Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Note from Bill Pelke: Take the Pledge!


Hello friends:

As President of the Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing I ask everyone one our supporters to take the Troy Davis pledge. I thank God for the leadership Ben Jealous has shown us in moving forward to keep his promises to Troy. Listen to what Ben is saying to us.

"Last week, the country watched as a man was executed in a case where there was too much doubt.

Troy Davis was... convicted of murdering a white police officer over 20 years ago. No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence linked Troy to the crime, and seven of the nine witnesses who testified recanted their statements.

Join me in pledging to end the death penalty in the United States:

To Sign on GO here

cut/paste here:

If one innocent person can be killed under the death penalty, I cannot support it. Last week, Troy Davis’ death was a horrific tragedy and I wanted to do whatever I could to stop the injustice. Right now the NAACP is giving people a way to unite under a pledge that works to end the death penalty.
Join me in fighting today.'

Ben Jealous wants us to unite under this pledge and I fully support him. Thank you NAACP for taking such a gallant stand.

The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing applauds you. We offer our assistance in the fight with our weapons of Love and compassion.
We are Troy Davis,

Love and Peace,


See More: On Saturday, October 1st, Troy Anthony Davis will be laid to rest in Savannah, Georgia. Please join the NAACP in sending a message of condolence and support to the Davis family. We will personally deliver your messages to family members this week...NAACP (Look for a message or Comment here or on the Journey of Hope FB wall as to who to send this message of condolence.)

Connie adds: Support The Journey of Hope here

* Photo of visionary Bill on an earlier page of Journey of Hope here

Blood Relations: Palestinian and Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace

Ali Abu Awwad and Niv Sarig "Blood Relations" effort

It is, as far as we know, a world precedent that bereaved families, victims from both sides, embark on a joint reconciliation mission while the conflict is still active.

News From The American Friends of the Parents Circle (Parents Circle is a Families Forum: Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace)

September 26, 2011

Dear Friends:

Israeli-Palestinian relations have been in the headlines lately and the members of The Parents Circle Families Forum have been working hard to promote a shared story--one of hope and reconciliation. We at the American Friends of the Parents Circle—Families Forum remain hopeful that an end to the bloodshed is possible, and we remain committed to our mission to raise visibility and support for the efforts of the Parents Circle to promote reconciliation. In many ways, today, the work of the organization is more important than ever!

On Sunday, September18th, the Parents Circle organized “Blood Relations” a large, public blood donation where Israelis and Palestinians donated blood together, side by side, as a testament to their belief in the power of reconciliation. The blood donations will be shared by Israeli hospitals through the Israeli Blood Bank, Magen David Adom and by the Al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

The concept of blood relations was borne out of an initiative called the 'Impossible Brief', a global challenge launched by Saatchi & Saatchi Israel in 2010. Creative minds from all over the world presented ideas that would bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. The winning idea inspired 'Blood Relations'. The members of the Parents Circle--Families Forum came together to bring this idea to reality. We invite you to be a part of the effort. You can make a virtual blood donation at Blood Relations dot org or GO here and you can support our work at Network for Good. Donations can be made online through Network for Good. American Friends of the Parents Circle-Families Forum is a duly registered 501(c)(3) organization.

American Friends of PCFF
301 East 57th Street
4th Floor
New York, New York 10022

From The Parents Circle – Families Forum : Introduction

"Peace is possible when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable (…) the members of the Parents Circle have experienced this truth In the depths of their Suffering and loss. They have found that there Is more that unites us than Divides us, that we are All members of one family, the human family (…)" Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus ( Letter to The Parents Circle – Families Forum, April 2004 )

Consisting of several hundreds of bereaved families, half Palestinian and half Israeli, The Families Forum has played a crucial role since its inception in 1995, in spearheading a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Forum members have all lost immediate family members due to the violence in the region.


Monday, September 26, 2011

NEW Summary of Bill Pelke's Story

Find a thorough new summary of Bill Pelke's STILL amazing story of love and forgiveness on Angela Grobbens site here with this Article Index:
Bill Pelke & The Journey of Hope
The Attack on Nana
The Death Penalty Transformation
Help Paula Cooper
Don't Kill in Italy
Pilgrimage March
The Journey of Hope - The People
All Pages

NC DA: Death penalty cases held up by Racial Justice Law


SEPTEMBER 20, 2011 posted by WNCDPR (Western North Carolina Death Penalty Repeal)

Here is another article where our mighty district attornies are complaining about laws they are chartered to follow being ”quite the burden on my office and a drain on the resources.”

Sir or m’am, seeking the death penalty in the first place, places quite the burden on your office; as well as our state budget.

Seeking the death sentence as a punishment invovles embarking on a unique trial where the defendant is tried and if convicted, sentenced in an entirely separate costly trial. Surely one more motion to consider, one of such importance as continuously demonstrated racial bias in our courts, will hardly be any more of a burden on an already cumbersome path to justice? Besides, if you are to use the death penalty as a tool that is “solid and something prosecutors should have in their tool belt,” it must be sharp and in accordance with North Carolina law.


Also see May & June 2011 on The Journey blog archive (see column to right on this site under the archive month) for other items on the NC Racial Justice Act

NC/ GEORGIA: Death Penalty Debate Heats Up


Asheville and Georgia cases ignite death penalty debate:
One execution, two exonerations raise questions of justice

From Sunday 25, 2011 Asheville Citizen Times FRONT PAGE article and posted by Acury here


Death penalty debate heats up: Today's Top Headline in the Asheville Citizen-Times
GO here

Asheville and Georgia cases ignite death penalty debate
One execution, two exonerations raise questions of justice

ASHEVILLE — Fifteen hours stood between the execution of Troy Davis amid questions over his true guilt and the sunny afternoon two Asheville men exonerated in another murder case walked free.

But the cases stand out for reasons other than just timing. Though each held significant differences from the other, they both have reignited debate over the death penalty and imperfections within our justice system.

Davis, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in Georgia in 1989, was given a trial.

Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a 2000 slaying under threats from investigators and prosecutors and even their own attorneys and family, who wanted to spare them life in prison or the possibility of a death sentence.

Davis gained national attention, with even the pope questioning his guilt.
The case of Kagonyera and Wilcoxson generated passing interest before they were freed Thursday.

But where Davis had to work within the court system, Kagonyera and Wilcoxson had the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Its success with their case will give new momentum to calls for similar justice system checks in other states.

“Courts are traditionally jaded and don’t want to believe people can be wrongfully convicted,” said Winston-Salem attorney Mark Rabil, who heads the Wake Forest University School of Law Innocence and Justice Clinic.

“Somebody needs to be looking over the court system,” he said.

N.C. commission unique:

North Carolina has the nation’s only investigative innocence commission.
It examines and evaluates post-conviction claims of factual innocence and can refer cases to a three-judge panel for a ruling.

The commission’s budget is $403,714 a year for a staff of five.

The federal government kicked in another $566,890 for 18 months starting in January 2010. The money funds two additional attorneys to investigate homicide and sex offense cases in which DNA testing can be used.

The Kagonyera and Wilcoxson case, stemming from a robbery and killing in Fairview, was handled under the federal grant.


Submitted By:

Alexandra Cury

North Carolina: a one-of-a-kind system for examining innocence

FRIDAY Sep 23, 2011 15:42 ET

Also see repost at Salon.com and cover story on Innocence Asheville Citizen Times with more photos also friday Sep 23, 2011

NC's unique process spotlights innocence efforts
By MARTHA WAGGONER and TOM BREEN, Associated Press

Robert Wilcoxson, right, is embraced by his father Robert Wilcoxson-Bey after being proclaimed innocent and released from prison on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 in Asheville, N.C. Wilcoxson walked out of jail Thursday afternoon, hours after being found innocent along with Kenneth Kagonyera for a 2000 murder. Robert Wilcoxson and Kagonyera had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Walter Bowman. They said they agreed to the pleas to avoid the possibility of the death penalty or life behind bars. (AP Photo/The Asheville Citizen-Times, Erin Brethauer)Fifteen hours after Troy Davis was executed, two men walked out of a North Carolina prison after being exonerated of a murder they had pleaded guilty to committing more than 10 years ago.

The difference, legal experts and observers say, is largely explained by a one-of-a-kind system for examining innocence claims that the state launched in 2005. That process is what freed Robert Wilcoxson and Kenneth Kagonyera from a lockup in Asheville.

"If Georgia had the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, I believe Troy Davis today would be free instead of dead," said Mark Rabil, a defense lawyer and co-director of the Innocence and Justice Clinic at the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Prosecutors, though, say that wrongful convictions are rare and that they work carefully to make sure innocent people never are charged in the first place.

Davis was executed Wednesday for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Defense attorneys said several key witnesses disputed their testimony and other people claimed that another man confessed to the crime, but state and federal courts repeatedly upheld the conviction. His case garnered worldwide attention, with celebrities, the pope and former President Jimmy Carter among his supporters.

In North Carolina, the state commission examines claims like those made by Davis -- who maintained his innocence even when he was strapped to a gurney in Georgia's death chamber. If cases meet rigorous criteria, they are reviewed by a three-judge panel that can reverse a conviction only if the decision is unanimous.

Wilcoxson and Kagonyera said they had pleaded guilty to the 2000 murder of Walter Bowman during a home invasion robbery to avoid possible death sentences. The judges determined DNA and other evidence exonerated the men. Testimony showed a different man confessed to a federal agent.

The exonerations are especially significant because the two men struck those plea deals. Prosecutors have proposed a bill -- to be considered next year -- that would prevent those who plead guilty from coming before the innocence commission. The only other man freed by the commission, Greg Taylor, maintained his innocence throughout the 17 years he spent in prison. A jury convicted Taylor, who had pleaded not guilty.

"This is a testament to the need for an innocence commission project, and to the fact that people can be not guilty even if they plead guilty in court," said Christine Mumma, director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, which advocates for convicts seeking exoneration.

Prosecutors also wield a big stick when they threaten a defendant with the death penalty. Of the 273 people exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing in the U.S. since 1989, the death penalty was threatened or imposed in 46 cases, said Stephen Saloom, policy director of the New York-based Innocence Project. Of 14 threatened with the death penalty, 13 confessed or pleaded guilty.

Another 15 faced possible death sentences but either were convicted of a lesser charge or received a different sentence. In the other 17 cases, people were sentenced to die before post-conviction DNA evidence proved their innocence.

And some states don't allow courts to consider exonerating DNA evidence when defendants have pleaded guilty, Saloom said.

In the case of Kagonyera and Wilcoxson, prosecutors had DNA evidence excluding them even before they pleaded guilty. But defense attorney Sean Devereux said he wasn't aware of it. Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore has said he doesn't know why the defense didn't get the information.

Rabil said the case will show how much the threat of capital punishment can distort the criminal justice system.

"When the odds are stacked against you because of the death penalty, the lawyers, the people in the cases, out of fear of the unfairness of the death penalty trial, will do everything they can do within their powers, ethically, to convince someone to plead guilty," Rabil said. "I've done it myself."

But prosecutors say that they regularly exonerate suspects and that appeals courts already serve the same function as the innocence commission.

Scott Burns, a former Utah prosecutor who now is executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, noted that Davis had two decades' worth of appeals. He also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court granted Davis a rare hearing to prove his innocence.

"As a prosecutor it is so frustrating to have people say you executed an innocent man if you were there at the crime scene, you were involved in marshaling evidence with law enforcement, you were questioning witnesses throughout the investigation and making a determination about whether to proceed before you finally put the case before a jury," he said.

Prosecutors aren't always right, Burns said, but thousands of convictions are never challenged.

"With millions of cases across the country, every once in a while you get something wrong," he said. "But that's the one everyone hears about."


Martha Waggoner can be reached here

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Ordered Death in Georgia

Found at Readers Supported News

I Ordered Death in Georgia
By Allen Ault, The Daily Beast
25 September 11

The state's former DOC commissioner on 'rehearsed murder.'

I can't always remember their names, but in my nightmares I can see their faces. As the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections from 1992 until 1995, I oversaw five executions. The first two were Thomas Dean Stevens and Christopher Burger, accomplices in a monstrous crime: as teenagers in 1977, they robbed and raped a cabdriver, put him in the trunk of a car, and pushed the vehicle into a pond. I had no doubt that they were guilty: they admitted it to me. But now it was 1993 and they were in their 30s. All these years later, after a little frontal-lobe development, they were entirely different people.

On execution days, I always drove from Atlanta to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. I knew death row well: 20 years earlier, I had built it. The state had hired me as the warden of Georgia Diagnostic in 1971, where I renovated a special cell block for especially violent offenders. After I left Georgia in 1977, the state reinstated the death penalty and turned the cell block I had developed into death row.

The state executed Stevens first, in June 1993, and then Burger in December. In both instances, I visited them in a cell next to the electric-chair chamber, where they counted down the hours until they died. They were calm, mature, and remorseful. When the time came, I went to a small room directly behind the death chamber where the attorney general worked the phones, checking with the courts to make sure that the executions were not stayed. Then we asked the prisoners for their final words. Stevens said nothing, and Burger apologized, saying, "Please forgive me." I looked to the prison electrician and ordered him to pull the switch. Last Wednesday, as the state of Georgia prepared to execute Troy Davis despite concerns about his guilt, I wrote a letter with five former death-row wardens and directors urging Georgia prison officials to commute his sentence. I feared not only the risk of Georgia killing an innocent man, but also the psychological toll it would exact on the prison workers who performed his execution. "No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt," we wrote in our letter.

The men and women who assist in executions are not psychopaths or sadists. They do their best to perform the impossible and inhumane job with which the state has charged them. Those of us who have participated in executions often suffer something very much like posttraumatic stress. Many turn to alcohol and drugs. For me, those nights that weren't sleepless were plagued by nightmares. My mother and wife worried about me. I tried not to share with them that I was struggling, but they knew I was.

I didn't grow up saying, "I want to work in prisons." I had never even been in a prison or a jail before I became warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. The commissioner at the time hired me to revamp the system, to implement case management, and work with inmates to make them safer. I had always worked in helping professions, and my main goal in corrections was always to reduce recidivism, so that inmates would leave prison better than they arrived. Over this course of time, the death penalty figured larger and larger into my work. I never supported it, but I also did not want to let it distract me from improving overall prison conditions. Death-row inmates are, after all, only a tiny fraction of the prison population.

When I was required to supervise an execution, I tried to rationalize my work by thinking, if I just save one future victim, maybe it is worth it. But I was very aware of the research showing that the death penalty wasn't a deterrent. I left my job as corrections commissioner in Georgia in 1995 partially because I had had enough: I didn't want to supervise the executions anymore. My focus changed to national crime policy and then to academia, where I could work to improve the criminal-justice system without participating in its worst parts. Today, I am the dean of the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University.

Having witnessed executions firsthand, I have no doubts: capital punishment is a very scripted and rehearsed murder. It's the most premeditated murder possible. As Troy Davis's execution approached - and then passed its set hour, as the Supreme Court considered a stay - I thought of the terrible tension we all experienced as executions dragged into the late hours of the night. No one wanted to go ahead with the execution, but then a court stay offered little relief: you knew you were going to repeat the whole process and execute him sometime in the future.

I will always live with these images - with "nagging doubt," even though I do not believe that any of the executions carried out under my watch were mistaken. I hope that, in the future, men and women will not die for their crimes, and other men and women will not have to kill them. The United States should be like every other civilized country in the Western world and abolish the death penalty.

Last night I saw "The Green Mile" once again - a film based on a series of stories by Stephen King. Like this essay, the vignettes of the death row staff provide thoughtful consideration as we look at the people who order and execute such death.
The Journey blogger, Connie

Saturday, September 24, 2011

NC: Frontpage Asheville Citizen Times : Judges free men in Asheville innocence hearing

GO here

RIP Troy Davis: Your Killers Should Be Ashamed

By Andy Worthington

Despite an eleventh hour appeal to the US Supreme Court, Troy Davis, on death row in Georgia for 20 years, was executed last night, by lethal injection, at 11pm, local time. The Supreme Court took four hours to turn down his appeal for clemency, even though rumors had spread that his execution would be stayed, for up to a week, and that Justice Clarence Thomas — not a man generally known for his humanitarianism — was particularly interested in his case.

Troy Davis’s execution was not an isolated incident in the US. 34 death row prisoners had already been executed in America this year, and although the number of executions in the US is declining (from a 30-year high of 98 in 1999), there were still 46 executions last year. In addition, at the start of this year, there were 3,251 prisoners on death row in the US, and when it comes to executions, only three countries have more institutional vengeance than the US — China, Iran and Iraq.

Even so, Troy Davis’s case was particularly noteworthy for two reasons: firstly, because of the breadth of support he received from around the world, with nearly a million people calling for him not to be executed, in petitions that were delivered to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm (with many more also signing online petitions), and also because of the widespread protests around the world as the date for his execution approached; and secondly, because there were such profound doubts about his guilt. This, again, is no obstacle to execution in the US, but it was made a particular issue by the state of Georgia, as Amnesty International explained eloquently in a blog post on Tuesday.

Speaking of the rejection of Davis’s clemency petition by Georgia’s State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Amnesty wrote, “This appalling decision renders meaningless the Board’s 2007 vow to not permit an execution unless there is “no doubt” about guilt. The Troy Davis case is riddled with doubt.”

These doubts stem from the chilling truth that seven of the nine witnesses on whose testimony Troy Davis was convicted of killing off-duty police officer Mark McPhail in August 1989, have publicly recanted their statements. Despite this, however, the state apparatus of Georgia didn’t care.

Whether it was the particular details of Troy Davis’s case, or the fact that he somehow became the focus of a wider movement, both at home and abroad, against the death penalty, campaigners hope that his death will not be in vain, and that it will mark a turning point in the campaifgn to eradicate the death penalty, both in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Amnesty International has launched a “Not In My Name Pledge,” asking supporters to “pledge to fight to abolish the death penalty,” which readers can sign here.

Troy Davis’s final words last night, as his killers prepared to execute him, were directed first of all at the family of Mark McPhail. Maintaining his innocence to the last, he said:

I’d like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth.

After this, he said:

I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls.

In remembering Troy Davis, it would be appropriate if all those who supported him “continue to fight this fight” against the death penalty, which has no place in any country that dares to call itself civilized.

And for encouragement, let us recall Troy’s own words, which he spoke in 2008, after his planned execution was stayed for the third time (he was scheduled for execution in July 2007, September 2008 and October 2008). That year, at the National Convention of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, his sister, Martina Correia, who never stopped fighting for her brother despite suffering from cancer, read out a statement from Troy that included the following inspiring words:

There are so many more Troy Davises. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me, but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. […]

We must dismantle this unjust system, city by city, state by state and country by country. I can’t wait to stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form. I will one day be announcing, “I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”

Never stop fighting for justice, and we will win!

Note: To find out more about upcoming executions in the US, and to take action to try to prevent any further executions, please visit this Amnesty International page.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, 700,000-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

To see original posting GO to Andy Worthington dot co dot uk for Sep 22, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis: GA State Killing - Top Headline Huff Post (over 3800 comments)

September 21-22, 2011

TROY DAVIS: 10.09.1968 to 09.21.2011

Death Sentence Based On 'The Skimpiest Of Evidence'..Former FBI Chief: 'Pervasive, Persistent Doubts' About Guilt

READ: Troy Davis Executed: Controversially Convicted Inmate Maintains Innocence Until The End BY John Rudolf - National Reporter for the Huffington Post who is based in New York City. (Now with 3,831 comments and 133 pending comments)

JACKSON, Ga. -- Troy Davis, convicted of murdering an off-duty Savannah police officer more than 20 years ago, held fast to his claims of innocence even as he was finally executed by lethal injection on Wednesday night.Strapped to a gurney and minutes from death, Davis stated that he had not carried a gun the night of the murder and did not shoot the officer, Mark MacPhail, in a fast food restaurant parking lot on an August night in 1989.Speaking directly to MacPhail's brother and son, who witnessed the execution, Davis beseeched them to continue to examine the events that night. "All I can ask is that you look deep into this case so you can really find the truth," he said.Davis then addressed prison officials preparing to inject him with a lethal mix of chemicals. "May God have mercy on your souls," he said.

READ ON here or GO here

Skim the many comments to follow as we who have followed this case ask: what about this solitary life and death is leading to so much conversation? What can we do to change the dynamics for others? Wherre is justice? Where is mercy? Where is healing? Where is peace?

What about a better future for our world and our children?

Plz join the Journey of Hope conversation by commenting below...

Also see Wash Post's article and video with moving vignette of Troy Davis' sister (who's fighting breast cancer) standing for her brother here

photos found at Huffington Post and at BET.com

Amnesty International USA shares a few words from Troy Davis

The day before his scheduled execution, this is what Troy Davis asked us to share with you:"The struggle for justice doesn't end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I'm in good spirits and I'm prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I've taken my last breath."


Readers may also want to see similar and ongoing reports at Reader Supported News with over 35 Comments here

Troy Davis Execution: NCADP Statement

Breaking(9/20/11): Troy Davis Executed.

Official NCADP Statement:

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty expresses it's deep condolences to the family of Troy Anthony Davis.

They have suffered immeasurably throughout this terrible process.

We can scarcely imagine what the family must be going through: to have the government to which they pay taxes so unjustly and unfairly take the life of someone they so dearly loved. We commend the family on the struggle they waged to bring the injustice in this case to light and to keep Troy Davis alive.

Today the state of Georgia denied the humanity of Troy Anthony Davis. The state of Georgia also denied the humanity of his family, whose grief and loss is real and worthy of recognition. Georgia also denied the humanity of millions of people in Georgia, across the country and the word. This execution being done in the name of the people of Georgia, indeed, in the name of all of us bound by the laws of the U.S. Constitution was done without our agreement and over our vigorous and sustained objection.

The effort to save the life of Troy Davis ends today but the campaign to end the death penalty begins anew, in earnest. If the people cannot control their government, if what is done in our name is done despite our objection, it is our solemn duty to work with the people of Georgia to make it right. Government must be responsible and accountable to the people - all the people equally.

We pledge to follow the example set by the Davis Family and Troy, to continue the fight, upholding the dignity and humanity of every person - if this is not the last execution in Georgia, it will be among the last.

Today, the state of Georgia has demonstrated the extreme degree to which its system of justice is broken. It can not be sustained. We call on all who have worked so tirelessly in Georgia to prevent this travesty of justice to work equally hard with us to end the death penalty Georgia, and everywhere so that no family will again have to suffer what Troy Davis's family has suffered today.

NCADP: Devoted to Abolishing Capital Punishment
Facts & Figures · Resources · En Español · Publications · Media · Exonerees · En Francais · NCADP Affiliates · Rachel's Fund · Innocent and Executed · Shouting from the Rooftops · Abolition Times

For More from NCADP GO here

Also watch to see if the Troy Davis family may suggest a fund in their loved one's name.


Georgia executed Troy Davis on Wednesday night for the murder of an off-duty police officer, a crime he denied committing right to the end as supporters around the world mourned and declared that an innocent man was put to death.

Defiant to the end, he told relatives of Mark MacPhail that his 1989 slaying was not his fault. "I did not have a gun," he insisted.

"For those about to take my life," he told prison officials, "may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls."

Davis was declared dead at 11:08 ET. The lethal injection began about 15 minutes earlier, after the Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request for a stay.

The court did not comment on its order, which came about four hours after it received the request and more than three hours after the planned execution time.

Though Davis' attorneys said 7 of 9 key witnesses against him disputed all or parts of their testimony, state and federal judges repeatedly ruled against granting him a new trial. As the court losses piled up Wednesday, his offer to take a polygraph test was rejected and the pardons board refused to give him one more hearing.

Davis' supporters staged vigils in the U.S. and Europe, declaring "I am Troy Davis" on signs, T-shirts and the Internet. Some tried increasingly frenzied measures, urging prison workers to stay home and even posting a judge's phone number online, hoping people will press him to put a stop to the lethal injection. President Barack Obama deflected calls for him to get involved.

"They say death row; we say hell no!" protesters shouted outside the Jackson prison where Davis was to be executed. In Washington, a crowd outside the Supreme Court yelled the same chant.

As many as 700 demonstrators gathered outside the prison as a few dozen riot police stood watch, but the crowd thinned as the night wore on and the outcome became clear. The scene turned eerily quiet as word of the high court's decision spread, with demonstrators hugging, crying, praying, holding candles and gathering around Davis' family.

Laura Moye of Amnesty International said the execution would be "the best argument for abolishing the death penalty."

"The state of Georgia is about to demonstrate why government can't be trusted with the power over life and death," she said.

About 10 counterdemonstrators also were outside the prison, showing support for the death penalty and the family of Mark MacPhail, the man Davis was convicted of killing in 1989. MacPhail's son and brother attended the execution.

"He had all the chances in the world," his mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said of Davis in a telephone interview. "It has got to come to an end."

At a Paris rally, many of the roughly 150 demonstrators carried signs emblazoned with Davis' face. "Everyone who looks a little bit at the case knows that there is too much doubt to execute him," Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International said at the protest.

Davis' execution has been stopped 3 times since 2007, but on Wednesday the 42-year-old ran out of legal options.

As his last hours ticked away, an upbeat and prayerful Davis turned down an offer for a special last meal as he met with friends, family and supporters.

"Troy Davis has impacted the world," his sister Martina Correia said at a news conference. "They say, `I am Troy Davis,' in languages he can't speak."

His attorney Stephen Marsh said Davis would have spent part of Wednesday taking a polygraph test if pardons officials had taken his offer seriously.

"He doesn't want to spend 3 hours away from his family on what could be the last day of his life if it won't make any difference," Marsh said.

Amnesty International says nearly 1 million people had signed a petition on Davis' behalf. His supporters included former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, a former FBI director, the NAACP, several conservative figures and many celebrities, including hip-hop star Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

"I'm trying to bring the word to the young people: There is too much doubt," rapper Big Boi, of the Atlanta-based group Outkast, said at a church near the prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave Davis an unusual opportunity to prove his innocence in a lower court last year, though the high court itself did not hear the merits of the case.

He was convicted in 1991 of killing MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at the time. MacPhail rushed to the aid of a homeless man who prosecutors said Davis was bashing with a handgun after asking him for a beer. Prosecutors said Davis had a smirk on his face as he shot the officer to death in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah.

No gun was ever found, but prosecutors say shell casings were linked to an earlier shooting for which Davis was convicted.

Witnesses placed Davis at the crime scene and identified him as the shooter, but several of them have recanted their accounts and some jurors have said they've changed their minds about his guilt. Others have claimed a man who was with Davis that night has told people he actually shot the officer.

"Such incredibly flawed eyewitness testimony should never be the basis for an execution," Marsh said. "To execute someone under these circumstances would be unconscionable."

State and federal courts, however, have repeatedly upheld Davis' conviction. One federal judge dismissed the evidence advanced by Davis' lawyers as "largely smoke and mirrors."

"He has had ample time to prove his innocence," said MacPhail's widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. "And he is not innocent."

The last motion filed by Davis' attorneys in Butts County Court challenged testimony from two witnesses and disputed testimony from the expert who linked the shell casings to the earlier shooting involving Davis. Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson and the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the appeal, and prosecutors said the filing was just a delay tactic.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which helped lead the charge to stop the execution, said it considered asking Obama to intervene, even though he cannot grant Davis clemency for a state conviction.

Press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement saying that although Obama "has worked to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system," it was not appropriate for him "to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution."

Dozens of protesters outside the White House called on the president to step in, and about 12 were arrested for disobeying police orders.

Davis was not the only U.S. inmate put to death Wednesday evening. In Texas, white supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death for the 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr., one of the most notorious hate crime murders in recent U.S. history.

Davis' best chance may have come last year, in a hearing ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the 1st time in 50 years that justices had considered a request to grant a new trial for a death row inmate.

The high court set a tough standard for Davis to exonerate himself, ruling that his attorneys must "clearly establish" Davis' innocence -- a higher bar to meet than prosecutors having to prove guilt. After the hearing judge ruled in prosecutors' favor, the justices didn't take up the case.

The execution drew widespread criticism in Europe, where politicians and activists made last-minute pleas for a stay.

Spencer Lawton, the district attorney who secured Davis' conviction in 1991, said he was embarrassed for the judicial system -- not because of the execution, but because it took so long to carry out.

"What we have had is a manufactured appearance of doubt which has taken on the quality of legitimate doubt itself. And all of it is exquisitely unfair," said Lawton, who retired as Chatham County's head prosecutor in 2008. "The good news is we live in a civilized society where questions like this are decided based on fact in open and transparent courts of law, and not on street corners."

Davis becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 52nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

Davis becomes the 35th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1269th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: CBS News & Rick Halperin)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Follow Updates on Troy Davis and more on FB wall

Send this out to others:

and CLICK here

See ways to ACT via Twitter and petitions in the post just below and earlier items...

GEORGIA----Letter to Gov & Corrections Official



This morning, 6 retired corrections officials, including Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison where he oversaw executions for the state, have sent the following letter to Georgia Corrections Officials and Governor Nathan Deal asking them to urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider the decision they made on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 to deny Troy Davis Clemency despite concerns about his guilt. Davis is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, September 21 at 7:00pm at Georgia Diagnostics & Classifications Prison in Jackson, Georgia.


We write to you as former wardens and corrections officials who have had direct involvement in executions. Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners. While most of the prisoners whose executions we participated in accepted responsibility for the crimes for which they were punished, some of us have also executed prisoners who maintained their innocence until the end. It is those cases that are most haunting to an executioner.

We write to you today with the overwhelming concern that an innocent person could be executed in Georgia tonight. We know the legal process has exhausted itself in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, and yet, doubt about his guilt remains. This very fact will have an irreversible and damaging impact on your staff. Many people of significant standing share these concerns, including, notably, William Sessions, Director of the FBI under President Ronald Reagan.

Living with the nightmares is something that we know from experience. No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt. Should our justice system be causing so much harm to so many people when there is an alternative?

We urge you to ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider their decision. Should that fail, we urge you to unburden yourselves and your staff from the pain of participating in such a questionable execution to the extent possible by allowing any personnel so inclined to opt-out of activities related to the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Further, we urge you to provide appropriate counseling to personnel who do choose to perform their job functions related to the execution. If we may be of assistance to you moving forward, please do not hesitate to call upon any of us.

Respectfully and collegially,

Allen Ault – Retired Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classifications Prison

Terry Collins – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Ron McAndrew – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison

Dennis O’Neill - Retired Warden, Florida State Prison

Reginald Wilkinson – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Jeanne Woodford – Retired Warden, San Quentin State Prison


6 Prison Wardens say to Georgia “Do not kill Troy Davis”

For the past 2 weeks, I have been posting about the Troy Davis case as his execution date (September 21, 2011 at 7:00PM) was fast approaching. Please join me and the other now one million people from around the world that have asked for clemency for Troy Davis.

Below is the most recent email alert related to the Troy Davis case from Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty. The email implores us to continue to take action today to ensure that Georgia does not execute an innocent man.


We have only hours left to stop the execution of Troy Davis. We ask allof you to stay engaged, to stay active. Keep calling on the Parole Board to reconsider its decision, and on the Chatham County(Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm to do the right thing by contactingthe Chatham County’s District Attorney’s office by phone/fax: Telephone: 912-652-7308. Fax: 912-652-7328.

Continue to send a send a letter to Dr. Carlo Musso at Rainbow Medical Associates and urge him torefuse to participate in the execution of Troy Davis. Rainbow Medical Associates is the medical team that assists with Georgia’s executions.

Dr. Carlo Musso, President, and Employees


9020 Peridot Parkway

Stockbridge, GA 30281

Fax: 770-692-4754

Here is a statement issued from corrections officials cautioningagainst the execution of Troy Davis because “living with the nightmares issomething that we know from experience.” Please forward this statement far and wide.

If you are use Twitter, please post one or all of these sample messages to help get the word out on the letter from the corrections officials:

Corrections officials urge #TroyDavis #executioners against proceeding, warn of”nightmares” http://bit.ly/r0VFQ5#TooMuchDoubt

6 Prison Wardens say to Georgia”Do not kill #TroyDavis” http://bit.ly/r0VFQ5#TooMuchDoubt

Prison wardens tell GA:”Living with the nightmares is something that we know fromexperience” – don’t #execute #TroyDavisbit.ly/r0VFQ5

We really appreciate the interest in comingout to support tonight. We strongly encourage you to stay in Atlanta and attend the vigil at the Capitol that the Open Door Community is leading. It is always moving and steeped intenets of our social justice movement. The prison is going to be packed. Please stay in Atlanta(or attend a site near you) to show your support.

Here is more information about vigils beingheld around Georgia: http://www.gfadp.org/vigils

Thank you for taking action!”

It is my hope that you will join me and countless others around the world seeking to make sure that justice is served in the Davis Case. It is important to act now to let the state of Georgia – and the world – know that you stand by Troy Davis in his fight for justice by joining the efforts undertaken by Amnesty, NAACP, and countless other organizations to halt this injustice. This is a matter of life and death, and time is running out. (sources: Nichelle Mitchem, gather.com; Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty)


Request for Lie Detector Test for Davis Is Denied

PHOTO from Savannah Morning News,
via Associated Press Troy Anthony Davis entering Chatham County Superior Court in Georgia on Aug. 22, 1991, during his trial in the shooting death of an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail.


From The New York Times

September 21, 2011

ATLANTA — An official of the N.A.A.C.P. said on Wednesday that the vote by the Georgia parole board to deny clemency to Troy Davis was so close that he hoped there might still be a chance to save him from execution at 7 p.m.

Edward O. DuBose, president of the Georgia chapter, said the organization had “very reliable information from the board members directly that the board was split 3 to 2 on whether to grant clemency.”

“The fact that that kind of division was in the room is even more of a sign that there is a strong possibility to save Troy’s life,” he said.

The N.A.A.C.P said it had been in contact with the Department of Justice on Wednesday, in the hope that the federal government would intervene on the basis of civil rights violations, meaning irregularities in the original investigation and at the trial.

At the same time, hundreds of people were starting to gather at the prison in Jackson, about an hour’s drive south of Atlanta, where Mr. Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Earlier in the day, his lawyers asked the state for one more chance to spare him: a lie detector test.

But the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole, which on Tuesday denied Mr. Davis’s clemency after a daylong hearing Monday, quickly responded that there would be no reconsideration of the case, and the polygraph test was abandoned.

Mr. Davis’s supporters were also reaching out to the prosecutor in the original case, asking that he persuade the original judge to rescind the death order. Benjamin T. Jealous, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who planned to visit Mr. Davis on Wednesday, was trying to ask President Obama for a reprieve.

The Innocence Project, which has had a hand in the exoneration of 17 death-row inmates through the use of DNA testing, sent a letter to the Chatham County district attorney, Larry Chisolm, urging him to withdraw the execution warrant against Mr. Davis, although there is no DNA evidence at issue in the case.

Mr. Davis was convicted of the 1989 shooting of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah police officer who was working a second job as a security guard. A homeless man called for help after a group that included Mr. Davis began to assault him, according to court testimony. When Mr. MacPhail went to assist him, he was shot in the face and the heart.

Since then, Mr. Davis has walked to the brink of execution three other times.

With this most recent execution date, he became an international symbol of the battle over the death penalty and racial imbalance in the justice system.

“It harkens back to some ugly days in the history of this state,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church, who visited Mr. Davis on Monday.

But for the family of the slain officer, and countless others who believe that two decades’ worth of legal appeals and Supreme Court intervention is more than enough to ensure justice, it is not an issue of race but of law.

Calling Mr. Davis a victim is ludicrous, said Mr. MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris.

“We have lived this for 22 years,” she said Monday. “We are victims.”

She added: “We have laws in this land so that there is not chaos. We are not killing Troy because we want to.”

Her daughter, Madison, 24, along with her brother, Mark, 22, will be at the execution Wednesday. The officer’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, will not. But she welcomes it, saying: “I’m not for blood — I’m for justice. We have been through hell, my family.”

Mr. Davis’s family, who had gathered in an Atlanta hotel to await the decision, learned that he would be put to death from members of his legal team and Amnesty International. They immediately went to the prison to be with him.

Mr. Davis, who has refused a last meal, was in good spirits and prayerful, said Wende Gozan Brown, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International, who visited Mr. Davis on Tuesday.

He told her that his death was for all the Troy Davises who came before and after him.

“I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath,” he said in a conversation relayed by Ms. Brown. “Georgia is prepared to snuff out the life of an innocent man.”

The case has been a slow and convoluted exercise in legal maneuvering and death penalty politics.

This is the fourth time Mr. Davis has faced the death penalty. The state parole board granted him a stay in 2007 as he was preparing for his final hours, saying the execution should not proceed unless its members “are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.” The board has since added three new members.

In 2008, his execution was about 90 minutes away when the Supreme Court stepped in. Although the court kept Mr. Davis from execution, it later declined to hear the case.

In the week before his third execution date, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued a stay to consider his lawyer’s arguments that new testimony that could prove his innocence had not been considered.

The appeals court denied the claim but allowed time for Mr. Davis to take his argument directly to the Supreme Court, which ordered a federal court to once again examine new testimony.

But in June, a federal district court judge in Savannah said Mr. Davis’s legal team had failed to demonstrate his innocence, setting the stage for the new date.

This time around, the case catapulted into the national consciousness with record numbers of petitions — more than 630,000 — delivered to the board to stay the execution, and a list of people asking for clemency included former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress, entertainment figures like Cee Lo Green and even some death penalty supporters, including William S. Sessions, a former F.B.I. director.

GA's planned execution draws protests worldwide

This is a thorough, long, interesting article from a WNC source

Ga inmate's execution nears; protests worldwide | BlueRidgeNow.com
GO here

Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 3:18 p.m

Various Bloggers Follow Troy Davis Events

I was in process of posting when the disjointed post turned up on the Journey FB blog. :) Here's what I meant to post:

Karoli's Blog "Georgia Set to Murder Troy Davis" This blogger is passionate and well-versed - clear identity with the family - strongly stating no matter what there IS no closure... Go to Crooksandliars.com here Also see Rachel Maddow Video at this site.


Sounds like just this WNC guy is a youth with some curiousity as well as plenty of empathy. So come back to see what Jason Bugg writes up. You can be sure he will get in some unique folk and angles as he pland to cover the execution (or by some miracle another stay) of Troy Davis.

After making an appeal for financial help— he says: “[W]ith this money I’ll buy gas for my car and a rather unhealthy fast food dinner for myself. Nothing frivolous at all will be happening here, I promise.”—Bugg received enough donations to justify the trip.

He’ll be covering the event through his Twitter account, as well as a later, more comprehensive post on his blog.

Here's the intro:

Tonight at around 7 PM in a city just outside of Atlanta, a man who very well might be innocent is going to be murdered by the state of Georgia. That man, Troy Davis, sits on death row and is running out of options fast.

The next eleven hours are probably going to be hell for the guy, and there’s going to be a lot of people clamoring for attention and a chance to give their opinions on the death penalty and its place in America’s Judicial System.

I don’t know if I want to be one of those people or not, but the fact of the matter is that I’m very interested in taking a trip down to Georgia and taking some photos, a few videos and talking to the people who will undoubtedly be gathered outside of the prison...

Read more now or later here

Connie's Note:

Also, you can be SURE Dr. Rick Halperin will also be covering these sobering events much later tonight in Texas as well as some other sad execution news seemingly ongoing from there. Just find his site by going to the right column of webs and blogs here on The Journey of Hope blogsite. Also be sure to check out the Journey FB blog...and COMMENT here or there.

Most of all = PRAY for everyone involved...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Help Save Troy Davis' Life: More Suggestions/Petition


Whether you use FB or not, you should easily be able to SIGN petition on Death Penalty Focus California site here

Other Options below:

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is scheduled to meet on Monday, Sept. 19 to determine if Troy Davis is executed on Sept. 21 or is granted clemency. Hundreds of cities held Sept. 16 protests. Let's continue to keep the pressure on the Board to stop this racist execution by holding emergency protests on Monday, Sept. 19 and Tuesday, Sept. 20. Let the International Action Center know about your action so that it can be listed for others in your cities. Use the September 16 Actions form here to let us know about your action.

Please continue to sign and urge others to sign the petitions which have generated more than 3 million emails. Remember that this petition goes to every member of the Board along with the Georgia legislature, the governor, the White House, U.S. Congress and major media. The petition url is here

For more information on the campaign, go to the Amnesty International USA site here

For those who are new to this information, here's a brief summary:

Troy Davis is an African American on death row in Georgia. Davis was convicted in the 1989 killing of a police officer despite what Amnesty International calls "overwhelming doubts about his guilt." No physical forensic evidence was presented at Davis' trial, and 7 of the 9 non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony, with at least two saying they were pressured by police to finger Davis as the killer.

TAKE ACTION NOW to let the Georgia Parole Board, Governor, Legislature, and congressional delegation as well as President Obama, U.N. Secretary-General Ban, Congressional leaders and members of the media know you demand No Execution of Troy Davis!

Your messages will go to hundreds of public officials, including the Governor of Georgia, the entire Georgia legislature, each member of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, the full Georgia Congressional delegation, as well as President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Congressional leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban, and national and local media representatives.

SIGN ONLINE PETITION AT iacenter.org/troydavis or CLICK here

The text of the message reads as follows (you will have the opportunity to edit it if you wish):

To: Governor Deal, Georgia Pardons and Parole Board, Georgia Legislature, Georgia Congressional Delegation, President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Congressional Leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban

cc: members of the media


On March 28, 2011, the US Supreme Court failed to take up the appeal of Troy Anthony Davis, the Savannah, Ga. man whose scheduled execution has been halted three times in the past because of the growing evidence and public belief in his innocence. He was convicted solely on eye witness testimony, and 7 of the 9 non-police witnesses have since recanted, several alleging that police coerced them into making false statements.

I join with millions in the US and around the world in demanding that you stop the execution of Troy Davis. Serious doubt remains. I call on all those with authority and influence in this decision to grant clemency to Troy Anthony Davis and overturn the death sentence.

Innocence matters to me. Justice matters to everyone.

(We) urge you to act now.


International Action Center
c/o Solidarity Center
55 W 17th St Suite 5C
New York, NY 10011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Duane Buck, Perry, Ethnicity and the US Supreme Court

Excerpt from article below:
"That Buck committed a terrible crime is not disputed. What is problematic is the notion that a person convicted of a serious crime can thereby be denied his constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process, and face execution on the basis of his ethnicity."

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011:


Duane Buck and Texas's fatally flawed death penalty
by James Abbot-Jackson The Guardian

----Governor Rick Perry claims Texas's capital punishment regime is thoughtful and clear. I've seen at first hand it's anything but

On Thursday evening, a few hours before Duane Buck was due to be executed for capital murder, the US supreme court intervened to grant him a stay of execution. Buck was sentenced to death in part because of his ethnicity: a psychologist in the original sentencing hearing testified that Buck was likely to be a future danger to society because he was black. The supreme court was acting in response to an 11th-hour motion filed by Buck's lawyers to prevent his execution on constitutional grounds – his state clemency petition having been rejected earlier this week.

Distressingly, but unsurprisingly, Buck's case is entirely consistent with the operation of the death penalty in Texas (pdf). A study by the Capital Jury Project in 2001 found that "white jurors thought black defendants were more dangerous than white defendants and believed that black defendants could be paroled sooner from prison than whites even when no evidence had been presented as to these points."

When asked about the death penalty recently, Texas Governor Rick Perry said that he "never struggled" with the idea of innocent people being executed on his watch, arguing that "the state of Texas has a very thoughtful, very clear process in place." Texas has executed 235 prisoners during Perry's terms as governor.

The case of Anthony Graves, a man who spent 12 years on death row (as a result of "egregious prosecutorial misconduct") before being declared innocent last year, contradicts this analysis. I have been fortunate enough to meet Graves, who now works as an investigator at the Texas Defender Service, and, despite his warmth and optimism, he is adamant that the state of Texas tried "to murder" him. Graves was the 12th person on Texas death row to be exonerated since 1973.

It is not merely a possibility that innocent people have been sentenced to death in Texas; it is a fact.

Perry's view is reflective of the prevailing societal attitude in Texas, which I have observed as an intern at the Texas Defender Service, the organisation which is acting on behalf of Duane Buck. According to the majority public opinion in Texas, anyone accused of crimes such as Buck's deserves to die and the question of whether that person receives a fair trial is a peripheral issue. As a result, many of the fundamental flaws that affect the death penalty regime in Texas have been ignored.

One of the most significant problems is the "future dangerousness" standard adopted by the Texas death penalty statute. At the sentencing hearing, the jury has to find that the defendant poses a "future danger to society". The Texas appellate court has held that the facts of the original crime – which have to be proven at the preceding "guilt-innocence" stage of a trial – may be sufficient to demonstrate that the defendant could be a future danger, an approach that empties the sentencing hearing of any significance.

It has also been held that psychiatric testimony as to the future dangerousness question, often given by expert witnesses who have never examined the defendant, is admissible, despite the inherent uncertainty of predicting recidivism. This practice has come under severe criticism from the American Psychiatric Association, which has said that "[t]he large body of evidence in this area indicates that, even in the best of conditions, psychiatric predictions of long-term future dangerousness are wrong in at least 2 out of every 3 cases."

That Buck committed a terrible crime is not disputed. What is problematic is the notion that a person convicted of a serious crime can thereby be denied his constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process, and face execution on the basis of his ethnicity. The fact that the Texas criminal justice system was prepared even to contemplate proceeding with an execution given this state of affairs is symptomatic of the flaws that plague the death penalty regime in Texas – a process that is anything but clear and thoughtful.

Also see Huff Post here and here where the comments are past the 1,000 numbers with this one standing on it's own today: “We really need a Constituti­onal amendment that spells out the process by which a state is allowed to secede. The second part of the amendment should spell out how we expel a state which the rest of us don't want to be associated with anymore. As soon as the amendment is ratified we should expel Texas.The same day.”

Troy Davis Updates

Nation of Change Troy Davis and the Politics of Dath here

Two from Truthdig.com REPORT here

The Case for Troy Davis and Against Gov. Rick Perry here

Video GO here

Keep watching Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News and Updates and follow Mike Farrell and Death Penalty Focus of California (find BOTH sites on right column)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Amnesty's Letter for Spiritual Leaders/ Stephen Dear's Implementation: Letter on Behalf of Troy Davis

Special Event on Troy Davis' behalf - GO here

You can also email Stephen Dear at info@pfadp.org with your full contact information and we will manually add you to the list of endorsers. (Mention whether or not you are a spiritual/religious leader)

Yesterday in Atlanta I (Stephen Dear) had the privilege of helping to present the unprecedented collection of signatures of 3,500 faith leaders on the letter for clemency for Troy Davis to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. PFADP's staff and I were literally up all night preparing the documents for the parole board and media. We have had never had to prepare so many signatures on such a letter. No one has ever had to spend so much time doing that, as far as we can tell.

If you signed the letter, thank you. If you or your organization asked faith leaders to sign the letter, thank you. The parole board holds its clemency hearing on Troy Davis on Monday. We will continue to collect endorsements and send them in to the parole board as long as we need to.

Hundreds of events are taking place today and this weekend around Troy Davis. If you would like to incorporate prayers into your faith community's liturgies this weekend click here for a liturgy you could use.

I want to tell you about the press conference and delivery to the parole board yesterday.

It was so heartening to be joined by faith leaders such as Rev. R. L. White, pastor of Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church, one of Atlanta's largest and oldest churches, and Rev. Debra Metzgar Shew, Canon for Community Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and others as we stood with representatives of Amnesty International, the NAACP, and other groups who have led this unprecedented call for clemency. In addition to the clemency letter, we helped carry into the parole board's offices the petition signatures of more than 665,000 people from around the world gathered by Amnesty International, NAACP, and many other groups. Here is a video of that moment.

Below is part of my statement at yesterday's press conference.

"Today we are delivering a letter calling for clemency for Troy Davis from the leaders of faith communities across Georgia and from every single state in the nation and beyond, leaders from every major faith tradition, religious leaders who support the death penalty and those who oppose it all speaking with one voice: allowing the execution of Troy Davis would be both unnecessary and unconscionable.

"Nearly 3,500 faith leaders have signed the letter. That is several times more faith leaders than have signed any other such letter for clemency in modern American history – if not in all of history. More than 1,000 religious leaders from the South have endorsed clemency for Davis, including about 250 pastors in Georgia, some of them Southern Baptist pastors.

"The Troy Davis case is so fraught with doubt that it fails to meet any standard of acceptability held by any religious organization we are aware of, including the standard of clear and convincing guilt established by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000. These faith leaders from across the religious and political spectrum are saying there is no morally acceptable position supporting the execution of Troy Davis.

"Thanks to the egregious problems with Troy Davis's case this letter represents a new level of engagement from America's faith community on what is happening in our courts and death chambers.

"We hold the family of Officer Mark MacPhail in our prayers and we hold each of the parole board's parole board's members in our prayers as they fulfill their duty to review this case. We respectfully urge the parole board to grant clemency to Mr. Davis."

Indeed, let us continue to act and pray for healing, for justice, and for life.

In gratitude and solidarity,

Stephen Dear
Executive Director

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thousands of Religious Leaders - & Others - Speak for Clemency

Find the above photo and recent news items on Ga's Troy Davis scheduled execution posted on Creative Loafing Atlanta Newspaper here

See Huff Post article here


Leaders in Support of Clemency
By Herbert Pinnock | Christian Post Contributor

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty (PFADP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit, interfaith organization, has registered the support, through a signed petition, of over 3,000 faith leaders from all 50 U.S. states who are urging the Georgia Board to consider clemency for death row’s Troy Davis.

Davis, 42, convicted of the murder of Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail in 1991 has remained on death row for over two decades, even while his supporters assert that the case against him has fallen apart.

According to PFADP, the petition “contains by far the largest single set of endorsements from faith leaders for clemency than any letter of its kind in our country’s modern history.”

A number of other important faith leaders, such as Roman Catholic head Pope Benedict, have come out in support of clemency for Davis

Monsignor Martin Krebs, U.S. envoy for the Pope, sent a letter urging state officials to consider the special circumstances in the case: “The Pope continually exhorts all people, and especially those men and women who serve in government, to recognize the sacredness of all human life.”

Of late, much attention has been given to reports that many of the state’s witnesses have recanted previous statements and have sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying against Davis.

According to Stephen Dear, executive director of PFADP, request for signatures from religious leaders on clemency petitions usually result in comparatively fewer signatures. This is not surprising, considering the opinions of many Christians and conservatives in respect to the question of law and order.

In a recent debate of Republican presidential candidates, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has attracted a great deal of evangelical support, received the loudest cheer when NBC’s Brian Williams stated that he had executed more individuals than any other governor in modern times.

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed on September 21, 2011. His supporters are hopeful that the Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles, which has scheduled a hearing in his case for September 19, will grant him clemency.

GO here

FOLLOW this and other stories on the People of Faith Against the Death Penalty FB page here

If you're a religious or spiritual leader plz add your name and speak out against Troy's execution here

SEE Journey's FB page/blog for catch-up...

While I've been away on small family trips & adjusting to older children back home --there's been a lot of important material on the Journey's facebook page and blogging so Plz go the a good look and get involved if you are able/willing here Debbie Kearns has been on top of the news there (looks like) 24/7...

Note that another current Texas execution story involved another story of forgiveness...this time from the sister-in-law.

While we all gather for the final unified effort to halt Troy's state killing, Texas is ignoring the racial bias in Duane Buck case...

READ much more on that FB link above...THANX Debbie for your consistent and heart-felt work! You are a heroine of love for death row inmates and for the JOH!

GEORGIA: CALL - FAX Gov's Office

GO to Amnesty USA here and to Real Clear Politics here

Too Much Doubt - Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991. Nearly two decades later, Davis remains on death row — even though the case against him has fallen apart. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial.

Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.Breaking News: An execution date for Troy Davis is scheduled for September 21! In the days before Davis' execution, the Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles will hold a final clemency hearing – a final chance to prevent Troy Davis from being executed.

You may also wish to sign this endorsement from People of Faith Against the Death Penalty - North Carolina (Same time ALSO plz CALL/FAX as over the years many of us have found these efforts to be VERY powerful just before an execution - Also find religious leaders - including high-ranking Catholic Bishop's offices - to do the same.)

Today is the last day that we will be accepting endorsements from religious leaders on the letter calling for clemency for Troy Davis. Thank you for all of your efforts thus far.

Please help us in this final push. The letter will be hand delivered at 10:30 a.m. EDT tomorrow at a press conference outside the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles' offices in Atlanta.

We have only a few hours left - we will stop accepting endorsements at 5 p.m. EDT today. Think about any additional religious leaders you can approach and encourage them to immediately take action to save the life of Troy Davis.

The letter is at www.troyletter.org.

In peace,

Amanda, Beto and Steve

Read More Below...

GEORGIA----impending execution

From Dr. Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News & Updates:

SEPTEMBER 14, 2011:

Troy Davis faces execution on 21 September, despite 7 of 9 non-police witnesses recanting. Where is the justice in that?

Death brings cheers these days in America. In the most recent Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Florida, when CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked, hypothetically, if a man who chose to carry no medical insurance, then was stricken with a grave illness, should be left to die, cheers of "Yeah!" filled the hall. When, in the prior debate, Governor Rick Perry was asked about his enthusiastic use of the death penalty in Texas, the crowd erupted into sustained applause and cheers. The reaction from the audience prompted debate moderator Brian Williams of NBC News to follow up with the question, "What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?"

That "dynamic" is why challenging the death sentence to be carried out against Troy Davis by the state of Georgia on 21 September is so important. Davis has been on Georgia's death row for close to 20 years, after being convicted of killing off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah. Since his conviction, seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony, alleging police coercion and intimidation in obtaining the testimony. There is no physical evidence linking Davis to the murder.

Last March, the US supreme court ruled that Davis should receive an evidentiary hearing, to make his case for innocence. Several witnesses have identified one of the remaining witnesses who has not recanted, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, as the shooter. US District Judge William T Moore Jr refused, on a technicality, to allow the testimony of witnesses who claimed that, after Davis had been convicted, Coles admitted to shooting MacPhail. In his August court order, Moore summarised, "Mr Davis is not innocent."

One of the jurors, Brenda Forrest, disagrees. She told CNN in 2009, recalling the trial of Davis, "All of the witnesses – they were able to ID him as the person who actually did it." Since the 7 witnesses recanted, she says: "If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row. The verdict would be not guilty."

Troy Davis has 3 major strikes against him. First, he is an African American man. Second, he was charged with killing a white police officer. And 3rd, he is in Georgia.

More than a century ago, the legendary muckraking journalist Ida B Wells risked her life when she began reporting on the epidemic of lynchings in the Deep South. She published Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All its Phases in 1892 and followed up with The Red Record in 1895, detailing hundreds of lynchings. She wrote:

"In Brooks County, Georgia, 23 December, while this Christian country was preparing for Christmas celebration, 7 Negroes were lynched in 24 hours because they refused, or were unable to tell the whereabouts of a colored man named Pike, who killed a white man … Georgia heads the list of lynching states."

The planned execution of Davis will not be at the hands of an unruly mob, but in the sterile, fluorescently lit confines of Georgia diagnostic and classification prison in Butts County, near the town of Jackson. The state doesn't intend to hang Troy Davis from a tree with a rope or a chain – to hang, as Billie Holiday sang, like a strange fruit:

"Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Black body swinging in the Southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees."

The state of Georgia, unless its board of pardons and paroles intervenes, will administer a lethal dose of pentobarbital. Georgia is using this new execution drug because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration seized its supply of sodium thiopental last March, accusing the state of illegally importing the poison.

"This is our justice system at its very worst," said Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Amnesty International has called on the state board of pardons and paroles to commute Davis' sentence. "The board stayed Davis' execution in 2007, stating that capital punishment was not an option when doubts about guilt remained," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "Since then, two more execution dates have come and gone, and there is still little clarity, much less proof, that Davis committed any crime. Amnesty International respectfully asks the board to commute Davis' sentence to life and prevent Georgia from making a catastrophic mistake."

It's not just the human rights groups the parole board should listen to. Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel peace prize laureates President Jimmy Carter and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others, also have called for clemency. Or the board can listen to mobs who cheer for death.

(source: The Guardian)


GEORGIA: Troy Davis To Have Additional Clemency Hearing

Don't take a chance on a change in favor of Troy's life, SIGN petitions, CALL and FAX Governor's office NOW.

Posted: September 12, 2011 at Death Penalty Info dot org or GO here where you will also see some other very recent developments in other states and nationally. Videos on key issues are now available here as well.

Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis will have a third clemency hearing before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on September 19, two days before his scheduled execution. The hearing will allow Davis to present witnesses the Board did not hear from in prior hearings as well as "renewed claims of innocence" regarding his conviction for killing Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989. Doubts about Davis' guilt were raised when some prosecution witnesses changed their stories after giving testimony against Davis, including accusations pointing to another suspect as the triggerman. The U.S. Supreme Court granted Davis an evidentiary hearing on his new evidence before a federal court judge. After the hearing, District Court Judge William Moore said "the State's case may not be ironclad," but nevertheless concluded that Davis had not convincingly proved his innocence. In 2007, the Pardons Board halted Davis's execution because of unresolved doubts about his guilt. Ultimately, they denied clemency. There are now 3 new members on the Pardons Board.

Monday, September 12, 2011

MEDILL Innocence Project (Is Judge Shannon Being Fair?)

Evan Benn,
shown in 2009, is a former student of Northwestern University. He says he's disappointed with Judge Diane Cannon's ruling, that the students were acting under the direction of defense attorneys.
Jeff Roberson/AP

A judge in Chicago is ordering Northwestern University to turn over to prosecutors more than 500 emails between a high-profile professor and his investigative journalism students.

The students were part of the school's Medill Innocence Project, which has helped exonerate and free a dozen men convicted of murders they did not commit.

In this particular case, though, the judge ruled that the students weren't acting as journalists, protected by the Illinois reporter's privilege law, but as investigators for the defense.

There are concerns that if the ruling stands, it could have a chilling effect on the work of journalism students across the country. READ REST of STORY and watch VIDEO here

M. Spencer Green/AP
David Protess, shown in 2009, is no longer with Northwestern University. But he led the Medill Innocence Project when students discovered evidence questioning the guilt of Anthony McKinney, jailed since 1978. The judge in the case has ruled that the students weren't acting as journalists, protected by the Illinois reporter's privilege law, but as investigators for the defense.

NPR.org 09/12/2011 at 5:30 PM ET

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

NEW RESOURCES: 2011 DEATH ROW USA Report Now Available

Posted: September 07, 2011
The latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's "Death Row USA" showed a slight increase of 9 inmates in the death row population in the United States between October 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011. However, death row is still significantly smaller now (3,251 inmates) than in 2000 (3,682 inmates). The size of death row also declined overall in 2010. The size of death row is affected by the number of death sentences and the number of executions. Nationally, the racial composition of those on death row is 44% white, 42% black, and 12% Latino/Latina. Texas, Louisiana, and Connecticut had death rows consisting of 70% minority defendants. California continues to have the largest death row population (721), followed by Florida (398), Texas (321), Pennsylvania (219), and Alabama (206). California and Pennsylvania have not carried out an executiion in over five years. The report contains the latest death row population figures, execution statistics, and an overview of recent legal developments related to capital punishment.

Also See:
NEW RESOURCES: States Ranked by Executions Per Death Sentence
Posted: September 06, 2011
DPIC has updated its Executions Per Death Death Sentence page to reflect data through 2010. This page lists states in order of the percentage of death sentences resulting in an execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. If every death sentence resulted in an execution, the state would be at 100%, or a rate of 1.00. Using this ratio of executions per death sentence, the first five states are Virginia (.725), Texas (.498), Utah (.368), Missouri (.347), and Delaware (.311). Of those states that have carried out at least one execution, the five states with the lowest rate of execution are Pennsylvania (.008), California (.015), Idaho (.025), Oregon (.028), and Tennessee (.035). Four states with the death penalty during this time period had no executions: Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York. The latter two have abandoned the death penalty. Nationally, about 15% of death sentences have resulted in an execution (a rate of .150). Another measure of state execution rates is executions per capita (population). Under this standard, Oklahoma and Texas are the leading states.

Find both items here