Past TCADP Conferences

2017: Moving to Higher Ground

We are grateful to everyone who participated in the TCADP 2017 Annual Conference – Moving to Higher Ground – on February 18, 2017 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin. It was wonderful to see so many new faces, as well as longtime supporters, hear from our compelling speakers, and honor our incredible award recipients.  Pictures from the conference are now available on our Facebook page.

Keynote Speaker: Brian Stolarz
Brian Stolarz served as habeas corpus counsel to Alfred Dewayne Brown, who was exonerated in June 2015 after spending 10 years on Texas’ death row. Stolarz received the 2015 Light of Justice Award from the Texas Defender Service for his efforts to secure justice for Mr. Brown, and his work on the case has been profiled in The Washington Post and the Houston Chronicle, and on the Today Show.  His book about his relationship with Dewayne, Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man, is a Washington Post best-seller. Be sure to read Brian’s recent OpEd published in the Houston Chronicle and watch this short film featuring Brian and Dewayne.

Panel Discussion: Covering the Death Penalty
In addition to offering a diverse array of workshop sessions, we were delighted to present a panel discussion involving local journalists who cover the death penalty. They discussed their approach to the issue and how this might have changed over the years.  Panelists also addressed what they saw on the horizon in terms of coverage of the death penalty this year.  The panel included:

  • Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly
  • Joy Diaz, Texas Standard
  • Jolie McCollough, Texas Tribune
  • Ryan Poppe, Texas Public Radio
Freelance journalist and TCADP 2015 Media Award Recipient Alex Hannaford served as the moderator.

2017 Annual Award Winners

Appreciation Award
TCADP’s Appreciation Award is bestowed upon individuals and organizations who have made significant – often selfless – contributions towards our efforts to end the death penalty in Texas.  We are pleased to present our 2017 Appreciation Award to Lindsey Pearlstein, in gratitude for her hundreds of hours of volunteer service with TCADP as a full-time undergraduate student at the University of Texas-Austin.

Lindsey Pearlstein, an Elementary Education major and native of Massachusetts, served as TCADP’s Advocacy Intern in the Fall of 2014 through the Bridging Disciplines Program.  She then volunteered in our office on a regular basis the following two semesters, through the end of 2015. We are forever grateful to Lindsey for her contributions to our work and her commitment to social justice, and we can’t wait to see how the next chapter of her life unfolds when she graduates in May 2017.

Courage Award
We are pleased to present our 2017 Courage Award to Alfred Dewayne Brown in recognition of the 10 years he spent as an innocent man on Texas’ death row and his continued pursuit of justice and compensation from the State.

On June 8, 2015, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office dismissed capital murder charges against Brown, who was wrongly convicted of the murders of Houston Police Officer Charles R. Clark and store clerk Alfredia Jones at a check-cashing business in 2003.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Brown’s conviction and death sentence on November 5, 2014, after finding the Harris County District Attorney’s Office withheld material evidence favorable to his case, specifically, a record of a phone call that corroborated his claim that he was at his girlfriend’s apartment the morning the murders took place. In 2013, a homicide detective found a box of phone records in his garage that indicated Brown made the call exactly when he asserted. The file was never shared with Brown’s defense counsel during his original trial.

Brown is the 13th person to be exonerated from death row in Texas.  A total of 156 people have been exonerated from death rows nationwide since 1973.

David P. Atwood Founder’s Award
The David P. Atwood Founder’s Award was established by the TCADP Board of Directors in 2010 in honor of Houstonian Dave Atwood, who founded our organization more than 20 years ago.  The award honors those who have made a lifelong commitment to justice. We are pleased to present the 2017 Founder’s Award to State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. in honor of his many important contributions to the cause of ending the death penalty, particularly his sponsorship of the first death penalty repeal bill to be introduced in the Texas Senate and his advocacy for alternatives to the ultimate punishment.

A leader on education, healthcare and economic development, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and a former educator and coach.  In the 79th Legislative session, he authored the bill establishing Life Without Parole in Texas, and in the 84th Legislative session, he authored SB 1661, a bill to repeal the death penalty in Texas.

As he prepares for the 85th Legislative Session, Senator Lucio is guided by the values he learned growing up in Brownsville, which were enriched as an educator and cultivated in the corridors of the State Capitol, putting people first and advocating for the hard-working families deep in the heart of Texas.

2017 Sponsors
John Mimbela, Mimbela Contractors Inc.
Lifespark: Movement against the death penalty

2016: At the Epicenter of the Death Penalty

We are grateful to everyone who participated in the TCADP 2016 Annual Conference – At the Epicenter of the Death Penalty – on February 20, 2016 at Unity of Houston. It was wonderful to see so many new faces as well as as longtime supporters, hear from our compelling speakers, and honor our incredible award recipients.  Pictures from the conference are now available on our Facebook page.

Keynote Speaker: Sen. Colby Coash
Colby Coash was first elected to the Nebraska State Legislature in 2008 and won reelection in 2012. He represents District 27, which encompasses  portions of Lincoln. He serves as the vice-chairman of the General Affairs Committee, vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, as well as on the Urban Affairs Committee, State-Tribal Relations Committee, Committee on Committees, Reference Committee, Developmental Disability Oversight Committee, Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee, and the Executive Board of the Legislative Council.

As a life-long Nebraskan, Senator Coash has prioritized giving a voice to vulnerable Nebraskans, especially children and people with disabilities. He works hard to promote economic development opportunities across the state in industries that require creativity and special attention in order to grow.

His service on the Judiciary Committee gives him opportunities to lead on issues of justice. He has spearheaded efforts to assist the court system in promoting access to justice for all Nebraska citizens. Furthermore, Senator Coash works to ensure the criminal justice system maintains not only “justice,” but also good stewardship of tax payer money.

In 2015 Senator Coash played a critical role in the abolishment of the death penalty in Nebraska after 38 years of attempts. He used his position as a conservative leader to convince his colleagues that the death penalty did not represent conservative values or the best interests of Nebraskans. Said Senator Ernie Chambers, “Without Coash’s influence and fortitude we would not have been successful in this effort.”

If you missed Senator Coash’s appearance on The Daily Show, watch it here.

2016 Panelists
Our morning panel discussion focused on past and present use of the death penalty in Harris County, which alone accounts for nearly 300 death sentences and more executions than any state in the country besides Texas. Yet even in Harris County, the death penalty landscape is shifting.

Dr. Stephen Klineberg
A graduate of Haverford College, with an M.A. from the University of Paris and a Ph.D. from Harvard, Stephen Klineberg is a Professor of Sociology at Rice University and the founder of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. In 1982, he and his students initiated the annual Kinder Houston Area Survey, now in its 35th year of tracking the remarkable changes in the demographic patterns, economic outlooks, experiences and beliefs of Harris County residents. Dr. Klineberg currently serves as the Founding Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Read his opinion piece about Harris County residents’ views on the death penalty, published this summer in the Houston Chronicle.

Award Winners
Appreciation Awards: State Representative Alma Allen; Patricia Delgado; and KPFT 90.1 FM
Media Award: Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle
David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: Dominican Sisters of Houston

Appreciation Awards
TCADP’s Appreciation Awards are bestowed upon individuals and organizations who have made significant – often selfless – contributions towards our efforts to end the death penalty in Texas.  We are pleased to present our 2016 awards to the following:

State Representative Alma Allen jointly authored State Representative Jessica Farrar’s death penalty repeal bills in the 2011 and 2013 legislative sessions and has been a steadfast supporter on death penalty-related issues. She also has provided significant leadership as a member of the House Corrections Committee. Rep. Allen has represented District 131 (Houston) since 2004.

Patricia Delgado is one of TCADP’s most dedicated volunteers. She has provided leadership to El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, a chapter of TCADP, since 2012 and has organized countless activities to engage the public, elected officials, and religious communities. These include bilingual prayer vigils at parishes across El Paso as well as vigils outside the courthouse downtown on the day of executions in Texas; workshops in conjunction with the Diocese of El Paso’s Restorative Justice Ministries; the Lighting of the Star on Franklin Mountain, which last year engaged more than 60 community members, including a strong youth contingent; and outreach to members of El Paso’s legislative delegation. Pat provides a monthly newsletter for El Pasoans, organizes monthly chapter meetings and film screenings, and participates in media requests. She truly is our *star* in El Paso!

KPFT 90.1 FM, Houston Pacifica Radio, is often the first media outlet to contact TCADP when there is breaking news about the death penalty and when we release our year-end report. We have participated in countless interviews with their reporters over the years and appreciate their steadfast coverage of death penalty issues. KPFT also provides support for our local activities and the work of the Houston Chapter and hosts special programs that give voice to the voiceless, including “The Prison Show” and “Execution Watch.”

Media Award
TCADP’s Media Award honors journalists and media outlets whose work has raised awareness of the flaws and failures of the death penalty.

We are pleased to present the 2016 Media Award to Houston Chronicle Metro Columnist Lisa Falkenberg in recognition of her groundbreaking work on the Texas grand jury system and the case of Alfred Dewayne Brown.  Her columns contributed to Brown’s ultimate exoneration and propelled legislative reform last year.

On June 8, 2015, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office dismissed capital murder charges against Brown, who spent the last decade on death row. His conviction was overturned in November 2014 due to evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.  Falkenberg won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of his case. To see her Pulitzer nomination packet, including a letter from the editors who nominated her, visit:

David P. Atwood Founder’s Award
The David P. Atwood Founder’s Award was established by the TCADP Board of Directors in 2010 in honor of Houstonian Dave Atwood, who founded our organization more than 20 years ago.  The award honors those who have made a lifelong commitment to justice. We are pleased to present the 2016 Award to the Dominican Sisters of Houston, in gratitude for their longtime support for TCADP and involvement in our activities.

The Dominican Sisters of Houston is a Catholic community of women whose mission is “to publicly commit ourselves to study and address the crucial justice issues of our times,” including the death penalty. At the December 1997 Chapter, the sisters adopted a corporate stance against the death penalty. This was followed by opportunities of study and advocacy. They became early members of TCADP and helped coordinate vigils on the evenings of executions.  The Sisters have hosted numerous events on the death penalty featuring murder victims’ family members and others with firsthand experience with the criminal justice system.  They also support TCADP’s Religious Outreach programs, including our Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty and other initiatives.

2016 Sponsors
John Mimbela- Mimbela Contractors, Inc.


2015: Death Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground

We are grateful to everyone who participated in the TCADP 2015 Annual Conference – Death Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground – on February 21, 2015 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin. It was wonderful to see so many new faces as well as as longtime supporters, hear from our compelling speakers, and honor our incredible award recipients. We look forward to continuing our work together to draw attention to death penalty fault lines.

Photos from the day are available on our Facebook page.

Co-sponsors:Champion Level

John Mimbela, Mimbela Contractors, Inc. in El Paso
Proclaim Justice and Quest for Justice

Awards Luncheon Sponsors
Angelle Adams
Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, LLP and Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP
Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio
Virginia Greenway
Dr. Rev. Jeff Hood
Methodist Federation for Social Action – Rio Texas Chapter

Keynote Speaker: Tim Cole

Tim Cole is a former district attorney with more than 20 years of experience in the courtroom. He has tried over 100 felony jury trials in North Texas, including every level of felony charge.  Tim was elected to four terms as 97th District Attorney (Archer, Clay & Montague Counties; 1993 to 2006) and served as assistant district attorney in the 271st District (Wise, Jack Counties; 2010-2014). He also served as Counsel to Governor Clements in 1990 and General Counsel for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association from 1988 to 1990.

Tim’s work in high-profile cases has been written about and documented in major publications such as Texas Monthly. He also wrote about his personal experience in a death penalty case, “The Death Penalty Has a Face,” published by Texas Monthly in March 2013.

Tim has achieved certification in both Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law, currently the only two specialty certifications available to criminal defense attorneys in Texas. He now works in private practice as a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth.  Tim recently participated in TCADP’s Speakers’ Tour in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with death row exonoree Juan Melendez.

Panel Discussion: “Shifting the Ground Under the Death Penalty”Panelists:

Pat Monks, a native Houstonian, has practiced law as a criminal defense attorney for 27 years and is a lifelong member of the Republican Party.  He served as Chair of Precinct 718 of Harris County for more than 10 years and was a member of the Judicial Candidate Selection Committee of Harris County.  Pat has attended nearly every precinct, senatorial, and State Republican Convention for the last 20 years.  He has served on the TCADP Board of Directors since 2010 and is an active member of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

Brian Stull is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, having joined the project in 2006. He has served as trial and appellate counsel in capital cases in North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. Among other clients, Brian represented Levon “Bo” Jones an innocent man exonerated from North Carolina’s death row in 2008; Adrian Estrada, a Texas man whose death sentence was reversed when the ACLU discovered he had been sentenced to death based on false testimony; Manuel Velez, an innocent Texas man recently released from prison; and Max Soffar, an innocent man dying of liver cancer on Texas’s death row.

Brian authors ACLU amicus briefs filed in various appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, and blogs concerning capital punishment for the ACLU Blog of Rights and other outlets. He has investigated conditions of confinement on Texas’s death row and advocated for needed improvements. A native of the first execution-abolition state, Michigan, and an M.S.W. social worker before his legal career, Brian graduated from New York University School of Law, where he trained under capital defense luminary Tony Amsterdam.

Moderator: Dr. Mike Renquist, TCADP Board of Directors

2015 Award Winners

The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of our Annual Awards, which will be presented during the awards luncheon at the 2015 Annual Conference on February 21, 2015.

Appreciation Award: Alexandra Noll, for volunteering for TCADP since 2011 and reaching out to other students to join the movement.

Appreciation Award: Rev. Cheryl Smith, for bringing light to the death penalty issue through regular vigils outside the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

Courage Award: Manuel Velez, for spending nine years in prison, including four years on death row, as an innocent man and making he made the ultimate sacrifice to take a plea offered by the state in order to ensure his freedom and be reunited with his family.

Media Award: Alex Hannaford, for writing countless articles about the death penalty for publications such as The Guardian, Texas Observer, and the Nation and for creating “The Last 40 Miles,” an animated short film that presents a death row inmate’s final journey from death row in Livingston to the death chamber in Huntsville.


2014: Lighting the Way

Saturday, February 22, 2014, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
University Christian Church, 2720 S. University Dr., Fort Worth, Texas 76109

Check out the photos!

A tremendous thank you to the staff at University Christian Church and all the speakers, sponsors, and TCADP members and volunteers who made the conference possible.  Read more about them and everything that happened at the conference in the program.

The morning panel discussion included Kathryn Kase, the Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service, and Shari Silberstein, the Executive Director of Equal Justice USA.  Kathryn provided valuable information on the role that Texas plays in the national movement and how we are providing the model for collaboration aimed at decreasing use of the death penalty in our state.  Shari framed the national movement and strategy for abolition, with a particular focus on state legislative efforts.  EJUSA is pioneering a new outreach effort, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Videos of the Keynote address and awards ceremony are available on the TCADP YouTube Channel.

The 2014 Keynote Speaker during the Award Luncheon was Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders.  Bob Ray Sanders is often criticized for writing about things he could not have experienced because, some readers say, “he can’t be that old.” The truth is Bob Ray has been a professional journalist for 40 years and in three media: newspaper, television and radio. A Fort Worth native who knows and cares about his community, and those with whom he shares this planet, this is a columnist who is not afraid to speak out on behalf of downtrodden people.

The TCADP Board of Directors presented the 2014 Award Winners during the 2014 Annual Conference: “Lighting the Way” Luncheon 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 2010.
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 posthumously.
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.
A special thank you to the Harold Simmons Foundation for their sponsorship of the TCADP 2014 Annual Conference “Lighting the Way”.

2013:  “Changing the Conversation”

February 23, 2013
Location:  St. Edward’s University, Austin

Story on the Conference from Facebook and Twitter Posts –

Watch videos of the speakers from the Conference Panel Discussion:  Anthony Graves         Prof. James Liebman

Download 2013 Annual Conference flyer
TCADP Annual Award Winners Celebrated at the Conference

  • AppreciationJC Dufresne, who played an instrumental role in the Texas Democratic Party’s decision to endorse abolition of the death penalty in its 2012 Platform.
  • Appreciation: Methodist Federation for Social Action-Southwest Texas Chapter, for their years of involvement and ongoing contributions to the abolition movement.
  • Media: Joe Bailey, Jr. and Steve Mims, Filmmakers of “Incendiary”, a documentary about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 despite serious flaws in the forensic science used to convict him and doubts about his guilt.

Read more about the winners.

Plenary Session
In addition to the annual awards luncheon, the conference featured a plenary session on how instances of wrongful convictions and evidence of wrongful executions are changing the conversation on the death penalty. Panelists included:

2012: “Seizing the Momentum … Creating the Climate for Change”

February 18, 2012
University of Incarnate Word Sky Room
Dr. Burton E Grossman International Conference Center
847 E Hildebrand, San Antonio
Panel Discussion: The Impact of Texas’ Changing Demographics on the Death Penalty – Read about this exciting list of panelists!

See pictures from the conference.

Annual Awards – The TCADP Board of Directors sought nominations from TCADP members for the annual courage, appreciation, and media awards, which were presented at the 2012 Annual Conference on February 18, 2012 in Austin.  Read about this year’s honorees.

Seizing the Momentum… Advancing Statewide Vision through Local Action
2011 TCADP Annual Conference
February 19, 2011

See pictures from the conference award ceremony.

Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center
First United Methodist Church
13th and Lavaca, Austin, Texas

Panel Discussion:
Sam Millsap, former Bexar County District Attorney
Dennis Reeves, Assistant Public Defender of the Regional Public Defenders Office for Capital Cases
Karen Peissinger, El Paso TCADP Chapter Leader
Sachin Chheda, NCADP Deputy Director (moderator)

2011 TCADP Annual Awards

Thank you for submitting nominations for this year’s Courage, Appreciation, and Media awards.

TCADP is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2011 Courage, Media, and Appreciation Awards:

Courage:  Anthony Graves and his family
Media:  Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly
Appreciation:  Jim and Sherry Coombes; Marj Loehlin; Dennis Longmire
Founder’s Award:  Reverend Carroll Pickett

Read more about the winners.

Seizing the Momentum: Building Capacity, Community, and Coalition
February 20, 2010

Highland Park United Methodist Church
3300 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas
Co-Sponsored by the SMU Human Rights Education Program

See the Pictures

Raising Our Voices for Abolition
Saturday, February 21, 2009

Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center
First United Methodist Church
12th and Lavaca, Austin, Texas

See the pictures