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.
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The State of Texas carried out its final execution of the year, December 3. Jerry Martin was put to death for the 2007 murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison guard Susan Canfield during a prison escape from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. He was convicted in Walker County. Earlier this year, Martin waived his right to further appeal his case. Read more in the Austin Chronicle.
Six executions already have been scheduled for 2014.
TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the evening of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.
TCADP Announces 2014 Award Winners
The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2014 Annual Awards, which will be presented at our 2014 Annual Conference: “Lighting the Way” on February 22, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Appreciation Award: Ariana Campos, who has provided critical logistical support for TCADP’s activities in the State Capitol since 2009.
Appreciation Award: Maria Castillo, one of TCADP’s stalwart volunteers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, for her incredible outreach efforts.
Appreciation Award: Paula Keeth, a steadfast advocate for abolition and devoted member of the TCADP Dallas Chapter, for her commitment to the issue and inspiration of others.
Appreciation Award: Burnham Terrell, for his faithful work coordinating the Houston-area execution vigils for many years. The award will be presented post-humously. Learn more about Burnham below.
Courage Award: State Representative Terry Canales, in recognition of his public statement in support of ending the death penalty during the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703 by Rep. Jessica Farrar on April 29, 2013
David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: State Representative Lon Burnam, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to justice and his contributions to abolition and to TCADP, both within and outside of the Texas Legislature
Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary individuals at the 2014 Annual Conference! We invite you to congratulate the award winners by placing an ad in the conference program and/or sponsoring a table at the awards luncheon. We also invite individuals and organizations to share your work with participants by exhibiting at the conference. Download Form for Ads, Sponsors, and Exhibitors.
In addition to the annual awards luncheon – which will include a keynote address by Bob Ray Sanders, a longtime columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – the conference will feature a plenary session on the role that Texas plays in the national movement and ways that TCADP and our key partners are lighting the way toward ending the death penalty as a practice. Register today! Rates will increase after January 1st!
Coming Soon: Year-End Report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013
What county accounts for the most death sentences over the last six years? Who was removed from death row in 2013? All of your burning questions will be addressed in TCADP’s forthcoming annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review. More details will be sent to you later this month. Previous reports are available online.
We are grateful for the contributions that so many of you have made already this year and those that provided additional support on Giving Tuesday so that TCADP can continue to light the way toward abolition. Save a stamp by making an end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation today! Thank you for your support and generosity.
Take Action: Demand a New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck
On November 20, 2013, a divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Duane Buck’s appeal for a new, fair sentencing hearing free from racial bias. With this decision, Texas has once again reneged on the clear and unequivocal promise made by former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn that Mr. Buck would not face execution based on a racially biased death sentence. Despite this promise, Mr. Buck is now at grave risk of execution in Texas. Join more than 91,000 supporters who have signed a petition on Change.org calling for a new sentencing hearing for Duane Buck! Follow TCADP on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news and to learn about other opportunities for your involvement in this case.
In the News: Conservatives vs. the Death Penalty
TCADP Board Member Pat Monks is featured prominently in a new editorial by the Dallas Morning News, “Conservatives vs. the death penalty” (November 29, 2013). The editorial remarks on the emergence of a new national network, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, and notes, “the driving principles are capital punishment’s incompatibility with the conservative ideals of restraining government, protecting life and maintaining fiscal responsibility.” Read the full editorial.
Austin: Sister Helen Prejean to speak -December 3
Marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of her most famous work, Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Friends Meeting of Austin (Quakers) Meetinghouse, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 at 7 pm. The Quaker Meetinghouse is at 3701 E. MLK Blvd, Austin.
CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER -Fort Worth: Storytelling Circle with Families of the Executed – December 7
The Texas After Violence Project will host a special event Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the Tarrant County College, Trinity Campus, Trinity Building – Room Connect: TRTR 4102 on the 4th floor. Come explore the living pasts of the death penalty with families of executed Texans from the Fort Worth area and consider how memory may serve as a resource for restoring and reimagining community and building a more just and less violent Texas.
- Derrek and Keith Brooks, sons of Charlie Brooks, Jr. executed on December 7, 1982
- Stanley Allridge, brother of Ronald and James Allridge executed on June 8, 1995 and August 26, 2004 respectively
- Opening remarks by Bob Ray Sanders, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Circle keeper – Estrus Tucker, TCADP Board Vice-President
- Select clips from the Texas After Violence Project oral history archive
Hosted by the Texas After Violence Project with support from the Craig and Kathryn Hall Foundation. Co-sponsored by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Texas Observer, Amnesty International, and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.
Burnham Terrell, an active TCADP and Houston Chapter member, reached his 90th birthday on November 12 and the 21st anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Joan on November 13. He is an inspiration to any of us who might think we are too old to be an activist. Burnham passed away the morning of November 13 while recovering from a stroke that happened earlier in the month. The memorial service for Burnham Terrell will be Saturday, December 14 at 11 am at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House, 1318 W. 26th St., Houston, TX. Burnham’s faithful work coordinating the Houston area execution vigils for so many years will be sorely missed.
3 Scheduled execution of Jerry Martin; Sister Helen in Austin (see above for details); Giving Tuesday
5 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle and TCADP Board Member Pat Monks addressing Liberty on the Rocks Houston, 7:30 PM; TCADP Table at Dallas Peace Center Annual Peacemakers Dinner
7 31st Anniversary of the Resumption of Executions in Texas; Fort Worth Storytelling circle (CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER); Dallas Annual Christmas Card Signing for Death Row inmates, 11:00 to 4:00 in the History Department Conference Room, basement of Dallas Hall at SMU
10 International Human Rights Day
31 Last day to support TCADP with your year-end tax-deductible donation!
1 Last Day to Secure TCADP Annual Conference Early Bird Registration Rates (rates will increase after this date)
8 TCADP in Collin County meeting, 7 PM; Sun Creek United Methodist Church email@example.com
20 El Paso Chapter meeting, 7 PM firstname.lastname@example.org
22 Dallas Chapter meeting, 7 PM email@example.com
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference
Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today!
Last night, December 3, 2013, the State of Texas carried out its last execution of the year, putting Jerry Martin to death for the 2007 murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison guard Susan Canfield during a prison escape from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. Earlier this year, Martin waived his right to further appeal his case. Nationwide, there are at least 142 inmates who decided to give up their appeals and proceed with their executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
According to the Associated Press via Tyler Morning Telegraph (thanks to StandDown Texas for the link):
From the death chamber gurney, Martin told relatives of the slain corrections officer that he was sorry. “I wish I could take it back, but I can’t,” he said.
“I hope this gives you closure. I did not murder your loved one. It was an accident. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it happened. I take full responsibility.”
Fellow escapee and co-defendant John Falk Jr. is awaiting a retrial after a judge declared a mistrial in Falk’s capital murder case late last year.
The State of Texas carried out 16 executions this year, nearly half of all executions to date statewide. At least three executions are scheduled to take place in other states later this month.
A Dallas County jury has convicted and sentenced Franklin Davis for the murder of 16 year old, Shania Gray. Gray was the babysitter of Davis’ children and had accused him of rape.
Read more about the case from the Dallas Morning News.
This is the third death sentence in Dallas County this year, but the eleventh for Dallas County since 2008. It is the eighth new death sentence statewide in 2013.
Dallas County leads the state in the imposition of new death sentences over the last five years. Of the eleven men sentenced to death in Dallas County in this time period, eight are African American and two are Hispanic.
Last night, September 26, 2013, the State of Texas executed Jamie McCoskey for the abduction and murder of Michael Dwyer, 21. Some reports of the case include an accusation of rape of Michael Dwyer’s fiance who was also kidnapped at the time; however Harris County dropped the rape charge.
McCoskey’s mother testified at his trial that he had an abusive childhood that led to behavioral problems. After stints in juvenile facilities, his offenses escalated as he reached adulthood.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials have used pentobarbital as the single execution drug for more than a year now.
Read more about the case from ABC News/the Associated Press.
This was the 15th execution in Texas to date this year, out of 34 nationwide. McCoskey was sentenced in Harris County, their second execution for 2013.
Last month, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) announced that although their current supply of pentobarbital had expired, they had no plans to change the lethal injection protocol. At the time, officials did not disclose the source of the drugs they now are using in executions in Texas.
It now has come to light that TDCJ obtained pentobarbital from a local compounding pharmacy, which has demanded its return. Please see below for a press release issued today by the attorneys for three inmates who are suing for more information and who seek to halt the October 9 scheduled execution of Michael Yowell in order to permit time for review of Texas’ last-minute change to the use of compounded drugs.
For Immediate Release: Monday, October 7, 2013
Contact: Maurie Levin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bobbie Stratton or Brad Chambers of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell
Pharmacy Asks Texas to Return Drugs Intended for Use in Wednesday Execution
Civil Rights Plaintiffs Appealing Judge’s Order; Assert that TDCJ’s Promise that the purchase of execution drugs would be kept on the “down low” is additional evidence of TDCJ’s continued effort to carry out executions without transparency or accountability
(Austin, TX, Monday, October 7, 2013) A Texas compounding pharmacy that recently sold compounded pentobarbital to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for use in executions is demanding that the state return the drugs scheduled to be used in an execution on Wednesday. An appeal with the Fifth Circuit will be filed this week asking the court to stay Michael Yowell’s execution to permit time for review of Texas’ last-minute change to the use of compounded drugs. This weekend, a letter from Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice came to light in lethal injection in federal court in Arizona. The letter states in part:
“Based on the phone calls I had with Erica Minor of TDCJ regarding its request for these drugs, including statements that she made to me, it was my belief that this information would be kept on the ‘down low’ and that it was unlikely that it would be discovered that my pharmacy provided these drugs. Based on Ms. Minor’s requests, I took steps to ensure it would be private. However, the State of Texas misrepresented this fact because my name and the name of my pharmacy are posted all over the internet.”
The letter concludes: “I must demand that TDCJ immediately return the vials of compounded pentobarbital in exchange for a refund.”
The letter was sent in the midst of a civil rights lawsuit filed by Texas prisoners seeking information about the drugs TDCJ intends to use to carry out executions. The letter was only discovered when it was filed in a lethal injection action in Arizona District Court sometime on Friday. The attorneys for the inmates and for TDCJ were in Court Friday afternoon on a hearing on a request for a stay of Mr. Yowell’s scheduled execution in light of Texas’ efforts to keep information about how it intends to proceed with executions secret, and the risks inherent to compounded drugs – risks that have recently been the subject of Congressional hearings in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak.
Public records requests show that TDCJ has stockpiled a variety of drugs, none of which ever has been used in an execution. It was not until last Thursday that media discovered TDCJ plans to carry out upcoming executions using compounded pentobarbital purchased from Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy, located in Houston.
Maurie Levin, one of the plaintiffs’s attorneys, said, “The letter from Woodlands Pharmacy is further evidence of TDCJ’s lack of good faith, reflected both in the way they’ve gone about attempts to purchase lethal injection drugs, and in their misleading responses to requests for information about how they intend to carry out executions. Both have thwarted true access to the courts.”
Bobbie Stratton, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiffs at the Houston office of Baker Donelson said, “At the heart of this lawsuit is the basic premise that governmental agencies owe us, the public, a duty of transparency, deliberation, and accountability – especially when they are carrying out the ultimate act – the taking of a human life.”
The lawsuit at issue was filed last week by three death-sentenced prisoners in Texas. It is a civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), asserting that TDCJ has failed to disclose, in a timely and meaningful fashion, the drugs they will use to carry out executions and that this failure violates death row inmates’ constitutional rights. The suit also alleges that known problems with compounded drugs amount to a substantial risk that inmates will suffer severe pain, or that that drug will be inadequate to accomplish an execution.
Documents revealed at the Friday hearing in federal district court Judge Hughes’ courtroom reflect that TDCJ (or Woodlands Pharmacy) asked Eagle Analytical Labs to test the compounded pentobarbital for purity. Just three months ago an FDA inspection report listed numerous problems with the Lab, including problems with sterility, contamination, validation, test protocol, and staff training. One note indicates that staff performing a certain test (bacterialendotoxin) were never training in the “principles and methodologies of the test.”
Eagle Analytical is a subsidiary of PCCA, or Professional Compounding Centers of America. PCCA supplies ingredients to compounding pharmacies, including Woodlands.
Late Saturday afternoon, Judge Hughes denied Mr. Yowell’s request for a temporary restraining order, thus allowing the execution, scheduled for Wednesday, October 9, to proceed without meaningful review of the new drugs. The Plaintiffs are appealing that order to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today, October 2, 2013, the Death Penalty Information Center released a new report, The 2% Death Penalty: How a Minority of Counties Produce Most Death Cases at Enormous Costs to All. The report shows that, contrary to the assumption that the death penalty is widely used nationwide, only a few jurisdictions employ capital punishment extensively. Only 2% of U.S. counties are responsible for the majority of cases leading to executions since 1976. Nine counties in Texas are among the top 15 counties by execution since 1976.
The report notes that even within Texas, a minority of jurisdictions account for the majority of executions and death sentences. According to research by TCADP, just five counties account for more than half of the new death sentences imposed by Texas juries since 2008.
The new report from DPIC describes how aggressive use of the death penalty in relatively few counties produces enormous costs that are shifted to taxpayers in the entire state.
Go to http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/twopercent to read the report and see more compelling infographics.