Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NORTH CAROLINA: New Campaign - Sister Helen Prejean to Speak

"Dead Man Walking" Author Helen Prejean, NC Clergy to Speak at Launch of
New Grassroots Campaign for Repeal of NC's Death Penalty (sent Nov 30 from Steve Dear, PFADP)

RALEIGH – On Friday People of Faith Against the Death Penalty will formally launch a new grassroots campaign calling on North Carolina to repeal the death penalty. We invite all of our members to attend this press conference. Look for more information on how you can help build this campaign soon.

The press conference will take place at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 2 at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin St., Raleigh. Coffee, Krispy Kreme donuts, and other refreshments will be served.

Speakers expected at the press conference include:

Fr. Minlib Dallh, Dominican Friars of Raleigh
Rev. Frank Dew, New Creation Community Presbyterian Church, Greensboro
Pastor Alan Felton, Salem United Methodist Church, Oxford
Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, The Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Chapel Hill
Rev. Dr. William Haley, Harris Chapel Baptist Church, Youngsville
Rev. Dr. Earl C. Johnson, Martin Street Baptist Church
Rev. Lacy Joyner, First Baptist Church, Oxford
Rev. Nathan Parrish, Peace Haven Baptist Church, Winston-Salem
Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh
Sr. Helen Prejean, PFADP Kairos Campaign Chair and author, Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents

Already more than 300 congregations and local businesses in 36 North Carolina counties have passed PFADP's resolutions calling on North Carolina to replace the death penalty with life without parole and to use the funds that would be saved to help murder victims' family members.

Examples of faith communities and businesses that have passed resolutions include:

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina (Kinston)
Hot Rod Installations (Warrenton)
JJ Ashley Bakery (Goldsboro)
Kuttin' Up Barber Shop (Selma)
Main Street Café (Tarboro)
Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community (Raleigh)
Zen Center of Chapel Hill

PFADP is calling this new campaign the Kairos Campaign to Mobilize Religious Action to Repeal North Carolina's Death Penalty. Kairos is a Greek word meaning a special time. The initial goals of the campaign include more than 1,000 resolutions from faith communities, businesses, community groups and even local governments in every county in North Carolina. The campaign will also include a petition, a statewide letter for repeal from faith leaders, and the formation of denominational task forces to promote the campaign within religious traditions.

In 1999 PFADP launched the NC Moratorium Now campaign calling for a two-year moratorium on executions, a study or the state's death penalty system, and needed reforms. The campaign yielded more than 1,000 resolutions for a moratorium from faith communities, businesses, community groups, and 39 local governments in North Carolina, and 50,000 petition signatures. There has not been an execution in North Carolina since 2006 largely because of court battles involving execution protocols. The NC Racial Justice Act is one of the reforms supported by PFADP's moratorium campaign. The RJA was passed into law in 2009 but on Monday the NC Senate passed Senate Bill 9, which repeals it. Gov. Bev Perdue has not announced whether she will veto the repeal of the RJA.

"The NC Racial Justice Act is not about repealing the death penalty," said PFADP Executive Director Stephen Dear. "The Racial Justice Act is a reform aimed at addressing the historic and insidious influence of racial bias in capital cases. As long as North Carolina has a death penalty it needs checks on the system like the Racial Justice Act to make the death penalty less unfair and less error-prone.

But Racial Justice Act or not, the only way we can ever ensure people are not sentenced to death unfairly is to not have a death penalty. Even if the death penalty could somehow be administered fairly and accurately we would oppose it on moral and religious grounds."

PFADP will not stop this campaign until enough people, faith communities and institutions have taken action until the death penalty is repealed no matter how long that takes, Dear said.

"We are in this for the long haul."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Photos and Reports from "Dream One World" Uganda

Plz keep these reports and photos coming both to FB and to us (write Connie Nash at and tell our readers EXACTLY how to support your greatest needs. Dream One World: we also need an updated report on Edward. GO here

Monday, November 28, 2011

Racial Justice Act: NORTH CAROLINA: Urgent Action Needed!

To all of you who live in NC or have people living there. Please call the
office of Governor Bev Perdue(800-662-7952, 919-733-2391) and urge her to
veto today's attempt to overturn the Racial Justice Act - which is in grave danger if indeed it will survive.

If you can, please call your local legislators also. The RJA may seem
cumbersome or unnecessary to some,but it is essential that we do everything
to ensure that justice is handed out with no racial bias.

Rais Bhuiyan: among Esquire's 2011 People of the Year

Rais Bhuiyan, American

Suddenly the tow truck reappears. The driver guns the engine. He trains a bright halogen light down into Bhuiyan's face and unleashes a fusillade of curses.

GO here

Great Suggestion from Sister Helen

Although we missed this piece earlier, this is still CURRENT and URGENT:

President Obama met with the press before his visit with Pope Benedict on July 10. He talked about how he admired Cardinal Bernardine's "seamless garment" approach to pro-life, that the cardinal included in its scope a wide range of issues- "he was concerned about poverty, he was concerned with how children were treated, HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY..." Now there's interesting fodder for a conversation with Pres. Obama. For starters: Aren't you too very, very concerned about the fact that already 135 innocent people have released from death row? How many will it take before we recognize the failed system? Not to mention the shocking, appalling racist application of the death penalty presently carried out in the Deep South states? Any ideas out there about how we might get a conversation going with Pres. Obama and his wife, Michelle about this issue? Anybody out there want to help us mount a YOUNG PEOPLE'S LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN to the White House to end the death penalty in the U.S.? Think boldly. Organize strategically. Act quickly.

"Keep the Windown Open"

Regarding Proposed Amendments to California's proposed amendments to the lethal injection protocol, Sister Helen writes to Mr. Timothy Lockwood, Chief of CDCR Regulation and Policy Management on June 26, 2009. Sr. Prejean urges:

All of my remarks about the proposed amendments to the lethal injection protocol center around this theme: KEEP THE WINDOW OPEN

Sadly, it is the personal experience I have had of accompanying six human beings to their deaths at the hand of the state that urges me to give this testimony.

By Sister Helen Prejean

Thursday, November 24, 2011

OREGON and the Death Penalty

Bill Pelke:
Please go to this link and vote, we are losing. Thanks, Peace, Bill

Here's a real short AND positive piece I found on Rick Halperin's DP News and Updates:

NOVEMBER 24, 2011:


There is much to be thankful for in today's America. Despite its numerous economic, social, cultural, and political problems (and they are numerous), this is still a great country to live in and to work for social justice through peaceful means.

I give thanks for many things, including the fact that occasionally we see an elected official stand on principle and the moral high ground to do what is right. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber recently announced that he would no longer acquiesce in that state's ongoing system of capital punishment. He ordered a halt to the Dec. 6 execution there as well as announcing that no further executions would occur under his watch--[see:]

Kitzhaber allowed 2 executions there to proceed earlier in his tenure, but no more. His moral beliefs and his political courage are in stark contrast to Texas Gov. Perry and his pride at having presided over 238 executions in his decade long tenure in office.

Gov. Kitzhaber and those who specifically work for a death penalty-free America are a major reason I give thanks today; it's an honor and a privilege to work peacefully for a better society that will one day recognize that truly there is no such thing as a lesser person.

(source: Rick Halperin, Amnesty International; Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)

One with plenty of STATS and history here

On Death Penalty Info. Center here

A sardonic approach on CounterPunch here

Oregon Live here I LIKE this title -- Gov. John Kitzhaber: Oregon death penalty fails 'basic standards of justice'

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

RECENT JOURNEY LINKS & More (Plz keep handy)

FB Wall: where Debbie Kearns keeps current connections going & stays on top of many concerns. Also folk sometimes stop by for a comment or extra note - go here (OK to read as a non-member without fearing pressure to sign-on.)

Where Bill Pelke has been offering an occasional heartfelt diary entry and plans to add more soon here

A good page for more links with great photo of "the other Bill" and the kids. GO

RANDY's page with video and his mission site here

CHARITY's The Ella Foundation see this amazing story of healing and mission in progress. Go here

Find ANGELA's links in post just below Aba Gayle's & in Comments.

Be sure to also peruse the links offered to the lower right of our blog posts - especially Dr. Rich Halperin's "Death Penalty News and Updates" which (if he's not traveling) are often daily - much more available and noted most of the time than on most the other links.

Again remember the JOURNEY's FaceBook page (don't have to be a member of FB nor even to sign in to READ) Simply GO here

Find an older page of links and GREAT photo of "the other Bill" here

Also FIND items on a new friend's campaign "
World Without Hate" who worked extensively with Dr. Rick Halperin, another Journey friend, and with Reprieve. Rais "calling" is all about our Journey theme of FORGIVENESS...

Along with a few other posts, I'm UPDATING right now on this October post - older to new-ish items I've missed on RAIS BHUIYAN...GO here

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

From Hate to Healing (Aba Gayle, Ron Steiner, Sister Helen & Oregonians for Alternatives...)

Aba Gayle holds a photo of her daughter, Catherine Blount, at her Silverton home on Wednesday. Gayle has been able to forgive and befriend the California death row inmate responsible for killing her daughter. (More info on photo below)

Article posted Mon Oct 31, 2011

By Alan Gustafson
Statesman Journal
October 30, 2011

For years, Aba Gayle "lusted for revenge" against the California deathrow inmate who murdered her 19-year-old daughter. But everything changed when she mailed the killer a letter, saying she forgave him. Paying visits to San Quentin prison, Gayle befriended the man she once despised and wanted put to death. As hate gave way to healing, she turned against the death penalty.

Now, the 77-year-old Silverton woman is a leader of a nonprofit Oregon advocacy organization that is seeking to abolish the death penalty here. Even though condemned killers rarely are executed in Oregon, Gayle says it's time for Oregonians to repeal the law that allows state-sanctioned killing. As she tells it, the ultimate punishment should be scrapped because it sucks taxpayer dollars, undermines human values and takes revenge in arbitrary fashion.

"It truly is the ultimate violation of human rights," she said. "It is horrendous to think that when they kill somebody at the penitentiary, they do it in the name of the citizens. I don't want anybody killed in my name." As this state's first execution in 14 years draws near, Gayle and other members of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty are waging a two-pronged campaign.

First, they are hoping to persuade Gov. John Kitzhaber to stop the planned execution of two-time killer Gary Haugen. Haugen, 49, voluntarily dropped his appeals, and he is tentatively scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.

Anti-death penalty activists are asking Kitzhaber to commute Haugen's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kitzhaber has remained mum about the execution. On a second front, OADP is planning a campaign to ask Oregon voters to repeal the death penalty.

The timing for a potential ballot measure remains "up in the air," said Ron Steiner of Salem, the board chairman of the nonprofit organization. For now, Steiner said, the group is working to "build coalitions" and circulate information about the death penalty through public forums, lectures and newsletters in the news media and on the organization's website.

"When all the facts are known, all the issues are examined, it's very difficult for reasonable people to support a failed public policy like the death penalty," he said.

Activism roots in New Mexico Steiner, 72, worked in television for more than 40 years, starting in sales. He rose to executive positions and ran a couple stations before he became a consultant. His opposition to the death penalty developed in the late 1990s in New Mexico. At the time, he has doing volunteer work at a transitional home for ex-felons.

After listening to a talk by Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking" and a nationally known critic of the death penalty, Steiner delved deeper.

"I started to study it and it looked ridiculous the way it was set up, so I got involved with the New Mexico coalition to repeal the death penalty in early 2001," he said.

The campaign led to success in 2009, when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill repealing the state's death penalty. Steiner now lives in Salem but divides his volunteer time between causes he supports here and in New Mexico. Since 2003, he has been married to Caren Jackson, a professional photographer and former director of Salem's Riverfront Carousel.

Steiner describes Prejean as a personal hero and role model. "She's indefatigable," he said. "She just goes and goes and goes. When she was here, she was putting in 14-hour days."

Prejean recently spent about a week in Oregon, giving talks in Eugene, Salem and Portland. Steiner introduced her when she spoke to about 200 people at the Salem Library on Oct. 20. Like Prejean, Steiner said he's committed to long-haul advocacy.

Group cites growth With Haugen's potential execution in the news, Oregonians are paying attention to the death penalty, Steiner said. OADP evolved from a previous organization known as the Oregon Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, founded in 1983. The current group has no paid employees, Steiner said.

Money for operations and expenses comes from donations and grants. Steiner described OADP's annual budget as "a low five-figure amount." "If we get on the ballot, obviously, it's going to be a lot more expensive to advertise and get our position known."

Despite limited funding, the organization's list of supporters is swelling, Steiner said. He said the number of religious and secular organizations backing the group has increased from a handful to more than 50. "We're adding them all the time," he said...


Today's report is part of a continuing series of stories about Oregon's death penalty, death row and the planned execution of Gary Haugen, whose execution is tentatively scheduled for Dec.6.

GO here and also save this URL for more...

Also see an article in same journal about Sister Helen Prejean's visit to a library audience of 200! (as well as a visit to an inmate writing group.)

GO here

And be sure to visit the compelling site with lots of info on what's happening in arena of the Death Penalty in Oregan:

Photo Info: Photographer is Timothy J. Gonzalez / Statesman Journal photographer Evidently, enlarged prints of photos for purchase are available GO here or call The Stateman Journal.

Journey Writer-Activists and Links to Their Recent Journey Stories

Angela Grobben

During the Uganda Journey, I've been quite enthralled to learn of both Angela's and Charity's writing and postings. Although I referred to both in fairly recent blogs, I want to touch upon these two here. I'm quite sure we will hear more from both in the near future.

Go see some of Angela's items for yourself First, the link to her various human rights posts here and also her link to the story which led to the most recent Uganda Journey here

Angela has expressed interest in joining this blog, I'm told by Bill. My hope is that soon Angela will be on board!

Angela also posted Charity's story. Here she is with her daughter who was later killed. Charity was with the two Bills and Randy on the recent Journey...

Find Charity's heart-breaking story along with her inspiring personal healing and mission here