david lee powell death penalty executions Texas

Urge Clemency for David Lee Powell

David Lee Powell, who was sentenced to death in 1978 for the murder of Austin Police Officer Ralph Ablanedo, is scheduled for execution on June 15, 2010. He has accepted responsibility for his crime and repeatedly expressed his remorse to Officer Ablanedo’s family and the law enforcement community in Austin.

In his 32 years on death row, David has been a model prisoner and has assisted his fellow inmates in numerous ways – diffusing conflicts, teaching others to read, and advocating for those with disabilities. His case starkly demonstrates the fallacy of the “future dangerousness” argument that prosecutors in Texas often use to convince jurors to sentence a defendant to death. At a resentencing hearing for David Powell in 1999, former Texas State Legislator Sissy Farenthold, Ronald Hampton, Executive Director of the National Black Police Association, and several prison guards from death row who had known David for years testified on his behalf. They all attested to his upstanding character and firmly stated that he was no longer a threat to society. David had no history of violence before or since the crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.

You can read more about David Lee Powell in an article that appeared this week in the Austin Chronicle (“The execution of David Powell will not serve justice”).

Please send a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, urging clemency for David Lee Powell. Letters from Travis County residents are particularly valuable. You can take action through the website of Amnesty International USA or compose your own letter based on AIUSA’s Urgent Action. Here are some suggested talking points:

Note that Mr. Powell does not pose a threat or future danger to society, according to several law enforcement officers who testified on his behalf.

Note that the death penalty issue has changed dramatically in Texas in the last 30 years and that the number of new death sentences has declined more than 60% in recent years.

-Urge the Board to grant clemency as a way to restore the community, rather than move forward with an execution that will lead only to more pain and divisiveness.

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