executions innocence Sister Helen Prejean TCADP Annual Conference

TCADP February 2024 Newsletter: Texas set to resume executions this month

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Sign Sister Helen Prejean’s petition to stop the execution of Ivan Cantu, set for February 28, 2024

TCADP 2024 Annual Conference: Join us in Fort Worth on March 2, 2024, for a day of inspiration and advocacy

In case you missed it: U.S. Supreme Court agrees to consider the case of Oklahoman Richard Glossip, who has maintained his innocence while facing nine execution dates

Texas primary election: Upcoming voter registration deadline and candidate forums

Featured events: DFW community huddle February 1, on Zoom; TCADP General Membership Meeting on February 21; TCADP book group discussion on February 28

Quote of the month

Scheduled executions

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Ivan Cantu on February 28, 2024. Cantu also faced execution in April 2023 before the date was withdrawn by a district court judge in Collin County, who agreed additional legal proceedings were necessary. 

Cantu was convicted of killing his cousin James Mosqueda and James’s fiancé, Amy Kitchen, in north Dallas in 2000. He has maintained his innocence, and in previous appeals he argued his trial attorneys were ineffective for failing to investigate and present evidence that would support his claim. Disturbed by the prospect they heard false and misleading testimony during the trial, some of the jurors who sentenced Cantu to death in 2001 want this evidence to be reviewed. 

In August 2023, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Cantu’s appeal and Collin County set a new execution date. Cantu’s spiritual advisor, Sister Helen Prejean, has created a petition to the Court and to the Collin County District Attorney to demand his execution be delayed. 

Read more about Cantu from the Texas Observer. Look for an email from TCADP soon with information about how you can support Cantu’s application for clemency. 

Texas has another execution scheduled for March 13, 2024, when James Harris, Jr. is set to be put to death.

There has been one execution nationwide this year. On January 25, 2024, Alabama put Kenneth Smith to death using a new, untested method of nitrogen hypoxia. Read this disturbing account from the Equal Justice Initiative, “Questions Surround Execution of Kenneth Smith.”

TCADP 2024 Annual Conference

The TCADP 2024 Annual Conference: Creating Conscious Communities is just one month away! Join us for a day of education and advocacy on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the Martin University Center on the campus of Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

Foremost among the many inspiring speakers you will hear that day is Ms. Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” and a Fort Worth resident since 1937. Last month, CBS News aired a short segment about Ms. Lee and her quest to reclaim the land from which her family was forcibly driven. Watch it here.

Ms. Lee will deliver the keynote address as part of the awards luncheon, during which we will honor five individuals who have raised awareness of death penalty issues. Our 2024 award recipients are mental health advocates Greg Hansch and Professor Brian Shannon, Dallas faith leader Dr. Jaime Kowlessar, journalist Jolie McCullough, and Fort Worth resident and longtime TCADP member, Scott Ruthart. Read about them here.

The conference also will feature a panel discussion and your choice of breakout sessions, which will include these:

– Mike Ware, the Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Texas, and Gretchen Sween, a capital defense attorney, will talk about junk science and the role it has played in wrongful convictions in Texas. 

– Nan Tolson, the director of Texas Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, will lead a workshop on the importance of conservative voices in the fight to end the death penalty. 

– A Tarrant County attorney who has represented numerous capital murder defendants, an ordained United Methodist minister who served in Huntsville, and a woman whose father was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing will address the traumatic effects of the death penalty process.

If you’ve ever wanted to meet TCADP supporters from across the state or become more involved in our campaigns, this is your chance!

Tickets are available for the full conference (10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with registration and breakfast opening at 9:00 AM) or for the luncheon only (12:30 to 2:30 PM). Register by February 16, 2024, for the best rates!

Note: TCADP has reserved a block of rooms at the SpringHill Suites Fort Worth University (3250 Lovell Avenue) for anyone who needs overnight accommodations on March 1-2, 2024. To receive the special room rate of $139/night, book by Friday, February 9, 2024. Make your reservation here or call 800.321.2211 and reference TCADP at the SpringHill Suites FWU to receive the group rate.

In case you missed it

Death penalty developments in Oklahoma

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Richard Glossip, an Oklahoma death row inmate who has steadfastly maintained his innocence in the face of nine execution dates. The Attorney General for Oklahoma has serious concerns about the case and supports Glossip’s quest for a new trial.

Separate from the case of Richard Glossip, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and the head of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections recently asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to space out executions in 90-day intervals to ease the “tremendous burden” on corrections officials. (No such consideration has been given to corrections officials in Texas, who carried out two executions in the same week in March 2023.)

Texas primary election

Texas will hold its 2024 primary election on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Early voting begins Tuesday, February 20 and runs through Friday, March 1.Candidates for the Texas Legislature, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and other offices will be on the ballot. Numerous counties, including El Paso, Harris, Nueces, and Travis, also will be electing District Attorneys (DA) this year. Click here for the full list of DA candidates, published by the Texas District & County Attorneys Association.

Check your registration status, access a sample ballot, find your polling place, and more on the Texas Secretary of State’s website

Important reminder: The last day to register to vote in the 2024 primary election in Texas is Monday, February 5, 2024.

TCADP encourages you to check with local nonprofit media outlets or civic organizations for information about candidate debates and other ways to engage in the primary election. For example, nonpartisan organizations Fort Worth Report, KERA, SteerFW, and the League of Women Voters will host candidate debates for several local races on Wednesday, February 7 and Thursday, February 8. El Paso Matters also has a page dedicated to election information, including candidate events.

On Wednesday, February 21, 2024, the Texas Tribune will host a conversation about what’s at stake in the state’s March 5 primary. You can attend the event in person in downtown Austin or online. RSVP here.

Featured events

Online gathering for TCADP supporters in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
For a preview of the annual conference and to meet other TCADP supporters in the DFW Metroplex, join TCADP Deputy Director Tiara Cooper on Zoom on Thursday, February 1, 2024, at 6:00 PM Central Time. Tiara will share updates for all interested in learning more about TCADP and our annual conference and taking onsite action. Get connected and don’t forget to register to receive the Zoom link.

TCADP General Membership Meeting
TCADP’s General Membership Meeting will take place on Zoom on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Central Time. Attendees will hear a report on our impact in 2023 and participate in the election of new board members. We’ll then break into small groups for discussions led by TCADP Board Members. If you have questions about your membership status, email Executive Director Kristin Cuellar at

TCADP Book Group
The TCADP book group meets on Zoom every six to eight weeks and reads a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs. Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at 7:00 PM Central Time when we will discuss Twelve Angry Men, a play by Reginald Rose. (Listen on Audible.) Register here.

After that, we will read Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. (We don’t have a meeting date yet for this book discussion, but it will likely be in mid-April.) 

Thank you for standing in community with us! We hope to see you in Fort Worth on March 2, 2024.