TCADP October Alert: Support for death penalty falls to lowest level in 40 years

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: State of Texas set to resume executions this month
Announcements: Registration for the TCADP 2017 Annual Conference now open; last call for Lobby Corps applications and Annual Award nominations
In case you missed it: Public support for death penalty falls to lowest level in 40 years
Resources: Report looks at problems with appeals process in Texas; new book from attorney who represented Texas exonoree Alfred Dewayne Brown
Featured events: Special film screenings in Austin, Dallas and Houston
Can we count on you?  Support TCADP with your annual gift


Quote of the month
“Violence is the disease, not the cure.” – Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way and author of Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us.  Shane recently spoke to more than 350 people at events in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin.


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

  • Barney Fuller is scheduled to be executed on October 5 for the 2003 murders of his neighbors, Nathan and Annette Copeland, in Houston County. He has waived further appeals in his case.
  • On October 19, Terry Edwards is scheduled to be put to death for the robbery and murders of Subway employees Mickell Goodwin and Tommy Walker in 2002 in Dallas. In May 2015, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Edwards’ appeal that his Dallas County trial judge gave improper instructions to jurors during jury selection. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Edwards’ case in November 2015.

The State of Texas has put six people to death in 2016; the last execution occurred on April 6. Eight individuals have received stays.

There have been 15 executions nationwide, including six in Georgia. There is one more execution set to occur in Texas this year: Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to be put to death on November 2, 2016.

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


Announcements
Join us in Austin next February for the TCADP 2017 Annual Conference
The TCADP 2017 Annual Conference – “Moving to Higher Ground” – will take place on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin.  Online registration is now open!  Take advantage of pre-registration rates between now and February 8, 2017. Sponsorshipopportunities are also available.

We are delighted to announce that Brian Stolarz will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 Annual Conference!  Stolarz served as habeas corpus counsel to Alfred Dewayne Brown, who was exonerated in June 2015 after spending 10 years on Texas’ death row. Stolarz received the 2015 Light of Justice Award from the Texas Defender Service for his efforts to secure justice for Mr. Brown, and his work on the case has been profiled in The Washington Post and the Houston Chronicle, and on the Today Show.  Read about his forthcoming book, Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man, below, and watch this short film featuring Brian and Dewayne.

Seeking Lobby Corps applications and Annual Award nominations
TCADP is recruiting our fourth class of Lobby Corps members. This dedicated group of volunteers works with our staff and board members 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 our 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.  Submit your application by this Wednesday, October 5.

TCADP  also is 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 recipients will be honored during the awards luncheon at the TCADP 2017 Annual Conference on February 18, 2017 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin.  Submit your nominations by October 28.


In case you missed it
Public support for death penalty falls to lowest level in 40 years
The results of a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Centerreveals that only 49% of Americans now favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. Support has dropped 7 percentage points since March 2015, from 56%. Also, for the first time in decades, independents are as likely to oppose the use of the death penalty (45%) as they are to favor it (44%). The share of independents who support capital punishment has fallen 13 points since last year (from 57%).


Resources
New report examines flaws in death penalty appeals process
Last month, Texas Defender Service (TDS) released a new report, Lethally Deficient: Direct Appeals in Texas Death Penalty Cases, which looks at the death penalty direct appeals process and practice. The report found that this process is in dire need of reform and provides recommendations for improvement.  Read the press release from TDS and coverage of the report in the Austin American-Statesman.

New book by Brian Stolarz, attorney and friend of Alfred Dewayne Brown
Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man tells the story of Alfred Dewayne Brown, a man who spent over 12 years in prison (10 of them on Texas’ Death Row) for a crime he did not commit, and of his lawyer, Brian Stolarz, who dedicated his career and life to exonerating him. The book chronicles Brown’s extraordinary journey to freedom against very long odds, overcoming unscrupulous prosecutors, corrupt police, inadequate defense counsel, and a broken criminal justice system. Read more about Brian and the book.

Brian Stolarz is a Texas Defender Service Board Member, and he is donating all pre-publication sale proceeds of his book to TDS. Pre-order your copy of Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man by October 25and help support TDS, by visiting http://texasdefender.org/.


Featured events
Austin

The Restorative Justice Coalition of Central Texas will screen the film “Meeting with a Killer” on Tuesday, October 25 at Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar (1120 S Lamar Blvd). The film portrays a Victim-Offender Dialogue between a killer and two of his victim’s family members. It features Ellen Halbert and former TCADP Board Member Linda White and TCADP member Ami White. A panel discussion will follow the screening. The event will take place from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM. You can purchase tickets for $10 at the door or through Eventbrite. For more information, view the event flier here.

Dallas
As a part of their Common Reading Program, Southern Methodist University will host attorney Bryan Stevenson on Thursday, October 13th at McFarlin Auditorium (6405 Boaz Ln, Dallas, TX 75205). The event is free and will begin at 4:30 PM. For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/2d7kjbl.

TCADP North Texas Outreach Coordinator, Jason Redick, will have an information table at The 2016 SBC21 National Prison Summit on Mass Incarceration. The Summit takes place from Thursday, October 27th to Saturday, October 29th at Concord Church Dallas (6808 Pastor Bailey Dr, Dallas, TX 75237).

Starting Friday, October 28th, the film “An Eye for an Eye” will be screening at AMC Grapevine Mills 30 Grapevine Mills (3150 Grapevine Mills Pkwy, Grapevine, TX 76051). Filmmaker Ilan Ziv first met Mark Stroman on Texas’ death row in 2004, two years after his capital murder conviction for a murderous rampage in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks. An Eye for an Eye is a riveting human drama of revenge, change and forgiveness, and of the surprising friendship that developed between the Israeli-born filmmaker and Mark Stroman, who by his own admission had never travelled beyond Dallas, let alone Texas.

Houston
Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005) will host Brian W. Stolarz, author of Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man on Wednesday, October 26th at 7:00 PM.

Starting Friday, October 28th, the film “An Eye for an Eye” will be screening at AMC Studio 30 (2949 Dunvale Rd, Houston, TX 77063).  See description above for more information about the film.

San Antonio
On Tuesday, October 4th, TCADP will host an organizing meeting from 6:30PM to 7:30PM in the Labyrinth Room at Travis Park United Methodist Church (230 E Travis St, San Antonio, TX 78205). Join us to learn more about TCADP’s current initiatives, plan future activities and public education events, and meet other members in the area. Free parking is available in all city parking facilities.  To RSVP, please contact Vanessa at vanessa@tcadp.org.

More details on these and other events are available at www.tcadp.org.