April 2013 Alert: 5 Scheduled Executions, Legislative Session Mid-Point, Conference Videos and New Voices on the Death Penalty

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Action Opportunities
Legislative Updates
In the News
Featured Events
Calendar

Executions
Five executions currently are scheduled to take place in Texas this month; the April 3 execution date of Kimberly McCarthy has now been moved to June 26, 2013 upon an order from State District Judge Larry Mitchell. Those still scheduled for execution include Rigoberto Avila, whose attorneys are pursuing a claim of actual innocence. Read more on our blog and stay tuned to TCADP for information and action requests regarding these cases.

Action Opportunities
Join the Call for a New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck
On March 20, 2013, more than 100 prominent individuals from Texas and throughout the country, including civil rights leaders, elected officials, former prosecutors and judges, and clergy representing seven faith denominations, released a statement urging the Harris County District Attorney to provide a new, fair sentencing hearing for Texas death row inmate Duane Buck. The jury was told that Mr. Buck was more likely to pose a future danger to society because he is African American. Former Texas Governor Mark White, one of the signatories, delivered the statement to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston.  Read more.

Another signatory to the statement, Linda Geffin, one of Mr. Buck’s trial prosecutors, started an online petition on Change.org, which calls for a new, fair sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck.  Sign the petition now (if you haven’t done so already) and share it with your friends and family!

Read an editorial by the Houston Chronicle (“Race and the death sentence,” March 26, 2013), which urges Senator John Cornyn and Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson to show leadership in this matter and calls for a new sentencing hearing for Duane Buck.

Join the TCADP Social Media Rapid Response Team!
Help TCADP expand its reach and communicate important messages online!  Sign up today to be a part of the TCADP Social Media Rapid Response Team. (You don’t have to be in Texas to be helpful!) http://tcadp.org/social-media-team/

After you sign up for the Rapid Response Team, support the Duane Buck resentencing campaign on Thunderclap Register with your FB and Twitter accounts.  The action will take place on Wednesday! https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/1672

Watch Videos from TCADP Annual Conference Panel Discussion
Prof. James Liebman of Columbia Law School on the Carlos DeLuna case – http://youtu.be/iKrOpCfdPWM

Also airing on Austin Access TV – Live Streaming availableVideo of Anthony Graves at the TCADP Annual Conference airing on Austin Access. Channel 16 – Wed April 3rd 8:00am; Channel 10 – Monday April 1st 6pm, Tues 2nd 9pm, Fri 5th 7pm. Live Streaming!

Legislative Updates
Texas 83rd Legislature Passes Halfway Mark
Members of TCADP’s Lobby Corps continue to visit the State Capitol weekly to meet with legislative offices and discuss repeal of the death penalty. Two additional legislators, State Representative Alma Allen (District 131–Houston) and State Representative Lon Burnam (District 90–Fort Worth) have signed on with State Representative Jessica Farrar as joint authors of House Bill 1703, which calls for abolition of the death penalty.   Please thank these legislators for their leadership: Jessica.farrar@house.state.tx.us, lon.burnam@house.state.tx.us and alma.allen@house.state.tx.us. We expect the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to schedule a hearing on HB 1703 in the coming weeks.

Read about other legislative initiatives aimed at limiting the application of the death penalty and reducing the risk of wrongful convictions in an editorial by the Dallas Morning News (“With death penalty bans gaining steam, what’s next for Texas?” March 21, 2013).

Maryland Ends the Death Penalty!
On the national front, on March 15, 2013, Maryland’s House of Delegates voted 82-56 to end the death penalty. This followed passage in the Maryland Senate earlier in the month, by a vote of 27-20. The bill will go to Governor Martin O’Malley, who has already promised to sign it and make it law. In doing so, Maryland will become the sixth state in six years to end the death penalty. Read more from the Baltimore Sun.

Right next door, the Delaware Senate voted 11-10 on March 26, 2013 in favor of legislation repealing the death penalty. The bill now moves to the House for consideration, where it has 12 bipartisan sponsors. Read more.

In the News – New Voices on the Death Penalty
New Group Questions the Alignment of the Death Penalty with Conservative Principles
A diverse group of state and national leaders gathered at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to launch a new entity, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. This self-described “national network of conservatives questioning the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles” includes Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, and Richard Viguerie, known as the “Funding Father” of the conservative movement, and TCADP Board Member Pat Monks, a long-time Republican Precinct Chair in Houston. Read some of the media coverage of this new group here and here.

If you would like to become involved in conservative outreach efforts in Texas, please contact TCADP Program Coordinator Vicki McCuistion at info@tcadp.org.

Former District Attorney of Montague County, Texas Asks Whether the State Needs to Take a Life to Make a Point
The March issue of Texas Monthly magazine features a personal essay by Tim Cole, who served four terms as the District Attorney of Montague, County (“The Death Penalty Has a Face: A DA’s Personal Story,” March 18, 2013), in which he discusses his personal experience with a local death penalty case. He writes, “Over the years I have come to believe that the time for the death penalty has passed. As more and more states abolish the sentence, or declare moratoriums on carrying it forward, the death penalty will be given less and less until the day comes when the state no longer needs to take a life to make a point.” Read the essay.

Featured Events
April 11: Sister Helen Prejean in Fort Worth
Texas Wesleyan University is proud to present for its 2013 Willson Lecture, Sister Helen Prejean, on Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. in the Polytechnic United Methodist Church Sanctuary (church on campus at 1310 S. Collard St, Fort Worth, 76105). The lecture is free and open to the public and there will be a book sale/signing immediately after.  Learn more. Sister Prejean is the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the U.S. and The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.

April 13: Texas State Meeting of Amnesty International USA
The 2013 Texas State Meeting of Amnesty International USA will take place on Saturday, April 13, 2013 from 10:30 am – 5:30 pm at the University of Texas-Austin Student Activity Center. TCADP Board Member Les Breeding will lead a workshop on Lobbying 101.  Other workshop topics include Human Rights 101, Texas Death Penalty Abolition, and Immigrant Rights. For more information and to RSVP, go to http://texasstatemeeting.eventbrite.com or email Savannah Fox at sfox@aiusa.org.

May 1: Webinar – Addressing the Needs of Victims in Death Penalty Cases: The Role and Responsibility of the Defense
with Tammy Krause, Kelly Branham and Dick Burr
What application does restorative justice have in the highly-charged, adversarial context of death penalty cases? Is it possible to do more to engage the families of homicide victims in these cases and in doing so, to help address their needs? What can and should the defense team do in these situations? This webinar will take place from 3:30-5:00 PM Central Daylight Time (USA) and cost $10.  Registration is limited to the first 100 registrants, so sign up today!

Calendar

April
2-4: National Catholic Educational Association Conference, Houston
3: Scheduled Execution: Kimberly McCarthy
6: Pax Christi Texas Conference, Houston; Texas Junior State of America, Houston
9: Scheduled Execution: Rickey Lewis
10: Scheduled Execution: Rigoberto Avila, Jr.
11: Sister Helen Prejean at Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, 7:00pm
13: Texas State Meeting of Amnesty International USA, Austin 10:30am
15: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org
16: Scheduled Execution: Ronnie Threadgill
17: Dallas Religious Organizing Committee 6:00pm, Chapter meeting 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org
24: Scheduled Execution: Elroy Chester
25: Scheduled Execution: Richard Cobb

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!

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