Carlos Deluna Dallas executions Gregg vs. Georgia public opinion severe mental illness

TCADP July 2021 Newsletter: Film renews scrutiny of the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna

In this edition

Scheduled executions: Four executions currently scheduled for the Fall of 2021

In case you missed it: Documentary film The Phantom renews scrutiny of the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna; Raymond Riles resentenced after 45 years on death row; 75% of Dallas voters prefer alternatives to the death penalty; questions remain as to why media witnesses were excluded from the execution of Quintin Jones 

TCADP comings and goings: Board of Directors adds members; Advocacy Fellow, Nicole Kinbarovsky, leaves her mark

Featured event: TCADP Book Group meeting on July 7 to discuss River of Fire by Sister Helen Prejean

July 2 marks the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Gregg v. Georgia (1976), which gave approval to the newly-crafted death penalty statutes of several states – including Texas – and paved the way for the resumption of executions.  On the anniversary of Gregg last year, we wrote about the unique requirement of Texas’s revised statute known as “future dangerousness” and how it has been linked with race. Read our commentary here

Scheduled executions

Last night, June 30, the State of Texas carried out its second execution of the year, putting John Hummel to death for murders committed in 2009. Both Hummel and Quintin Jones, who was executed on May 19, were convicted in Tarrant County, where prosecutors continue to pursue death sentences and executions at a time when most other jurisdictions are moving in the opposite direction.

To date in 2021, only Texas and the federal government have carried out executions; Texas remains the only state with multiple executions scheduled, with four dates set for later this year.

In case you missed it

Film focuses renewed attention on the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna
A new documentary film, The Phantom, tells the story of how Texas executed Carlos DeLuna, a likely innocent man, in 1989, and ignored evidence that another Carlos committed the crime. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last month and will open in select theaters and on demand nationwide on July 2. 

Watch the trailer and then sign this petition urging President Biden to commute the sentences of everyone on federal death row. The call to remove people from federal death row is the best way to ensure the U.S. government does not risk the irreversible horror of executing an innocent person.

After more than four decades on death row, Raymond Riles resentenced to life
Raymond Riles, a man with severe mental illness, was resentenced to life in prison on June 9 after spending the last 45 years on Texas’s death row. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his death sentence in April and the Harris County District Attorney’s office decided not to pursue another death sentence based on Riles’ mental incompetency.  The Court had found that the jury in his 1976 trial was not given the opportunity to fully weigh the mitigating evidence of his mental illness. 

Three-quarters of Dallas voters prefer alternatives to the death penalty
Dallas voters strongly support alternatives to the death penalty, according to a recent poll conducted by the independent research firm Public Policy Polling. When asked which punishment they prefer for people convicted of first-degree murder, 75% of respondents opted for a sentence other than the death penalty.

A majority of voters across all demographic categories, including political ideology, are concerned about the risk of executing innocent people: 69% believe it is very or somewhat likely an innocent person has been convicted and sentenced to death in Dallas. More than 80% of respondents would support a decision by the District Attorney to review the case of every individual still on death row from Dallas County to ensure accuracy and fairness.  Read more about the poll results.

TDCJ conducts internal investigation as to why media witnesses were excluded from execution in May; questions remain for civil liberties advocates
A month after legislators and First Amendment advocates called on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to account for the appalling exclusion of media witnesses from the execution of Quintin Jones, the agency released the results of its internal investigation. According to the ACLU of Texas, however, the details provided by TDCJ raise more questions than provide answers

 TCADP comings and goings

The TCADP Board of Directors recently added two members: Angelle Adams and Monique Coleman. Angelle, a civil litigation attorney, previously served on the Board from 2010 to 2016, including a term as President.  She has been involved with TCADP since 2008 after learning about our organization at a political convention. 

Monique is joining the board for the first time. She is pursuing a PhD in Family Studies at Texas Woman’s University; her research focuses on the resilience of the family unit during wrongful incarceration and the reintegration process. Monique understands this resilience firsthand as the sister of Ryan Matthews, the 115th person in the United States to be exonerated from death row.  Learn more about Angelle, Monique, and other members.

In June, we bid a fond farewell to Nicole Kinbarovsky, who served as TCADP’s Advocacy Fellow for the past six months. Nicole, who was also part of the TCADP Lobby Corps, is moving with her family to Florida to pursue her PhD in Cultural Anthropology. She has been a tremendous asset to TCADP, playing an indispensable role in the 2021 Annual Conference, updating and expanding resource materials, conducting research on cases and legislation, and much more. We are grateful for her efforts to advance our mission and wish her the best on this next chapter.

Featured event

The TCADP Book Group meets every six weeks on Zoom and reads a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs. Our next book selection is River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen Prejean. We will meet virtually to discuss this book on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at 7:30 PM Central Time. Register here. You will receive a link for the Zoom meeting that morning.