Archive | death penalty

03 August 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP’s 2015 August Alert: Death penalty continues to fall out of favor

TCADP’s 2015 August Alert: Death penalty continues to fall out of favor

In this edition:

Scheduled executions and case updates: Back-to-back executions scheduled to take place in Texas next week

In case you missed it: How one Texas death penalty case raised taxes; the latest editorial from the Dallas Morning News

Last call for applications: TCADP seeks North Texas Outreach Coordinator

Upcoming events: New episode of CNN’s “Death Row Stories” will focus on wrongful execution in Texas

Support TCADP: Become a Sustaining Member today!


Scheduled executions and case updates
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute three people this month:

  • Daniel Lopez is scheduled to be executed on August 12. He was convicted of striking and killing 20-year veteran Corpus Christi Police Department Lt. Stuart Alexander with his truck while the officer was laying down spike strips to stop Lopez’s vehicle during a high-speed chase in March 2009.  Earlier this year, the 5th Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Lopez is competent to waive his appeals. He has requested several times that the courts expedite his execution date. At least 28 individuals on death row in Texas have been put to death after deciding to forego further appeals in their cases.
  • Tracy Beatty is scheduled to be executed on August 13 for the 2003 slaying of his 62-year-old mother, Carolyn Click, in Smith County.  He would be the second person from Smith County put to death this year.
  • Bernardo Aban Tercero, a national of Nicaragua, is scheduled to be executed on August 26. He was convicted of robbing a dry cleaning store and murdering customer Robert Keith Berger in 1997 in Houston. Tercero argued the shooting was an accident. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2014.

The State of Texas accounts for half of the 18 executions that have occurred nationwide to date in 2015.  At least six more executions are scheduled to take place this year.

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

Other case updates
We learned this morning that Cathy Henderson, who spent nearly 20 years on death row in Texas, died over the weekend in a hospital in Austin.  She was convicted of capital murder in the death of three-month-old Brandon Baugh in 1994. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Henderson’s conviction in 2012 based on scientific advances that cast doubt upon expert testimony about the baby’s cause of death.  Henderson maintained it was an accident.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office planned to retry Henderson this fall on capital murder charges but did not intend to seek another death sentence. On June 12, however, Henderson pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  According to the Austin American-Statesman, she could have been released in four years with credit for time served. Henderson was just two days away from being executed in 2007 when the Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay and ordered an evidentiary hearing.

Earlier this summer we learned of the death of John Matamoros.  According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, he died of natural causes on June 12, 2015 while still on death row.  He was convicted of the murder of Edward George Goebel during a 1990 home burglary in Houston.


In case you missed it
Ron Paul’s statements ring true 
In a June opinion column, former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul called the death penalty “the ultimate corrupt, big government program.” He went on to say, “It is hard to find a more wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty.” To support his statements, Paul referred to a costly case in Jasper County which resulted in higher taxes. PolitiFact Texas checked the claim and found it was indeed true. Read the full report from Politifact as well as the original column from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Still no new death sentences in Texas in 2015
Last week, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial, “Living without the death penalty in Texas,” regarding declining use of the death penalty in Texas.  The piece features excerpts from an interview with former District Attorney and TCADP 2015 Annual Conference keynote speaker Tim Cole.

The editorial asserts that the death penalty is falling out of favor both with juries and prosecutors and cites the growing list of wrongfully convicted men in Texas as one reason for the shift. Cost and geography also play a role, as explained by Cole: “It comes down to the call of a single elected official whose annual budget may or may not bear the expense of a murder trial.” Read the full editorial, as well as an opinion piece by Cole on this topic that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


TCADP seeks North Texas Outreach Coordinator
TCADP is still accepting applications for our new North Texas Outreach Coordinator position.  We seek a motivated and experienced individual to develop and implement a campaign aimed at reducing use of the death penalty in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. Apply by August 17th.


Upcoming events
“Death Row Stories”
The next episode of “Death Row Stories” on CNN will focus on the case of Ruben Cantu, who was executed by the State of Texas on August 24, 1993. Cantu’s conviction was based largely on the testimony of a single eyewitness who later changed his story.  Cantu was 17 years old at the time of the crime.  (The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders until 2015.) The episode is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday, August 9th at 10pm across all time zones.  We expect to see interviews with several TCADP Advisory Board members who are intimately connected to this case.

Conferences
TCADP will participate in the following conferences this month as part of our community outreach efforts:

El Paso Meeting
The next monthly meeting of El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty will take place on Tuesday, August 25 at 7 pm in the Pedro Maldonado Room at St. Pius X Church, 1050 N. Clark.  Members will be planning fall activities, including outreach to interfaith groups and elected officials.


Support TCADP
Thanks to everyone who has contributed towards our summer fundraising campaign. We are delighted to report we have raised $2,430 towards our goal of $2,500.  Your gift today will put us over the top!

Consider taking your support to the next level by becoming a TCADP Sustaining Member.  Sustaining Members pledge an annual gift that recurs every year on the day of your choosing.

Another easy way to support TCADP is through Amazon Smile. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us, as long as you designate TCADP as your charitable organization of choice.  Over the last year, we’ve raised nearly $200 through this program. This covers the cost of our participation in the conferences listed above.

Thank you for standing with us as we shift the ground under the death penalty in Texas!

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02 July 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP’s July Alert: No death sentences in Texas in first half of the year

TCADP’s July Alert: No death sentences in Texas in first half of the year

In this edition:

Commentary: 39 years since Gregg v. Georgia

Scheduled executions: State of Texas prepared to carry out 10th execution of the year

Recent death penalty developments: New death sentences continue to decline in Texas

In case you missed it: TCADP seeks a North Texas Outreach Coordinator; prosecutor responsible for Anthony Graves’ wrongful conviction disbarred

New resources: TCADP’s updated interactive map of the death penalty by county; “Faces of Death Row” from the Texas Tribune; “The Last 40 Miles” now available online

Upcoming events: Film screenings in Austin (tonight!) and El Paso


Commentary: 39 years since Gregg v. Georgia

On this day in 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court found that new laws crafted by several states (including Texas) “promised” to make the death penalty process fairer and less arbitrary.  The Court’s decision in Gregg vs. Georgia declared the death penalty constitutional and paved the way for the resumption of executions less than a year later.

Just four years earlier, the Court overturned all existing death penalty laws in the case of Furman vs. Georgia (June 29, 1972), ruling that the administration of the death penalty was arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory.  At the time, Justice Potter Stewart said death sentences were as cruel and unusual as being “struck by lightning.”

These historic decisions are particularly noteworthy in light of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling earlier this week in Glossip v. Gross, in which the majority found that Oklahoma’s use of the drug midazolam in its lethal injection protocol does not violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

This ruling is at odds with recent momentum towards abolition of the death penalty. People across the political spectrum increasingly agree that the death penalty is broken beyond repair, regardless of how we carry out executions or what drugs are used.

In his dissent in Glossip, Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Ginsburg, notes that race, gender, and geography often impact the application of the death penalty, rather than the circumstances of the crime itself.  This certainly has been the case in Texas, where just five counties account for 60% of new death sentences imposed over the last five years.

Justice Breyer goes on to write that America’s experience with capital punishment over the past 40 years and his 20 years on the Court have led him to believe “that the death penalty, in and of itself, now likely constitutes a legally prohibited ‘cruel and unusual punishmen[t].’” Read more from Politico.

Read the Court’s opinion, including the dissents, here.

We know that the death penalty is as arbitrary and discriminatory today as it was in 1972, and the promise of fairness that allowed for its return in 1976 has not been fulfilled.  Thank you for standing with us as we continue to expose the flaws and failures of this broken, irreversible and unjust system.


Scheduled Executions

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

  • Clifton Williams has spent the last nine years on death row and is scheduled for execution on July 16, 2015. He was convicted of murdering 93-year-old Cecelia Schneider from Tyler in her home and stealing her purse and vehicle in 2005.  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal in April 2015.

Texas accounts for 9 of the 17 executions that have occurred nationwide to date this year.  At least five more people are scheduled to be executed by the end of October.

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


Recent death penalty developments

It has now been more than six months since jurors in Texas imposed a new death sentence.  The last person sentenced to death was Eric Williams, on December 17, 2014.  This is the first time in at least 20 years that the state has gone more than six months without a new death sentence.  And, according to Kathryn Kase at Texas Defender Service, it’s also the longest we’ve gone in a calendar year without a new death sentence. Overall, new death sentences in Texas have declined nearly 80% since 1999.  Read more from the Texas Tribune“A Shrinking Death Row.”

Take action! Help us spread the word about the fact that no one has been sentenced to death in Texas to date this year and prosecutors and jurors are accepting alternatives to the death penalty.  Submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper with your thoughts about what this means for the future of the death penalty in Texas or the arbitrariness of its application. Please contact Kristin or Vanessa with questions on how to submit a letter.


In case you missed it

TCADP seeks North Texas Outreach Coordinator
TCADP seek a motivated and experienced individual to implement a campaign to  reduce use of the death penalty in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. The North Texas Outreach Coordinator, a new part-time position based in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, will identify and engage community leaders, as well as reach out to key constituencies, decision makers, and organizational allies.  Apply by August 17, 2015.

Former District Attorney disbarred
On June 12, 2015, Charles Sebesta, a 25-year practicing District Attorney of Burleson and Washington Counties, was disbarred by the State Bar of Texas after being found guilty of “professional misconduct.”  Sebesta was the prosecutor behind the wrongful conviction of Anthony Graves. During Graves’ trial, he withheld critical information from the defense and allowed witnesses to give false testimony. In response to Sebesta’s disbarment, Graves said, “I have waited 20-plus years for complete justice and freedom. … No one who makes it a goal to send a man to death row without evidence — and worse, while hiding evidence of my innocence — deserves to be a lawyer in Texas.”

For more information, please refer to articles from The Texas Tribune and the Associated Press.

Anthony Graves was also recently appointed to the Houston Forensic Science Center’s Board of Directors. “Because I was wrongfully convicted, and I know how the system failed, this appointment allows me to bring a fresh perspective to the board, because I can tell you about the pitfalls,” he said.


New resources

“The Last 40 Miles” now streaming
“The Last 40 Miles” is now available online!  This animated short film presents an inmate’s last journey from Livingston to Huntsville and his interactions with a compassionate guard along the way.  Journalist and 2015 TCADP Media Awardwinner Alex Hannaford created “The Last 40 Miles” alongside a talented group of filmmakers. Utilizing several groundbreaking animation techniques, the award-winning film forces viewers to confront the death penalty from a unique perspective.  You can rent the film for $3 for a 48-hour streaming period by downloading it on Vimeo.

Alex also recently completed a four-part series for the Texas Observer, “Letters from Death Row.“  Read the entire series.

Interactive tools provide in-depth look at the death penalty 

The Texas Tribune recently released “Faces of Death Row,” an interactive list of individuals currently on death row in Texas. The list can be manipulated by years on death row, race, age, and gender.  Each inmate’s conviction date, summary of crime, and county of crime are provided. The Tribunewill continue to update the list as needed.

TCADP has just updated and published its interactive map presenting the application of the death penalty by county from 1976 to date in 2015. The map includes the number of death sentences and executions for every county in Texas.


Upcoming events 

Austin: As part of the Controversy and Conversation: Difficult Dialogues Film Series, “At the Death House Door” will be screened at the Terrazas Branch of the Austin Public Library (1105 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702) on Thursday, July 2nd at 7:00 PM.  TCADP Board Vice President Mike Renquist will take part in a Q & A session following the film.

“At the Death House Door” is told through the eyes of Rev. Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the Texas death house chaplain in Huntsville. During Rev. Pickett’s remarkable career and personal journey, he witnessed over 95 executions, including the nation’s first lethal injection. After each execution, he recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber.

El Paso: There will be a screening of the film series “One For Ten” on Sunday, July 12th at 3:00 PM, at the Mother Teresa Center (2400 Yandell).  A team of four traveled across the United States and interviewed ten individuals who have been freed from death row. Each of the films profiles a major issue in wrongful convictions highlighted through an individual case. This event is co-sponsored by Pax Christi El Paso and the Peace and Justice Ministry of the Diocese of El Paso.

Houston: TCADP Board President Angelle Adams will be speaking with the Houston Church of Free Thought on Sunday, July 12th at 10:30 AM. The meeting will take place at Hotel Indigo (5160 Hidalgo St, Houston, TX 77056).  All are welcome.

Thank you for your commitment to ending the death penalty in Texas!

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01 June 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP June 2015 Alert: Nebraska repeals the death penalty; implications for other states

TCADP June 2015 Alert: Nebraska repeals the death penalty; implications for other states

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Only Texas and Missouri carrying out executions this summer

Advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature: Session officially concludes at midnight tonight

In the news: Nebraska abolishes the death penalty!

In case you missed it: The demise of the death penalty… “even in Texas”

Upcoming events: Attend these gatherings in Austin, El Paso and Houston

Seeking Organizational Affiliates: Are you part of a group or organization that supports our mission to end the death penalty in Texas?

Scheduled Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to put two people to death this month:

  • After 31 years on death row, Lester Bower Jr. is scheduled to be executed on June 3, 2015. He was convicted of the shooting deaths of four men – Jerry Brown, Bob Tate, Philip Good and Ronald Mayes – at an ultra-light airplane hangar near Sherman in 1983.  In February, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Bower’s execution but later declined to consider his appeal.Sentenced to death in Grayson County in 1984, Bower, now 67, is one of the state’s longest serving death row inmates.  If his execution proceeds, he will be the oldest man put to death in Texas. Bower, a former chemical salesman with no prior criminal history, has consistently maintained his innocence.  Read more in his recent interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  • Gregory Russeau is scheduled to be put to death on June 18, 2015. He was convicted of robbing and fatally beating 75-year-old James Syvertson at his Tyler auto-repair shop in 2001.

Texas accounts for 7 of the 14 executions nationwide to date in 2015.  At this time, Missouri is the only other state scheduled to carry out executions; it accounts for three excutions this year.

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

Legislative Advocacy
TCADP would like to thank all of our supporters – particularly our dedicated Lobby Corps members – for your advocacy efforts during the 84th Texas Legislature, which will officially conclude tonight at midnight.  While legislation to repeal the death penalty did not advance this year, lawmakers passed several important criminal justice reform bills, including establishing an innocence commission to examine cases of wrongful convictions in Texas, increasing access to post-conviction DNA testing, and overhauling the grand jury system, among others.

Regrettably, legislators also passed a bill that will keep secret the identity of any entity providing the drugs used in Texas executions.  The bill has been signed by Governor Greg Abbott and will go into effect on September 1, 2015.

Read more about our efforts this session.

In the News
Nebraska repeals the death penalty
Last week, Nebraska became the 19th U.S. state to abandon the death penalty.  Legislators successfully overrode Governor Pete Rickett’s veto of LB 268, a bill that replaces the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole. Nebraska is the first conservative state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years.

TCADP congratulates our good friends at Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, especially Executive Director Stacy Anderson, our colleagues at Equal Justice USA, Senator Ernie Chambers, who sponsored this legislation for the last 40 years, and everyone who worked so hard on this campaign.

Read this editorial from the Dallas Morning News“Red, red Nebraska moves to abolish the death penalty,” regarding the significance of this vote and the critical role conservatives played.  Also worth a read:

The American Spectator: “Nebraska Repeals the Death Penalty”

Omaha World-Herald: “One Nebraska state senator’s long, hard journey from death penalty backer to execution opponent”

The Atlantic: “How Nebraska Banned the Death Penalty”

Other statements against the death penalty
The 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, which met last week in Houston, passed a resolution that calls upon all local churches, clergy members and lay members of the Annual Conference to work toward repeal of the death penalty in Texas.  Read the full text of the resolution and watch a short video by TCADP Board Member Rev. Susan Buchanan, who introduced the resolution.  Congratulations and thank you, Susan!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation also weighed in recently on the death penalty.  Read this statement by Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

In case you missed it
A number of recent articles and opinion pieces have noted declining use of the death penalty in Texas, particularly the reduction in new death sentences.  Here are some of our favorites:

Columnist Steve Blow: “Even in tough-on-crime Texas, death penalty convictions decline” (May 8, 2015, Dallas Morning News)

Professor Austin Sarat: “Are we witnessing the demise of the death penalty?” (May 15, 2015, Dallas Morning News)

Editor-at-large David Von Drehle: “The Death of the Death Penalty” (June 2015, TIME Magazine)

Follow TCADP on social media for links to other important news items and opinion pieces.

Upcoming Events
Austin: TCADP will host its bi-monthly luncheon on Tuesday, June 16th with special guest, journalist Jordan Smith. The gathering will start at noon at The Clay Pit (1601 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701). Street parking is available on 15th, 16th & 17th Streets. Please RSVP with an email to vanessa@tcadp.org.

Jordan Smith is a state and national award-winning investigative journalist. She covered criminal justice issues and reproductive health for The Austin Chronicle for more than 13 years. During her time with the Chronicle, Jordan developed a reputation as a resourceful and dogged reporter with a talent for analyzing complex social and legal issues, and is regarded as one of the best investigative reporters in Texas. Her work has also appeared in The NationThe Crime Report, and Salon, among other places.  She now reports for The Intercept.

Read Jordan’s recent article, “Why Is It So Easy for States to Execute the Mentally Ill?”

Houston: TCADP’s Houston Chapter will sponsor an information table at the Houston Pride Festival on Saturday, June 27th from 12 to 7 PM. Contact Nancy Bailey at houston@tcadp.org to volunteer.

El Paso: El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, a chapter of TCADP, meet on the last Tuesday of the month.  The next meeting will take place at 7 PM on June 30th at St. Pius X Church in the Pedro Maldonado Room (1050 North Clark Drive). For more information, please contact Pat Delgado at phdelgado@hotmail.com.

Seeking Organizational Affiliates
A list of TCADP’s Organizational Affiliates is now available online. Currently, 20 organizations statewide, including faith communities and civic organizations, have pledged to publicly support our efforts to end the death penalty and invite their members to become involved.  Are you part of a group that should be on this list?  Download and mail in this form.

Thank you for supporting our efforts!

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04 May 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP May 2015 Alert: “The death penalty has worn out its welcome.”

TCADP May 2015 Alert: “The death penalty has worn out its welcome.”

In this edition:
-Scheduled executions: Six executions; six stays to date in 2015
-Advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature: House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee considers testimony on abolition bill
-In the news: A District Attorney’s rationale for not seeking the death penalty plus “87 Reasons To Rethink the Death Penalty”
-In case you missed it: Recent articles from the Huffington Post on Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and the toll the death penalty takes on those involved in executions; TCADP’s Spring 2015 newsletter
-Upcoming events: Calling all members in Houston and El Paso!

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

• Derrick Charles is scheduled to be put to death on May 12, 2015. He was convicted of killing his 15-year-old girlfriend, Myiesha Bennett, her mother Brenda Bennett, and her grandfather, Obie Lee Bennett in 2002 in Harris County. Charles was 19 years old at the time.

The State of Texas has carried out six executions to date in 2015. Two individuals scheduled to be executed last month – Robert Pruett and Richard Vasquez – received stays of execution. Six people have received stays of execution this year, although the stay granted to Lester Bower by the U.S. Supreme Court has been lifted and his execution has been rescheduled for June 3, 2015. At this time, no executions have been scheduled past June 18, 2015.

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

Advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature
“The death penalty has worn out its welcome.” That’s the message Anthony Graves delivered to members of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence during his testimony last week in support of House Bill 1527. The hearing on HB 1527 – State Representative Jessica Farrar’s abolition bill – took place on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Anthony went on to tell the committee the death penalty does not work and what happened to him and his family should concern all of us.

The committee also heard powerful testimony from these individuals and organizational representatives:

• Grant Jones, who served as the District Attorney for Nueces, Kleberg and Kenedy Counties from 1983 to 1991
• Bishop Joe A. Wilson, who served as Bishop of the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, headquartered in Fort Worth, from 1992 to 2000, and as Bishop-in-Residence at Southwestern University in Georgetown from 2001 to 2013
• TCADP Board Member Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood
• TCADP Lobby Corps member Rev. John Yeaman and TCADP member Alison Dieter
• Patrick Ryan, Communications Director for the Texas Catholic Conference
• Joshua Houston, General Counsel/Director of Government Affairs for Texas Impact
• TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé

We are grateful to Rep. Farrar and her wonderful staff for their hard work on last week’s hearing. We also extend our gratitude to all of our witnesses, to the two-dozen individuals who registered in favor of the bill, to the TCADP Board Members and Lobby Corps members who attended the hearing, and to everyone who contacted members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence to express their support for ending the death penalty in Texas.

HB 1527 was left pending. You can watch a recording of the committee hearing online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/84/. Scroll down until you find the listing for the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on April 29th. Testimony on HB 1527 began around 5:30 PM that day.

In the news
“In his own words: DA Alan Nash talks about the decision to not seek death for Eddie Routh”
Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash recently provided his reasons for seeking life without parole rather than the death penalty for Eddie Routh. In February, a jury convicted Routh of the murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

Simply put, Nash did not seek the death penalty because, [he did] “not believe the higher courts will ever allow Routh to actually be executed.” Due to Routh’s mental illness and military service, Nash felt a death sentence would only be “symbolic.” He cites time as another reason: “trial in a death penalty case would have taken at least eight, likely up to 12 weeks…non-death trial—[takes] two and a half weeks.”

Nash also brings up the costs to counties during and after death penalty trials: “if a jury imposed the death penalty—the appeal process takes an average of 10 to 15 years [and] the county must foot most of the [defendant’s] attorney, psychiatrist, and other bills.” To read the piece in its entirety in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, please visit http://bit.ly/1GUQQtA.

“87 Reasons To Rethink the Death Penalty” & “Put Yourself in the Jury Box”
On May 4, Stephanie Mencimer, writer for Mother Jones, published two companion articles highlighting information from “The Failure of Mitigation,” a study published in the Hastings Law Journal last year. Mencimer’s articles and “The Failure of Mitigation” focus on 100 recent executions and the requirement of extreme culpability. When looking at the histories, Mencimer points out, “the files are full of stories about men who were fed alcohol as toddlers, beaten brutally as children, shot at by stepfathers, abandoned by psychotic or drug-addicted parents, sexually abused… details of these cases make for painful reading, but they go a long way toward helping explain what makes someone a killer.” For the full articles, please visit http://bitly.com/1E8TSGc and http://bit.ly/1FKTymx.

In case you missed it
“America’s death row population is shrinking”
Recently the Pew Research Center released information showing positive trends for the abolition movement. Death row populations continue to drop and death sentences are decreasing nationwide.

“This Is What It Feels Like To Spend Your Life Working On Death Row”
TCADP Advisory Board Member, Rev. Carroll “Bud” Pickett, was featured in a Huffington Post article profiling four people involved in the death penalty system. Rev. Pickett explains the toll the process takes on all involved: “standing by the gurney almost 100 times, and watching innocent men killed, watching repentant men killed, and seeing the pain among families and men and my employee friends, cannot leave my memories.”

“More Conservatives Are Coming Out Against The Death Penalty”
Another recent Huffington Post article highlights the views and efforts of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCADP). Marc Hyden, Coordinator for CCADP, says he often hears a similar confession from fellow conservatives: “I’ve been against the death penalty for 30 years…I just never told anyone.”

Seizing the Momentum: TCADP’s Spring 2015 Newsletter now available online
The Spring 2015 issue of our quarterly newsletter, Seizing the Momentum, is now available online. In this issue, you’ll learn about TCADP’s Faith Leader Advocacy Day and release of the Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty. You can also read two participants’ experiences on lobby day, meet our new board members, and find out more about our Lobby Corps members.

Upcoming Events
*Tomorrow* TCADP’s Houston Chapter will meet on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 7 PM at Central Market (3815 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77027). TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé will give an update on the current legislative session and discuss TCADP’s future plans. The chapter meets every other month on the 1st Tuesday of the month, starting in January.

El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, a chapter of TCADP, meet on the last Tuesday of the month. The next meeting will take place at 7 PM on May 26, 2015 at St. Pius X Church in the Pedro Maldonado Room (1050 North Clark Drive). For more information, please contact Pat Delgado at phdelgado@hotmail.com.

Thank you for supporting TCADP!

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22 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Richard Vasquez

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Richard Vasquez

On April 21, 2015 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Richard Vasquez, scheduled to take place April 23rd. In their appeal to the court, Vasquez’s attorneys contended new research on shaken baby syndrome and head injuries debunks testimony from prosecution experts at his 1999 trial. Vasquez was originally scheduled for execution on January 15, 2015, but the execution was rescheduled because the Governor was out of the state.

Read more about the ruling from the Houston Chronicle.
Read more about Richard Vasquez’s case from the Austin Chronicle.

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16 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Manuel Garza Jr.

State of Texas executes Manuel Garza Jr.

The State of Texas carried out its sixth execution of the year on April 15, 2015. Manuel Garza Jr., 34, was put to death for the 2001 murder of 37-year-old San Antonio SWAT Officer John “Rocky” Riojas.

Garza is among the 42 individuals convicted in Bexar County who have been executed.  This puts the county, which includes San Antonio, only behind Harris and Dallas Counties when it comes to executions in Texas.  No one has been sentenced to death by a Bexar County jury since 2009.

Read more about his case from the Huffington Post and The Guardian.

We appreciate everyone who participated in vigils last night.

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13 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Kent Sprouse

State of Texas executes Kent Sprouse

The State of Texas carried out its fifth execution of the year on April 9, 2015. Kent Sprouse, 42, was put to death for the 2002 murders of a 28-year-old Texas cop and a 38-year-old gas station customer.  Sprouse is one of only two executions from Ellis county. Read more about Sprouse from the Huffington Post.

We appreciate everyone who participated in vigils.

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23 March 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Randall Mays

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Randall Mays

One week ago the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Randall Mays, scheduled to take place on March 18th. The court agreed with Mays’ lawyers that additional review is needed to determine if Mays is mentally competent for execution.
Texas’ highest court will now give the case a deeper look before issuing an opinion or further order.

Read more about the ruling from the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman.

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