Dallas huntsville innocence TCADP Annual Conference

TCADP April 2024 Newsletter: Creating Conscious Communities – TCADP’s Eventful Start to 2024

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: No Texas executions in April or May

Organizational announcements: TCADP welcomes three new board members 

TCADP 2024 Annual Conference recap: Check out photos from our signature statewide event!

New resources: Documentary film, “God Save Texas: Hometown Prison”; annual report from the National Registry of Exonerations

Featured events: TCADP Book Group meeting on April 10 to discuss Chain-Gang All-Stars; “Memory Myths & Wrongful Convictions” community forum on April 18 in Dallas regarding the local death penalty case of Charles Flores

Quote of the month

“And so I ask you, make yourself a committee of one to change somebody’s mind … If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love.”

– Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” and keynote speaker at the TCADP 2024 Annual Conference (pictured here with TCADP Deputy Director Tiara Cooper)

Scheduled executions

Texas does not have executions scheduled in April or May. To date this year, the State has put one person—Ivan Cantu—to death. (In 2023, Texas executed eight men.) Alabama and Georgia also have carried out executions this year. 

Missouri and Oklahoma are scheduled to carry out executions this month. More than seventy Missouri Department of Corrections officers and staffers have urged the governor to stop the execution of Brian Dorsey, who is set to be put to death on April 9, 2024, for killing his cousin and her husband in 2006. Jurors and lawmakers also support Dorsey’s request for clemency. Learn more about his case from Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty

Organizational announcements

TCADP is delighted to welcome three new members of the Board of Directors, who joined us on March 3, 2024:

Mitesh Patel, a businessman and entrepreneur in San Antonio, has spent the last few years spreading awareness about how the justice system works in Texas and promoting areas of change. He began these efforts in 2018, while advocating for clemency for the man who killed his father, Hash Patel. Watch the powerful Now This News piece about his journey on the death penalty. 

Stephen Reeves serves as Executive Director of Fellowship Southwest, an Organizational Affiliate of TCADP. He previously served in Atlanta, Georgia as the Director of Advocacy for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and as Director of Public Policy and Legislative Counsel for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission. 

– Cheryl Smith has enjoyed multiple professions, including public school teacher, psychotherapist, and ordained United Methodist minister. While serving as Minister of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Texas, Rev. Smith held vigil outside the Walls Unit during every execution in Texas.

TCADP extends its gratitude to outgoing Board President Kim Harrison (2017-2024) and to members Niki Bergin (2018-2024) and Rick McClatchy (2021-2024) for their service on the Board and commitment to ending the death penalty. Angelle Adams will serve as Board President for the next two years, a role she held previously from 2014-2016.

Read the bios of all TCADP Board members.

TCADP 2024 Annual Conference recap

The TCADP 2024 Annual Conference: Creating Conscious Communities took place on March 2, 2024, in Fort Worth, Texas with 100 supporters and guests from across the state, as well as friends from Arizona, New Mexico, and North Carolina. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet those attending their first TCADP conference (approximately half of the participants!). 

Conversations at the conference addressed the trauma of the death penalty process while also the need to embrace joy, hope, and resilience. During the day, we heard from three people who have created community with individuals on death row, as well as from capital defense attorneys, innocence experts, a jury foreman in a capital trial, faith leaders, victim survivors, and advocates. We honored four people who have raised awareness of death penalty issues in distinct and meaningful ways. And we heard from civil rights icon, Ms. Opal Lee, who encouraged us to wake up every morning with an aspiration to help others. View photos from the event!

New resources

Compelling documentary film from Richard Linklater
In “God Save Texas: Hometown Prison,” filmmaker Richard Linklater chronicles daily life in Huntsville, his hometown and the location of the unit where executions in Texas occur. He interviews current and former employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, students at Sam Houston State University, and former classmates about what it’s like to live in a “prison city.” The documentary is now streaming on HBO/Max. It is deeply engrossing and moving.

Report chronicles exonerations in 2023
The annual report from the National Registry of Exonerations contains some staggering facts: 

– Of the 153 exonerations recorded last year, nearly 84 percent (127/153) were people of color. Nearly 61 percent of the exonerees (93/153) were Black. 

– People exonerated in 2023 lost 2,230 years collectively for crimes they did not commit. 

– In Texas, exonerees have received $192 million in compensation since 1989 (nationwide, state and local governments have paid at least $4 billion in compensation since 1989).

– 86 exonerations in 2023—56 percent of the 153 exonerations—were of defendants who had been convicted of murder, four of whom had been sentenced to death.

Visit the National Registry for more information.

Featured events

TCADP Book Group
The TCADP Book Group will meet on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, at 7:00 PM CT to discuss Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Members of the Charles Flores Book Club will join us. Register here

Memory Myths & Wrongful Convictions
Hear from experts in memory science about the potential miscarriage of justice affecting Texas death row inmate Charles Don Flores. Flores was convicted and sentenced to death by a Dallas County jury in 1999 and has spent 25 years on death row for a crime he has always maintained he did not commit. Recent advances in the science of eyewitness memory have revealed critical insights probative of his innocence

This event will take place on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 7:30 PM in the Crum Auditorium in the Collins Executive Building of Southern Methodist University, 3150 Binkley Ave, Dallas, TX 75205. The event is free and open to the public.