TCADP October 2013 Alert: Do you live in one of the top 15 executing counties in the United States?

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
In the News
Take Action
Announcements and Invitations
Upcoming Events
Membership Appeal
Calendar

Executions

The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions this month:

  • On October 9, 2013, Michael Yowell is scheduled to be executed for the 1998 murder of his parents, John and Carol Yowell, in Lubbock. Read more from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
  • On October 29, 2013 Arthur Brown, Jr. is scheduled to be put to death for the 1992 drug-related killings of Jose Tovar, Jessica Quinones, Tovar’s 19-year-old daughter in law who was seven months pregnant, Audrey Brown, a neighbor of Tovar, and Frank Farias. The murders took place in Houston.

Please note Larry Hatten’s October 16 execution date has been withdrawn.

Texas accounts for 13 out of 28 executions nationwide to date in 2013. Last month, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) announced that although their current supply of pentobarbital had expired, they had no plans to change the lethal injection protocol. Officials did not disclose the source of the drugs they now are using in executions in Texas. According to today’s Austin American-Statesman, attorneys for four death row inmates filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court alleging that “Texas has used a prison hospital that closed 30 years as a subterfuge address to obtain some execution drugs.” The lawsuit seeks full disclosure from TDCJ as to the source and nature of the drugs they plan to use in future executions.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the evening of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter. 

In the News
New Report Shows Use of the Death Penalty Concentrated in 2% of Counties Nationwide

 dpic video

Today, October 2, 2013, the Death Penalty Information Center released a new report, The 2% Death Penalty: How a Minority of Counties Produce Most Death Cases at Enormous Costs to All. The report shows that, contrary to the assumption that the death penalty is widely used nationwide, only a few jurisdictions employ capital punishment extensively. Only 2% of U.S. counties are responsible for the majority of cases leading to executions since 1976.   Nine counties in Texas are among the top 15 counties by execution since 1976.

The report notes that even within Texas, a minority of jurisdictions account for the majority of executions and death sentences. According to research by TCADP, just five counties account for more than half of the new death sentences imposed by Texas juries since 2008.

The new report from DPIC describes how aggressive use of the death penalty in relatively few counties produces enormous costs that are shifted to taxpayers in the entire state.

Go to http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/twopercent to read the report.

Texas Newspapers Endorse Recommendations of ABA Assessment of State’s Death Penalty
On September 18, 2013, the American Bar Association’s Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team published the results of its more than two-year study of the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty system in Texas. The report finds that our state is significantly out of step with better practices implemented in other states that allow the death penalty.

An editorial from the Dallas Morning News (“Higher Standards for the Ultimate Punishment,” September 18, 2013) provides a useful summary and recommendations for implementation by the legislature; the Austin American-Statesman editorial board also found “the report’s numerous well-considered recommendations worth supporting” (“Recommended death penalty reforms deserve consideration,” September 20, 2013). The ABA Texas Death Penalty Assessment is available at 
http://www.ambar.org/texas/. You’ll also find a summary of key recommendations on the TCADP blog.

Take Action Today
Support Renewed Calls for an Investigation into the Wrongful Execution of Cameron Todd Willingham
On September 27, 2013, family members of Cameron Todd Willingham, exonoree Michael Morton, and attorneys with The Innocence Project held a press conference at the State Capitol in Austin to urge the state to conduct an investigation into Willingham’s wrongful execution. Last year, Willingham’s family filed a posthumous pardon petition with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that the state pardon Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the arson murder of his three daughters despite compelling evidence of his innocence.  The Innocence Project has filed an amended petition on behalf of the Willingham family presenting newly discovered evidence that points to possible false testimony at his trial and possible prosecutorial misconduct that may have contributed to his wrongful execution. Read more about this case and take action today to support the call for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to investigate the wrongful execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.

Announcements and Invitations
Call for Annual Award Nominations
The TCADP Board of Directors is seeking nominations for the annual courage, appreciation, and media awards, which will be presented at the 2014 Annual Conference on February 22, 2014 in Fort Worth.  Please nominate worthy individuals and/or organizations that have made significant and selfless contributions to abolishing the death penalty in Texas. Nominations will be accepted until October 15, 2013.

Upcoming Events
Dallas/Richardson:  Film Showing and Discussion, October 11 and 12
LIVING CONDITION is an animated documentary that tells the stories of four families living with a relative condemned to execution.  Each family bears witness to the impact of capital punishment on whole communities, a perspective that is rarely, if ever, heard.  This film opens up discussions surrounding the Death Penalty and offers new perspectives on crime, justice, human rights, costs to society, and questions of racial equality.  The Dallas Video Fest will feature Bill Babbit’s story and an exhibition at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center will feature additional stories. Screened in partnership with Make Art with Purpose for MAP 2013.  http://www.artandseek.org/event.php?id=50673

Friday, October 11:  Oak Cliff Cultural Center, 223 W Jefferson, Dallas, 7:00-9-00pm

Saturday, October 12: Dallas VideoFest 3:00pm Alamo Drafthouse – 100 S Central Expy, Richardson, 75080  Q&A to follow screening will include TCADP Board Vice-President, Estrus Tucker.  Get Tickets to See “Living Condition” and “An Unreal Dream”

Screens with AN UNREAL DREAM: The Michael Morton Story>
In 1986, Michael Morton’s wife, Christine, is brutally murdered in front of their only child, and Michael is convicted of the crime. Locked away in Texas prisons for a quarter century, he is forgotten by all but his parents and a small team of dedicated attorneys. In this “unreal dream,” the price of a wrongful conviction goes well beyond one man’s loss of freedom. Screened in partnership with Make Art with Purpose for MAP 2013.

Austin: Film Screening “Meeting with a Killer” and Panel Discussion, October 23
Linda White’s world was shattered when her 26-year-old daughter, Cathy, was murdered by two teenage boys. Years later, she met with one of her daughter’s murderers. The Emmy-nominated documentary film Meeting with a Killer: One Family’s Journey chronicles the events leading up to the meeting, its aftermath and how it inspired White to dedicate her life to helping victims’ families find peace and healing through restorative justice practices.

Ellen Halbert, herself a survivor of violent crime and director of Travis County District Attorney’s Victim Witness Unit, served as the facilitator for the meeting between Linda, Linda’s granddaughter, and Gary Brown, one of the men convicted of the murder. As a result of the experience, Ellen has become a proponent of restorative justice initiatives that meet the needs of victim survivors in meaningful ways.  The film showing will be followed by a panel discussion with Linda White and Ellen Halbert.

The evening is sponsored by the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue.  Approved by the State Bar of Texas for 1.25 hours of CLE including .25 hours of Ethics.  Approved for 1.25 Social Work CEUs. $5 includes event, reception, and CEUs.  Film Showing and discussion – 6:00pm – OFFICES OF MCGINNIS LOCKRIDGE, 600 CONGRESS AVENUE, SUITE 2100 – ONE AMERICAN CENTER.  Reception at 7:15, ROOFTOP TERRACE, 26TH FLOOR. Parking validation for the One American Center parking garage on 7th between Colorado and Congress.

Membership Appeal
Over the last week, TCADP has held six membership gatherings throughout the state, bringing together supporters to discuss our priorities for the coming year and opportunities for local involvement. Want to help TCADP do even more to increase and diversify our membership? Support our work with a generous donation today! Consider a recurring gift through our Sustaining Member or Partners for Justice programs. All donations to TCADP are tax-deductible.  Learn more about the benefits of TCADP membership.

Calendar
October
5: San Antonio: Respect Life Mass and For Life Fair, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, 1710 Clower Street 8:00am – 12:00pm
9: Scheduled Execution – Michael Yowell
10: World Day Against the Death Penalty event, KPFT Radio Houston 7-9:00pm
11: Exhibition and Reception for “Living Condition” Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Dallas, 7:00pm
12: Dallas Video Fest,  Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Richardson Theater 3, 3:00pm
15: Dallas Chapter meeting – at Cathedral of Hope in room CLC 196 at 6:30pm, dallas@tcadp.org (Note new location!)
21: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org
22: Kristin Houlé to speak to classes at Houston Community College, Katy and SE Fraga Campuses
23: Austin:  Film Screening “Meeting with a Killer” and panel discussion, 6:00pm
25-26: University of Dallas Ministry Conference
28: Austin: Film Showing at St Albert the Great Catholic Church – “Dead Man Walking” 6:30pm
29: Scheduled Execution – Arthur Brown Jr.

November
2: Lobby Corp Training
12: Houston Fair and Just Lunch Series, St. Anne’s Catholic Church, 12:30-1:30pm
13: Austin Lunch Meeting and Discussion, Clay Pit Restaurant, 1601 Guadalupe, 11:50 to 1:00pm

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