Archive | death penalty

03 November 2014 ~ Comments Off

Registration for TCADP’s 2015 Annual Conference now open and other updates…

In this edition of our monthly alert for November 2014:

Scheduled executions
Support clemency for Max Soffar
TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
In case you missed it
Upcoming events
Support TCADP through AmazonSmile

Scheduled executions
Outrageously, the State of Texas just set a December 3, 2014 execution date for Scott Panetti. 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.  Read background information on his case and watch “Executing the Insane: The Case of Scott Panetti,” which includes heartbreaking interviews with several members of his family.

We will provide updates on this case as they become available.  Please contact TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org or 512-441-1808 for more information.

Support clemency for Max Soffar
Imagine spending 34 years in prison – most of them on death row in Texas – for a crime you didn’t commit.  Now imagine being told by doctors that in a matter of months, maybe weeks, you will die of liver cancer.  That’s the situation facing Max Soffar, who will die behind bars before any court can exonerate him.  The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recently denied his petition for clemency, citing the absence of an execution date. Read more from Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, and join him and Sister Helen Prejean in calling on Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency to Max so that he can die at home.  Sign this change.org petition!

TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
Registration for the TCADP 2015 Annual Conference – Death Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground – is now open!  The conference will take place on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.  Take advantage of our advance registration rates by December 31st. (Rates will increase on January 1st and then again after February 13th).  Renew your membership or join TCADP today to receive our special member rates. Look for an announcement from us later this month regarding our panelists, keynote speaker, workshops, and award recipients.

In case you missed it
Gallup Poll finds decreasing support for death penalty among Republicans
According to the annual Gallup Poll, support for the death penalty among Republicans has dropped nine points over the last decade.  Read more about the reasons behind the decline.

Pope Francis condemns the death penalty
On October 24th, while addressing a group of members of the International Association of Penal Law, Pope Francis called on all people of good will to fight for abolition of the death penalty in “all of its forms” and for the improvement of prison conditions.  Learn more from the National Catholic Reporter.

Upcoming events

If you haven’t done so already, please vote on Tuesday, November 4th!

Texas Families for Justice Rally
On Friday, November 7th at 1:00 PM, Texas Inmate Families Association, Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, and TX CURE will host a Texas Families for Justice Rally on the South steps of the State Capitol in Austin. Add your voice to the call for criminal justice reform and stand in solidarity with hundreds of family members, formerly incarcerated individuals, and supporters from across the state.

Fair & Just Luncheon in Houston
Join us on Tuesday, November 18th for the next installment of our bi-monthly Fair & Just Lunch Series in Houston, 12:30 to 1:30 in the St. Joseph’s Room at St. Anne’s Catholic Church.  RSVP and order lunch today.  More details coming soon.

Victim Offender Mediation Training
The Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue seeks applicants for its upcoming Victim Offender Mediation Training.  This three-day skill-based training is designed to give participants tools to conduct victim-centered Victim Offender Mediation for low-level crimes, neighborhood and community disputes, and issues involving juveniles and young adults. The training will take place in Austin from December 4-6, 2014 and costs $300.  Download more information and the registration form.

Information about other upcoming events is available here.

Support TCADP through AmazonSmile
If you shop on Amazon, please consider sharing some of your purchase power with TCADP.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to TCADP, if you designate us as your charitable organization of choice. Note:  You must log into your account through amazonsmile.com for your purchases to benefit TCADP.

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02 September 2014 ~ Comments Off

Support clemency for Texas death row inmate Max Soffar

Imagine spending 34 years in prison – most of them on death row in Texas – for a crime you didn’t commit.  Now imagine being told by doctors that in a matter of months, you will die of liver cancer.  That’s the situation facing Max Soffar, who will die behind bars before any court can exonerate him… unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Rick Perry step in.

There is no evidence whatsoever connecting Soffar to the horrific murders of three people in a bowling alley in Houston in 1980.  His conviction and death sentence hinged solely on a confession he gave to police – one of three inconsistent statements he provided after three days of intense interrogation.  According to the National Registry of Wrongful Convictions, false confessions have played a role in 13% of exonerations nationwide.

Equally troubling is the fact that Max Soffar did not remotely resemble the description of the perpetrator provided by eyewitness and surviving victim Greg Garner.  Substantial evidence supporting the alternative theory of suspect Paul Dennis Reid has never been considered by a jury.

Attorneys for Max Soffar are asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that Governor Rick Perry commute Soffar’s death sentence so that he may live his final days at home.

Texans: please sign this petition urging Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency to Max Soffar!

Non-Texans: please sign this petition in support of Max Soffar’s clemency petition!

Many prominent individuals, including former district attorneys, judges, and faith leaders are supporting Max Soffar’s clemency petition.  Among those calling for compassionate release are former Gov. Mark White and Judge William S. Sessions.  Read their letter here.   Also read an editorial by the Dallas Morning News, which states that “the clemency request serves a righteous purpose.”

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19 June 2014 ~ Comments Off

Southern Baptist Minister Rev. Jeff Hood to Finish Pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin to Abolish Death Penalty

Rev. Jeff Hood will conclude his 200-mile pilgrimage from Texas’ death row to the State Capitol in Austin today.  Please join us at the Capitol at 5 PM for a press conference and at University Baptist Church at 7 PM to hear Rev.Hood talk about his journey.  Check out this coverage of the pilgrimage in the Huffington Post, courtesy of Shane Claiborne at Red Letter Christians, and in the Bryan-College Station Eagle.  

MEDIA ADVISORY

June 19, 2014

A Pilgrimage to Abolish the Death Penalty from Livingston to Austin

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Board Member, Center For Theological Activism Executive Director and Southern Baptist Minister Rev. Jeff Hood Concludes 200-Mile Walk

CONTACT:
Rev. Jeff Hood, TCADP Board of Directors
404-210-6760 (cell)
jeffrey.k.hood@gmail.com

EVENTS:
Austin, Thursday, June 19 at 5pm and 7pm

5pm                 

Brief Statement and Press Conference at the Conclusion of the Pilgrimage on the steps of the South Entrance of the Texas State Capitol

Members of University Baptist Church and other friends will join Rev. Hood at the conclusion of his walk at the State Capitol and will walk with him to the concluding Faithful Conversation at University Baptist.

7 to 9pm

A Faithful Conversation on the Death Penalty with Rev. Jeff Hood at the Conclusion of his Pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin
University Baptist Church
2130 Guadalupe St.
Austin, Texas 78705

Of the pilgrimage, Rev. Jeff Hood remarked:

“Through walking in prophetic imagination, Jesus changed the world. On my pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin, I follow Jesus’ lead and with every step remind my fellow Texans that you cannot love your neighbor as your self and execute them.  It is my hope to ignite the moral imagination of my fellow Texans so that we might all rise up together with one courageous voice and declare the death penalty to be no more.”

Information:

The statements, press conferences and events are all open to the public.  An expanded version of the press release, with previous events, bio of Rev. Hood, and further info can be found here.

For more information on A Pilgrimage to Abolish the Death Penalty contact Rev. Jeff Hood, TCADP Board Member, at (404) 210-6760 or jeffrey.k.hood@gmail.com

Jeff will provide updates on his pilgrimage on twitter // @revjeffhood and on the Facebook pages of Center for Theological Activism // https://www.facebook.com/centerfortheologicalactivism and Texas Coalition to Abolish Death Penalty // https://www.facebook.com/tcadp

For more information on the death penalty in Texas, contact Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director, at 512-441-1808 (office), 512-552-5948 (cell) or khoule@tcadp.org

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09 June 2014 ~ Comments Off

TCADP Board Member to Embark on 200-Mile Pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin

MEDIA ADVISORY
June 9, 2014

CONTACT:
Rev. Jeff Hood, TCADP Board of Directors
404-210-6760 (cell)
jeffrey.k.hood@gmail.com

A Pilgrimage to Abolish the Death Penalty from Livingston to Austin

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Board Member, Center For Theological Activism Executive Director and Southern Baptist Minister Rev. Jeff Hood to Conduct 200-Mile Walk

 Dallas, Texas – Moved to pilgrimage in prayer for the abolishment of the death penalty, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Board Member Rev. Jeff Hood will conduct “A Pilgrimage to Abolish the Death Penalty from Livingston to Austin” from Friday, June 13, 2014 to Thursday, June 19, 2014. The approximately 200-mile walk will begin at noon on June 13, 2014 with a brief statement and prayer outside of the Polunsky Unit 3872 FM 350 South, West Livingston, TX 77351, where individuals on death row are incarcerated, proceed through Huntsville, Texas, where individuals are executed, and College Station, Texas and conclude at 5pm on June 19, 2014 with a brief statement and prayer on the steps of the South Entrance of the Texas State Capitol.  Rev. Hood encourages people to interact with him along the journey and also at organized faithful conversations that will be taking place along the way at Wesley Memorial UMC in Huntsville, Santa Teresa Catholic Church in Bryan and University Baptist Church in Austin.

Of the pilgrimage, Rev. Jeff Hood remarked:

“Through walking in prophetic imagination, Jesus changed the world. On my pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin, I follow Jesus’ lead and with every step remind my fellow Texans that you cannot love your neighbor as your self and execute them.  It is my hope to ignite the moral imagination of my fellow Texans so that we might all rise up together with one courageous voice and declare the death penalty to be no more.”

WHAT:
A Pilgrimage to Abolish the Death Penalty from Livingston to Austin

Starting with a Brief Statement and Prayer in Livingston

Faithful conversations at Wesley Memorial UMC in Huntsville, Santa Teresa Catholic Church in Bryan and University Baptist Church in Austin.

Concluding with a Brief Statement and Prayer in Austin.

WHEN:
Friday, June 13, 2014 at Noon to Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 5pm

WHERE:
Friday June 13, 2014: Livingston 

Noon
Brief Statement and Prayer
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
West Livingston, TX 77351

Pilgrimage along US-190 W

Saturday June 14, 2014: Huntsville
Pilgrimage along US-190 W

7 to 8pm
A Faithful Conversation on the Death Penalty with Rev. Jeff Hood on his Pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin
Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church
700 Texas 30
Huntsville, TX 77320

Rev. Hood will walk to pray outside the Walls Unit after the event.

Sunday June 15, 2014: Huntsville to College Station
Pilgrimage along TX 30

Monday June 16: College Station

Pilgrimage along TX 30

Members of Santa Teresa Catholic Church will join Rev. Hood around 11:30 and will walk with him to their congregation.

Noon
A Faithful Conversation on the Death Penalty with Rev. Jeff Hood on his Pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin
Santa Teresa Catholic Church
1212 Lucky St, Bryan, TX 77803

Tuesday June 17: College Station to Austin
Pilgrimage Co Road 324 and 318 

Wednesday June 18: College Station to Austin
Pilgrimage Farm to Market 696 

Thursday June 19: Austin
Pilgrimage Outskirts of Austin and Into Downtown

5pm
Brief Statement and Press Conference at the Conclusion of the Pilgrimage on the steps of the South Entrance of the Texas State Capitol

Members of University Baptist Church and other friends will join Rev. Hood at the conclusion of his walk at the State Capitol and will walk with him to the concluding at University Baptist. 

7 to 9pm
A Faithful Conversation on the Death Penalty with Rev. Jeff Hood at the Conclusion of his Pilgrimage from Livingston to Austin
University Baptist Church
2130 Guadalupe St.
Austin, Texas 78705

WHO:
Rev. Jeff Hood is a theologian (MDiv and ThM), historian (MA) and bioethicist (MS) by academic training. Presently, Jeff is completing a doctorate in theology at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. A graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jeff is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. A passionate activist, Jeff serves as the Executive Director of Center for Theological Activism, on the Board of Directors of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and as a spiritual advisor on Texas’ Death Row. Jeff is married and has three young sons- twin toddlers and an infant.

Information:
The statements, press conferences and events are all open to the public.

For more information on A Pilgrimage to Abolish the Death Penalty contact Rev. Jeff Hood, TCADP Board Member, at (404) 210-6760 or jeffrey.k.hood@gmail.com

Jeff will provide updates on his pilgrimage on twitter // @revjeffhood and on the Facebook pages of Center for Theological Activism // https://www.facebook.com/centerfortheologicalactivism and Texas Coalition to Abolish Death Penalty // https://www.facebook.com/tcadp

For more information on the death penalty in Texas, contact Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director, at 512-441-1808 (office), 512-552-5948 (cell) or khoule@tcadp.org.

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01 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

May 2014 Alert: Botched Execution, Study 1 in 25 innocent, Events in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Corpus Christi

Support TCADP Through Amazon Smile – If you find yourself shopping for graduation or Mother’s Day gifts on Amazon this month, consider setting up a profile by clicking the image above and designating TCADP as your charity of choice. Thank you for your support!

In This Edition:

Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
TCADP Spring Newsletter
Featured Events
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Robert Campbell on May 13, 2014. He was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Alexandra Rendon in Houston in 1991. Campbell was just three months past his 18th birthday at the time of the crime; he has spent more than half his life on death row. Co-defendant Leroy Lewis, who also was 18 at the time, pled guilty and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Read more about the case and take action through Amnesty International.

TCADP stands with our colleagues in Oklahoma in calling for an independent and thorough investigation into the horrifically botched execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014. No more executions should take place in Oklahoma, Texas, or anywhere else in this country until basic questions about lethal injection are answered. Read more, including a statement from former Texas Governor Mark WhiteTwitter users:  please use #DemandFullInquiryOK in your tweets about the Oklahoma execution.

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

Recent Death Penalty Developments
New study: One out of 25 death sentences imposed on an innocent person
New research published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that over four percent of all those sentenced to death in the United States from 1973 through 2004 were innocent. The percentage of innocent people sentenced to death (4.1%) is more than double the percentage of those actually exonerated and freed from death row during the study period (1.6%). Read more.

Former Supreme Court Justice calls for Constitutional amendment to ban the death penalty
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who just turned 94 years old, has published a new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. Among other proposals, Stevens calls for changing the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” by specifically including the death penalty. Read more from USA Today and the Austin American Statesman.

Strong Majority of Houstonians Support Alternatives to the Death Penaltyhouston survey
According to the 33rd Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey, 69 percent of Houstonians support alternatives to the death penalty for people convicted of first-degree murder. The survey finds “a gradual and continuing drop in support for the death penalty across the years.” You can find previous polling results on the death penalty here.

Texas Observer article explores decision-making process of a small-town prosecutor
In “To Kill? Or Not to Kill?” reporter Maurice Chammah explores a District Attorney’s decision whether or not to pursue the death penalty in a capital murder case.  Set within the context of declining death sentences, the article probes the pressures and soul-searching that small-town prosecutors often confront in making life and death decisions. Read it now.

TCADP Spring Newsletter
We hope you enjoy this Spring 2014 Issue of Seizing the Momentum, released April 24! Please note that while we will continue to provide this newsletter to members on a quarterly basis, we will print and mail only two issues of “Seizing the Momentum” this year (the winter and fall issues.) All four issues of the newsletter will be available online.  If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org.  To update your contact information and/or newsletter preferences, please visit our website.

Download – TCADP 2014 Spring Quarterly Newsletter

In this issue:
Cover Story TCADP’s Stategic Plan prioritizes 5 areas of importance for furthering our goals of first decreasing and then ending the use of the death penalty.

Voices of Texas: On page 4, our colleagues at Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation share with us the best ways to respond to those we know touched by violence.

Death Penalty Developments:  TCADP works to stay apprised of new death sentences, stays of executions and emerging trends in Texas’ response to capital punishment, found on page 5.

Can Social Media Increase Anti-Death Penalty Engagement?  Find the answer on page 6 and learn several specific ways to increase your impact and further our efforts.

Thank You, Members, Donors, and Partners for Justice:  Thank you to everyone who supported TCADP during Amplify Austin in March!  TCADP repeated its win of an extra $1000 for most donors during 1:00-2:00pm of the campaign. Celebrate your fellow TCADP members by seeing who gave this quarter.

Featured Events
Carrollton: Witness to Death: A Hearing of Kathy Cox and a Training from Center for Theological Activism to occur May 6 at Holy Covenant UMC at 7:00pm.  Kathy Cox is 90 years old, has witnessed over 60 executions and currently ministers to 40 persons on Texas’ Death Row. For over 65 years, Cox has worked for social change from within her denominational home of the Salvation Army. We will gather to hear Cox’s story, to learn to share our own stories and be activated in the fight to abolish the death penalty. Learn more.
This event is sponsored by Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, Center for Theological Activism and Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty – TCADP.

Dallas: Join TCADP as we launch a new bi-monthly lunch series in Dallas! The first luncheon will take place on Monday, May 19th from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at the Trinity Center, 1444 Oaklawn Ave., Dallas, 75207. Lunch will be catered at a cost of $10 per person to be paid by cash or check at the venue. Please RSVP to reserve your seat!

Houston: The “Fair & Just” Lunch Series returns to Houston on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Susan Truscott, Vice Consul for the British Consulate-General Houston, will share the history of her government’s opposition to the death penalty and her work at the consulate.  Join us from 12:30 to 1:30 at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. Place your order for a box lunch or bring your own. RSVP and reserve your lunch now!

Austin: Please join TCADP Austin for the bi-monthly lunch discussion to be held Wednesday, May 28 12:00-1:00pm in the fellowship hall of Servant Church/Asbury UMC at 1605 E. 38 1/2 St..  Parking is available on Cherrywood, 38 1/2 and in a lot (access from 38 1/2) in the back of the church.  The Fellowship hall is accessible from Cherrywood. Place your order for a box lunch or bring your own. RSVP and reserve your lunch now!

anthony gravesCorpus Christi:  Anthony Graves will speak at a Social Justice Luncheon Friday, June 13. The Methodist Federation for Social Action, SWTX Chapter and the Conference Board of Church and Society of Rio Texas United Methodist Church will host Anthony Graves to speak about “Life After Death Row” during the “Peace and Justice Luncheon.”  The luncheon is being held at the American Bank Convention Center, Henry Garrett Pre-Function area in Corpus Christi during the United Methodist Annual Conference, but all are welcome. Specific action opportunities will be provided for people of faith. Please note:  Pre-Registration required.  Registration form to share or print and mail with payment.   Online Registration.

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

May
6 “Witness to Death: A Hearing of Kathy Cox”, 7:00-9:00pm, Holy Covenant UMC, Carrollton More Info.
13 Scheduled Execution: Robert Campbell
14 TCADP table at Restorative Justice Conference, College of Biblical Studies, Houston*
19 TCADP Lunch discussion, 12:00 to 1:00pm, Trinity Trust Foundation, 1444 Oaklawn Avenue, Dallas RSVP for lunch.
25-27 TCADP info at Texas Annual Conference UMC, Houston*
27 TCADP “Fair and Just” Lunch series, St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Houston, 12:30pm RSVP and Purchase lunch
27 El Paso Chapter Meeting; Juan Diego Room in the Ministry Center of St Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N Clark St, 7:00pm; elpaso@tcadp.org
28 TCADP Austin Lunch discussion 12:00pm, Servant Church RSVP and Purchase Lunch
31 TCADP Board Meeting, Austin

June
1-3 TCADP info at North Texas Annual Conference UMC, Richardson
13 Anthony Graves to speak at Rio Texas Annual Conference UMC Social Justice Luncheon, Corpus Christi, Noon.* Online Registration
19-22 TCADP booth at Texas Black Expo, Houston*
27-28 TCADP booth at Texas Democratic Party Convention, Dallas*

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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28 April 2014 ~ Comments Off

New Study Suggests Over 4% of People Sentenced to Death are Likely Innocent

According to new peer-reviewed research published in one of the most authoritative scientific journals in the world – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – over four percent of all those sentenced to death in the United States from 1973 through 2004 were innocent. The percentage of innocent people sentenced to death (4.1%) is more than double the percentage of those actually exonerated and freed from death row during the study period (1.6%).

For the study, The Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants Who are Sentenced to Death, a team of statisticians and legal experts conducted a rigorous statistical analysis of all death sentences from 1973 to 2004. The researchers noted that defendants who are sentenced to death have an extraordinarily high rate of exoneration as long as they remain on death row, under threat of execution. But most capital defendants are eventually taken off death row and resentenced to life in prison. Once that happens, the chances of being exonerated drop by almost 90%.

Read coverage of the study from the Associated Press.

Using survival analysis, a statistical technique common in medical studies, the researchers calculated the proportion of innocent defendants who would have been exonerated if all those sentenced to death remained on death row indefinitely – 4.1%. They conclude that this is “a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.”

This means that the criminal justice system is missing a disturbing number of innocent people who were sentenced to death. While most of these defendants were resentenced to life in prison (where they are likely to languish in anonymity), the study concludes that: “[I]t is all but certain that several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent.”

If we apply this statistical technique to Texas, it suggests that at least 11 of the state’s current 272 death row inmates are innocent.  Twelve individuals have been exonerated and released from death row in Texas due to evidence of their wrongful conviction.

Behind the numbers, of course, are real human beings:

  • Glenn Ford, the most recent death row exoneree, spent 30 years on Louisiana’s death row for a crime he didn’t commit; he was defended by inept lawyers with no criminal trial experience.
  • In April, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied a request for a posthumous pardon for Cameron Todd Willingham, despite strong evidence of his innocence of the crime for which he was executed in 2004.  Serious doubts remain as to whether the fire that took the lives of his three young daughters was caused by arson.  In addition, new evidence uncovered by the Innocence Project 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.
  • Carlos DeLuna was executed in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez in Corpus Christi despite the fact that there was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime.  His court-appointed attorneys – one of whom had never tried a criminal case in court, let alone a capital murder case – failed to present any witnesses or mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase.  A groundbreaking investigation by the Columbia University Human Rights Law Review in May 2012 provides compelling evidence of the identity of the real killer – Carlos Hernandez – a violent and dangerous man who was well-known to law enforcement yet was ridiculed by prosecutors as a “phantom” of DeLuna’s imagination during his trial.

 

According to the new study, there are over 200 men and women with similar stories, but we don’t know their names. That is the tragic cost of continuing to rely on an error prone system in which one out of every 25 death sentences is imposed on an innocent person.

 

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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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