In this edition:
Scheduled executions: One-month reprieve from lethal injections
Case updates: Marcus Druery deemed incompetent; Max Soffar dies after 35 years on death row
In the news: Houstonians embrace alternatives to the death penalty; Duane Buck case shines a national spotlight on racial injustice
In case you missed it: Amnesty International reports on global death penalty trends; Texas Comptroller denies compensation to death row exonoree Alfred Dewayne Brown
Featured events: Faith leader lunches in North Texas; TCADP Houston Chapter meeting tonight
Facebook changes: Don’t miss important posts by TCADP!
Quote of the month
“Some things take time to change. For the end of the death penalty in Texas, that time is past due.”
– Houston Chronicle Editorial, “A clear trend: The end of the death penalty in Texas is long past due.” April 11, 2016
For the first time this year, Texans will experience a month without an execution. Our state has put six people to death in 2016. There have been 13 executions nationwide, including five in Georgia.
At this time, there are eight executions scheduled to take place in Texas from June through October 2016.
Max Soffar dies in prison before chance to prove his innocence
Max Soffar died of liver cancer on Sunday April 24, 2016, just days before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was scheduled to hear oral arguments in his case, including evidence of innocence that might have overturned his conviction and death sentence. Soffar spent 35 years on Texas’ death row. Read more, including a press release from the ACLU.
Rare court ruling deems Marcus Druery incompetent to be executed
A Brazos County judge recently deemed Marcus Druery incompetent to be executed due to evidence of his severe mental illness, which prevents him from understanding why he is being punished. Prosecutors did not contest the decision, but the court left the option open for Druery to be re-examined in the future if his mental health status changes. He faced imminent execution in 2012 before receiving a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Learn more.
In the news
73% of Houstonians support alternatives to the death penalty
On April 25, 2016, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University released the results of its Houston Area Survey for 2016. According to the survey, just 27 percent of respondents think the death penalty, rather than life imprisonment, is the most appropriate punishment for first-degree murder, a drop from 39 percent in 2008. The survey report notes, “the recent revelations of discriminatory sentencing, innocent persons being freed from Death Row just before their scheduled executions, and botched lethal injections have been eroding support for capital punishment, and the costs of seeking the death penalty rather than life imprisonment have risen dramatically.” Read more about the survey’s findings.
Case of Duane Buck puts race and the Texas death penalty in the national spotlight
Over the past month there has been a barrage of national and social media attention to the Texas death penalty case of Duane Buck, for good reason: during his 1997 trial in Harris County, Buck received a death sentence that is the unconstitutional product of racial discrimination. He was condemned to death after his own trial attorneys inexplicably introduced testimony from a psychologist who stated that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is Black. His case, Buck v. Stephens, is now on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Watch a powerful video about this case and read some of the recent editorials, op-eds, and articles.
In case you missed it
Amnesty International documents alarming increase in global executions
Last month, Amnesty International released its annual report, “Death Sentences and Executions 2015,” which documents judicial use of the death penalty worldwide. Based on information presented in the report, if Texas were its own country, it would be among the top 10 executing jurisdictions in the world. Learn more.
Exonoree Alfred Dewayne Brown’s application for compensation denied
On April 7, 2016, Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar rejected Alfred Dewayne Brown’s application for $2 million in compensation for the decade he spent on death row as an innocent man. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Hegar said Brown’s claim does not meet the mandatory requirements under Texas law because he has never been formally determined to be ‘actually innocent’…” Brown was released from prison in June 2015 after the Harris County District Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against him. His attorneys plan to appeal the decision.
TCADP will participate in the Dallas Cinco de Mayo Festival on Saturday, May 7th. The event, hosted by the Oak Cliff Coalition for the Arts, will take place along the historic Jefferson Boulevard. The festival is centered around the Festival Main Stage (600 West Jefferson Blvd. Dallas, TX 75208) and will run from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Contact North Texas Outreach Coordinator Jason Redick at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering.
TCADP will host a luncheon for Dallas-area faith leaders on Thursday, May 19th from 11:30AM to 1:00PM at The Mix Coworking & Maker Space at White Rock United Methodist Church (9125 Diceman Dr, Dallas, TX 75218). Invite your faith leader to join North Texas Outreach Coordinator Jason Redick for this “Faithful Conversation About the Death Penalty.” Please send RSVPs and questions to Jason at email@example.com by Monday, May 16th. Lunch will be provided. Click here for the event flyer.
TCADP will host a luncheon for Fort Worth-area faith leaders on Wednesday, May 25th from 11:30AM to 1:00PM at Mamma Mia Italian Grill & Pizza (1000 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104). Invite your faith leader to join Jason Redick for “A Faithful Conversation About the Death Penalty.” Please send your RSVP and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, May 23rd. Lunch will be provided. Click here for the event flyer.
*TONIGHT* The Houston Chapter of TCADP will meet Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:00PM at the Central Market Community Room (3816 Westheimer @ Wesleyan). This meeting will feature a special presentation from Kathryn Kase, the Executive Director of Texas Defender Service. For more information, please click here.
Don’t forget to vote in the Texas Primary Runoff Election on Tuesday, May 24th! Early voting takes place from May 16th to 20th.
Facebook changes may affect your timeline
Has your Facebook timeline been looking a little empty? Have you missed some of the latest posts from TCADP? Well, you’re not alone. Facebook is currently changing how information shows up on your timeline, which can limit the reach of posts. To ensure you see every post from TCADP, visit our page at www.facebook.com/tcadp directly and frequently. You can also add us to your list of favorites.
Thank you for standing with us as we advance change at the epicenter of the death penalty!