Archive | Charles Brooks

07 December 2014 ~ Comments Off

December 7, 1982

Thirty-two years ago today, the State of Texas officially resumed executions, putting Charlie Brooks to death for the 1976 murder of David Gregory.  That was also the nation’s first execution by lethal injection, a new method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.

All eyes were on Texas that day, much as they were this past week, as our state prepared to carry out the execution of Scott Panetti on December 3rd. Panetti, who has suffered from severe mental illness for more than 30 years, has a fixed delusion that Satan, working through the state, is trying to kill him for preaching the Gospel.  His case received an outpouring of support from mental health advocates, conservative leaders, faith leaders, Texas legislators, the American Bar Association, editorial boards, and many others.  As a headline on reason.com declared, “Social Pressure Works.”

Less than eight hours before his execution was scheduled to take place, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay in order to consider the “complex legal questions” surrounding Panetti’s competence to be executed.  Read this statement in response from Panetti’s incredible legal team, Greg Wiercioch of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Kathryn Kase of Texas Defender Service, who worked tirelessly to prevent this travesty of justice.

Since December 7, 1982, the State of Texas has executed 518 people; of these, 279 occurred during the administration of Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history.

Yet Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is moving away from the death penalty.  This year, the State of Texas carried out its fewest executions since 1996, putting 10 people to death. New death sentences also remain at much lower levels, largely relegated to a few counties statewide.  These trends and other developments in 2014 will appear in TCADP’s year-end report, which will be released later this month.

TCADP is grateful to everyone who joined with us to send the message that the execution of Scott Panetti would cross a moral line. Let’s hasten the day we mark the anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

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07 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

On this day in 1982…

Thirty-one years ago today, the State of Texas officially resumed executions, putting Charlie Brooks to death for the 1976 murder of David Gregory. That was also the nation’s first execution by lethal injection, a new method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.

Rev Carroll Pickett at Joe Byrd Cemetery at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas

Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as the chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, spent all day with Charlie Brooks and stood at the foot of the gurney as he was executed. In his memoir, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, he writes about the immediate aftermath of the execution: “All that remained was an air of stunned silence – testimony to the fact that none of those who had witnessed penal history being made had really been prepared for what they had seen.”
Earlier this year, Keith Brooks, the son of Charlie Brooks, Jr., spoke eloquently during the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703, which called for repeal of the death penalty.  He told legislators, “I was very affected by the execution of my father… It is time to be Texas bold and stop the death penalty.  Senseless killing begets senseless killing….  We are more mature now. We are modern now. Why would we consider an archaic system?”
Since 1982, the State of Texas has executed 508 people; 269 of these executions have occurred during the administration of Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history. This year, the State of Texas carried out 16 executions, a slight increase over last year and twice as many as any other state in the country.
Yet Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is moving away from the death penalty.  New death sentences remain at record-low levels, and death-qualified juries have rejected this punishment in more than 20 trials in the past six years.
Use of the death penalty has been relegated to a few jurisdictions statewide; in fact, just five counties account for 54% of new death sentences in the last six years. These trends and other developments in 2013 will appear in TCADP’s year-end report, which will be released later this month.
With your participation, TCADP is educating Texans about the fatal flaws of our state’s death penalty system and equipping our members to serve as powerful citizen advocates for abolition.
We are grateful for the contributions that so many of you have made already this year and ask for your additional support so that TCADP can continue to light the way to abolition.
Please join us in these efforts by making a special year-end, tax-deductible donation and hastening the day that we mark the anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.
Thank you for your generosity,
Kristin Houlé
TCADP Executive Director
p.s. Consider donating in memory or in honor of a friend or loved one. Go to www.tcadp.org/donate today to make a secure gift to TCADP.btn_donate

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30 April 2013 ~ Comments Off

Legislators hear from Anthony Graves, other witnesses in favor of death penalty repeal

Late last night, starting around 10:50 PM and lasting until after midnight, the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee considered testimony on House Bill 1703, the death penalty repeal bill by State Representative Jessica Farrar.  Representatives Alma Allen and Lon Burnam co-authored the bill.

Rep. Farrar addressed three major flaws of the death penalty: the risk of wrongful convictions; the cost of maintaining it; and the lack of a deterrent effect.

There was a lively discussion among legislators after the testimony of Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in prison – including 12 years on death row – for a crime he did not commit.  After being questioned by one legislator about why the death penalty wasn’t appropriate for those who are guilty of committing heinous crimes, Anthony responded with his own question: “How do we as human beings decide that we are going to give up on each other?”

The committee also heard from murder victim family members, religious leaders, and organizational representatives, and from Keith Brooks, the son of Charlie Brooks, the first person executed in Texas by lethal injection in 1982).  TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle testified on behalf of the organization, telling the committee that “the death penalty is no longer the status quo in Texas.”

In addition, the committee received written testimony in support of HB 1703 from Sam Millsap, the former District Attorney of Bexar County.

The bill has been left pending in committee.

You can find more quotes from witnesses and legislators’ responses on TCADP’s Twitter feed, @TCADPdotORG, and on Facebook.  Thanks to TCADP Program Coordinator Vicki McCuistion for capturing the spirit of the hearing!

Read an account of the hearing from the Associated Press, which provides additional insight into the committee members’ responses to witness testimony, and from Houston Public Radio.

You can also watch the video here (you will need RealPlayer).

lobby corps post-hearing on hb 1703

TCADP is deeply grateful to everyone who endured the long wait for the committee hearing to begin and for HB 1703 to be called, particularly all those who testified. A huge shout out also goes to the intrepid members of the TCADP Lobby Corps who attended the hearing and stayed with us until the very end, providing critical moral support.   Thank you!!

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07 December 2012 ~ Comments Off

Thirty Years Ago Today…

Thirty years ago today, December 7, 1982, the State of Texas officially resumed executions, putting Charlie Brooks to death for the 1976 murder of David Gregory.  That was also the nation’s first execution by lethal injection, a new method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.

Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as the chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, spent all day with Charlie Brooks and stood at the foot of the gurney as he was executed.  In his memoir, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, he writes about the immediate aftermath of the execution:  “All that remained was an air of stunned silence – testimony to the fact that none of those who had witnessed penal history being made had really been prepared for what they had seen.”

Since 1982, the State of Texas has executed 492 people; 253 of these executions have occurred during the administration of Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history.  This year, the State of Texas carried out 15 executions, a slight increase over last year and nearly three times as many as any other state in the country.

Yet Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is moving away from the death penalty.  New death sentences remain near record-low levels, and death-qualified juries have rejected this punishment in at least 18 trials in the past five years.

Use of the death penalty has been relegated to just a few jurisdictions statewide; in fact, only 11 counties in the entire state of Texas imposed new death sentences in the last two years.  These trends and other developments in 2012 appear in TCADP’s year-end report, scheduled to be released next week.

With your support, TCADP is educating Texans about the fatal flaws of our state’s death penalty system and equipping our members to serve as powerful citizen advocates for abolition.  Together, we are hastening the day that we mark the anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

Thank you for your support and steadfast commitment to this issue.

p.s. We had the pleasure of meeting Charlie’s son Keith in Dallas on Tuesday. Keith’s family is holding a memorial service today in Fort Worth for Charlie Brooks. The memorial will be held from 12 to 3:00 p.m. at the Riverside Community Center, 3700 Belknap Street, Fort Worth. The program will include lunch and reflections. Everyone is welcome.

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07 December 2011 ~ Comments Off

December 7, 1982

While most Americans are aware that today, December 7, is Pearl Harbor Day, here in Texas the date holds additional meaning.   On this day in 1982, the State of Texas officially resumed executions… six years after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld revised state death penalty statutes in the case of Gregg v. Georgia.  It is also the date that the nation’s first execution by lethal injection took place, when Charlie Brooks was put to death by a method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.

Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as the chaplain at the Walls Unit, spent all day with Charlie Brooks and stood at the foot of the gurney as he was executed.  In his memoir, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, he writes about the immediate aftermath of the execution:  “All that remained was an air of stunned silence – testimony to the fact that none of those who had witnessed penal history being made had really been prepared for what they had seen.”

Since 1982, the State of Texas has executed 477 people; 238 of those executions have occurred during the administration of Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history.  This year, the State of Texas carried out 13 executions, the lowest number since 1996 and 50% fewer than in 2007, but still twice as many as any other state in the country.

Yet Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is moving away from the death penalty. New death sentences remain at a record-low level, and death-qualified juries have rejected this punishment in at least 15 cases in the past five years.  Use of the death penalty has been relegated to just a few jurisdictions nationwide, and in Texas, only 10 counties (out of 254) in the entire state imposed new death sentences in the last two years.  These trends and other developments in 2011 appear in TCADP’s annual report, which will be released next week.

With your support, TCADP is increasing awareness about the realities of the death penalty and equipping you – the heart of our movement – to engage the citizens of Texas and our elected officials in dialogue about this critical issue.  We are grateful for the contributions that so many of you have made already this year.  We ask for your additional support so that TCADP can continue to spark dialogue on this issue and create the climate for change.

Please join us in these efforts by making a special year-end, tax-deductible donation and hastening the day that we mark the anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

Thank you for your generosity, and warm wishes for this holiday season.

p.s.  Please visit our secure, online donation system to make a special year-end gift in memory or in honor of a friend or loved one.  Go to www.tcadp.org/donate today!

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