Archive | Rev. Carroll Pickett

07 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

On this day in 1982…

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

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

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

Continue Reading

07 December 2012 ~ Comments Off

Thirty Years Ago Today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

01 February 2012 ~ Comments Off

February Alert: Stay of Execution, Legislative Action Opportunity and More!

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Take Action Today
News and Events
Calendar

Scheduled Executions

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.

Register online today! or  Download the registration form and mail it in.

Download and share the conference flier.

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 moreSponsor 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!

Read the panelist bios.

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.

Purchase Tickets Today.

Dallas:  Panel Discussion with Exonerees Anthony Graves and Clarence Brandley and 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, Read Bios or Download Flier

Calendar

February

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 odessa@tcadp.org

15 Dallas Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org

18 TCADP Annual Conference, San Antonio

20 El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org

28 Scheduled Execution: Anthony Bartee

29 Scheduled Execution: George Rivas
March

3 Amnesty International Texas State Conference, College Station

4 Odessa Chapter Meeting, 4:00pm, odessa@tcadp.org

7 Scheduled Execution: Keith Thurmond

19 El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org

21 Dallas Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.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 info@tcadp.org.

TCADP is on Facebook – become a Fan today!  On Twitter, follow us!  And on LinkedIn – Join Us!

Continue Reading

25 January 2012 ~ Comments Off

Dallas: Panel Discussion with Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley and Rev. Carroll Pickett

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.

Continue Reading

13 January 2012 ~ Comments Off

Upcoming Events in San Antonio: Film Screening, Panel Discussion, and Annual Conference

The Baptist University of the Americas,
The Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas,
and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Present,

At the Death House Door
A film screening and panel discussion with Rev. Carroll Pickett

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.

WHEN:

Part I: At the Death House Door, film screening
Monday, January 30, 2012, 7:00-9:00pm.
(Doors open at 6:30pm, the film will begin promptly at 7pm, and a discussion/ Q&A will follow)
Part II: Panel Discussion, featuring Rev. Carroll Pickett
Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 7:00-9:00pm. (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Other panelists include:
Dr. Javier Elizondo, Theological studies professor at BUA
Sam Millsap, former Bexar County District Attorney
Stephen Reeves (moderator), Christian Life Commission
*** You can also hear Rev. Pickett speak during the BUA chapel service on Tuesday at 11am***

WHERE:
Both the film screening and panel discussion will take place in the chapel at
The Baptist University of the Americas
8019 S. PanAm Expressway (I-35), San Antonio, TX
(Driving south on I-35 from downtown, take exit Poteet / Palo Alto Rd. (149), main campus is located off access road between Navajo and Barlite)

WHAT: These events are FREE and open to the public.

The film screening and discussion on Monday will specifically be geared to those on college campuses in San Antonio who are interested in learning about the flaws and failures of the death penalty and how they can get involved in ending this practice in Texas. A question and answer session with Anita Grabowski, Bexar County Campaign Coordinator for the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and Stephen Reeves, Legislative Counsel for the Christian Life Commission, will follow the film.
The panel discussion on Tuesday will focus on the speakers’ perspectives on the death penalty and how they came to question its use. Dr. Elizondo and Mr. Reeves will share their reflections on Baptist teachings and the death penalty, including sharing the results of a study that the Christian Life Commission spearheaded about the use of the death penalty in Texas.
*Light refreshments will be served both evenings*

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

Saturday, February 18, 2012, University of the Incarnate Word Sky Room, San Antonio
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.
Registration for the 2012 TCADP Annual Conference is open.  TCADP member, non-member, student, and early-bird rates are available.  Prices go up after February 1, 2012.


Advertise in the program to promote your work, congratulate the award winners, and sponsor this annual event.  Exhibitor tables are also available. Learn more.
All of the conference information, including award winners, is available online at http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/.

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.

Continue Reading

25 March 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Texas House Bill 819 to Receive Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 25, 2011

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-441-1808 (office); 512-751-7009 (cell)
khoule@tcadp.org

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.

###

Continue Reading

17 February 2011 ~ 5 Comments

Abolitionists Gather in Austin for Annual Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director

512-441-1808 (office); 512-751-7009 (cell); khoule@tcadp.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/.

###

Continue Reading

08 December 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Texas 2010 vs. Texas 1982… light years apart

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!

With gratitude,

Kristin Houlé
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!

Continue Reading

Switch to our mobile site