TCADP September 2016 Alert: More than four months since last Texas execution

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Three executions stopped last month by Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Announcements: Seeking Lobby Corps members and Annual Award nominations
In case you missed it: Report on “outlier counties” cites problems in Harris County; National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators calls for repeal; new film features former TCADP Board Member Pat Monks
Featured events: Author and activist Shane Claiborne to visit Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth; special film screening in Houston


Quote of the month

“I simply do not believe that Mr. Wood is deserving of the death sentence. I can’t sit quietly by and not say anything.” – State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano (“State Rep. Leach Tries to Stop Jeff Wood Execution,” Texas Tribune, August 17, 2016)


Scheduled executions

The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out one execution this month:

  • The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Robert Jennings on September 14 for the 1988 murder of Houston Police Department Vice Officer Elston Howard during an attempted robbery. Jennings’ legal defense has appealed his case on the basis of his low IQ score and poor educational performance. He has been on death row since 1989 and is now 58 years old. The U.S. Supreme Court considered a procedural issue in his case in October 2014 relating to claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Read more from the Houston Chronicle.

The State of Texas has put six people to death in 2016; the last execution occurred on April 6. Seven individuals have received stays, including Robert Pruett, Jeff Wood, and Rolando Ruiz, who were scheduled to be executed in August.  Thanks again to everyone who spoke out to stop these unjust executions.

There have been 15 executions nationwide this year, including six in Georgia.  Three other individuals on death row in Texas have execution dates in the remaining months of 2016.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.


Announcements
Apply now for the TCADP Lobby Corps 
TCADP seeks new members for our unique Lobby Corps program. This dedicated group of volunteers works with our staff and board of directors to advance TCADP’s legislative agenda. Lobby Corps members played an active role in the last two Texas legislative sessions, meeting regularly with legislative offices and educating elected officials about the death penalty.  They have continued to build relationships with legislators and share information about important death penalty developments in between sessions. Learn more about this program and apply now.  Applications are due by Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Nominate an individual or organization for one of our 2017 Annual Awards
TCADP is also accepting nominations for our annual Courage, Appreciation, and Media Awards. With these awards, we recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that have made significant and selfless contributions towards ending the death penalty in Texas.  All award winners will be honored at the TCADP 2017 Annual Conference on February 18, 2017 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin. Nominations will be accepted until October 28, 2016.


In case you missed it
New report on “outlier counties” includes Harris County
A new report from the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School offers an in-depth look at how the death penalty is operating in the small handful of counties across the country that are still using it. Of the 3,143 county or county equivalents in the United States, only 16—or one half of one percent—imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015. Part I of the report, titled Too Broken to Fix: An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties, examined 10 years of court opinions and records from eight of these 16 “outlier counties,” including Harris County, Texas.  Learn more.

Some of the report findings were featured in the New York Times Magazine August 28th edition. Coverage of the Harris County findings is available from the Associated Press (via The Guardian) and an editorial from the Houston Chronicle, which reiterated the editorial board’s position in support of repealing the death penalty in Texas.

More legislators call for end of the death penalty
The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) has passed a resolution calling for the end of the death penalty in the United States. After reviewing the clear evidence of anti-Latino bias in the application of the death penalty, the high costs to taxpayers, and the ineffectiveness of capital punishment in reducing crime, Latino lawmakers called on Congress, and all states and localities to immediately repeal the death penalty. The resolution was overwhelmingly approved on a bipartisan basis.  Read the press release.

New national campaign: Death Penalty Fail
Last week, Death Penalty Fail released a series of videos promoting the facts, highlighting the inefficiencies, and pushing for repeal of the death penalty in the United States. One of the films –“A Conservative Concern” – features Pat Monks, a proud Texan Republican and former TCADP Board Member who meets other conservatives with first-hand experience with the death penalty system. Recent Texas exoneree, Alfred Dewayne Brown, is also featured in the film.  To learn more about Death Penalty Fail and to view the videos, visit http://deathpenaltyfail.org/.  You can also follow the campaign on Twitter: #deathpenaltyfail


Featured Events
Austin
TCADP will resume its bi-monthly luncheons on Tuesday, September 13th at noon at The Egg & I-Northcross (2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX). We’ll discuss the latest death penalty developments and upcoming initiatives. To RSVP, please email vanessa@tcadp.org.

University United Methodist Church (2409 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX) will host an event with Shane Claiborne on Thursday, September 29th at 7:00 PM. Shane will be discussing his latest book, Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us. Throughout the book, he tells stories of horrific pain and heroic grace.  He interviews victims of violent crimes, survivors of death row, lawyers, experts, and even an executioner, offering a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty.

Shane is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author.  He worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia.  He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.”

Dallas
TCADP will sponsor an information booth at the Dallas Pride Festival on Sunday, September 18th. If you are interested in volunteering at the TCADP table, please contact TCADP North Texas Outreach Coordinator Jason Redick at jason@tcadp.org.

TCADP will host “An Evening with Shane Claiborne: A Conversation on Executing Grace and Panel Discussion” on Tuesday, September 27th at White Rock United Methodist Church (1450 Oldgate Ln, Dallas, TX 75218). The event will begin at 7:00 PM. Please contact Jason at jason@tcadp.org for more information.

Fort Worth
TCADP will host “An Evening with Shane Claiborne: A Conversation on Executing Grace and Panel Discussion” on Wednesday, September 28th at Broadway Baptist Church (305 W Broadway Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104). The event will begin at 6:30 PM. Please contact Jason at jason@tcadp.org for more information.

Houston
Please join us on Thursday, September 8th at Westbury United Methodist Church (5200 Willowbend Blvd, Houston, TX 77096) for an exclusive screening of a new documentary film, “Last Day of Freedom,” and a discussion of our state’s experience with the death penalty over the last four decades with special guest, Craig Washington. Washington served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1973-1983, the Texas Senate from 1983-1989, and the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989-1995.  Since leaving Congress, Washington has practiced law in both Harris and Bastrop Counties.  The event will begin at 7:00 PM. All are welcome.

Statewide
The Texas Catholic Conference and the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas are sponsoring a free three-part webinar series, including an examination of the death penalty.  The death penalty webinar will take place on September 7 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. To register, please visit https://app.webinarjam.net/register/28133/caa2f78b54.