wright a partial bloody fingerprint on a pillowcase lifted by a crime scene officer not trained to handle evidence and who has now been indicted for murder in another case and is currently a fugitive from justice.

Members of the Dallas Co. Sheriff's Office with extensive experience and training in fingerprint identification did not find the print comparable to those of any suspects. A retired print examiner, who had worked in the past with the other examiners, testified to the match to Mr. Wright's known prints without showing the points of comparison and told the jury they would have to take his word for it. A
forensic scientist who recently reviewed the materials found that no scientific comparison could be made on the materials submitted at trial.

In conclusion, Mr. Wright did not have a fair trial:

**Witnesses were hidden

**Key evidence was suppressed

**Testimony was bought and paid for.

**The State "shopped" for a fingerprint expert who would testify to a match.

IN CONCLUSION: There are serious doubts that Gregory Wright is guilty of the crime for which he is scheduled to be executed. There is NO doubt that he did not receive a fair trial.

ACTION RECOMMENDED: Using information in this summary and any other factors you think should be considered, please write then send your letters/FAXES to the
Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles ASAP given the imminent execution date is very soon. Remember to include in your letter your awareness of the severity of the crime and the harm done to Ms. Vick and the loss to any of her relatives/loved ones.

Please send your letters as soon as you are reasonably able to do so as the petition has already been submitted. (And please send this on to others)

Here is the contact information:

Mrs. Rissie Owens, Presiding Officer Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & other Board Members (Executive Clemency Section), 8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78758

Fax (512) 467-0945

Dear Mrs. Owens and other Board Members: (your own words)

Governor Rick Perry (Governor of the State of Texas)
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428, Austin, TX 78711

Fax: (512) 463-1849

Full Clemency Petition is available upon request--send request in Comment section.


Just under this new report on Children and the death penalty World-Wide from Human Rights Watch and other Human Rights sites, please find some of the latest Updates and Actions on Troy Davis...(we don't want Davis items missed in publishing this following report)

Groups from 82 Countries Seek Urgent Reforms

(New York, October 14, 2008) – As UN member states begin three days of debate on the rights of the child, more than 300 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from 82 countries called on the UN General Assembly to take urgent action to end executions for crimes committed by children, Human Rights Watch said today.

The vast majority of states enforce the absolute prohibition on the death penalty for individuals who committed crimes as children, in compliance with international law. But the overall number of such executions has been rising. Five countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan and Yemen – have carried out 32 of these executions since January 2005, and have well over 100 other juvenile offenders on death row.

“Groups from all over the world are saying that these executions are an outrage,” said Clarisa Bencomo, researcher on children’s rights for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. “The General Assembly should demand that countries stop these killings immediately and pass reforms so that no one is ever again executed for a crime committed as a child.”

Iran has been at the forefront of the recent rise in executions of juvenile offenders. Between 2000 and 2004, five states are known to have executed 18 juvenile offenders, with the nine executions in the United States and five in Iran accounting for the majority. The United States ended the juvenile death penalty in March 2005, but since January 2005, Iran has been responsible for 26 of the 32 executions of juvenile offenders worldwide. NGOs in all five countries that currently execute juvenile offenders are among those seeking General Assembly action, and the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi endorsed their statement.

On October 15, 2008, the UN General Assembly will begin its annual debate on the rights of the child. Past General Assembly resolutions have included a broad call for states to comply with their international treaty obligations to end the juvenile death penalty, but with language so general that even states that execute juvenile offenders supported the measures.

The NGO petition is co-sponsored by the Children’s Rights Information Network and Human Rights Watch. The petition urges UN member states to recognize the urgency of the current situation by calling for an immediate moratorium on all executions of juvenile offenders and commutation of existing death sentences to custodial or other sentences in conformity with international juvenile justice standards. States that prohibit the death penalty for juvenile offenders should ensure that essential safeguards are in place so that children are not mistakenly sentenced to death. These safeguards should include legal assistance, universal birth registration and training for judges and prosecutors in juvenile justice.

The petition also calls on the General Assembly to request a report from the UN secretary-general on all states’ compliance with the absolute ban on the juvenile death penalty, including information on the number of juvenile offenders currently on death row and the number executed during the last five years. Such a study would be an important tool in identifying good practices that states can use in implementing the absolute prohibition on these executions and to set benchmarks for moving toward full compliance.

“The General Assembly should adopt strong, detailed recommendations on the steps states should take to implement the prohibition on the juvenile death penalty, and then follow up to monitor states’ actions,” Bencomo said. “It is unconscionable that, in some countries, children are facing execution because they lacked birth certificates or didn’t have lawyers during investigation and trial.”

The text of the petition and a list of the 305 groups that have signed it are available in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Japanese, and Spanish.

Human Rights Watch Press release

Watch Here for UPDATES on TROY DAVIS case

Troy Davis

Finality Over Fairness -- Troy Davis -- UPDATE & Summary from Amnesty International

- The Supreme Court has declined to hear Troy Davis' case. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday, September 12. They did so despite overwhelming doubts of Davis' guilt - and after stating last year that they would "not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused." On September 23, The U.S. Supreme Court stayed Troy Davis' execution "pending the disposition of [his] petition for a writ of certiorari." On October 14, the Court decided not to accept his petition.

ACTIONS SUGGESTED with important DO NOTS: The Georgia Board has the power to step in at any point, so we encourage you to continue to collect letters and petitions asking them to issue clemency. These letters are being collected in Amnesty International's Atlanta office to be delivered to the Board at the appropriate time. Please DO NOT send your letters directly to the Board...fax your letter to 404-876-2276...

Also suggestions have come in that people should be preparing and sending numerous articles for their local papers, as letters to the editor, op-eds, opinion pieces, etc., about Troy, and copies should be sent to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Also, Amnesty respectfully asks us NOT to contact the US Supreme Court or the Governor or Attorney General of Georgia because it COULD BE DETRIMENTAL at this time.

More Actions/Suggestions with Updates coming when sites, actions, blogs are further updated. Thanks so much for checking in and please do keep checking back.

Listen below to US Human Rights Network Executive Director Ajamu Baraka as he interviews Martina Carreia

BY THE WAY: We expect to put up a nice SUMMARY from the Montana Journey by Montana folk and we hope to post another "journal" post from Beth and others as soon as the Journey participants are able to catch their breath. (The Journey in Montana has ended recently and now folk are mostly catching up, we suppose.)

Without Explanation the Supreme Court Refused to Hear Troy Davis' Appeal

Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied hearing Troy Davis's appeal. In 1991, Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer two years earlier - but he has always maintained his innocence. Seven of nine people who originally testified against Davis have recanted or changed their stories, saying they were coerced by police to take the stand against him; and three people have said that they can identify the actual killer. Yesterday, without explanation the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.


* Aug. 30, 1991: Troy Davis is sentenced to death by a Chatham County jury for the 1989 murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
* July 16, 2007: After a 10-hour hearing, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles stays Davis' execution, set for the next day.
* March 17, 2008: By a 4-3 vote, the Georgia Supreme Court upholds Davis' death sentence, rejecting his request for a hearing that recantation testimony be presented in court.
* Sept. 3, 2008: Davis' execution is set for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
* Sept. 12, 2008: The state parole board, after hearing more testimony, declines to grant clemency to Davis.
* Sept. 22, 2008: The Georgia Supreme Court rejects Davis' bid for a stay of execution.
* Sept. 23, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court issues a stay of execution for Davis less than two hours before he was to die by lethal injection. Davis is asking the court to order a judge to grant him a hearing.
* Oct. 14, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court says in an order that it will not consider Davis's appeal.
Compiled by AJC News Researcher Joni Zeccola

Podcast interview with Troy Davis' sister

To listen to the interview please click here

Supreme Court Refusal to Hear Troy Davis Case "Truly Shocking" Amnesty International

Posted on October 14, 2008

Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) decried today's U.S. Supreme Court decision to deny a new hearing for Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis. The Court had granted Davis a stay of execution just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death while it decided whether to hear the case. In denying Davis' petition for a writ of certiorari, the Court has effectively ended a longstanding battle to have new evidence in Davis' favor heard in a court of law.

"The Supreme Court's decision is truly shocking, given that significant evidence of Davis' innocence will never have a chance to be examined," said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. "Faulty eyewitness identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, and the hallmark of Davis' case. This was an opportunity for the Court to clarify the constitutionality of putting the innocent to death –- and in Davis' case, his innocence could only be determined with a new hearing or trial."

"It is disgraceful that the highest court in the land could sink so low when doubts surrounding Davis' guilt are so high," Cox added.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Davis’ petition for writ of certiorari that was submitted on constitutional grounds of due process and cruel and unusual punishment violations if an individual is put to death despite significant claims to innocence. Davis’ attorneys filed the petition after the Georgia Supreme Court’s narrow 4-3 ruling to deny Davis an evidentiary hearing last March; the ruling was based on technicalities rather than basic questions of guilt and innocence.

Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Authorities failed to produce a murder weapon or any physical evidence tying Davis to the crime. In addition, seven of the nine original state witnesses have since recanted or changed their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits. One of the remaining witnesses is alleged to be the actual perpetrator.

Since the launch of its February 2007 report, "Where Is the Justice for Me? The Case of Troy Davis, Facing Execution in Georgia," Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial and clemency for Davis, collecting well over 200,000 clemency petition signatures and letters from across the United States and around the world. To date, internationally known figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have all joined the call for clemency, as well as lawmakers from within and outside of Georgia.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
© 2008 Amnesty International All rights reserved.