Archive | death penalty

02 April 2014 ~ Comments Off

TCADP April Alert: Executions Continue in Texas with New Drug Supply, More Secrecy

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
Featured Events
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out three executions this month, using a newly obtained supply of pentobarbital. Late last week, a state judge ordered the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to disclose the source of the new drug supply, rejecting arguments that such information should be kept secret because of “security concerns.” On Friday, however, the Texas Supreme Court blocked the judge’s order and stopped the release of information to attorneys for two inmates scheduled for execution in April. Further litigation and appeals are pending.

  • On April 3, Tommy Lynn Sells is scheduled to be put to death for attacking two young girls at a home near Del Rio in Val Verde County in 1999.  Thirteen-year-old Kaylene Harris, was killed; her 11-year-old friend, Krystal Surles, survived and testified against him. Sells is the only person convicted in Val Verde County on death row.
  •  Ramiro Hernandez Llanas is scheduled to be executed on April 9 for murdering his employer, Kerr County ranch owner Glen Lich, and sexually assaulting Lich’s wife in 1997. Hernandez Llanas is a Mexican national who grew up next to a garbage dump, where his family collected and sold trash to survive. His trial, which was moved to Bandera County, lasted two days; the jury took five minutes to convict him. According to Amnesty International, his low IQ scores and evidence of his adaptive functioning deficits have been rejected by the courts, despite a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits the death penalty for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  The prosecution’s expert, who had never met Hernandez Llanas, asserted that his “adaptive behavior is in keeping with his cultural group.”  Read more from Amnesty International and take action today.
  • On April 16, Jose Luis Villegas, Jr. is scheduled to be executed for stabbing to death three people – his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Erida Perez Salazar, her 3-year-old son, Jacob Salazar, and her 51-year-old mother, Alma Perez – in 2001 in Corpus Christi. He reportedly then stole from the family to buy drugs.

Stay tuned to TCADP for further developments on these cases and the lethal injection lawsuit. For a comprehensive look at the status of lethal injection challenges in other states, check out this article from USA Today.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Death Penalty Developments
Amnesty International releases annual report on worldwide executions.140 Countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Amnesty’s report highlights that Iran and Iraq caused a sharp global spike in the number of executions carried out in 2013, bucking the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

The USA was once again the only country to carry out executions in the Americas, although four fewer people (39) were put to death in 2013 compared with 2012. The state of Texas accounted for 41% of all executions. Meanwhile, Maryland became the 18th US state to abolish the death penalty. Several Greater Caribbean states reported empty death rows for the first time since Amnesty International began keeping records in 1980.

Despite the increase in executions in 2013, there has been a steady decline in the number of countries using the death penalty over the last 20 years, and there was progress in all regions last year.

Many countries who executed in 2012 did not implement any death sentences in 2013, including Gambia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, where authorities again suspended the use of the death penalty. Belarus also refrained from executions, meaning Europe and Central Asia were execution-free for the first time since 2009.

Twenty years ago, 37 countries actively implemented the death penalty. This number fell to 25 by 2004 and was at 22 last year. Only nine countries have carried out executions every year for the past five years.
More information and the full report can be found at the link.

Featured Events

“The Last 40 Miles” at Dallas International Film Festival
“The Last 40 Miles”, an innovative and compelling animated short film, will be shown during the Dallas International Film Festival.
  • Monday, April 7, 7:00 PM at the Angelika Film Center (5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, Dallas)
  • Tuesday, April 8, 9:30 PM at the Angelika Film Center

In the film, Raymond, a condemned man, takes his last journey from his solitary cell on death row in Livingston to the execution chamber 40 miles away in Huntsville, Texas. During the journey – his third such trip to the death house – his memories, the unexpected warmth of the guard escorting him, and his ever-present hope keep him company. Watch the trailer here.

Buy tickets for one of the screenings here (tickets are $12 and can be picked up on site). The film will be shown as part of the Animated Shorts Competition. Please let us know if you attend a screening and what you think of the film. Invite your friends and family members to go with you! Visit http://diff2014.dallasfilm.org to learn more about the festival.

“Trial of Jesus” to be held at Manchaca United Methodist Church, Sunday, April 13 at 2:00pm.
In this powerful presentation, two Christian attorneys, Mark Osler and Jeanne Bishop, stage a mock death penalty trial of Jesus based on current Texas law. The unscripted courtroom drama features legal arguments and live witnesses testifying about whether Jesus should live or die. A judge presides and the audience is the jury.

Mark Osler is the author of Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment. A former federal prosecutor, he teaches criminal law and sentencing at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.

Jeanne Bishop is a felony trial attorney with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago and an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy at Northwestern University School of Law. She is also the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was murdered with her husband and their unborn child in 1990.

All are welcome.  For More Information call: 512-282-7274 www.ManchacaUMC.org  Download Flyer to Share.

Houston TCADP meeting features Dana Lynn Recer of GRACE
All Houston area supporters are invited to an evening meeting to be held Thursday, April 24 at Freed Montrose Library, 4100 Montrose, Houston, 6:00-8:00pm.  Dana Lynn Recer of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) will speak about death penalty trials and the work of GRACE. Download Flyer to Share.

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

April

3 Scheduled execution – Tommy Sells, 6:00pm. NEW Vigil on days of Executions – 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio, El Paso (downtown, on San Antonio, between Mesa and Campbell Streets)
5 TCADP information table at the Texas Junior State of America convention, Houston
7-8 “The Last 40 Miles” film showing at Angelika Theater in Dallas
9 Scheduled execution – Ramiro Hernandez, 6:00pm Act Now!
12 Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty information table at Young Americans for Liberty Texas Convention, Texas State University 9:00am-7:00pm.  *Volunteers needed to assist with table, please contact info@tcadp.org.
13 “Trial of Jesus” at Manchaca UMC, 2:00pm (Palm Sunday)
16 Scheduled execution – Jose Villegas, 6:00pm
24 Houston TCADP meeting at Freed Montrose Library, 4100 Montrose, Houston, 6:00-8:00pm.
29 El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty meeting at 7:00pm in the Mother Teresa Room of St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N Clark St, El Paso.  elpaso@tcadp.org

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions.

*For more information about these events or to volunteer to staff a table at an outreach event, email info@tcadp.org.

Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today!

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26 March 2014 ~ Comments Off

“Last 40 Miles” at Dallas International Film Festival

I was thrilled to hear that “The Last 40 Miles”, an innovative and compelling animated short film, will be shown next month during the Dallas International Film Festival. I hope you will have a chance to attend one of two screenings:

  • Monday, April 7, 7:00 PM at the Angelika Film Center (5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, Dallas)
  • Tuesday, April 8, 9:30 PM at the Angelika Film Center

In the film, Raymond, a condemned man, takes his last journey from his solitary cell on death row in Livingston to the execution chamber 40 miles away in Huntsville, Texas. During the journey – his third such trip to the death house – his memories, the unexpected warmth of the guard escorting him, and his ever-present hope keep him company.

I was privileged to attend a viewing party for the film last December and can tell you that this short film, which is based on a true story, truly packs a powerful punch.

Watch the trailer here.

Buy tickets for one of the screenings here (tickets are $12 and can be picked up on site). The film will be shown as part of the Animated Shorts Competition.

Please let us know if you attend a screening and what you think of the film. Invite your friends and family members to go with you!

Questions? Email me at khoule@tcadp.org or visit http://diff2014.dallasfilm.org to learn more about the festival.

Best wishes,
Kristin

DFW Opportunities This Week!
Wednesday, March 26 Collin County meeting 7pm at Suncreek UMC, Allen. Meeting will include watching an episode of Robert Redford’s new series on CNN – “Death Row Stories.” Email collincounty@tcadp.org for questions.

Thursday, March 27 Scheduled Execution – Anthony Doyle, 6:00pm

Execution Vigils:
Dallas – Execution day at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of Hope – Interfaith Peace Chapel (5910 Cedar Springs Rd). Local organizing meeting to follow at 6:30. Email dallas@tcadp.org for questions. Please attend!

McKinney, St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Community, 110 St. Gabriel Way, last Sunday of the month – March 30, following 11:00am Mass

Denton, the corner of Oak St. and Elm St. on The Square at 6:00pm

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21 March 2014 ~ Comments Off

We are Amplifying Austin! We won the extra $1000!

Thanks to your incredible support and generosity, TCADP won an extra $1,000 for having the most donors between 1:00 and 2:00 PM through the Amplify Austin campaign!!  So far, we’ve raised more than $3,100 with donations ranging from $20 to $500 (not including that extra $1,000).  It’s been a great day!

We are grateful to Austin Board of Realtors for sponsoring the $1,000 booster prize between 1:00 and 2:00 PM.

Most of all, we’re grateful to YOU!!  Thank you for standing with us to end the death penalty in Texas, once and for all.

-Kristin & Vicki

p.s.  There’s still time to participate in Amplify Austin.  Just go to https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/overview   before 6 PM tonight. Thank you!

Funds raised will support a Fall Speakers’ Tour that will include exonoree Juan Melendez.  These donations will appear as “I Live Here, I Give Here” on your credit card statements.

 

 

 

How can you help?

  • Sample Tweet – I love @TCADPdotORG and want to end the #deathpenalty! Join me in #AmplifyATX  http://bit.ly/1eWzBHfamplify austin logo
  • Sample Facebook – I’m ready to end the #deathpenalty! Are you? Join me for #AmplifyATX and support the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf
  • Share this image and your support for TCADP on your social media profiles!
  • Forward this email to friends who might want to participate and ask them to join you in giving!

Thank you for supporting us in so many ways to end the death penalty in Texas!

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03 March 2014 ~ Comments Off

TCADP March 2014 Alert: Spring into Action

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
Featured Events
TCADP 2014 Conference
In the News
Do you shop with Amazon?
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

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

  • On March 19, 2014, Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death. Jasper, a rapper who was 19 at the time of the crime, was convicted of murdering local studio owner David Alejandro and stealing his recording equipment in Bexar County in November 1998. His two co-defendants received life sentences.
  • On March 27, 2014, Anthony Doyle is scheduled to be executed for killing and robbing 47-year-old Hyun Cho, who was delivering a food order Doyle had placed to his parent’s home in Rowlett (Dallas County) in 2003. Doyle was 18 at the time of the crime.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Death Penalty Developments
Texas has executed two people to date in 2014, out of ten nationwide. To date this year, there have been two new death sentences and one jury rejection:

  • On February 20, 2014, a Harris County jury sentenced George Curry to death for the slaying of 19-year-old Edward Virappen during a robbery at a Popeye’s Chicken in May 2009.
  • Brandon Daniel was sentenced to death in Travis County on February 28, 2014 for the murder of Austin Police Office Jaime Pedron in 2012. According to the Austin American-Statesman, jurors spent more than eight hours deliberating on the punishment for Daniel. This was the first new death sentence in Travis County since 2011.
  • On February 5, 2014, an El Paso County jury rejected the death penalty for Christian Martinez after finding him guilty of capital murder in the 2011 deaths of Amalia Flores, 58, and her daughter Jovana Flores, 20. Ten of the twelve jurors agreed that mitigating evidence warranted a sentence other than death.

Featured Events
Robert Redford’s “Death Row Stories” to Premiere on CNN
“Death Row Stories” is a new 8-part series premiering on March 9 on CNN that will examine actual death penalty cases. The show is produced by Robert Redford and narrated by Dead Man Walking star Susan Sarandon. Redford said, “This series is about the search for justice and truth, we are pleased to … tell these important stories and give a voice to these cases.” Prior to the premiere, CNN is offering interested parties an opportunity for a preview and the ability to participate in a Google Hangout featuring a discussion by the producers and law professors John Blume of Cornell and Robert Blecker of New York Law School. The Google Hangout will be held March 5 at 6 pm EST and is open to the public, but an RSVP is required. A promo for the show can be found here.  (CNN, “Death Row Stories,” Press materials; DPIC posted Feb. 21, 2014).

Help TCADP Amplify Austin!

amplify austin logoAmplify Austin is a community-wide day of online philanthropy sponsored by “I Live Here, I Give Here”, with the goal of raising $4 million in 24 hours for Austin-based participating nonprofits, including TCADP!

Last year we raised more than $5,000 through this campaign! 
Beginning at 6pm on March 20th, through 6pm on March 21st, TCADP is asking all of our supporters (not just those living in Austin) to increase their giving or give for the first time at the $25 level or above.  During the 24-hour giving period, you can give at https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/overview.

Help us defend our title as the 1:00-2:00pm champions.  Last year, TCADP won a $1,000 bonus prize for having the most donors during the 1:00-2:00pm giving hour.  Let’s repeat in 2014!

Please concentrate your giving on Friday, March 21 – 1:00 to 2:00pm Central Standard Time!

You might even think about giving Friday, March 21, at:

1:12 PM for the 12 people exonerated from Texas death row
1:19 PM for the 119 Texas counties that have never sent anyone to death row
1:39 PM for the 139 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice
1:43 PM for the 143 death row exonerations nationwide
1:50 PM for the 150 supporters who recently attended the TCADP conference

Can’t make it during that hour? No problem, just give during the 24-hour cycle of Thursday, March 20, 6:00pm to Friday, March 21, 6:00pm to make us eligible for more cash perks!  Learn more

Ways you can help TCADP Amplify Austin and fight Slacktivism!

  • Set an alarm on your phone, google calendar, Ical, Outlook, etc. for Friday, March 21 at 1:00pm and then go to https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/ and give a minimum of $25.
  • Set up a special fundraising page for TCADP and seek support from your friends and family.   Do it here.
  • Sample Tweet – Who loves @TCADPdotORG and ending the #deathpenalty? Help TCADP #AmplifyATX 3/21 1:00-2:00pm! http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf
  • Sample Facebook – I’m ready to end the #deathpenalty! Are you? Check out #AmplifyATX and ways you can help TCADP! http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf

TCADP 2014 Annual Conference:  “Lighting the Way”
Our 2014 Annual Conference, which took place on Saturday, February 22 at University Christian Church in Fort Worth, included a record number of attendees, who all seemed to have great take aways from their day.  Videos of the keynote address and awards ceremony are available on the TCADP YouTube Channel.  Check out the photos!  See a compilation of the social media posts from the Conference – sfy.co/bbDe.

A tremendous thank you to the staff at University Christian Church and all the speakers, sponsors, and TCADP members and volunteers who made the conference possible.  Read more about them and everything that occurred at the conference in the programSave the date: TCADP 2015 Annual Conference, February 21, 2015 in Austin,Texas!

In the News
We recently noted the fact that 10 years have passed since Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by the State of Texas, despite strong evidence of his innocence and serious doubts as to whether the fire that took the lives of his three young daughters was caused by arson. Last week, the Innocence Project filed new documents with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in its petition for a posthumous pardon for Willingham. The documents point to new evidence that strongly suggests that jailhouse informant Johnny Webb received a deal from Navarro County District Attorney John Jackson in exchange for his testimony against Willingham at trial.

According to the Innocence Project, “This new evidence also strongly suggests that Jackson, who had since become a district court judge, deceived the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Navarro County District Attorney’s Office about the existence of a deal, which had they known about, would have almost certainly spared Willingham’s life.”   Read more about this latest development in the New York Times and Houston Chronicle. If you haven’t done so already, sign this petition calling on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to investigate Willingham’s case.

Fundraising Opportunity: Amazon.com Supports TCADP!amazon
If you enjoy shopping on Amazon, please consider sharing some of your purchase power with TCADP.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.

Please note:  You must log into your account through amazonsmile.com for your purchases to benefit TCADP.

Just click the box and connect your AmazonSmile account with TCADP!

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities
March
4 Primary Election Day: Please Vote!

18 Dallas TCADP meeting, Cathedral of Hope in room CLC 196 at 6:30pm.

19 Scheduled Execution – Ray Jasper, 6:00pm

20-21 Amplify Austin – Concentrate your giving Friday, March 21 from 1:00 to 2:00pm if possible. https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP

22 TCADP Information Table at the Travis County Democratic Party Convention.  Contact info@tcadp.org to volunteer.

25 El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty meeting 7:00pm in the Mother Teresa Room of St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N. Clark Street, El Paso.  All are welcome!  elpaso@tcadp.org

26 TCADP Lunch discussion, Austin 12:00-1:00pm.  Details TBD – Stay Tuned!

26 Collin County meeting 7pm at Suncreek UMC, Allen. Meeting will include watching an episode of Robert Redford’s new series on CNN – “Death Row Stories.” collincounty@tcadp.org

26-27 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé will visit Beaumont to speak with students at Lamar University and local members.

27 University of Houston NAACP Death Penalty Panel Discussion, H Fred J Heyne Room 43, 6:00-8:00pm. Featuring TCADP Board Members Angelle Adams and Pat Monks among other invited guests.

27 Scheduled Execution – Anthony Doyle, 6:00pm

April

4-6 TCADP information table at the Texas Junior State of America convention, Houston

12 Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty information table at Young Americans for Liberty Texas Convention, Texas State University 9:00-7:00pm.  *Conservative Volunteers needed to assist with table, please contact info@tcadp.org.

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30 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

TCADP Photo Reflection of 2013

Dear Friends,

Earlier this month, TCADP released its annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review. The report notes that Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is steadily moving away from the death penalty. While Texas remains the nation’s leading executioner, death sentences remain near record-low levels. Use of the death penalty continues to be geographically isolated and arbitrarily imposed…. Dallas County alone accounts for 20% of new death sentences in recent years.  Learn more of the report’s findings.

Thanks to your steadfast support and participation, we are dismantling the death penalty county-by-county.  TCADP cannot continue this work without you!

View this slideshow of highlights from some of our events over the past year.

 

2014 will bring exciting opportunities for TCADP to engage new partners in our strategic efforts to end the death penalty. Please support our organization by making a special end-of-year, tax-deductible donation so that we can continue these vital education and outreach programs.

Thank you for your continued support and generosity. Together, we will light the way to abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

With gratitude,

Kristin Houlé
Executive Director, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

p.s. We truly appreciate the gifts that so many of you have made this month. If you haven’t given already, save a stamp by making a secure online donation today!   Thank you!

Don’t Forget:  Register today for the TCADP 2014 Annual Conference, which will take place for the first time in Fort Worth!! Take advantage of our early bird registration rates of $45 for TCADP members, $55 for non-members, and $20 for students. Rates will increase after January 1st, so don’t delay! Learn more about the conference, including details on our 2014 panelists, award winners, and keynote speaker. See you in Cowtown!

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17 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

TCADP Releases 2013 Year-End Report on Texas Death Penalty Developments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-441-1808 (office); 512-552-5948 (cell)
khoule@tcadp.org

Infographics are available at http://tcadp.org/2013tcadpinfographics/.

One Third of All New Texas Death Sentences in 2013 Came from Dallas County,
According to New Report by TCADP

Seven of nine new death row inmates are African-American men and 11 of the state’s 16 executions this year were of people of color

(Austin, Texas) — One third of all new death sentences in Texas were imposed in just one county this year, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review.  The report documents Dallas County’s emergence as the state’s most active death penalty jurisdiction, accounting for 20% of new death sentences since 2008.

Over the last six years, Dallas County has imposed nearly twice as many new death sentences as Harris County, which alone has sent nearly 300 people to death row since 1976.

infographic3

Click the image to enlarge. See multiple infographics to share at www.tcadp.org/2013tcadpinfographics/

Juries condemned nine new individuals to death in Texas this year, the same number of death sentences imposed in 2012.  New death sentences in Texas have declined more than 75% over the last decade and numbered in the single digits for the last five years.

A total of seven counties in Texas accounted for the new death row inmates in 2013.  Notably, three of the highest sentencing jurisdictions in recent years did not impose any death sentences this year, and no inmates were re-sentenced to death in the state.

Both geography and race continue to disproportionately impact death sentences in Texas: seven of the nine new death row inmates in 2013 are African-American men.  Over the last six years, half of all new death sentences in Texas have been imposed on African-Americans. In Dallas County, this pattern is even more pronounced – of the 11 men sentenced to death there since 2008, 8 are African-American and 2 are Hispanic.  All three of Dallas County’s new death sentences in 2013 were imposed on African-American men.

“While most of Texas is moving away from the death penalty, Dallas County has emerged as a major outlier in its pursuit of the ultimate punishment, particularly for defendants of color,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  “These troubling patterns directly counter Dallas’s reputation as a leader in criminal justice reform.”

Halfway through the year, the State of Texas carried out its 500th execution since 1982, putting Kimberly McCarthy to death for the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County. McCarthy, who was African-American, was the fourth woman executed by the state and the first since 2005.

Her attorney argued that the jury selection process in her second trial was tainted by racial discrimination: of the twelve jurors seated at trial, all were white, except one, and eligible non-white jurors were excluded from serving by the State. While two earlier execution dates this year were postponed, the courts refused to intervene a third time.

The State of Texas carried out 16 executions in 2013, a slight increase from 2012, when 15 executions took place. Executions are now being carried out through the use of a compounded form of the drug pentobarbital, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been criticized for a lack of transparency when it comes to the state’s lethal injection protocol.

Of the 16 people executed in Texas this year, eight were African-American, five were white, and three were Hispanic.

“Although Texas is using the death penalty less, the state still uses it disproportionately against people of color,” said Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service.  “Texas’s failure to effectively address this recurring problem demonstrates, yet again, the deep flaws in the state’s capital punishment system.”

Other highlights of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review:

  • Texas accounted for approximately 42% of all U.S. executions this year and twice as many as any other state. 269 executions have occurred during the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001 – present), more than any other governor in U.S. history.  Texas has executed a total of 508 people since 1982.
  • Seven inmates scheduled for execution in 2013 received reprieves, including stays granted by the courts and the withdrawal of execution dates.  Four other inmates were granted modifications of their dates but were ultimately executed this year.
  • For the first time in six years, no one was re-sentenced to death in Texas.  Several long-standing cases in which the courts had ordered new punishment hearings were resolved with sentences other than death.  A total of four inmates received reduced sentences in 2013, including two from Harris County. Collectively, these four individuals spent approximately 80 years on death row.
  • Death-qualified juries rejected the death penalty in the sentencing phase in two trials this year and instead opted for life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In both cases, juries determined that mitigating evidence warranted a sentence other than death.  Over the last five years, death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in more than 20 capital murder trials.

“Attitudes toward the death penalty are shifting as public confidence in the criminal justice system erodes,” said Houlé.  “At this critical moment in our state’s experience with the death penalty, TCADP urges concerned citizens and elected officials to confront the realities of this irreversible and costly punishment and seek alternative ways of achieving justice.”

TCADP is a statewide, grassroots advocacy organization based in Austin.

###

Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review is available online at www.tcadp.org/TexasDeathPenaltyDevelopments2013.pdf.

TCADPInfographic2013

Click the image to enlarge. See multiple infographics to share at www.tcadp.org/2013tcadpinfographics/

Contact report author Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.  See the report for additional tables illustrating the race of defendants sentenced to death in the last six years and other recent trends.

Infographics are available at http://tcadp.org/2013tcadpinfographics/.

See http://tcadp.org/2008-2013-new-death-sentences/ for a map of new death sentences by county from 2008 to 2013.

See http://tcadp.org/1976-2013-county-map/ for a map of death sentences by county from 1976 to 2013.

The following individuals are available for further comment on the topics raised by these year-end statistics:

  • Kristin Houlé, Executive Director, TCADP: 512-441-1808 (office) or 512-552-5948 (cell)
  • Kathryn M. Kase, Executive Director, Texas Defender Service: 713-222-7788 (office)

Join TCADP and guest moderator Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle today, Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM CST for a Twitter chat to discuss #Texas #deathpenalty trends and ask questions about this report.  Follow #2013TXDP for the chat and to ask questions.  @TCADPdotORG @chronic_jordan

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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
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04 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

December 2013 Texas Death Penalty Alert: Announcing TCADP’s Annual Award Winners

In This Edition: 
Scheduled Executions
Announcements
Take Action
In the News
Upcoming Events
In Memoriam
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas carried out its final execution of the year, December 3. Jerry Martin was put to death for the 2007 murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison guard Susan Canfield during a prison escape from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. He was convicted in Walker County. Earlier this year, Martin waived his right to further appeal his case. Read more in the Austin Chronicle.

Six executions already have been scheduled for 2014.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the evening of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter. 

Announcements
TCADP Announces 2014 Award Winners
The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2014 Annual Awards, which will be presented at our 2014 Annual Conference: “Lighting the Way” on February 22, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Appreciation Award: Ariana Campos, who has provided critical logistical support for TCADP’s activities in the State Capitol since 2009.

Appreciation Award: Maria Castillo, one of TCADP’s stalwart volunteers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, for her incredible outreach efforts.

Appreciation Award: Paula Keeth, a steadfast advocate for abolition and devoted member of the TCADP Dallas Chapter, for her commitment to the issue and inspiration of others.

Appreciation Award: Burnham Terrell, for his faithful work coordinating the Houston-area execution vigils for many years.  The award will be presented post-humously.  Learn more about Burnham below.

Courage Award: State Representative Terry Canales, in recognition of his public statement in support of ending the death penalty during the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703 by Rep. Jessica Farrar on April 29, 2013

David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: State Representative Lon Burnam, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to justice and his contributions to abolition and to TCADP, both within and outside of the Texas Legislature

Read more about these winners.

Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary individuals at the 2014 Annual Conference!  We invite you to congratulate the award winners by placing an ad in the conference program and/or sponsoring a table at the awards luncheon.  We also invite individuals and organizations to share your work with participants by exhibiting at the conference. Download Form for Ads, Sponsors, and Exhibitors.

In addition to the annual awards luncheon – which will include a keynote address by Bob Ray Sanders, a longtime columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – the conference will feature a plenary session on the role that Texas plays in the national movement and ways that TCADP and our key partners are lighting the way toward ending the death penalty as a practice.  Register today! Rates will increase after January 1st!

Coming Soon: Year-End Report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013
What county accounts for the most death sentences over the last six years? Who was removed from death row in 2013? All of your burning questions will be addressed in TCADP’s forthcoming annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review. More details will be sent to you later this month. Previous reports are available online.

Giving Tuesday!
We are grateful for the contributions that so many of you have made already this year and those that provided additional support  on Giving Tuesday so that TCADP can continue to light the way toward abolition. Save a stamp by making an end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation today! Thank you for your support and generosity.

Take Action: Demand a New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck
On November 20, 2013, a divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Duane Buck’s appeal for a new, fair sentencing hearing free from racial bias. With this decision, Texas has once again reneged on the clear and unequivocal promise made by former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn that Mr. Buck would not face execution based on a racially biased death sentence. Despite this promise, Mr. Buck is now at grave risk of execution in Texas. Join more than 91,000 supporters who have signed a petition on Change.org calling for a new sentencing hearing for Duane Buck! Follow TCADP on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news and to learn about other opportunities for your involvement in this case.

In the News:  Conservatives vs. the Death Penalty
TCADP Board Member Pat Monks is featured prominently in a new editorial by the Dallas Morning News, “Conservatives vs. the death penalty” (November 29, 2013). The editorial remarks on the emergence of a new national network, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, and notes, “the driving principles are capital punishment’s incompatibility with the conservative ideals of restraining government, protecting life and maintaining fiscal responsibility.” Read the full editorial.

Upcoming Events
Austin:  Sister Helen Prejean to speak -December 3
Marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of her most famous work, Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Friends Meeting of Austin (Quakers) Meetinghouse, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 at 7 pm.  The Quaker Meetinghouse is at 3701 E. MLK Blvd, Austin.

CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER -Fort Worth: Storytelling Circle with Families of the Executed – December 7
The Texas After Violence Project will host a special event Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the Tarrant County College, Trinity Campus, Trinity Building – Room Connect: TRTR 4102 on the 4th floor. Come explore the living pasts of the death penalty with families of executed Texans from the Fort Worth area and consider how memory may serve as a resource for restoring and reimagining community and building a more just and less violent Texas.
Featuring:

  • Derrek and Keith Brooks, sons of Charlie Brooks, Jr. executed on December 7, 1982
  • Stanley Allridge, brother of Ronald and James Allridge executed on June 8, 1995 and August 26, 2004 respectively
  • Opening remarks by Bob Ray Sanders, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Circle keeper – Estrus Tucker, TCADP Board Vice-President
  • Select clips from the Texas After Violence Project oral history archive

Hosted by the Texas After Violence Project with support from the Craig and Kathryn Hall Foundation.  Co-sponsored by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Texas Observer, Amnesty International, and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.

In Memoriam
Burnham Terrell, an active TCADP and Houston Chapter member, reached his 90th birthday on November 12 and the 21st anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Joan on November 13.   He is an inspiration to any of us who might think we are too old to be an activist. Burnham passed away the morning of November 13 while recovering from a stroke that happened earlier in the month. The memorial service for Burnham Terrell will be Saturday, December 14 at 11 am at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House, 1318 W. 26th St., Houston, TX.  Burnham’s faithful work coordinating the Houston area execution vigils for so many years will be sorely missed.

Calendar
December<
3 Scheduled execution of Jerry Martin; Sister Helen in Austin (see above for details); Giving Tuesday
5 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle and TCADP Board Member Pat Monks addressing Liberty on the Rocks Houston, 7:30 PM; TCADP Table at Dallas Peace Center Annual Peacemakers Dinner
7 31st Anniversary of the Resumption of Executions in Texas; Fort Worth Storytelling circle (CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER); Dallas Annual Christmas Card Signing for Death Row inmates, 11:00 to 4:00 in the History Department Conference Room, basement of Dallas Hall at SMU
10 International Human Rights Day
31 Last day to support TCADP with your year-end tax-deductible donation!

January
1 Last Day to Secure TCADP Annual Conference Early Bird Registration Rates (rates will increase after this date)       
8 TCADP in Collin County meeting, 7 PM; Sun Creek United Methodist Church collincounty@tcadp.org
20 El Paso Chapter meeting, 7 PM elpaso@tcadp.org
22 Dallas Chapter meeting, 7 PM dallas@tcadp.org

February
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference

Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today!

 

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