In this edition:
Scheduled executions: State of Texas set to execute Stephen Barbee on October 12 – take action today
Announcements: Introducing Hanna Seay, TCADP’s new Deputy Director; accepting nominations for our Annual Awards
In case you missed it: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturns conviction and death sentence of Clinton Young due to egregious ethical violations; documentary film The Phantom now available on Netflix; TCADP mourns the loss of longtime member and trailblazer, Frances “Sissy” Farenthold, and Louisiana death row exoneree, Damon Thibodeaux
Featured events: El Pasoans mark World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10; TCADP Book Group meets October 20 to discuss memoir by Alabama death row exoneree Anthony Ray Hinton
Quote of the month
“If the state insists on clinging to the otherwise inhumane process of executing people convicted of heinous crimes, it should at least ensure the process doesn’t stoop to meet the wrongs it purports to correct.”
– WE SAY: Texas must be humane with execution process, Herald Banner, September 25, 2021
With the withdrawal of Ruben Gutierrez’s October 27 execution date, the State of Texas is now scheduled to carry out one execution this month.
Stephen Barbee is set to be put to death on October 12, 2021. He was convicted in Tarrant County of killing Lisa and Jayden Underwood in 2005. Barbee faced execution two years ago but was granted a stay by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCoy v. Louisiana (2018). In that opinion, the Justices ruled that “a defendant has the right to insist that counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experience-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty.” During his trial, Barbee’s lawyers unexpectedly and impermissibly conceded his guilt to the jury despite Barbee’s insistence on his innocence and “not guilty” plea.
Barbee has filed a federal complaint relating to his request for his spiritual advisor to pray aloud with him in the execution chamber. His attorney has asked for a stay of execution based on an identical claim raised by John Ramirez, for whom the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted a stay; the Justices will hear oral argument in the Ramirez case on November 1, 2021.
Barbee also has filed an application for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for a recommendation of the commutation of his sentence to a lesser penalty or at least a 120-day reprieve so that the Board may fully investigate and consider the facts of his case, including the questions surrounding the reliability of his conviction and fairness of his trial.
Take action today!
Email the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles THIS WEEK to urge them to recommend clemency or at least a 120-day reprieve for Stephen Barbee (you must include his TDCJ #999507 and DOB 03/30/1967 in your appeals). Share your concerns with Governor Greg Abbott. You’ll find talking points, a sample message, and contact information for the Board and Governor on our website. Contact the Board by Thursday, October 7, 2021.
If his execution proceeds, Barbee would be the third person convicted in Tarrant County to be put to death this year.
To date in 2021, the State of Texas has put three people to death. Only Texas and the federal government have carried out executions this year, although three other states (Missouri, Alabama, and Oklahoma) have scheduled executions in October. Texas is scheduled to execute three men in November.
Meet Hanna Seay, our new Deputy Director!
We are thrilled to announce that Hanna Seay has joined the TCADP team as our new Deputy Director. Hanna graduated from the Dianna R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University with her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work, concentrating in social policy in the Community Practice program. She is passionate about bringing the social justice perspective of social work to advocacy and to traditionally non-social work settings. Hanna’s professional and academic experience has concentrated on social policy, human rights, community organizing, civic engagement, and cross-cultural engagement. She has been active in criminal justice reform in Texas through local and state politics and nonprofit work. Hanna was raised in Houston and is excited to now reside in Austin to help further the work of TCADP. Her first day with us was September 16, 2021. Reach her at email@example.com.
Nominate an individual or organization for a TCADP 2022 Annual Award
TCADP is 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. Due to ongoing public health concerns, the conference will take place as a virtual event on Saturday, February 26, 2022. More details coming soon!
In case you missed it
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturns conviction of Clinton Young
Relief for Clinton Young came on September 22, 2021 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction and death sentence. Young has spent nearly two decades on death row. The Court found that Young was deprived of his right to a fair trial and an impartial judge after evidence came to light that one of the prosecutors in his 2003 trial in Midland was working at the same time for the district judge who presided over the case. Young will be taken to the Midland County jail where he will wait for prosecutors to decide if they will try him again or dismiss the charges. Learn more about his case here.
|The powerful documentary film, The Phantom,is now available on Netflix. The film tells the harrowing story of how Texas executed Carlos DeLuna, a likely innocent man, in 1989 while ignoring evidence that another Carlos committed the crime. Watch the film and then sign this petition urging President Biden to commute the sentences of everyone on federal death row (thanks to everyone who has signed already; we will be accepting signatures until October 20).|
TCADP mourns the loss of Damon Thibodeaux and Sissy Farenthold
Damon Thibodeaux, an innocent man who spent 16 years on death row in Louisiana, died due to COVID-19 in early September. He was exonerated and released less than 10 years ago. Thibodeaux’s story is featured in the powerful documentary film, The Penalty, which is available to stream on Amazon Prime. He was described as a deeply positive, persistent individual who attracted a loving community of support. Learn more about his life here. We express our condolences to his family and many friends throughout the death penalty abolition movement.
We also are saddened by the recent passing of Sissy Farenthold, a longtime supporter of TCADP. Farenthold was a politician, attorney, and human rights activist who served as a Texas legislator from 1969 to 1973. At that time, she was the only woman in the Texas House of Representatives. In this interview, she expresses her deep-seated conviction of the injustice of the death penalty. We are grateful for her work to end the use of the death penalty in Texas and extend our sympathies to her family and friends. Read more about her incredible life and career here.
World Day Against the Death Penalty
TCADP members in El Paso will host “An Interfaith Bilingual Vigil Against the Death Penalty” to celebrate World Day Against the Death Penalty on Sunday, October 10, 2021; the event will take place from 3:00 to 4:30 PM Mountain Time. Bring a chair to Memorial Park on Grant Avenue (the lower road through the park, near the rock wall arch) and enter the park from Copia or Copper. You can learn more about World Day Against the Death Penalty here. If you have any questions, contact Pat Delgado at 915-740-3962 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TCADP Book Group
The TCADP book group will meet on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 7:30 PM Central Time to discuss The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. Register here for the Zoom link. All are welcome!