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.
Archive | Rev. Carroll Pickett
Thirty years ago today, December 7, 1982, the State of Texas officially resumed executions, putting Charlie Brooks to death for the 1976 murder of David Gregory. That was also the nation’s first execution by lethal injection, a new method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.
Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as the chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, spent all day with Charlie Brooks and stood at the foot of the gurney as he was executed. In his memoir, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, he writes about the immediate aftermath of the execution: “All that remained was an air of stunned silence – testimony to the fact that none of those who had witnessed penal history being made had really been prepared for what they had seen.”
Since 1982, the State of Texas has executed 492 people; 253 of these executions have occurred during the administration of Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history. This year, the State of Texas carried out 15 executions, a slight increase over last year and nearly three times as many as any other state in the country.
Yet Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is moving away from the death penalty. New death sentences remain near record-low levels, and death-qualified juries have rejected this punishment in at least 18 trials in the past five years.
Use of the death penalty has been relegated to just a few jurisdictions statewide; in fact, only 11 counties in the entire state of Texas imposed new death sentences in the last two years. These trends and other developments in 2012 appear in TCADP’s year-end report, scheduled to be released next week.
With your support, TCADP is educating Texans about the fatal flaws of our state’s death penalty system and equipping our members to serve as powerful citizen advocates for abolition. Together, we are hastening the day that we mark the anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.
Thank you for your support and steadfast commitment to this issue.
p.s. We had the pleasure of meeting Charlie’s son Keith in Dallas on Tuesday. Keith’s family is holding a memorial service today in Fort Worth for Charlie Brooks. The memorial will be held from 12 to 3:00 p.m. at the Riverside Community Center, 3700 Belknap Street, Fort Worth. The program will include lunch and reflections. Everyone is welcome.
February 28: Anthony Bartee
February 29: George Rivas
Respond to each execution by attending a vigil in your community. Learn more at http://tcadp.org/get-involved/stop-executions/
Donald Newbury was granted a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court. He had been scheduled to be executed tonight, February 1. Newbury was convicted of killing a police officer, Aubrey Hawkins, from Irving in 2000 when he escaped along with 6 other prisoners. Read more.
Take Action Today!
Action Opportunity: Contact Your State Legislators!
Yesterday, January 31, 2012, staff and members of TCADP hand-delivered a copy of the 2011 annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review, to every member of the Texas Legislature. Through this activity, our wonderful team of volunteers had a chance to speak with legislative staff members about their concerns about the death penalty and share information that demonstrates that Texas is moving away from its use.
The delivery of the annual report provides the perfect occasion for you to engage in dialogue with your state legislators! Please contact your legislators this week and urge them to read TCADP’s report on death penalty developments in 2011! (Talking points and a sample message are available at the link.)
News and Events
TCADP 2012 Annual Conference: Seizing the Momentum… Creating the Climate for Change
Saturday, February 18, 2012, University of the Incarnate Word Sky Room, San Antonio, Texas
The conference features multiple workshop sessions, a panel discussion on how the changing demographics in Texas will impact our efforts to abolish the death penalty, and networking opportunities with new and old friends. The annual awards ceremony will take place during the luncheon to celebrate those individuals who inspired us in 2011.
Registration for the 2012 TCADP Annual Conference is open. TCADP member, non-member, student, and early-bird rates are available. Prices go up after today, February 1, 2012.
There is still time to advertise in the program to promote your work, congratulate the award winners, and sponsor this annual event. Exhibitor tables are also available. Be in touch ASAP!
Can’t attend the conference but would like to honor this year’s award winners? Consider sponsoring a table at the awards ceremony with a special contribution of $120 or more. Sponsor a table and be listed in the conference program as an award winner sponsor!
The panel includes Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project, Michael Cline, a demographer from the Hobby School at Rice University, Luis Figueroa, a staff attorney with MALDEF, and Andres Gonzalez, a long-time political consultant. This discussion is very timely and relevant for anyone interested in the future of Texas politics. The panel discussion is one of multiple opportunities offered at the TCADP conference for learning and engagement. Don’t miss it!
All of the conference information, including award winners, is available online at http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/.
Job Opening: Texas After Violence Project Executive Director Search
The Texas After Violence Project seeks a nonprofit leader who can build on the organization’s rich history and move the organization into its next phase with insightful leadership, well-honed fundraising skills, thoughtful and effective communications, and a keen sense of operating a nonprofit organization. TAVP seeks an Executive Director who will maintain the organization’s strong commitment to achieving justice through oral history, attracting diverse leaders and participants, and serving as a resource to the community. Read more.
Houston: “Incendiary” to be Shown Tonight
Wednesday, February 1, 8:00pm
Please join the Houston Peace & Justice Center (HPJC) for a special screening of this film at the Regal Greenway Grand Palace Stadium on Wednesday, February 1st at 8 PM. Stick around afterwards for a discussion about the most recent developments in the Willingham case.
Dallas: Panel Discussion with Exonerees Anthony Graves and Clarence Brandley and Rev. Carroll Pickett, former death house chaplainThursday, February 2 Southern Methodist University 306 Dallas Hall, McCord Auditorium, 7:00-9:00pm Sponsored by Embrey Human Rights Program, 214-768-8347, Read Bios or Download Flier
1 Last chance to register for the annual conference at the early-bird rates! http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/
1 “Incendiary” Film Showing, Houston 8:00pm
2 Panel Discussion with Rev. Carroll Pickett, Anthony Graves and Clarence Brandley, SMU 7:00pm
4 Death Penalty workshop with Rev. Carroll Pickett, Our Lady of the Lake Library 1:30pm – FULL
5 Odessa Chapter Meeting, 4:00pm email@example.com
15 Dallas Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, firstname.lastname@example.org
18 TCADP Annual Conference, San Antonio
20 El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, email@example.com
28 Scheduled Execution: Anthony Bartee
29 Scheduled Execution: George Rivas
3 Amnesty International Texas State Conference, College Station
4 Odessa Chapter Meeting, 4:00pm, firstname.lastname@example.org
7 Scheduled Execution: Keith Thurmond
19 El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, email@example.com
21 Dallas Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, firstname.lastname@example.org
23-24 Lynching and the Death Penalty Symposium, UT School of Law
28 Scheduled Execution: Jesse Hernandez
For more information about these events or to volunteer, email email@example.com.
|Death Penalty in Texas 2012Panel Discussion with Exonerees Anthony Graves and Clarence Brandley and the Rev. Carroll Pickett, former death house chaplain
Thursday, February 2
Southern Methodist University
306 Dallas Hall, McCord Auditorium, 7:00-9:00pm
Sponsored by Embrey Human Rights Program, 214-768-8347, Download Flier
Anthony Graves spent 18 years in prison, including 12 years on the Texas death row, for a crime he did not commit. In October 2010 prosecutors dropped all charges against him and declared him innocent after conducting their own investigation of the case.
Clarence Brandley in 1981, while a janitor at a high school in Conroe, Texas, was wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of Cheryl Dee Ferguson, a 16 year-old student. Brandley was held for nine years on death row. After community outcry and lengthy legal proceedings, that eventually ended in the Supreme Court of the United States, Clarence Brandley was freed in 1990.
Rev. Carroll Pickett is a Presbyterian minister who spent 15 years as the death house Chaplain in Huntsville. He gave comfort to 95 men before they were put to death by lethal injection. Rev. Pickett is the author of the book Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain and his story was featured in the documentary At the Death House Door. He is now a strong opponent of the death penalty and speaks of his observations about capital punishment and the world of prison society.
At the Death House Door is a 94-minute documentary film that follows the remarkable journey of Rev. Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous “Walls” prison unit in Huntsville, Texas. During that time he presided over 95 executions, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of that fateful day. The film also tells the story of Carlos De Luna, a convict whose execution affected Pickett more than any other. Pickett firmly believed the man was innocent and two Chicago Tribune reporters turn up evidence that strongly suggests he was right.
WHAT: These events are FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to one or both events at: www.tcadp.org/bexar-county-campaign
Please share this event with friends on Facebook:
Part 1: Film Screening
Part 2: Panel Discussion
TCADP 2012 Annual Conference: Seizing the Momentum… Creating the Climate for Change
Please make plans to join us on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in San Antonio for the 2012 TCADP Annual Conference. The conference features two workshop sessions, a panel discussion on how the changing demographics in Texas will impact our efforts to abolish the death penalty, and networking opportunities with new and old friends. The annual awards ceremony will take place during the luncheon to celebrate those individuals who inspired us in 2011.
P.S. An additional event is scheduled for February 4th with Professor Roger Barnes and Rev. Carroll Pickett at Our Lady of the Lake University. More details to follow. RSVP will be required due to limited seating.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 25, 2011
CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-441-1808 (office); 512-751-7009 (cell)
House Committee Set to Hear Repeal Bill
Texas one of a dozen states considering legislation to end the death penalty
(Austin, Texas) — On Tuesday, March 29, 2011 the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hold a public hearing on House Bill (HB) 819, which calls for the repeal of the death penalty in Texas. The hearing will take place at the State Capitol in the John H. Reagan Building (JHR) 120 (upon final adjournment/recess of the House).
“National momentum is clearly shifting in the direction of abolition,” said State Representative Jessica Farrar, the author of HB 819, along with State Representatives Marisa Marquez and Alma Allen. “Earlier this month, Illinois became the 16th state, and the 4th in recent years, to abandon the death penalty. In addition, elected officials in at least 12 other states are considering repeal legislation this year. This hearing provides members of the Texas House of Representatives with the opportunity to engage in open dialogue about the flaws and failures of our state’s capital punishment system.”
Rep. Farrar first introduced this bill – which strikes the death penalty as a sentencing option from all relevant sections of the Texas Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure and replaces it with life in prison without the possibility of parole – in 2007. In 2009, the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee considered testimony from attorneys, religious leaders, academics, and individuals impacted directly by violent crime. Among those scheduled to testify before the full committee this year are:
- Chris Castillo, National Outreach Coordinator for Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. Chris’s mother, Pilar Castillo, was murdered in Houston in 1991; to date, no one has been held accountable for this crime.
- Reverend Carroll Pickett, a Presbyterian minister who served as the death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville for 15 years and accompanied 95 men to their deaths by execution. He was present for the first U.S. execution by lethal injection, when Charlie Brooks was put to death in Texas on December 7, 1982.
- Professor Dennis Longmire, Sam Houston State University, who will speak about the cost of the death penalty.
“During this time of fiscal crisis, the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) urges all elected officials to take a good hard look at the death penalty system and ask whether this is a good use of tax payers’ dollars when there are alternative ways to protect society and punish those who are truly guilty,” said Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director. “We strongly endorse HB 819 and urge the members House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to support this important legislation.”
To arrange an interview with any of the witnesses, please contact Kristin Houlé at 512-751-7009.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director
512-441-1808 (office); 512-751-7009 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
Abolitionists Gather in Austin for Annual Conference
Death row survivor Anthony Graves and his family to receive Courage Award
(Austin, Texas) — More than 120 anti-death penalty advocates from across Texas will gather this Saturday, February 19, 2011 in Austin for the annual conference of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP). This event, “Seizing the Momentum – Advancing Statewide Vision through Local Action,” will feature workshops and a panel discussion on the impact of the death penalty on Texas counties. Panelists include Sam Millsap, the former district attorney of Bexar County; Karen Peissinger, the coordinator of El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty; and Dennis Reeves, Assistant Public Defender of the Regional Public Defenders Office for Capital Cases. Sachin Chheda, the Deputy Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, will moderate the discussion.
During the conference, TCADP will honor Anthony Graves, his family, and his legal team with its annual Courage Award, in recognition of their tenacity, faith, and dignity throughout the ordeal of his wrongful conviction and incarceration. Graves spent 18 years in prison, including 12 years on death row, for a crime he did not commit. In October 2010 prosecutors dropped all charges against him and declared him innocent after conducting their own investigation of the case. The Texas Comptroller’s Office recently denied Graves’ compensation, however, because the word “innocence” was not used in the document ordering his release.
TCADP will present a Media Award to Pamela Colloff for her extraordinary article about Anthony Graves, which was published in the October 2010 issue of Texas Monthly just one month before his release and exoneration. Long-time TCADP members Jim and Sherry Coombes, Marj Loehlin, and Dennis Longmire each will receive an Appreciation Award in recognition of their innumerable contributions to the organization and commitment to ending the death penalty in Texas.
In addition, Reverend Carroll Pickett will receive the first-ever Dave Atwood Founder’s Award for his tireless efforts to educate Texans about the realities of the capital punishment system and the toll it takes on those charged with carrying out lethal injections. A Presbyterian minister, Rev. Pickett served as the death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville for 15 years and gave comfort to 95 men before their executions.
“The theme of this year’s conference reflects the momentum toward abolition generated by growing awareness of the flaws and failures of the Texas death penalty system and as evidenced in the continuing decline in new death sentences,” said Kristin Houlé, the Executive Director of TCADP. “It is time for elected officials in Texas to recognize the shifting climate on this issue and evaluate the impact of the death penalty on our counties and the state as a whole.”
In the 82nd Texas Legislature, Representatives Jessica Farrar and Marisa Marquez have authored House Bill 819, which calls for the repeal of the death penalty in Texas. TCADP urges lawmakers to call the bill to a hearing and to engage in a fair and open dialogue on this important issue.
The 2011 TCADP Annual Conference will take place at the Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center of the First United Methodist Church, 1300 Lavaca, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The awards ceremony will take place from 12:00 to 2:00 PM, with State Representative Jessica Farrar serving as the emcee. All are welcome.
For more information, visit http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/.
December 7, marked the anniversary of the resumption of executions in Texas in 1982. Since that day, the State of Texas has carried out 464 executions, accounting for more than a third of all executions nationwide. Yet as TCADP Board Member Rick Halperin recently told the Houston Chronicle, the Texas of 2010 is “vastly different” than the Texas of 28 – or even 5 – years ago.
This changing climate is thanks to your involvement and our collective efforts to reach out to new allies and educate the public about the flaws and failures of our state’s death penalty system. With your generous end-of-year donation to TCADP, we will continue to make progress toward ending the death penalty once and for all.
As the only statewide grassroots membership organization dedicated to repealing the death penalty in Texas, TCADP informs and empowers citizens throughout the state to take strategic action. We have joined forces with a swelling chorus of diverse voices, including religious leaders, murder victim family members, criminal justice professionals, and state legislators, in demanding an end to this arbitrary and error-prone form of punishment.
One of the most beautiful voices in our movement belongs to singer-songwriter and Official State Musician of Texas Sara Hickman:
“TCADP is an organization I am proud to work with because we are committed to educating the public about the death penalty and removing it from our state…FOREVER. TCADP’s important work must continue – it deserves the support of all Texans, all people, who care about justice and who want to see our state’s juries and judges utilize alternative punishments instead of doling out violence for violence.” – Sara Hickman
…while one of the most sobering voices belongs to Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as the death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas for 15 years and witnessed 95 executions, including that first execution on December 7, 1982:
“It’s great to be a part of TCADP. People need to be educated – and this is the one of the most educating organizations I know. TCADP is changing hearts and minds – I’ve seen it firsthand in my travels throughout the state and across the country. I read everything TCADP sends me and I know we are doing some good.”- Rev. Carroll Pickett
Please join Sara Hickman, Rev. Pickett, and thousands of Texans in supporting TCADP with your tax-deductible, year-end gift! Together, we will continue to build the momentum for abolition!
Executive Director, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
p.s. Thanks to everyone who has contributed already to TCADP this month or has sent a gift in the mail. If you haven’t given already, save a stamp by making a secure, online donation today!