Archive | TCADP Annual Report

15 January 2014 ~ Comments Off

Join us for these upcoming TCADP events in Austin!

We hope you had a wonderful holiday!  TCADP invites your participation in the following events in the Austin area in January.  We hope to see you!

Austin Bi-Monthly Lunch Series
Please join other TCADP members and supporters in Austin on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 from 11:45am to 1:00pm for lunch at The Clay Pit Restaurant, 1601 Guadalupe St  Austin, TX 78701! The restaurant has a great lunch buffet which will make service easy for us.

Our featured guest speaker is Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle.  Jordan will share her reactions to the recently released TCADP Report – Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013 and  the important stories she will be following in 2014.

Please arrive early to allow time for parking. RSVP and Purchase your lunch ticket.

Austin Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival
TCADP participates in this annual event each year, providing information about the Texas death penalty and looking to find more people in the Austin area concerned about this public policy. The festival is held on the edge of the Huston-Tillotson University campus at 8th and Chalmers. Please let us know if you can volunteer a few hours, by emailing info@tcadp.org or calling the office at 512-441-1808.  This is a great way to help TCADP!

Delivery of 2013 Year-End Report on Texas Death Penalty Developments to State Legislators
You are invited to assist the TCADP Lobby Corps in delivering our year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013, to legislative offices at the State Capitol on Tuesday, January 22, 9:30 AM to 12:00PM; contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer.

January
20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival, 10:00-4:00PM
22: Delivery of TCADP year-end report to legislative offices at the State Capitol, 9:30 AM to 12:00PM; contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer (changed start time to 9:30)
22: Scheduled execution Edgar Tamayo Urgent Action! – Vigil at State Capitol at 6:00pm
23:  TCADP presentation to the MFSA Central Texas Annual UMC Conference Chapter, Georgetown 6:30 PM
29: Bi-monthly membership luncheon in Austin featuring Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle, Clay Pit Restaurant, 11:45am, RSVP and purchase lunch ticket.
31:  Last day to book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference www.tcadp.org/cowtown/

February
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates

Continue Reading

06 January 2014 ~ Comments Off

January 2014 Texas Death Penalty Alert: Scheduled Executions, Annual Conference Feb 22, and Upcoming Events.

In This Edition: 
Scheduled Executions
Announcements
In the News
Fundraising Update
In Memoriam
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Edgar Tamayo on January 22, 2014 for the 1994 murder of Officer Guy Gaddis of the Houston Police Department. Tamayo, who is a Mexican national, was denied his right to seek consular assistance after his arrest, as required under article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Read more about his case here.

Please note that the scheduled execution of Edgardo Cubas has been moved from January 16 to May 29, 2014. Currently, seven additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas over the next five months.

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 2014 Annual Conference
Register today for the TCADP 2014 Annual Conference, which will take place for the first time in Fort Worth! Take advantage of our advance registration rates of $50 for TCADP members, $60 for non-members, and $25 for students. Rates will increase again after February 1st.

Our 2014 Keynote Speaker is Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders.  A Fort Worth native who knows and cares about his community, and those with whom he shares this planet, Bob Ray is a columnist who is not afraid to speak out on behalf of downtrodden people.

The morning panel discussion will feature Kathryn Kase, the Executive Director of Texas Defender Service, and Shari Silberstein, the Executive Director of Equal Justice USA.  Kathryn will address the role that Texas plays in the national movement and how our state serves as a model for collaboration around decreasing use of the death penalty.  Shari will frame the national movement and strategy for abolition, with a particular focus on state legislative efforts and on EJUSA’s new outreach effort, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Learn more about the conference, including details on our 2014 award winners, hotel information, and sponsorship opportunities. See you in Cowtown!

In the News:  Reports on Texas, National Death Penalty Developments in 2013infographic3
TCADP’s year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review, received coverage from numerous media outlets and was the basis for an editorial by the Dallas Morning News, “Dallas County’s dubious death penalty distinction,” (December 28, 2013). Copies of the report will be delivered to every legislative office in the State Capitol later this month.

For a national perspective on recent death penalty developments, check out this report from the Death Penalty Information Center and this editorial from the New York Times, “The Slow Demise of Capital Punishment” (December 29, 2013).

End-of-Year Fundraising Update
TCADP is immensely grateful to everyone who contributed to our organization in 2013. Responses to our year-end appeal topped all previous records and exceeded our goal of raising $15,000 in December! We invite you to take your support to the next level by becoming a TCADP Partner for Justice or a Sustaining Member. Visit www.tcadp.org for details!

In Memoriam
TCADP member Dr. John E. Johnson passed away on December 21, 2013 at the age of 88. He and his wife Shirley were long-time members and generous supporters of our organization.  Most recently, John and his daughter Susan attended TCADP’s membership gathering in September at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. We express our sympathies to his family and friends.

We also express our condolences to the family of Harold Simmons, who passed away on December 28, 2013. TCADP recently received a generous grant from the Harold Simmons Foundation in support of the 2014 Annual Conference and other projects.

Calendar
January
8: TCADP in Collin County meeting, Suncreek United Methodist Church, 7:00 PM, Allen; collincounty@tcadp.org
9: Panel discussion and book presentation of “Go Cowboys,” an artistic compilation of imagery of public executions across all nations and time periods since visually recorded history; University of Texas-Dallas Centraltrak Gallery, 7:00 PM http://larissa-aharoni.info/index.php?/works/go-cowboys)
17-20: MLK Day Activities are happening around Texas.  Be in touch with the TCADP office for more info; info@tcadp.org.
18: RESCHEDULED DECEMBER EVENT  – “Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth” Co-sponsored event with Texas After Violence Project, at the Tarrant County College Trinity Campus TRTR 4102, from 4 PM to 7 PM, Ft. Worth
20: 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
21: Dallas Chapter Meeting, Cathedral of Hope in room CLC 196 at 6:30pm; dallas@tcadp.org
22: Delivery of TCADP year-end report to legislative offices at the State Capitol, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM; contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer
23:  TCADP presentation to the MFSA Central Texas Annual UMC Conference Chapter, Georgetown 6:30 PM
29: “Fair & Just” Lunch Series in Houston, 12:30-1:30 PM, St. Anne’s Catholic Church – Professor Ana Otero from Texas Southern Law School will discuss the American Bar Association’s Texas Death Penalty Assessment; Bi-monthly membership luncheon in Austin featuring Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle (more details coming soon)
30: “Incendiary” Film Screening, 6:00 PM at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2200 N. Bell Ave., Denton, TX 76209

February
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference
11: Dallas Prayer Breakfast on the Death Penalty; 9:00 – 10:30 AM; Cathedral of Hope; 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas
12: Fort Worth Prayer Breakfast on the Death Penalty; 9:00 – 10:30 AM; Bread Fellowship; 2902 Race Street #116, Fort Worth, Texas

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

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

12 December 2012 ~ Comments Off

TCADP Report: Use of Death Penalty Geographically Isolated, Arbitrarily Imposed in Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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

Use of Death Penalty Geographically Isolated, Arbitrarily Imposed in Texas,
According to New Report by TCADP

Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex led state in pursuit of the death penalty in 2012

(Austin, Texas) — More than half of all new death sentences were imposed in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex this year, while no new death sentences were imposed in Harris County for the third time in five years, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review.

New death sentences in Texas have declined more than 75% since 2002 and remain near historic low levels in 2012.  To date this year, juries have condemned nine new individuals to death in Texas, a slight increase over 2011 and 2010, when new death sentences fell to their lowest number since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas’ revised death penalty statute in 1976.  The verdict in a capital murder trial in Brazos County, in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, has been delayed indefinitely pending a legal dispute over jury instructions.

Tarrant and Dallas Counties each accounted for two new death sentences and Johnson County accounted for one.  Dallas County now leads the state in new death sentences since 2008, accounting for nearly 20% of sentences imposed in the last five years.  Dallas County also led the state in executions, accounting for 5 of the 15 executions carried out this year.

“While most of Texas is moving away from the death penalty, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was a major outlier both in new death sentences and executions this year,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  “2012 exemplified the arbitrariness that pervades the death penalty system in Texas.  Not only does it remain geographically isolated to just a few jurisdictions statewide, but it continues to be applied in a haphazard and unfair way, particularly when it comes to individuals with intellectual disabilities or severe mental illness and people of color.”

Seven of the new death row inmates in 2012 are African-American, one is Hispanic, and one is a white female.  Over the last five years, nearly 75% of death sentences in Texas have been imposed on people of color – 46% African-American and 28% Hispanic.  In Dallas County, this pattern is even more pronounced – of the eight men sentenced to death there since 2008, five are African-American and two are Hispanic.

Of the 15 men executed in Texas this year, seven were African-American, four were Hispanic, and four were white.

“Although Texas is using the death penalty less, the state still uses it disproportionately on people of color,” said Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service.  “This is a recurring problem and Texas’ failure to fix it demonstrates how broken its capital punishment system is.”

Troubling questions also persist regarding the arbitrary determination of who receives the ultimate punishment.  Cases involving individuals with comparable backgrounds or who presented similar legal arguments received vastly different treatment by the criminal justice system this year.

As one example of this arbitrariness, several death row inmates with diagnosed severe mental illnesses were scheduled for execution this year.  The executions of Steven Staley and Marcus Druery were halted pending unresolved issues related to their mental competency, while the execution of Jonathan Green, who reportedly suffered from schizophrenia, proceeded on October 10, 2012 after significant legal wrangling.

This disparate treatment was also evident in terms of issues related to intellectual disabilities.

Two inmates with recognized intellectual disabilities received reduced sentences and were removed from death row this year: Roosevelt Smith, convicted in 2007, and Anthony Pierce, who spent more than three decades on death row.  On the other hand, Marvin Wilson was executed on August 7, 2012 despite being diagnosed with an IQ of 61, well below the threshold of 70 for mental impairment.  His case created an international uproar and starkly illustrated the woefully inadequate and unscientific standards used by the State of Texas to determine which defendants with intellectual disabilities are protected from execution.

Other highlights of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review:

  • The State of Texas accounted for more than a third of U.S. executions this year, a smaller percentage than in the past but nearly three times as many as any other state.  Texas has executed a total of 492 people since 1982 – 253 executions have occurred during the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001 – present), more than any other governor in U.S. history.
  • Six inmates scheduled for execution in 2012 received reprieves.  In addition, three execution dates were withdrawn.
  • Death-qualified juries rejected the death penalty in the sentencing phase in four trials this year and instead opted for life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In all four cases, the jury determined that the defendant did not pose a future danger.  Over the last five years, death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in at least 20 capital murder trials.
  • According to research by TCADP, the Texas death row population stands at its lowest level since 1989.  As of November 16, 2012, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice counted 289 death row inmates, which includes 10 women.

“Attitudes toward the death penalty are shifting as public confidence in the ultimate punishment continues to erode,” said Houlé.  “As we approach the start of the 83rd Texas Legislature, TCADP urges concerned citizens and elected officials to confront the realities of this irreversible punishment and reconsider the efficacy and cost of the death penalty as a means of achieving justice.”

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

Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review is available online at www.tcadp.org/TexasDeathPenaltyDevelopments2012.pdf.  Contact report author Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.  See the report for tables illustrating Texas’ highest-use counties from 2008-2012, the race of defendants sentenced to death in the last five years, and additional graphs depicting recent trends.

See http://tcadp.org/2008-2012-new-death-sentences/ for a map of new death sentences by county from 2008 to 2012.

See http://tcadp.org/1976-2012-county-map/ for a map of death sentences by county from 1976 to 2012.

###

Continue Reading

23 January 2012 ~ Comments Off

Upcoming Events in Austin: Violence and the Death Penalty Discussion, and Annual Report Distribution

Please consider participating in the Austin area opportunities listed below.

Violence And The Death Penalty In Texas Walter Long

Walter Long, Austin criminal defense attorney and founder of the Texas After Violence Project, will facilitate a series of four Wednesday night discussions at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751, on active engagement with the problems of violence and the death penalty in Texas.  The Pendle Hill Pamphlet, “An Art of Small Resurrections – Surviving the Texas Death Chamber” by Mr. Long will be provided as a part of this class. Each night there is a dinner from 6:00 to 7:00 PM and discussion from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. Registration may be made in advance at: http://www.tumc.dreamhosters.com/events/wna-spring-session-1-begins-125/

  • January 25th: Theologies of the death penalty: a look at the Pendle Hill Pamphlet, “An Art of Small Resurrections” (free copies now available at TUMC), and punitive religion in light of Jesus’ command to love the enemy.
  • February 1st: Trauma systems and the death penalty: a look at the heavy social costs of a trauma-inducing public policy and better ways to meet the basic human needs for justice and nonviolence.
  • February 8th: Oral history and the death penalty: a look at the Texas After Violence Project and oral history as a means of deep listening and social transformation.
  • February 15th: Leaving the death penalty behind: exploring how religious congregations might help their communities overcome the dual affliction of private and official violence.

TCADP Delivery of Annual Report to Texas Legislators, Tuesday –  January 31

If you have not RSVP’d to help with the report delivery, please email your intentions to Bob Van Steenburg at austin@tcadp.org.

The delivery of the report will include:

  • Meeting at 9 AM in room E2.018 (Note this change.  We are not meeting in the cafeteria as we have in past years.).  We will use this room as our center of operations.  The room will be available to us all day.
  • 9:00 – 9:30:  Receiving instructions, information and making delivery plans.
  • 9:30 – until:  Delivering Annual Report to offices in the capitol.

Please plan on arriving by 9 AM so we can provide the necessary information/instructions to everyone at one time.

For those who may be new or haven’t visited the Capitol in a while, here are a couple of things to consider.

  • Capitol Visitors Garage is at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th streets.
  • You are required to pass through security to enter the Capitol.  This may result in a longer time to get into the building, so plan accordingly.
  • Room E2.018 is in the Capitol Extension building.  Take the elevators, which are just off the rotunda area to the E2 level.  You can view floor maps of the Capitol on the web at http://www.capevent.legis.state.tx.us/.  Select Maps from the menu on the right side of the page.

For more information or questions contact Bob Van Steenburg at austin@tcadp.org.

Information is also included about the upcoming annual meeting and training to be held in San Antonio, February 18.  Please learn more and register today! (Hotel Block rates end on January 31 and registration rates increase on February 1 – don’t overlook these important dates.)


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.

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

Download and share the conference flier.

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, hotel information, etc.  is available online at http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/.

Continue Reading

06 January 2012 ~ Comments Off

January 2012 News and Events

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
News and Events
Calendar

Scheduled Executions
January 26: Rodrigo Hernandez
February 1: Donald Newbury

Respond to each execution by attending a vigil in your community.  Learn more at http://tcadp.org/get-involved/stop-executions/

Also, on January 20, 2012, the State of Delaware plans to execute Robert Gattis for the killing of his former girlfriend, Shirley Slay. Please help our colleagues in Delaware by signing a petition calling for clemency for Gattis.

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
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.

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

Download and share the conference flier.

Advertise in the program to promote your work, congratulate the award winners, and sponsor this annual event.  Exhibitor tables are also available. Learn more.

2012 Conference Hotel Information
Hyatt Place San Antonio Airport
7615 Jones Maltsberger Road, San Antonio

A limited number of rooms have been blocked for Friday and Saturday nights at $99 a night.  The Hotel will have a free shuttle available to the conference location.

Book by phone at 210-930-2333 and ask for the “Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Group Rate” or go online to www.hyatt.com and use the code “G-TXCL”  in the Corporate/Group# field to get the group rate.

Requests for reservations within the block should be made prior to January 30, 2012; after this date rooms will be released for general sale.  Learn more and book your room!

All of the conference information, including award winners, is available online at http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/.

Dallas County Judge Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional, Later Recused
On December 19, 2011, during a pre-trial hearing in the Dallas County capital murder case of Roderick Harris, state District Judge Teresa Hawthorne ruled that Texas’ death penalty statute is unconstitutional, leading to death sentences that are arbitrarily and capriciously sought. This week, prosecutors succeeded in their motion to remove Judge Hawthorne from the case, claiming that her personal bias unduly influenced her decision. Read more.

TCADP 2011 Annual Report
On December 15, 2011, TCADP released its annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review. The report details the continued decline in new death sentences in the last decade and presents information on executions, reduced sentences, and stays; legislative developments; and other issues affecting the nation’s most active death penalty state. Data from the report was featured recently in editorials in the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram, as well as an article in the Dallas Observer (among other media coverage).

Read the report.  View maps of Texas that depict death sentences by county from 1976-2011 and from 2007-2011.

TCADP will deliver a copy of the report to every legislative office at the State Capitol on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. To volunteer to help with this effort, please contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org.

Partners for Justice
Start the new year with a renewed commitment to TCADP! Become a Partner for Justice today by making a recurring, automated monthly or quarterly donation using your credit card or checking account. This secure online giving program allows you to spread out your gift over the course of a year and provides a steady source of financial support for TCADP.  Partners receive special recognition at the Annual Conference and in the quarterly newsletter. Visit www.tcadp.org today!

Calendar

January
16: MLK Day Festival and Parade, Austin (Contact Vicki at info@tcadp.org to volunteer.)
16: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00 PM, featuring a screening of the film The Empty Chair: Death Penalty Yes or No, which looks at the subject from the viewpoint of murder victims’ families.  It will be shown from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Juan Diego room of Saint Pius Ministry Center.  Contact elpaso@tcadp.org for more information.
18: Dallas Chapter Meeting. 7:00pm dallas@tcadp.org
26: Scheduled Execution: Rodrigo Hernandez
26: Houston Chapter Meeting featuring Brandon Dudley, Chief of Staff for Senator Rodney Ellis, 7:00pm.  Dominican Sisters Meeting Room , 6501 Almeda Rd., Houston, Texas.  Pizza will be served for hungry attendees!  For additional information, call 832-693-5710.
30: Last day to book conference hotel at group rate http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/
31: Annual Report Delivery at the Capitol, Austin, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (Contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer.)

February
1: Last chance to register for the annual conference at the early-bird rates! http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/
1: Scheduled Execution: Donald Newbury
For more information about these events or to volunteer, email info@tcadp.org.

TCADP is on Facebook – become a Fan today!  And on LinkedIn – Join Us!

Continue Reading

20 December 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Austin American-Statesman Editorial: Texas juries choosing life without parole

“Whatever the reason for the decline in the number of executions in Texas, it is welcome news,” according to the Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board.  In an editorial published today, December 20, 2011, “Texas juries choosing life without parole,” the Board cites the decline in executions and death sentences as reported by TCADP last week.  The editorial cites the recent exoneration of Michael Morton in Williamson County – and other high-profile exonerations – as one possible reason for the decline in death sentences, as public faith in the reliability and fairness of the criminal justice system continues to erode:

Yes, the system — or rather the people who run the system — that failed in that case has failed in others and will fail in future cases because people make mistakes. While a death sentence can be appealed, it can’t be reversed once carried out.

The editorial goes on to chronicle the Texas Legislature’s 1995 passage of the bill that created life without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option in capital cases, noting that “[this] opened an option for Texas juries that had long been denied — and they are using it.”

Read the full editorial.

Read TCADP’s report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review.

Continue Reading

15 December 2011 ~ 1 Comment

TCADP 2011 Annual Report: Texas Carries Out Fewest Executions Since 1996

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 15, 2011

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

Spanish Translation

State of Texas Carries Out Fewest Executions Since 1996,
According to New Report from TCADP
New Death Sentences Remain at Record-Low Level, Imposed by Just Six Counties in the State

(Austin, Texas) — Executions dropped to the lowest number since 1996 and death sentences in Texas remained at a historic low level in 2011, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review. TCADP is an Austin-based statewide, grassroots advocacy organization.

In 2011, the State of Texas carried out 13 executions, which is 50% less than in 2007.  It accounted for 30% of the national total, once again a smaller percentage than years past but still twice as many as any other state.  Texas has executed a total of 477 people since 1982; 238 executions have occurred during the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history.

For the second year in a row, juries condemned eight new individuals to death in Texas. This remains the lowest number of new death sentences since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas’ revised death penalty statute in 1976.  Once again, just six counties in the state of Texas accounted for the new death row inmates: Fort Bend (1); Galveston (1); Harris (3); Harrison (1); Tarrant (1); and Travis (1).  This represents 2% of all Texas counties.

“Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is steadily moving away from the death penalty,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  “Use of the death penalty has been relegated to just a few jurisdictions in the state as prosecutors and jurors accept alternatives that protect society and punish those who are truly guilty.  Still, longstanding concerns about the arbitrary and biased administration of the death penalty remain.”

An analysis of data from 2007 to 2011 reveals that only 23 Texas counties have imposed death sentences over the last 5 years; of these, only 10 counties have done so in the last 2 years.  Out of a total 51 death sentences imposed in this time period, Harris County leads with 9; it is followed by Dallas County, with 7 new sentences since 2007, and Tarrant and Travis Counties, with 4 new sentences each.  The other 19 counties imposed 1-3 sentences each.  Together, these 23 counties represent just 9% of the 254 counties in Texas.

Significantly, no new death sentences were imposed in Dallas County for the first time in five years.  Prosecutors sought the death penalty for Charles Payne, but the jury rejected the charge of capital murder and instead found him guilty of murder in the shooting of police officer Senior Cpl. Norm Smith.  This represented the first time since 1996 that prosecutors in Dallas County did not secure a capital murder conviction in a case in which they sought the death penalty. In another Dallas case, prosecutors dropped their pursuit of the death penalty and agreed to a life sentence for Johnathan Bruce Reed after he was found guilty for a third time in the 1978 murder of Wanda Jean Wadle. Overall, Dallas County accounts for 102 death sentences since 1976.

Bexar County, which has sentenced the third highest number of people to death in Texas, has not imposed any new death sentences since 2009.

Notably, six out of the eight new death sentences were imposed on people of color, including four African Americans and two Hispanics/Latinos.  Over the last five years, nearly three-fourths of all death sentences in Texas have been imposed on people of color – 41% African American, 29% Hispanic/Latino, and 2% other.  In Harris County, where these patterns are even more pronounced, 12 of the last 13 defendants sentenced to death are African American and the 13th is Hispanic/Latino.

Five inmates scheduled for execution in 2011 received stays, while the execution date for another inmate was withdrawn.

  • On September 15, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stayed the execution of Duane Buck, pending a conference on his cert petition. During his trial, psychologist Walter Quijano, a witness for the defense, testified on cross-examination that the fact that Buck is African American increased the likelihood of his being dangerous in the future.  Such improperly elicited, racially-based testimony by Dr. Quijano led to new sentencing hearings in six other cases where the State of Texas conceded error – but not for Duane Buck.  On November 7, 2011, the Court declined to review Buck’s case.
  • On November 7, 2011, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay to Henry “Hank” Skinner, who was scheduled for execution on November 9.  Key pieces of evidence collected at the crime scene have never been subjected to DNA testing, and for the last 10 years officials have refused to release it for analysis.  The court stayed the execution to consider Skinner’s case in light of recent legislative changes to the statute related to post-conviction DNA testing. This was the second stay of execution for Skinner in two years.

Other highlights of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review include the following:

  • In one capital murder trial, the jury rejected the death penalty and opted for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In two other cases, death-qualified jurors convicted the defendant on a charge less than capital murder, which took the death penalty off the table.  In the last four years, death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in at least 14 cases.
  • Six inmates received reduced sentences in 2011 and were removed from the death row population, including Chelsea Richardson, one of ten women on death row.
  • The State of Texas executed Humberto Leal on July 7, 2011 for the 1994 rape and murder of Adria Sauceda in San Antonio.  As a Mexican national, Leal was legally entitled to seek assistance from the Mexican consulate, which could have provided him with competent legal counsel.  Texas authorities failed to inform him of this right, which is afforded to Americans and foreigners who travel abroad by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
  • In July, the capital murder trial of John Edward Green, which was in its sixth week of jury selection, ended abruptly when Harris County prosecutors accepted an offer from the defense.  In the deal, Green pled guilty to a lesser murder charge in exchange for a 40-year prison term; he had faced a possible death sentence if convicted.  A pre-trial motion in his case prompted two days of unprecedented testimony on the risk of wrongful conviction last December.

“Recent developments have infused the public conversation about the death penalty with new energy and new urgency,” said Houlé.  “Now, more than ever, we urge concerned citizens and elected officials to engage in dialogue about the realities of the death penalty system and reconsider this irreversible punishment by focusing on its local impact as an expensive, arbitrary, and error-prone public policy.”

Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review is available online at www.tcadp.org/TexasDeathPenaltyDevelopments2011.pdf.  Contact Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.

See http://tcadp.org/2007-2011-new-death-sentences/ for a map of new death sentences by county from 2007 to 2011.

See http://tcadp.org/1976-2011-county-map/ for a map of death sentences by county from 1976 to 2011.

Download this press release:  www.tcadp.org/2011TCADPannualreportpressrelease.pdf.

In Spanish.

###

 

Continue Reading