In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Two executions scheduled for January in Texas
TCADP 2019 Annual Conference: Register by February 1, 2019 to take advantage of lower rates; sponsorship opportunities available
In case you missed it: Death penalty developments in Texas and nationwide in 2018; “What does race have to do with the death penalty in Texas?”; “21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor” includes recommendation to work to end the death penalty
Featured events: Join TCADP members for MLK Day parades in Houston and San Antonio
Year-end fundraising results: Thank you for your generous support
Quote of the month
“Extinguishing a human life is the gravest action a government can take. The punishment is also expensive, poorly applied and unnecessary to deter crime. It is past time every state did away with it.”
– “Death sentences are in decline. It’s time to do away with them entirely.” Washington Post Editorial, December 31, 2018
The State of Texas is scheduled to put two men to death this month:
- Blaine Milam, 29, is scheduled to be executed on January 15, 2019 for killing 13-month-old Amora Carson in 2008 at his trailer in Rusk County. According to police, Milam and his girlfriend, Jessica Carson, were trying to perform an exorcism on the child. Milam lost a federal appeal in May 2018. His attorneys argued that Milam had deficient legal representation during his trial and that the judge improperly instructed the jury. Due to extensive news coverage of the crime in Rusk County, his trial was moved 140 miles south to Montgomery County, where he was convicted in 2010. Jessica Carson, the baby’s mother, was sentenced to life in prison. Both Milam and Carson were 18 at the time of the crime.
- Robert Jennings, 61, is scheduled to be executed on January 30, 2019 for killing Houston police officer Elston Howard during a botched robbery at an adult bookstore more than 30 years ago. This is the second execution date Jennings has faced in three years. His lawyer has argued that his traumatic childhood, mental impairment, and demonstrated remorse should spare him from execution. Jennings also claims ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial, asserting his attorney was defending two capital cases at once and did not properly investigate mitigating evidence. In 2012, a district court recommended Jennings receive a new sentencing hearing, but that decision was reversed by a higher court.
There are currently four other executions scheduled to take place in Texas through May.
TCADP 2019 Annual Conference
The TCADP 2019 Annual Conference: Uniting for Justice will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin, Texas. Take advantage of pre-registration rates until February 1, 2019. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
If you can’t join us for the full day, consider purchasing a ticket for our awards luncheon and keynote address by Jason Baldwin. Jason was released on August 19, 2011 after serving more than 18 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. Known collectively as the “West Memphis 3”, Jason and co-defendants Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Damien Echols were wrongfully convicted of killing three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The factors surrounding their wrongful conviction led to a worldwide effort to free the three and expose the injustice of the Arkansas legal system. As our keynote speaker, Jason will address his experiences with the criminal justice system and his work with Proclaim Justice to overturn other wrongful convictions.
Also, please note that January 15, 2019 is the deadline for securing a hotel room at the group rate of $114/night at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Austin-University Area. Reservations must be guaranteed with a major credit card and will require a one-night, pre-paid room and tax non-refundable deposit. You can call the hotel directly at 512-302-5550 or toll-free at 1-888-236-2427 (be sure to tell the reservationist you are with TCADP), or book online.
In case you missed it
Coverage of death penalty developments in 2018
In December, TCADP released its year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2018: The Year in Review. According to the report, while death sentences remained near historic low levels in Texas in 2018, our state’s capital punishment system is still plagued by racial bias, geographical disparities, and fundamental unfairness.
The report received widespread media coverage from outlets throughout Texas and nationwide. Read more about our findings from the Houston Chronicle, Mother Jones, theAssociated Press, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Texas Tribune.
The Death Penalty Information Center also released its year-end report in December, noting that 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year with fewer than 30 executions and less than 50 new death sentences nationwide. Learn more about national death penalty developments in 2018.
“What does race have to do with the death penalty in Texas?”
Numerous articles related to TCADP’s 2018 year-end report highlighted the fact that all seven men sentenced to death in Texas last year are people of color. In this informative video,education publisher Pearson and the Texas Tribune explain the many ways that race factors into Texas death penalty cases.
“21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor”
This week, District Attorneys who won election in November 2018 were sworn into office. This includes newly-elected District Attorneys in Bexar, Dallas, and Fort Bend Counties. Among the “21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor,” released in early December by Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP), is a recommendation for prosecutors to “Work to End the Death Penalty” by opposing attempts to expand or expedite the death penalty, reviewing cases of those on death row, and considering alternative punishments.
According to a press release from FJP, “the document serves as a blueprint for elected prosecutors seeking to move away from past incarceration-based approaches and toward new pathways that promote equity, compassion and prevention-oriented responses within the criminal justice system.”
January 8: Texas 86th Legislative Session begins. Follow #txlege for updates.
January 9: TCADP’s San Antonio Chapter will meet at 6:30 PM at Oblate School of Theology (285 Oblate Drive). Contact Mardi Baron for details on this new meeting location:firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 21: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. If you are interested in marching with TCADP supporters in Houston’s MLK Day parade, email Jennifer Simmons at email@example.com.
February 16: TCADP 2019 Annual Conference: Uniting for Justice; St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin; 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Download and share the flier.
February 28 – March 1: Amplify Austin, a 24-hour online fundraiser. Mark your calendar and help TCADP win a $1,000 bonus prize for the seventh year in a row.