Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CALIFORNIA: Just In! Hearing Draws Many!

From Sacramento Bee A teacher urges money for education NOT executions

This story is taken from Sacbee / Latest News / E-mail Alerts -- Breaking News

Death penalty hearing draws many opposed to capital punishment Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2009 (please also keep watching Death Penalty Watch!)

The state hearing on new procedures for the death penalty got under way this morning in Sacramento with about 120 people gathered in a state auditorium, many of them there expressly to oppose capital punishment.

They wore T-shirts, carried signs with slogans such as "Execute Justice, Not People," "The Death Penalty is Killing California's Budget," " Money for Education, Not Executions."

The first speaker, Donna Doolin-Larsen, said her son Keith is on death row at San Quentin. Facing the prospect of his execution is "terribly painful and dehumanizing," she testified.

She described her son as "factually innocent," and said the death penalty "has impacted me and my family in many ways."

"I visualize in my nightmares the moment when I may have to witness Keith entering the death chamber, being strapped to the death gurney, seeing the death catheter inserted into his vein for the death poison to be administered, hearing Keith's last dying words, and thinking, 'Save my son,'" she said.

Keith Zon Doolin was convicted in 1996 and sent to California's death row for shooting six prostitutes in Fresno County, two fatally.

Today's hearing is expected to continue until 3 p.m. at the Department of Health Services Building, 1500 Capitol Ave.

Corrections officials are expecting so many speakers that they have limited each to three minutes.

Clergy, doctors and lawyers rose to speak out about their belief that the death penalty is immoral but not all of the speakers opposed capital punishment.

John Mancino, vice president of a group called the American Civil Responsibilities Union, said there have been 108,000 murders in California since 1963. He said there have been only 14 executions since then.

He added that claims that inmates may suffer pain during the lethal injection process are a "smokescreen" aimed at ending capital punishment.

"If you have even been anesthetized for a tonsillectomy you don't feel a thing," said Mancino, whose group has led the successful effort to oust Chief Justice Rose Bird in 1986 because of her opposition to the death penalty.

The public comment is designed to provide input on a new series of regulations governing how lethal injection is administered in California.

The death penalty has been on hold in California since 2006 because of a series of legal challenges that may take years to resolve.

Public Comments: here

CALIFORNIA New procedure violates Human Rights: HRW

Human Rights Watch Press release
June 29, 2009

(Washington) - The state of California's new procedure for carrying out executions by lethal injection violates international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to state officials.

California has recently revised its execution procedure in response to criticisms and concerns raised in legal challenges. But the new procedure continues to use a three-drug formula that poses a significant risk of unnecessary suffering, Human Rights Watch said.

"California should follow the example of New Jersey and New Mexico and abolish the death penalty," said David Fathi, director of the US program at Human Rights Watch. "But as long as California carries out executions, international human rights law requires it to make every effort to minimize the prisoner's physical and mental suffering."

At issue is the use of pancuronium bromide, a paralytic agent, as one of the drugs in the execution process. A 2006 Human Rights Watch report, "So Long As They Die: Lethal Injections in the United States," showed that use of this drug creates a risk that an inadequately anesthetized prisoner could be fully conscious and experiencing excruciating pain, yet be unable to move, cry out, or otherwise communicate suffering. The risk that paralytic agents like pancuronium bromide can mask unnecessary suffering is so well recognized that their use in animal euthanasia is banned in California and many other states.

"It's shocking that California plans to put human beings to death using a method that's considered too cruel to use on animals," Fathi said.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights treaty ratified by the United States in 1992, does not completely prohibit capital punishment. But it has been interpreted to require that executions be carried out "in such a way as to cause the least possible physical and mental suffering." The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by the United States in 1994, also imposes limits on execution methods by prohibiting "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty and finality.

Learn more about this topic in HREA's study guide on Torture, inhuman or degrading punishment.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Supreme Court may hear Troy Davis case

Troy Davis

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ajc dot com > Metro
Off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail killed in 1989


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, June 28, 2009

With just two days before the U.S. Supreme Court closes for summer recess, the court is expected this week to consider a last-ditch hearing for death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.

If the court does not decide by Tuesday whether to hear Davis’ most recent petition to retry his 1991 police murder case, justices won’t convene again until this fall. This current petition is largely considered Davis’ most viable option to stay alive, said Laura Moye of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign.

But the delay could be good news for Davis’ legal team and supporters.

“It buys more time for all of the advocates to get more publicity on the case,” Moye said.

If the courts decide against hearing Davis’ petition, it will be up to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm whether to pursue Davis’ fourth execution warrant. Chisolm could not be reached for immediate comment Sunday.

Davis, 40, was convicted of murdering Savannah Police officer Mark Allen MacPhail 20 years ago, though no physical evidence directly linked him to the crime. MacPhail, then a 27-year-old former Army ranger, was working off-duty when he was shot three times in a Burger King parking lot.

Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine witnesses have recanted their testimony and some people have implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles as the shooter. Coles was the first person to implicate Davis in the killing.

Davis’ execution has been stayed three times as his team of attorneys exhaust their efforts to save his life. Requests for a new trial in Chatham County have been denied, as have their petitions to have new evidence considered in the case.

Judges, lawmakers and worldwide leaders have rallied behind Davis.

In May, a group of 27 former jurists and federal prosecutors pushed for a new hearing for Davis, filing a petition that said Davis can show “new, never reviewed evidence that strongly points to his innocence.” U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat who represents the 5th District, has called for a new trial. Former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI have asked that the inmate be spared death by lethal injection.

On Monday, Moye will be joined by the NAACP and community faith leaders to deliver thousands of new petitions to Chisolm calling for a retrial, she said. They’ve collected roughly 10,000 signatures in Chatham County alone, with as many as 70,000 signatures from around the U.S. and world, she said.

— Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this report.

Find this article at: AJC dot Com or simply GO HERE

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Have you been aware that the "Journey of Hope" actually is a department store? ;-)

On May 12th and May 13th the speakers of the Journey of Hope spoke in Gelnhausen, Germany. These pictures were taken there:

"JOH" is the name of a department store in Gelnhausen. Naturally a photo of this store had to be taken... :-)

The speakers of the German JOH - tour together with the people from Amnesty Gelnhausen. Claudia (the lady with the red sweater) is also the person who takes the minutes for the German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Be careful when you're 'assuming'

Guest Column in amarillo.com by Linda L. White

Your recent editorial regarding the death penalty mentioned that one particular number was left out of the equation because it's too difficult to calculate - that of the number of victims of these 200 executed along with other victims of horrendous crimes. Left out also was the incalculable suffering of these victims.
I am one of those victims.

My 26-year-old daughter, Cathy, was murdered 22 years ago.

I assure you that I know and sympathize with their anguish over the loss of their loved ones. Rather than offer more statistics, though, I do believe in their merit when viewing the death penalty in our state, I will offer one simple story - mine.

It is the only subject that I am an expert in.

My daughter was killed by two 15-year-olds, so there was no death penalty, though they stood trial certified as adults and were given long sentences. I had no real position on the death penalty at that time - just the same visceral response that anyone has to hearing of truly heinous crimes. I often wanted to administer the punishment myself - I sometimes still do when I hear about crimes against children for I have five grandchildren of my own.

Three years after Cathy's murder, however, I decided to quit thinking on a purely emotional level and initiate a research project of my own about the death penalty. Following that exhaustive research, I became an opponent of capital punishment, and the last two decades have only strengthened my resolve. I believe it does nothing good for us as a society and only enlarges the circle of pain since it creates another grieving family, that of the offender who is executed by us.

Neither do I believe it is victim-friendly, since it consumes huge sums of money that could be used for direct victims' services, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and educational help for the children left behind.

Additionally, it focuses on the offender rather than on the victims - how many of us know the names of any of Ted Bundy's victims, for instance? Or of other high-profile killers? And finally, it promises closure (whatever that's supposed to be) to those who have had their loved ones murdered. Most of us would say that this is a false promise. We need healing, not closure on our loved ones.

I know I will never "get over" my daughter's death, any more than I expect others to.

But I also know that I have not gotten one single moment of comfort by the state of Texas' putting people to death on my behalf. What's more, I would hate it if that's what it took for me to move forward in my life.

Please don't assume that all victims are alike and that we all want killing done - or justified - in our names.

Linda L. White is a retired college professor. She lives in Magnolia.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Journey of Hope in Magdeburg, Germany

By Daniela Turß (author of the article) and Insa Nieberg (translation) - both Amnesty International Magdeburg

On Thursday the 14th of May 2009 the „Journey of Hope“stopped in Magdeburg. Three speakers from the United States shared their personal experiences with the death penalty with the audience at the Otto-von-Guericke University.

Bill Pelke is a relative of a victim, Terri Steinberg the mother of a man sentenced to death whereas Ray Krone was released from death row after he was proven innocent.

The event was organized by the local group of the NGO amnesty international under the patronage of the German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. This lecture was the only one in the federal state of Sachsen-Anhalt and the group experienced a rush on the seats available in the lecture room.

Tickets were sold out right at the beginning of the presentation as more than 120 students of all faculties seized the chance to learn more about the personal stories connected to the death penalty. The following two hours were filled with emotional yet balanced presentations that were summarized and translated by interpreters. All the points of views added up to a coherent picture: Death penalty continues the spiral of violence that was triggered by the initial crime in the first place. While convicts are often forced to wait in agony for more than ten years, relatives are in a situation between hope and desperation. At the same time hatred and desire of revenge have faded away- the only thing that prevents relatives of victims to draw a line is the fact that the judgment is still outstanding and not enforced.

Bill Pelke described his change of attitude from being an advocate of the death penalty to becoming a strict opponent. Being the grandson of a woman that was murdered by a group of young girls, he helped to turn the death sentence of the murderer, a girl who was only 15 years old at the time, into a lifelong sentence by founding the initiative “Journey of Hope”. This group informs people in the US, but also worldwide about the background of the issue and supports persons concerned.

Ray Krone, who had the doubtful honor of being the 100th innocent person to be released from death row, told the audience about this desperate struggle against the machinery of law. The story told made all so clear, what a parlous effect a lack of financial means can have on the quality of advocacy. The experience of Krone also illustrates the practice of some attorneys to insistently demand death penalty although evidence is insufficient.

As Krone was not able to afford an attorney, he was represented by an assigned counsel. This attorney was not able to use the countless evidence for Krone’s innocence in the first trial. Although the foot and finger prints found at the site of crime where not those of Krone, he was sentenced to death in his second trial. Ten years later he was eventually able to prove his innocence by a DNA-analysis. Ray Krone states: “There were times when I believed that no innocent man or woman is sentenced to death in the United States- however, by now I have lost every faith in the system of law.” Up to this day he has not received any compensation for the years spent in death row.

Terri Steinberg told the story of her son Justin, who was sentenced to death under dubious circumstances, because he was accused of initiating a contract murder. In this case, there is evidence of innocence as well- the most striking one is a letter in which the murder admits that Justin did not charge him with killing the man and that he made this statement in order to plead in mitigation.

Terri Steinberg is convinced that her son was not involved in the crime and therefore fights with devotion against the sentence of death that shall be executed within the next 12 months.

The conviction drastically changed the life of the family and their lives in the community of a suburb. While Terri tries hard to guarantee a comparably normal life for her other children, she needs all hope not to give in and continue her campaign.

The audience understood this when they saw Terri telling her story with tears in her eyes. It is especially her presentation that makes evident the emotions involved for the speakers when they tell their stories over and over again.

The stories told and emotions shared left the audience shocked and deeply moved. Some took the opportunity to ask Bill, Terri and Ray further questions, whereas others gathered around tables outside in order to sign various petitions.

The “Journey of Hope” was the biggest and most impressive event organized by the local amnesty group so far. It showed that scientific analysis cannot fully grasp the issue of death penalty – the stories of the speakers added more personal and very emotional aspects that illustrated the devastating effects of the spiral of violence connected with the death penalty.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Group walks to protest death penalty

Four people, who believe the state's death penalty is wrong, were not deterred by stifling temperatures on Saturday from continuing their journey through eastern North Carolina.

The group, calling themselves Sojourners for Abolition and Reconciliation (SOfAR), led by East Carolina University alumnus Scott Bass of Raleigh, walked from Bethel to Greenville along N.C. 11 and came in from the heat at The Tipsy Teapot on Evans Street.

They started out at Raleigh's Central Prison last Sunday, where all state executions occur, and plan to end their trip on the steps of the state Legislature.

They took a short break on the highway to talk about their trip and apply some moleskin to their tired feet, then crossed the Tar River into Greenville.

“My feet are a little sore, but I'm feeling good so far, “ said Debbie Biesack, of Fuquay-Varina, who is making the hike with husband David.

Executions happen 30 minutes from where the Biesacks live, so they started going to Central Prison on execution nights and got involved with death penalty opposition groups there, they said.

Neil Mohlman, 20, a senior in religious studies at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, also has been along for the entire trip.

“I've met some great people,” Mohlman said. “Even though I don't live here, I feel at home because of the southern hospitality. The 300-mile pilgrimage sounded like a great opportunity for me and a lot of fun.”

In the cool comfort of The Tipsy Teapot, they gathered at a table with a group of about five Greenville residents interested in hearing what they had to say about the death penalty. There were no death penalty supporters at the table.

Bass and his friends drank a few glasses of cold tea and explained their point of view.

“This walk is not only about the abolition of the death penalty,” Bass said. “It is equally for real support to the families of murder victims.”

Many rural counties do not have comprehensive services available to families of victims of violent crime and focus their attention mostly on victims who are going to assist the prosecution, Bass said.

His organization, Nazareth House, also offers counseling and support service to families of convicted murderers sitting on death row at Central Prison.

“Our faith perspective is that we have an obligation to give compassion, prayer and support to victims and perpetrators,” Bass said. “Some people get upset and question why we do that. It comes from our faith. The families of perpetrators did not commit any crimes, yet they are often the most invisible.”

Bass started Nazareth House with his wife, Roberta Mothershead, in Raleigh so people with loved ones on death row could have a place to stay while visiting an inmate, he said.

People who continue to support and visit their loved ones on death row often bear harsh consequences for years, Bass said, and are forced to hold their emotions at bay.

“They are often ostracized by their neighbors, their church congregation and even other family members,” he said.

Some family members of victims approached Bass and his wife and asked why they were not offering help and support to them, so they began to reach out to them as well. That has become standard practice, he said.

“It's painful to imagine what a family goes through in that situation, but we have a responsibility to try to imagine what it's like to get that phone call and hear that awful thing has happened,” Bass said.

He and his wife go to courtrooms during capital crime trials and sit with victims' family members, often holding their hands, he said.

It is their experience with people on both ends of the crime spectrum that solidifies their belief that the death penalty serves justice to no one, Bass and his friends said.

Bass said the small group's pilgrimage is the tip of the activist iceberg.

“There are a lot of people behind us, organizations like People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, which works with clergy to lobby for reform of death penalty legislation,” he said.

Biesack and Bass feel that right now, reform seems to be a more pragmatic approach to bringing change.

“Part of the purpose of this pilgrimage we're on is having a conversation with people and finding those points we can all agree on. Let's work on that first and see what happens,” Biesack said.

Bass said death penalty reformers should look at what he said is a clear disparity between the numbers blacks and whites convicted of capital crimes.

All of the travelers seemed eager to meet people at the grass-roots level and share thoughts about the impact of violent crime on victims' families and families with a loved one on death row.

“Our faith motivates our involvement,” Biesack said. “God doesn't want the killing of anyone in any way, whether through abortion, execution or war.”

Bass praised the small but hardy group who joined him on the journey through the area.

“I've got the right team for this walk. You have to have both a physical and spiritual strength to make this pilgrimage,” Bass said. “These are people who literally walk the talk, not just here but in their day-to-day lives, too, living a consistent ethic of life and helping others in all stages of need.”

Biesack was impressed by the way people have extended themselves to the group and engaged them in concerned conversation on the topic, even when in disagreement with their goals.

“People have been extremely gracious and helpful to us,” Biesack said. “They offer help and advice, water, food and anything else we might need.”
(Taken from reflector.com)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A grieving father's journey to soul-searching

Book review about "THE RIDE: A Shocking Murder and a Bereaved Father's Journey From Rage to Redemption" by Chuck Leddy in boston.com

Robert Curley, whose son Jeffery was murdered in Cambridge, was once a proponent of the death penalty but speaks against it.
Photo by Scott Langley

On Oct. 1, 1997, 22-year-old Charles Jaynes offered to buy 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley a bicycle in exchange for a sexual favor. What happened next would shock the public, the close-knit East Cambridge community, and the Curley family, including Jeffrey's father Bob. Jeffrey, "horrified, refused a command he could barely understand. Jaynes reacted with a burst of volcanic fury," beating the boy and holding a gasoline-drenched rag to his face. After a 20-minute struggle, Jeffrey Curley lost consciousness and died.

Brian MacQuarrie, a Globe reporter, covered the shocking 1997 murder and its aftermath, one that resulted in renewed calls for the death penalty in Massachusetts. Among the loudest voices in favor of the penalty was Bob Curley, a mechanic with the Cambridge Fire Department. MacQuarrie spent years interviewing those involved in the Curley case, enabling him to dramatically re-create the tension and sadness of those days.

In the hours after his son's disappearance, Bob Curley did his own investigative work, locating Jaynes at his Newton workplace and demanding, at gunpoint, that he reveal the whereabouts of his missing son. Soon, Newton police arrived and took everyone into custody. MacQuarrie grippingly brings us inside the police interview rooms where Jaynes and his accomplice, Salvatore Sicari, were questioned about the missing boy. After Sicari confessed, police eventually discovered Jeffrey Curley's corpse in a Maine river.

Bob Curley would become an outspoken advocate for capital punishment in Massachusetts. About his son's killers, he'd tell one television interviewer, "Let's go get them and put the hurt on them. Until people are willing to make a stand, it's just gonna keep going on and on." MacQuarrie offers a detailed account of the passionately fought legislative battle over establishing the death penalty. Just when it looked like the pro-death-penalty position had won, one legislator (Representative John Slattery) switched sides and voted against the measure, defeating it.

MacQuarrie describes how deeply involved Bob Curley would become in the battle, as he lobbied legislators face-to-face and even verbally attacked a few opposing State House demonstrators. Upon seeing one man with a sign opposing the death penalty, writes MacQuarrie, Curley "began screaming uncontrollably."

Although Bob Curley and his family would commit themselves to passing the death penalty in Massachusetts, they were psychologically devastated by Jeffrey's death. MacQuarrie gives us a visceral account of how this trauma affected the Curleys, especially Bob.

MacQuarrie writes of how Bob Curley's encounter with a man named Bud Welch triggered a long process of soul-searching about the death penalty. Welch's daughter had been killed in the Oklahoma City bombing committed by Timothy McVeigh, yet Welch opposed the execution of McVeigh, and the death penalty. "I always thought that if you were against the death penalty, you were a wimp," recounted Curley, but clearly Welch was no wimp. Despite his own experiences, Curley would gradually change his views on the death penalty.

MacQuarrie's account, besides explaining the impact of a terrible crime on a family and a community, also describes how it transformed a single man. It's clear from MacQuarrie's account that Bob Curley's rage could have easily destroyed him (or possibly led him to destroy others), but the book's biggest revelation is how Curley got beyond the hate to discover something positive in himself and in others. "The Ride" is a fascinating story of loss, profound anger, pain, and the difficult, soul-searching aftermath of trauma.

Read more about Bob Curley at MVFHR

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CALIFORNIA: Breaking News! Call to Action Now!

MY NOTE: There's a lot of information here but for active abolitionists the nation here's a way to make a difference. Please send this information out right away! Some of the actions are strictly for Californians yet some are for us ALL.

Our friends at DEATH PENALTY FOCUS here

in California are asking everyone to participate in the below action. You can this take action even if you do not live in California! Your few minutes right now could really make a difference!

But first, two quick announcements: #1 - See opportunities for action on NCADP's calendar of upcoming events here and #2 - See NCADP's summer edition of Lifelines, available now on our web page here

And now, the California action:

Breaking News!

The State of California has announced that it is moving forward with developing execution procedures so that executions can resume. Executions have been on hold for more than three years. The State will be holding a hearing on Tuesday, June 30th from 9am to 3pm in Sacramento to hear public comments about the proposed execution procedures.

Death Penalty Focus, along with our allies, will be organizing a critical Day of Action to End the Death Penalty on June 30th.

What you can do:

1. Please join us in Sacramento on June 30th. Click here to sign-up.
Name and Contact Information here

Free buses/carpooling from Oakland and San Francisco will be available.

2. Please consider submitting a written comment expressing your concern about the proposed lethal injection procedures in California. (Sample letter bottom of this post) Please TAKE THIS ACTION even if you do not live in California.

How to Submit a Written Public Comment on CDCR's Proposed Lethal Injection Procedures:

1. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has released proposed regulations on the lethal injection process for public comment. Any member of the public may comment on any aspect of the proposed regulations.

2. The CDCR is required by law to read and consider every relevant comment. The summary below is provided to assist interested members of the public in understanding how the proposed regulations impact individuals and the state, and in drafting relevant public comments.

3. You are encouraged to make your letter as long as you want, and to include as much information as you want about yourself and your perspective on the death penalty. (Please feel free to visit DEATH PENALTY FOCUS's website (SEE TOP of this blogpost) for the latest facts and statistics. Please make sure to include at least one comment that is specific to the proposed regulations (examples below).

4. Written comments may be submitted by mail, fax, or email. They must be received by June 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm PDT. If possible, please consider submitting your comment between June 20th and June 30th. If you send your comment by mail, please also consider sending a copy by email to ensure it arrives by June 30th.

5. Comments should be directed to:

Mr. Timothy Lockwood
Chief, Regulation and Policy Management Branch
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
Email : rpmb@cdcr.ca.gov
Fax : (916) 255 5601

6. Comments should note that they are regarding the proposed Amendments to Title 15, Article 7.5, Sections 3349.

7. Please include your name and address in your letter.

8. Please consider looking at our Sample Letter for ideas on how to set-up and structure your letter.

Primary Issues of Concern:

I. Fiscal Impact of the Proposed Regulations
The CDCR is required to make an assessment of the fiscal impact of the proposed regulations. The CDCR has declared that the proposed regulations have no fiscal impact at all. This is incorrect. The public has a right to know exactly how much it will cost taxpayers to carry out executions using lethal injection at San Quentin prison, as proposed in the regulations.

II. Media Access and the Public's Right to Know
If the state of California kills prisoners in the name of the people, then the people have a right to know the truth about the process. The First Amendment protects the right of the media to witness the execution and to access information about the process. The proposed regulations unduly limit the media's access to information, and therefore the public's right to know.

III. Religious Freedom and Rights
The Constitution, human rights norms, and basic human decency require that before the state takes a person's life, he or she should be provided with full access to and support of appropriate religious advisors. The proposed regulations unduly interfere with the religious rights of the person to be executed and fail to guarantee all necessary religious freedoms.

a. The State Chaplain Cannot be Asked to Disclose Private Communications
The proposed regulations require the State Chaplain to report to the Warden the contents of private conversations with the person to be executed (3349.3.1(e), 3349.3.3(f)). This is an unnecessary violation of the clergy penitent relationship, is contrary to the ethical obligations of clergy, and may violate state law.

b. Accommodation Must be Made for End of Life Rituals
The proposed regulations make no accommodation for end of life rituals such as sweat lodges (3349.3.4(e)). The regulations are silent as to how such requests will be handled. The CDCR previously denied at least one Native American's request to have a sweat lodge prior to execution. The regulations should include a process for requesting and accommodating such rituals.

c. All Spiritual Advisors Should be Allowed Cell Front Visiting
The proposed regulations only permit the State Chaplains to visit the person to be executed in front of his cell to conduct necessary religious rituals (3349.3.4(e), 3349.4.2(b)). All other spiritual advisors are limited to visiting in the common visiting area, a space that may be inappropriate for some rituals such as confessions. All spiritual advisors should be allowed equal access to cell front visiting.

d. A Spiritual Advisor and/or Prison Chaplain Should be Permitted in the Execution Chamber (this section may be revised slightly)
The proposed regulations limit the spiritual advisors to visiting in the holding area next to the execution chamber, and do not permit the advisor to accompany the person to be executed into the chamber (3349.3.4(e)(3)). Under the proposed regulations, other individuals are stationed in the chamber, particularly a non guard execution team member (3349.4.5(e)(8)) and the Warden (3349.4.5(f)(1)). Texas has long permitted the spiritual advisor prison chaplain to enter the execution chamber and to touch the person during the execution. There is no legitimate reason to exclude the prison chaplain and/or spiritual advisor from the execution chamber or prohibit physical contact with the person being executed.

IV. Treatment of the Person to be Executed and Their Family
Many aspects of the proposed regulations are unnecessarily dehumanizing and burdensome to the person to be executed and his family. Undoubtedly, the state's actions in carrying out the execution will always be hurtful to these individuals. But the proposed regulations impose many unnecessary burdens and restrictions that only serve to isolate and intimidate the person to be executed and his family.

V. Denial of Legal Rights
The proposed regulations fail to protect the legal rights of the person to be executed, particularly the rights of individuals with mental or physical disabilities. Further, the regulations ignore the rights of surviving family members to review and potentially contest the manner in which the execution was conducted.

For more detail on any of these sections, please request a 10-page analysis by contacting stefanie@deathpenalty.org.

CDCR's proposed regulations (43 pages) and supporting material are available here.


Mr. Timothy Lockwood
Chief, Regulation and Policy Management Branch
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
Email: rpmb@cdcr.ca.gov

Re: Comment on Proposed Lethal Injection Regulations, Number 09-09
Proposed Amendments to Title 15, Article 7.5, Sections 3349

Dear Mr. Lockwood:

I care about the issue of the death penalty because... [Insert personal reasons such as your religious or moral beliefs, your experience as a teacher, police officer, lawyer, etc., your experience loosing a loved one to murder or execution, relationship to a prisoner on death row, etc.]

I am opposed to the death penalty because… [Visit www.deathpenalty.org/facts for ideas].

I am particularly concerned about the fiscal impact of the proposed lethal injection regulations. The CDCR has declared that the proposed regulations have no fiscal impact at all. This is incorrect. The public has a right to know exactly how much it will cost taxpayers to carry out executions using lethal injection at San Quentin prison, as proposed in the regulations. The proposed regulations require hundreds, possibly thousands of hours of staff time to implement. The CDCR must calculate and disclose the cost of this staff time. In addition, implementing the proposed regulations will result in significant demonstrations outside of San Quentin, as noted in the proposed regulations (3349.3.5(a)(1)). This will require the California Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement with crowd control and Caltrans to assist with directing high traffic flow. The CDCR must calculate and disclose these costs to the state. Finally, the land at San Quentin has been valued at $2 billion and the Governor has proposed selling it in order to raise funds for the depleted state coffers. The proposed regulations, however, are specific to San Quentin. If the proposed regulations are approved, the state will, by the Governor’s own estimates, lose the ability to realize a $2 billion gain from the sale of the San Quentin land. The CDCR must include this $2 billion opportunity cost to the state in its fiscal impact.

In addition, I am concerned about… [Select one or more and add comments.]

• The limitations placed on media access in the proposed regulations: If the state is going to kill, the public should know the truth about what is happening.
• The limitations placed on religious rights: Human rights laws and basic decency require that we provide full religious rights to any person the state plans to kill.
• The dehumanizing treatment of the person to be executed: Many aspects of the proposed regulations serve to isolate and intimidate the person to be executed and are unnecessary.

In conclusion, I support ending the death penalty in California and I oppose implementing the proposed regulations on lethal injection as drafted.


Monday, June 15, 2009

NORTH CAROLINA: 300 Mile March - Sojourners for Abolition and Reconciliation

We stopped briefly at the NC State Capitol building, where Governor Bev Perdue may be called to make a life or death decision in future clemency appeals. We prayed that the death penalty will be abolished before that is needed.

We continued walking and stopped in a Southeast Raleigh neighborhood, the site of three murders so far in 2009. Rev. Hardy Watkins, pastor of a neighborhood church, spoke to us about the community efforts to stop violent crime in the neighborhood and what the violence does to the families who live there. The local churches are uniting in trying to give positive choices to the youth in the area - to let them know that someone cares for them. He also spoke of the effects of gentrification on the neighborhood - the small houses which get refurbished and priced beyond the reach of the current residents, forcing them to move.

Follow More of the Daily Journal of this March - GO here


Death penalty foes to march to N.C. coast

The Sojourners for Abolition and Reconciliation started their annual march Sunday to protest the death penalty.

"I don't think that it's the state's place to take life," death penalty opponent Mary Rider said.

Last year, the Christian-based group walked 300 miles from Raleigh to Washington, DC. This year, they are walking from Raleigh to the North Carolina coast and back.

"That will bring a kind of a ripple effect where people will hear our message who might not have heard it otherwise," Rider said.

"We're not trying to impose our view on anybody, but we really do want to talk to people," said Scott Bass, SOFAR walk organizer.

Wayne Uber, a Chapel Hill resident, has personal reasons for backing the death penalty. His twin brother, Jeffrey, was slain in Florida over some credit cards, and the killer received a life sentence.

"There are people out there who have strong feelings about this, but they haven't been here. They haven't seen what other victims go through. They just aren't qualified to comment on it," Uber said.

The state is under a moratorium on executions because of problems with lethal injection as the execution method.

"The death penalty is not the solution that helps anybody, but only adds more violence to situations that are oftentimes senselessly violent and tragic already," Bass said.

There are 167 inmates on death row in North Carolina, according to Death Penalty Information Center.

The SOFAR marchers will be back in Raleigh in about 2 weeks to rally in front of the General Assembly.

(source: WRAL News)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Forgiveness easier said than offered

At last week’s double funeral service for De’Andre Ruffin and Jonathon Pierce, two men slain in Canton, Ohio, there were calls for forgiveness for the man accused of killing them.

Could you forgive someone who murdered your loved one for no discernible reason?


On its face, forgiveness makes no sense, which is what makes it so powerful and miraculous. It also helps to explain why so many of us are so lousy at it.

Forgiveness goes against our human nature, which tends to prefer that the dark places in our souls remain undisturbed.

Though forgiveness does not negate the need for justice, the kind of faith from which it comes can enable a grief-stricken mother to forgive someone else’s child for killing hers.

Pope John Paul II was known to visit Mehmet Ali Agca in prison and pray with him, though Agca had tried to kill the pope in 1982.

While we may not expect any less of a pope, such gestures overwhelm us when they’re offered up by ordinary people.

Read the online commentary section of any news outlet these days, and the consensus for every problem appears to be “hang ’em high.” We’re constantly told that vengeance would taste better, but true forgiveness is freedom. Unforgiveness shackles us to the perpetrator.

Forgiveness is a refusal to be a reflection of someone else’s shortcomings. It enables us to climb up to a higher plane. In that aspect, it’s a selfish act because it relieves us of the endless burden exacted by anger.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Reaching a place of forgiveness is neither easy nor simple, like some Hallmark TV special.

The journey is riddled with jagged stones and thorns of regret and what-might-have-been. Some people never get there.

In the Christian Scriptures, forgiveness is one of the key tenets of the faith. But you can draw up a play all you want. None of us unequivocally can state that we would be able to forgive another person for killing one of our loved ones. The best we can do is consider all the reasons why we should.

In a culture obsessed with the notion of fair play, forgiveness is difficult to achieve because it requires us to stand down and rein in our natural inclinations toward self-defense. It demands that we let go and move on, action that the outside world has deemed weakness.

The irony, of course, is that forgiveness always requires infinitely more strength than fighting back. The Scriptures record that in the final moments before his death, Jesus publicly pleaded for forgiveness for those responsible for his crucifixion, the message being that forgiveness is stronger than rancor, stronger than hatred, stronger than death itself.

One reason some Christians find themselves under fire these days is that even people who know virtually nothing about Christianity know that Jesus disbursed forgiveness much more often than judgment.

I recently heard a story about a circle of young friends who pooled their money to help out a friend — nothing unusual, except for the fact that the recipient is an ex-Nazi and the donors are black.

Such a gesture proves that the elements of forgiveness aren’t necessarily limited to religion. But it does show that forgiveness is the only path upon which we can find true and lasting inner peace.

Article by Cahrita Gashay taken from the Rockford Register Star
Charita Goshay is a columnist for the Canton Repository.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some numbers about the German Journey of Hope tour

During the German Journey of Hope tour we had 32 events in 18 days.

Alltogether there were about 4850 spectators (a very cautious estimate – it was probably a few hundred more) at the events.

Plus about 1.9 Million people watched Ray and heard his story at the Kerner Show on TV.

During the tour we had up to 7 petitions with us at times. Taken all of the petitons together, we collected about 7900 signatures. These signatures are on the petitions as follows:

- "FROM THE MORATORIUM TO THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY APPEAL" (http://www.santegidio.org/en/pdm/app_en.rtf) - 1320 signatures

- Petition für Justin Wolfe "Don't let an innocent man die!" (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/do-not-let-an-innocent-man-die) - 2720 signatures

- Petition against stoning " (http://www.igfm.de/Steinigung-weltweit-aechten.189.0.html) - 1050 signatures

- Petition for a moratorium in Saudi-Arabia (Amnesty) - 102 signatures

- Petition for abolition of the death penalty in Balarus (Amnesty) - 579 signatures

- Petition for Troy Davis (Amnesty USA) - ca. 1700 signatures

- Petition for abolition of the death penalty in Texas (http://www.tcadp.org/uploads/File/AbolitionPetition-mvfm.pdf) - 433 signatures

There are still people over here collecting signatures for Justin.

During the tour 2 documentaries were filmed, one of them is finished already (see earlier post).

Bill found about 100 new friends on facebook and some of these already helped with petitions and joined causes which have to do with abolition of the death penalty.

A number of people addressed us and told us that listening to Ray’s, Bill’s and Terri’s story got them to think about their position on the death penalty or even changed their views on the death penalty.

So taken everything together this tour was a big success and talking from our experience over here, I can only recommend to every group to invite the speakers of the Journey of Hope to their community!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Judge Sotomayor

First: From one of our Abolition (Against the Death Penalty) Movement's heroes - Bob Herbert: here

And also note this one at NYTimes "For Sotomayor and Thomas, Paths Diverge at Race" here

Professor Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers' Guild
NLG Calls for Reasoned Analysis of Sotomayor Nomination here

Some Items from Karl Keys' Weekly Report:
Judge Sotomayor's completed Senate Judiciary Questionnaire...available for download

Second Circuit Hearing Excerpt here

Second Circuit Questionaire here

Second Circuit Questionnaire Part ii pdf: here

Pending Executions

11 Jack Trawick - Ala*
18 Roland William Steele (PA)

1 Matthew Eric Wrinkles* (Ind)
9 Michael DeLozier* (Okla)
14 John Fautenberry* (Ohio)
14 Paul Warner Powell* (VA)
16 Kenneth Mosley* (Tex)
21 Marvallous Keene* (Ohio)
23 Roderick Newton* (Tex)
28 Junious Diggs (Penn)
30 Ralph Trent Stokes (Penn)

7 Kenneth Baumruk (Mo)
13 Tracy Lane Beatty (Tex)
18 Jason Getsy* (Ohio)
20 David Wood* (Tex)

Recent Executions
8 Thomas Ivey - SC
14 Donald Gilson - Okla
14 Willie McNair - Ala
19 Michael Lynn Riley - Tex
20 Dennis Skillcorn - Mo

2 Terry Hankins - Tex
3 Daniel Wilson - Ohio

3 James A. Dellinger -Tenn*
17 Reginald Clemons - Mo*
* "serious" execution date / (s) stay believed likely / (V) Volunteer [Sources include: DPIC, Rick Halperin & press accounts] and Karl Keys Weekly Report as well

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Where the Death Penalty Stands in North Carolina

From Death Watch North Carolina (Thanks to Karl Keys Report)

It has been more than two years since anyone was executed in North Carolina. In the last few weeks, several legislative actions and court decisions have made it seem likely that executions will resume in the near future. What is really going on?

Medical Board

On May 1st, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued its decision in a lawsuit between the North Carolina Medical Board and the NC Department of Correction. The Medical Board, an agency responsible for licensing and regulation of doctors in North Carolina, had issued a policy stating that doctors cannot ethically participate in executions. The Department of Correction claimed that it was unable to find a doctor willing to assist with lethal injection, and that it was therefore unable to execute its inmates. The DOC sued, and the NCSC ruled that because the legislature has required physician participation in executions, it is not within the power of the Medical Board to sanction doctors for doing so.

Council of State

On May 13th, Wake County judge Donald Stephens issued a decision denying and dismissing the claims brought by several death row inmates against the Council of State, a body of elected officials responsible for, among other things, approving North Carolina’s lethal injection protocol. The inmates had alleged that the Council did not follow proper administrative procedure in approving the protocol. Judge Stephens found that the inmates did not have standing to challenge the Council’s decision, and that the Council’s approval was not subject to further review by any court.

Lethal Injection

Judge Stephens also issued an order setting a hearing during the June 1 session of court for oral argument on the remaining 8th Amendment issues in the inmates’ case. Both parties are expected to brief the impact of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Baze v. Rees on the question of whether the North Carolina lethal injection protocol is cruel and unusual.


The Senate chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly voted this week to approve the Racial Justice Act, which would allow pre-trial defendants as well as death row inmates to challenge the decision to seek or impose the death penalty in their case if it was based on impermissible racial bias. The bill passed with an amendment which prohibited the Medical Board and other health care agencies from disciplining medical professionals involved in executions, removed the requirement that the Council of State approve the execution protocol, and mandated that executions cannot occur more than once every 30 days.

What Happens Now

There will be no appeal in the Medical Board litigation, but it is possible for the inmates to appeal Judge Stephens’ decision in the Council of State matter; some of Stephens’ findings were contrary to an earlier ruling by another judge. A specific date has not yet been set for the hearing on the 8th Amendment issues related to lethal injection. Finally, the House has yet to pass the Racial Justice Act, and if it does, any discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of the bill will need to be worked out.

It is hard to say exactly if or when executions will resume in North Carolina. Injunctions are still in place preventing the State from re-setting executions dates for the six residents of death row who were scheduled to be executed before the moratorium began.

What we do know is that our system of capital punishment remains imperfect. In the years we have been without executions, three innocent men were freed from death row, having served a combined 41 years and faced death for crimes they did not commit. Many of those who will face execution when the moratorium ends were convicted in an era when the standards for performance by defense counsel and fairness from prosecutors were far below what they are today. No one should be executed until all litigation is resolved and the known flaws with North Carolina’s death penalty have been remedied.

FLORIDA: Margin of Vote on Death Penalty in Polk Pulse Is Shocking; Look at Facts

When I saw Monday's Polk Pulse question about Florida possibly ceasing to impose the death penalty, I knew the results would be lopsided, but 89 percent voting to maintain the death penalty is somewhat shocking, even to someone as jaded as I am. Monday's article about this did not delve into the number of death row residents who have been exonerated or released on other grounds. By the way, Florida has had more death row cases overturned than any other state, certainly a point of pride we can all revel in.

Nor was there any mention of the increased cost of death sentences. People feel it is expensive to keep inmates in prison, and it is. But to find the real expense involved in death sentences, look to the costs that must be paid by the taxpayers - the costs for both sides on the appeals. Any other government program that cost so much, and returned so little would have been abolished decades ago.

So far, no one has claimed that Florida has executed an innocent person, but we kept Frank Lee Smith on death row until he died, and then he was determined to be innocent. Then there was James Richardson, who spent 21 years on death row until exonerated. And Janet Reno was excoriated for determining the state at fault in that case.

Finally, it really is interesting that the lead story Tuesday on page A1 was headlined "Polk Murder Rate Rises Alarmingly." Sure looks like the death penalty is working well in Polk County.

JOHN McARTHUR----Lakeland

(source: Letter to the Editor, The Ledger)

Thanks to Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News & Updates!

Friday, June 05, 2009

UN Investigator Says US Death Penalty Leads to Miscarriage of Justice

A U.N. Special Investigator is criticizing the application of the death penalty in the United States, saying it sometimes leads to miscarriages of justice. The expert, Philip Alston, calls for the United States to enact more stringent safeguards to protect the innocent. Philip Alston submitted a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Special Investigator Philip Alston is not calling for the United States to end capital punishment. But, he urges the government to make sure the imposition of the death penalty complies with fundamental due process requirements.

"It is widely acknowledged that innocent people have most likely been executed in the U.S," said Philip Alston. "Yet, in Alabama and Texas, the two States that I visited, I found a shocking lack of urgency about the need to reform criminal-justice system flaws."

Alston says the U.S. Congress should enact legislation permitting a review of state and federal death penalty cases.

The U.N. Special Investigator also criticizes the U.S. military and intelligence operations for a lack of transparency and accountability in relation to civilian casualties. He says targeted killings carried out by drone attacks on the territory of other countries are increasingly common and remain deeply troubling.

"The government has failed to effectively investigate and punish lower-ranked soldiers for such deaths, and has not held senior officers responsible under the doctrine of command responsibility," he said. "Worse, it has effectively created a zone of impunity for private contractors and civilian agents by only rarely investigating and prosecuting them."

Acting Deputy Chief at the U.S. Mission in Geneva Lawrence Richter says he accepts Alston's observations on the need for safeguards in serious cases of capital punishment. But, he adds the U.S. system already has robust safeguards in place.

"For example, if the death penalty were disproportionate to the severity of the underlying offense, it could be challenged under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as being cruel and unusual punishment," said Lawrence Richter. "We fully share Professor Alston's concerns about the need to address the issue of wrongful convictions, and indeed the U.S. government has made this a priority. We are one of only five countries in the world that belong to the Innocence Network, a group of countries that are working to embrace modern forensic science and reforms to prevent wrongful convictions."

Richter says Alston has gone too far in his criticisms of Washington in regard to its actions in the military sphere. He says the United States does not believe military and intelligence operations during armed conflict fall within the Special Investigator's mandate.
By Lisa Schlein. Source: Voice of America

Thursday, June 04, 2009

RADIO - WEB programs about LOVE, FORGIVENESS & Peace

Although this item is not specifically about the death penalty - here are some items which surely are compatible with our philosophy here with the prayer that they will bring some refreshment. Don't get burned out - refresh, renew, forgive

The Global Oneness Project and “ubuntu”
June 2nd, 2009

Ubuntu is nothing more than compassion brought into colorful practice.
–Zulu Credo

The web has allowed for incredible global connections to happen. From Playing for Change to The Global Oneness Project, people are finding creative ways to unite people across political and geographical boundaries.

Since 2006, members of The Global Oneness Project “have been traveling the globe gathering stories from creative and courageous people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other and our shared world.”

In particular, one of their videos explains the African term “ubuntu.” ‘Ubuntu, a traditional African philosophy, recognizes how we are inextricably bound in each other’s humanity. Translated as, “I am because you are,” Ubuntu describes a sense of unity between people through which we each discover our own strengths and virtues.’ Rooted in African culture, ubuntu has a lot to teach those of us from cultures that emphasize individualism.

Another inspiring video is about the Seva Cafe where patrons practice “paying it forward.”

Find these videos and MUCH more at these websites
Seva Cafe - here

The Global Oneness Project: here

Playing for Change: here

LOVE and FORGIVE dot org here Some NEW items are featured!

And also on another site which features LOVE and FORGIVE

Thay Thich Nhat Hanh

About the Image: After 40 years of exile, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh returned to his native country for a three-month tour in 2004. Here, he speaks at Bo De pagoda in Hanoi. (photo: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

In the radio program, he leads those present on a pilgrimage (at a famous Christian retreat center.)

TUNE IN here

TROY DAVIS: "Unconscionable"

NEW VOICES: Executing Troy Davis Would Be "Unconscionable and Unconstitutional"

Former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia has called for a full court hearing on the new evidence offered by death row inmate Troy Davis regarding his possible innocence. Davis's attorneys have submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting such a hearing. Barr noted that part of the basis the lower courts have used in refusing to hold a hearing is the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, a law that he helped write. Barr, who also served as a U.S. Attorney in Georgia, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that, “There is no abuse of government power more egregious than executing an innocent man. But that is exactly what may happen if the United States Supreme Court fails to intervene on behalf of Troy Davis.” Barr continued, “This threat of injustice has come about because the lower courts have misread the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, a law I helped write when I was in Congress.” He emphasized, “But nothing in the statute should have left the courts with the impression that they were barred from hearing claims of actual innocence like Troy Davis’s.” The full op-ed may be found at Death Penalty Info dot org here

Supreme Court Rules Second Mental Retardation Determination Does Not Constitute Double Jeopardy

Posted: June 03, 2009

On June 1, in the case of Bobby v. Bies, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Michael Bies had to bring his claim of mental retardation before a separate state hearing, thereby reversing the lower federal courts that held such a hearing would constitute double jeopardy. The Court held that Ohio could contest Bies' assertion that he is mentally retarded and that this does not subject Bies to double jeopardy, despite the fact that the Ohio Supreme Court in 1996 had recognized his mental retardation as a mitigating factor in upholding his original death sentence. The Court made clear that it intended the states to have the primary responsibility for implementing Atkins. (In 2002, the United States Supreme Court held in Atkins v. Virginia that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution bars execution of mentally retarded offenders.). Justice Ginsburg wrote the opinion in Bies.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

STORY TIP & PRESS CONTACTS HERE: Number 200 to be executed under Perry! /AMNESTY Release

SEE UPDATE - Amnesty Report - in COMMENTS

PRESS CONTACTS HERE: Number 200 to be executed under Perry! /AMNESTY Release

Of Special PRESS interest (please distribute this information widely to select newspapers and contacts!)

In Dallas, members of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) will gather TODAY June 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM in front of the Frank Crowley Courts Building, 133 North Industrial Blvd. 75207 for a press conference about the 200th execution during the Perry Administration. Speakers include: Stanley Allridge, whose brother James Allridge III was executed in 2004; Reverend Carroll Pickett, the former death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville who accompanied 95 men to their executions; and Dr. Rick Halperin, the Director of the SMU Human Rights Education Program and TCADP Board member. Contact Rick Halperin for more information at 214-768-3284. Also for Amnesty, Contact: Wende Gozan at 212-633-4247, wgozan@aiusa.org, or Brian Evans at 202-544-0200 x496, bevans@aiusa.org.

Michael Landauer/Editor Dallas News

The Texas Moratorium Network is protesting a milestone execution today, as Diane Jennings has reported over on the crime blog. But that sheer number just amazes me. Think of the context of that.

Texas has executed 438 people since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. On Rick Perry's watch alone, Texas has executed more people than the next three states combined since 1976.

Some more context: Before 1995, Texas killed 104 people. What happened in 1995? That's when the Court of Criminal Appeals went Republican, electing judges (including Sharon Keller) who promised to be pro-prosecutor and tough on crime. It has only been 27 years since the machinery of the Texas Death Row was restarted. For the first 18 years, we executed 238 people, or roughly 13 a year. SInce Perry has been in office, we're killing about 22 a year.

Posted by Kristin @ 2:37 PM Mon, Jun 01, 2009

Thanks, Michael, for this post. More facts and figures related to the 200th execution are available at here

In Dallas, members of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) will gather on June 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM in front of the Frank Crowley Courts Building, 133 North Industrial Blvd. 75207 for a press conference about the 200th execution during the Perry Administration. Speakers include: Stanley Allridge, whose brother James Allridge III was executed in 2004; Reverend Carroll Pickett, the former death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville who accompanied 95 men to their executions; and Dr. Rick Halperin, the Director of the SMU Human Rights Education Program and TCADP Board member. Contact Rick Halperin for more information at 214-768-3284. Also for Amnesty, Contact: Wende Gozan at 212-633-4247, wgozan@aiusa.org, or Brian Evans at 202-544-0200 x496, bevans@aiusa.org.
Amnesty International USA Press Statement
Friday, May 29, 2009

Largest Number of Executions Under One Governor in Modern Times -- Despite Racial Disparities, Inadequate Counsel, Possibility of Innocent Being Put to Death

Contact: Wende Gozan at 212-633-4247, wgozan@aiusa.org, or Brian Evans at 202-544-0200 x496, bevans@aiusa.org.

(Washington D.C.) – As Texas approaches its 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry, currently scheduled for June 2, Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox issued the following statement:

“This is a shameful milestone, one that proves Texas is more concerned with maintaining its rogue image than ensuring equality under the law. Two hundred executions – the largest under one governor in modern U.S. history – will have taken place in a system that is rife with error and is strongly believed to have put innocent people to death. Instead of slowing down its frantic pace, Texas continues to play Russian roulette with people’s lives, pursuing a path that is as shocking as it is unacceptable.

"Amnesty International’s recent report, Too Much Cruelty, Too Little Clemency, is a clear indicator of just how flawed Texas justice is. A number of executions that took place under Perry's governorship would now be considered illegal in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Texas capital punishment system remains rigged from start to finish. From inadequate representation at trial to an appellate system that fast-tracks executions to a clemency process that might as well not exist, the Texas death penalty is built for speed, not accuracy or justice.

"By saying Texas 'by and large gets it right,' Gov. Perry proves that he is out of touch with the realities of capital punishment. His reported threat to gut a provision that would have limited executions to those who actually pull the trigger is the latest in a long line of missed opportunities to chart a new course. While his neighbor to the West has shown such leadership, Perry remains an anachronism stuck in the ‘90s, oblivious to the failings of the system that everyone else, including many Texans, seems to recognize."

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

# # #

Make a difference!
» Prevent Execution of Juvenile Offender in Iran (UA 71/08)
» Protect Seven Iranians From Being Stoned to Death (UA 50/09)
» Stop Execution of Mehdi Mazroui in Iran (UA 136/09)

For more from AMNESTY, GO here


Monday, June 01, 2009


During the German Journey of Hope tour there were 2 documentaries filmed. The first one is finished now and you can watch it below. (No worries, it's English is well ;-) )

This documentary is made to be used in schools for human rights education.