In this edition
Scheduled executions: The execution of John Ramirez is set for one week from today – take action now!
Case updates: Anti-violence organizations, Innocence Project file briefs in support of Melissa Lucio; Bexar County jury imposes first new death sentence in Texas in more than 16 months
TCADP 2022 Annual Awards: Seeking nominations for our Appreciation, Courage, and Media Awards
Events: TCADP book group meets September 1; art exhibit in Dallas to feature work by currently and formerly incarcerated people
Quote of the month
“For too long, prosecutors have used their vast discretion to pursue convictions and extreme sentences as part of a false promise of public safety; a new generation of prosecutors is changing this paradigm and prioritizing equity and justice while also improving the safety and well-being of our communities.”
– Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director, Fair and Just Prosecution
“Prosecutors call for Biden focus on criminal justice reform,” The Hill, August 17, 2021
John Ramirez: September 8, 2021
Although COVID cases are once again surging across the country, the State of Texas appears determined to move forward with seven scheduled executions over the next three months. On September 8, 2021, the State is scheduled to execute John Ramirez. It is the third execution date he has faced in recent years. Ramirez was convicted in 2009 of killing and robbing Pablo Castro in Corpus Christi in 2004. He was 20 years old at the time of the offense.
Ramirez has requested his spiritual advisor, Pastor Dana Moore of Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, accompany him in the execution chamber. He also asked that Pastor Moore be allowed to lay hands upon him and pray aloud at his moment of death in accordance with his religious practice. After these requests were denied, Ramirez filed a federal complaint alleging the violation of the free exercise of his religious beliefs. The complaint remains pending.
Take action now!
Ramirez has filed an application for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in which he requests a commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment, a 90-day reprieve from execution, and a hearing.
We need all concerned Texans to email the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to urge the members to recommend clemency and a reprieve for John Ramirez (you must include his TDCJ #999544 and DOB 06/29/1984 in your appeals). Share your concerns with Governor Greg Abbott. You’ll find talking points, a sample email, and contact information for the Board and Governor here. Take action by Friday, September 3, 2021.
Rick Rhoades: September 28, 2021
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Rick Rhoades on September 28, 2021. He was convicted in Harris County in 1992 and has spent nearly 30 years on death row. We will provide more information about his case soon.
To date in 2021, the State of Texas has put two people to death: Quintin Jones and John Hummel. Only Texas and the federal government have carried out executions this year. Texas also is the only state with multiple executions scheduled at this time, although the Attorney General of Oklahoma recently asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set execution dates for seven individuals, starting with John Grant on October 7, 2021 and Julius Jones on October 28, 2021. A petition for Jones, who steadfastly maintains his innocence, has secured more than 6 million signatures.
Anti-violence organizations, Innocence Project file briefs in support of Melissa Lucio
Last month, a coalition of former prosecutors, anti-violence organizations, and experts in the field of domestic violence filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in support of Melissa Lucio. Lucio, who is one of six women on death row in Texas, was convicted of causing the death of her two-year-old daughter, a death she maintains was an accident. The Innocence Project and Innocence Network also filed an amicus brief in support of Lucio. Learn more about her case and watch a panel discussion hosted last year by Texas A & M School of Law.
Bexar County jury imposes first new death sentence in Texas since March 2020
On August 6, 2021, after deliberating for nearly eight hours, a Bexar County jury sentenced Otis McKane to death for killing San Antonio Police Detective Benjamin Marconi in 2016. It was the first new death sentence imposed by a jury in Texas since March 2020 and the first in Bexar County in more than five years. Jury trials are once again on hold in Bexar County due to the pandemic. Although Bexar County ranks third behind Harris and Dallas counties in the total number of death sentences since 1974, use of the death penalty there has declined sharply.
TCADP 2022 Annual Awards
Nominate an individual or organization for a TCADP 2022 Annual Award
TCADP is now accepting nominations for our annual Courage, Appreciation, and Media Awards. With these awards, we recognize outstanding individuals and organizations who have made significant and selfless contributions towards ending the death penalty in Texas. All award winners will be honored during the TCADP 2022 Annual Conference, which will take place as a virtual event due to ongoing public health concerns. The date and other details will be announced soon. Award nominations will be accepted until October 15, 2021.
TCADP book group
The TCADP book group will meet tonight, Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at 7:30 PM Central Time, to discuss Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal by Alexandra Natapoff. Register here for the Zoom link.
Our next selection is The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton; check our website for the date of our next meeting.
Art exhibit in Dallas
The Pollock Gallery at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has partnered with Miles of Freedom, a nonprofit led by exoneree Richard Miles, to host The Arts of Oppression, an exhibit and auction of more than 180 works by people currently or formerly in prison. The exhibit will run from September 11 through October 30, 2021. Proceeds will benefit the featured artists and Miles of Freedom, which equips, empowers, and employs individuals returning home from prison and provides support and assistance for families and communities impacted by incarceration. A public opening reception will be held Saturday, September 11 from 11 AM to 5 PM.