March 2013 Alert: Legislative Update – Lobby Day, Amplify Austin and more!

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Announcements
Legislative Updates
Upcoming Events
In the News
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas has not scheduled any executions this month, but six executions currently are scheduled to take place in April, including Kimberly McCarthy, whose execution date was moved from January 29 to April 3. Please stay tuned to TCADP for more information and any action requests regarding these cases.

Announcements
TCADP Annual Conference Great Success!
The “Changing the Conversation” Conference held Saturday, February 23 at St. Edward’s University in Austin included a record number of attendees, who all seemed to have great take aways from their day.  Video of the panel discussion and award ceremony will be made available soon.  Check out the photos!  See a compilation of the social media posts from the Conference – sfy.co/jFTn.

A tremendous thank you to Campus Ministry at St. Edward’s University and all the speakers, sponsors, and TCADP members who made the conference possible.  Read more about them and all that happened at the conference in the program.

Help TCADP Amplify Austin!
Amplify Austin is a community-wide day of online philanthropy sponsored by “I Live Here, I Give Here” with the goal of raising $1 million in 24 hours for Austin-based participating nonprofits (including TCADP)!

Beginning at 7pm on March 4th, through 7pm on March 5, 2013  TCADP is asking all of our supporters to expand their giving or give for the first time.  During the 24 hour giving period, you can give at www.tcadp.org/amplify-austin/  or  https://amplifyaustin.s3.amazonaws.com/npo38794.html

And if you can, concentrate your giving on March 5 – 1:00 to 2:00pm Central Standard Time!

You might even think about giving March 5, at:
1:12 PM for the 12 people exonerated from Texas death row
1:19 PM for the 119 Texas counties that have never sent anyone to death row
1:39 PM for the 139 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice
1:42 PM for the 142 death row exonerations nationwide
1:50 PM for the 150 supporters who attended the TCADP conference

So why 1:00 to 2:00pm on March 5?

If we can concentrate donations during that time, TCADP may qualify for a $1000 cash prize.
Can’t make it during that hour? No problem, just give during the 24-hour cycle of March 4, 7:00pm to March 5, 7:00pm to make us eligible for more cash perks!  Learn more!

Ways you can help TCADP Amplify Austin and fight Slacktivism!

Set an alarm on your phone for March 5 at 1:00pm and then go to www.tcadp.org/ampolify-austin/ and give a minimum of $25.

Set up a special fundraising page for TCADP and seek support from your friends and family. Page must be created by Monday at 10:00am. Do it here.

Sample Tweet – @TCADPdotORG loves Austin and ending the #deathpenalty, you should too! Help #AmplifyATX! http://bit.ly/YfPFvT

Sample Facebook – I’m ready to give! Are you? Check out Amplify Austin and ways you can help TCADP! http://bit.ly/YfPFvT Giving starts 7pm, March 4.

Share with friends who might want to participate!

Legislative Updates
Texas Legislator Calls for Abolition of the Death Penalty!
On Friday, February 22, 2013, State Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) filed House Bill 1703, which calls for repeal of the Texas death penalty. The bill will be referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, where we aim to secure a full hearing.

What’s next?
1. Please call or email Rep. Farrar to thank her for her leadership on this issue and for filing HB 1703. Email her at Jessica.farrar@house.state.tx.us or call her Capitol office at 512-463-0620.

2. Please join us at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 19th for the TCADP Lobby Day! Training and instructions for the day will take place from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. We will work with you in advance to arrange visits with your legislators.

Sign up for the TCADP Lobby Day now!

Can’t join us in Austin? You can participate in Lobby Day from home! Suggested actions, information on contacting your lawmakers, and an issue brief for HB 1703 are available here.

Abolition Efforts Move Forward in Maryland
Meanwhile, our colleagues in Maryland are on the cusp of Senate vote on repealing the death penalty; their bill cleared an extremely difficult hurdle on February 21, when the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee vote 6-5 in favor of abolishing the death penalty (this particular committee has blocked previous efforts).  The bill now heads to the Senate Floor, where it is being debated this morning! There are now 26 senators who are either co-sponsoring the repeal bill or who have said in interviews that they plan to support it (in the Maryland Senate, 24 votes are required to pass a bill).  It has 68 co-sponsors in the House of Delegates!

Upcoming Events

March 19: Book-Signing Event Chronicling the Personal Experiences of Capital Defense Attorneys
Our friend and colleague Susannah Sheffer will appear at BookPeople in Austin on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM for a talk and signing of her new book, Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys. Through conversations with twenty of the most experienced and dedicated post-conviction capital defenders in the United States, the book explores how those who represent clients facing the death penalty cope with the stress and trauma of their work. Read more and join us for this special event. BookPeople is located at 603 N. Lamar, Austin, 78703.

March 21-24: “Dead Man Walking” Play at Trinity Valley High School in Fort Worth
This month, students at Trinity Valley High School in Fort Worth, Texas will stage four performances of the play “Dead Man Walking,” based on the book and film of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean. Performances will take place on March 21-23 from 7:30 to 10:00 PM and on March 24 from 3:00 to 5:30 PM at the Stephen Seleny Theater, 7500 Dutch Branch Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76132. Call 817.321.0100 for more information.

March 27: First Baptist Church in Austin to Stage Modern Trial of Jesus
Professor Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor who taught law at Baylor Law School in Waco, Texas before joining the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis (and the author of Jesus on Death Row) and Jeanne Bishop, an assistant Cook County public defender in Chicago and the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was murdered in 1990, will travel to Austin this month to stage the “Trial of Jesus,” a modern interpretation of the death penalty trial of Jesus. This event will take place on Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Austin, 901 Trinity Street, Austin, 78701. Admission is free to the public, but seating will be limited. Please make reservations at fbcaustin.org/trialofjesus. For more information, please contact First Baptist Church of Austin at 512-476-2625.  Read more about the project from Sojourners and CNN.

March 30: A Benefit Concert for TCADP
An evening of music to benefit the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty featuring Tim Broadbent will be held March 30, 2013, 5:00 to 7:00PM at the Garden Room, Lamar Tower, 2929 Buffalo Speedway, Houston. There will be free valet parking. Tim Broadbent is a professional musician, born in England, but a resident of France for many years. Like many Europeans, he deplores the death penalty and is a long-time supporter of Ricky Lynn Lewis who is scheduled for execution on April 9. Tim volunteered to perform this benefit concert and to explain his passionate opposition to the death penalty during his trip to Texas for a final goodbye to Ricky. His music genres are American style folk, blues, and country. He plans a variety of songs for this event. An opening set will be performed by Houston musician Henry Luna. Sissy Farenthold and Dave and Priscilla Atwood will host the event. Donations accepted. Wine & Cheese. Please RSVP 281-933-4925.

In the News
Brazos County Jury Rejects the Death Penalty
On February 27, 2013, after more than 21 hours of deliberation, a Brazos County jury determined that Stanley Wayne Robertson should spend the rest of his life in prison for the 2010 murder of Annie Mae Toliver.  The District Attorney’s office had sought the death penalty for Robertson, but the jury decided that there was mitigating evidence in his case that warranted a life sentence.  Read more.

Mental Illness and the Texas Death Penalty
Should a man who has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and who has gouged out both of his eyes be executed by the State of Texas? That’s the troubling question posed in a remarkable feature story by Brandi Grissom, which appears in the current issue of Texas Monthly (“Trouble in Mind,” March 2013) and as a six-part series in the Texas Tribune. Through the case of Andre Thomas, who was sentenced to death for a brutal triple murder in 2004, Grissom examines the disturbing collision of our state’s mental health and criminal justice systems. It’s a must read.

The Cost of Wrongful Convictions
According to a recent article in the Austin American-Statesman (“Tab for wrongful convictions in Texas: $65 million and counting”, February 10, 2013), the State of Texas “has paid more than $65 million to 89 wrongfully convicted people since 1992.” Compensation to exonorees in Texas is more generous than any other state. Texas also leads the nation with 48 DNA exonerations. Read the full article.

Calendar

March
4-5: Amplify Austin
18: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org
19: TCADP Lobby Day; Austin BookPeople event featuring Susannah Sheffer
20: Dallas Religious Organizing Committee 6:00pm, Chapter meeting 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org
21-24: “Dead Man Walking” Play at Trinity Valley High School in Fort Worth
22-23: Symposium, “Mass Incarceration and the Death Penalty,” University of Texas Capital Punishment Center, Austin. This event is free and open to the public. Register and learn more.
27: First Baptist Church in Austin Stages Modern Trial of Jesus
30: Houston Fundraising event, contact Nancy Bailey 281-933-4925

For more information about these events or to volunteer to staff a table at an outreach event, email info@tcadp.org.

Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today!