On this page, you will find information on active clemency campaigns, the locations of vigils across Texas on the days of executions, and contact information for the Governor of Texas and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Clemency campaign: Stop the execution of Travis Runnels
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out its final execution of the year on December 11, 2019. Travis Runnels was sentenced to death in 2005 for killing Stanley Wiley, a correctional officer at the Clements Unit where he was an inmate. At the time, Travis was serving 70 years in prison; he was 19 years old when he was arrested for aggravated robbery, a crime he maintains he did not commit.
Travis accepted responsibility for his actions right away and pled guilty to capital murder. During the punishment phase of his trial, however, his trial attorney failed to call a single witness or present any evidence on his behalf, despite the existence of extensive and compelling mitigation that could have provided the jury with a reason why his life should be spared.
This failure was compounded by the State’s presentation of prison classification “expert” A.P. Merillat, who provided the jury with a patently false description of what Travis’ life would look like if he were sentenced to life rather than death. Merillat’s false testimony misled jurors into believing that Travis would be unrestricted within the confines of the prison if they sentenced him to life, and therefore the only way to prevent him from causing future violence was to send him to death row.
Travis has filed an application for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in which he asks for the commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty or in the alternative, a 90-day reprieve to resolve the issues currently pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Contact the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott by December 6 to urge a reprieve or commutation for Travis Runnels (TDCJ# 999505, DOB 12/17/1972). You’ll find contact information at the bottom of this page.
Talking points for your appeals
- Travis Runnels deserves commutation of his death sentence based on the evolution he has undergone since he arrived on death row. He was just a teenager when he was sentenced to 70 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
- Travis is deeply remorseful for taking the life of Stanley Wiley, and he has spent the past 14 years becoming a better person. He accepted responsibility for his actions right away and pled guilty to capital murder.
- Travis’ attorney failed to call a single witness or present any evidence on his behalf during the punishment phase of his trial, despite the existence of extensive and compelling mitigation that could have provided the jury with a reason why his life should be spared.
- Prison classification “expert” A.P. Merillat provided the jury with a patently false description of what Travis’ life would look like if he were sentenced to life rather than death. His testimony misled jurors into believing that Travis would essentially be a free man within the confines of the prison if they sentenced him to life, and the only way to prevent him from causing future violence would be by sending him to death row.
- Travis is asking for the commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty or in the alternative, a 90-day reprieve to resolve the issues currently pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
TCADP members throughout the state hold vigils on the days of executions in Texas. We encourage your participation in these local actions as a form of witness against state-sanctioned killing. Check the TCADP website for any last-minute developments regarding stays of execution.
Huntsville (Location of Executions) Corner of 12th and Ave. I (in front of Walls Unit) at 5:15 PM
Austin (Site 1) – On Congress in front of the State Capitol at 11th St., 5:30 – 6:30 PM
Austin (Site 2) – Prayer vigil at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church on Oltorf and S. Congress at 6:00 PM
Austin (Site 3) – A prayer vigil is held after the noon Mass in the chapel of St. Catherine of Sienna parish on each day there is an execution scheduled. The prayer service runs for about ten minutes. All are invited to attend.
Beaumont – Diocese of Beaumont, Diocesan Pastoral Office, 703 Archie St.@ 4:00 PM on the day of an execution.
Brownsville – 802 and Paredes Line from 5:00-6:00 PM.
Carrollton – Ecumenical Vigil hosted by Advocates for Justice and Peace located across from Holy Covenant UMC, Southeast Corner of Josey Lane and Peters Colony Road, 6:30 PM on the day of an execution.
College Station – 5:30 to 6 PM, east of Texas A&M campus at the corner of Walton and Texas Ave. across the street from the main entrance.
Copperas Cove – On days of execution, a prayer vigil will be held immediately following the 5:30 PM mass at Holy Family Catholic Church (1001 Georgetown Rd. ) to pray for those on death row awaiting execution, their families, the victims and their families, all involved in executions and for an end to the death penalty.
Corpus Christi – Sisters of Incarnate Word Convent, 2930 Alameda, 6:00 PM
Dallas – Execution day at 5:30 PM on the Mockingbird Bridge at Central Expressway. Sponsored by: Dallas Peace and Justice Center.
Denton – Execution day at at 6 PM at the corner of Oak and Elm on the square.
El Paso – 12:00 to 1:00 PM in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio (downtown, between Mesa and Campbell Streets)
Prayer vigils are held in several parishes to pray for those on death row awaiting execution, their families, the victims and their families, all involved in executions and for an end to the death penalty. The vigils are bilinguals and are held once a month when there are executions scheduled.
At this time, the following parishes have confirmed vigils. Please check parish bulletin, or contact the church directly for more information:
- St. Patrick Cathedral, Blessed Sacrament Chapel (1118 N. Mesa at Arizona)
- Christ the Savior Parish, Daily Mass Chapel (5301 Wadsworth Ave.)
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Ysleta Mission (Alameda at Zaragoza)
- St. Luke’s (930 E. Redd Rd.)
- St. Mark’s/San Juan Diego (11700 Pebbles Hills Blvd.)
- St. Pius X Church (1050 N. Clark) in the Prayer Garden
- Corpus Christi Church (9205 N. Loop Dr.)
- Blessed Sacrament Parish (9025 Diana Dr.)
- San Francisco de Asis (5750 Doniphan)
- All Saints (1415 Dakota St.)
- St. Luke’s (930 E. Redd Rd.)
- Our Lady of Guadalupe (2709 Alabama St.) – prayers during morning Mass
Fort Worth – Silent vigil on days of execution at 5:30 PM at First Congregational Church, 4201 Trail Lake Drive, Fort Worth, 76109, for those on death row awaiting execution, for the victim and for all families affected by the death penalty. Following the vigil participants sit silently after reading the First Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life.
Ganado – At Assumption Catholic Church Pro-Life Monument, 5:45 PM. Public invited. For information call 361-771-3325.
Lubbock – St. John’s United Methodist Church, 1501 University Ave., 5:45 to 6:15 PM on the day of execution.
McKinney – St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Community, 110 St. Gabriel Way, on the last Sunday of the month, following the 11:00 mass to remember those scheduled for execution in the following month, as well as the victims of their crimes and family members on both sides.
Odessa – Public vigil takes place from 5:00 to 5:30 PM in front of St. Joseph Catholic Parish, 907 S. Dixie, Odessa 79761. Prayer takes place inside the church from 5:30 to 6:00 PM. All are welcome. The church phone number is 432-337-2213.
San Antonio (Site 1) – 12 PM to 1 PM across from the main entrance to the Bexar County Justice Center at 300 Dolorosa. There is parking at the Frost Bank Building, 60 N. Flores (1 block north of our vigil site) and at the South Flores Parking Garage, 211 South Flores (1 block south of the vigil site).
San Antonio (Site 2) – Archdiocese of San Antonio, in the St. Joseph Chapel at the Chancery, 2718 W. Woodlawn Ave. (1 mile east of Bandera Rd.) at 11:30 AM on the day of execution. Broadcast on Catholic Television of San Antonio (Time-Warner cable channel 15) at 12:30 PM and 6:30 PM on the day of execution.
San Antonio (Site 3) – Join the Sisters of Divine Providence and friends in vigil and prayer from 5:30 to 6:00 PM on Texas execution days in front of Our Lady of the Lake Convent by the large crucifix. 515 S.W. 24th Street.
Spring – Prayer Vigil at 6 PM on evenings of executions at St. Edward Catholic Community, 2601 Spring Stuebner Rd, Spring, TX 77389 for the murder victim, for family and friends of the murder victim, the prison guards and correctional officers, for the family of the condemned man/woman, for the man/woman to be executed and to an end to the death penalty.
Victoria – At Incarnate Word Convent, 5:45 PM. Public invited. For information call 361-575-7111.
Waco – Meditation/Prayer Vigil at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waco (4209 North 27th Street) at 6:00 PM on days of execution. For more information, please contact Kris Cervantes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Execution Watch” can be heard on KPFT HD-2 and online at http://www.executionwatch.org/ from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT on any day an execution is scheduled in Texas.
Background on Clemency
In order for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider clemency for a person facing imminent execution, an application for clemency must be filed. The Governor of Texas has the authority to issue a one-time 30-day reprieve but can only grant clemency upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. A recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles is not binding, however.
Since 1976, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended clemency in only five cases where the inmate faced imminent execution. Then-Governor Rick Perry rejected two of those recommendations and allowed the executions to proceed.
Henry Lee Lucas – Governor George W. Bush commuted his sentence in 1998 due to lingering concerns about his guilt. Lucas died of natural causes in prison in 2001 while serving a life sentence.
Kelsey Patterson – The Board voted 5-1 for clemency but Governor Rick Perry rejected the recommendation. Patterson had a long-standing diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He was executed on May 18, 2004.
Kenneth Foster – Governor Perry commuted Foster’s sentence in 2007 due to concern about a Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously. Foster had been convicted under the law of parties for a 1996 murder, even though he was sitting in a car 80 feet away at the time of the crime. He is serving a life sentence.
Robert Lee Thompson – Governor Perry rejected the Board’s recommendation for clemency even though Thompson was not the triggerman in the murder of Mansoor Rahim. He had been convicted under the law of parties. His co-defendant, Sammy Butler, the actual killer of Mr. Rahim, was tried separately and convicted on a lesser charge. Butler is serving a life sentence and will be eligible for parole. Thompson was executed on November 19, 2009.
Thomas “Bart” Whitaker – On February 22, 2018, Governor Greg Abbott accepted the Board’s unanimous recommendation of clemency for Whitaker, who was scheduled to be executed that same day. It was the first such commutation in Texas since 2007. Whitaker is now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. Read the Governor’s statement here.
Please visit our Clemency Campaign Archive for more information about past cases.
Write the Governor of Texas and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
You are welcome to contact the Board and Governor even when there is no specific clemency campaign. Please note that clemency applications typically are filed 21 days before the execution date, so it is best to send a letter of support around that time. Be sure to include the TDCJ # of the person on whose behalf you are writing.
The Board usually informs attorneys of its decision two business days before the execution date.
Here are some general talking points for your letters:
- State your concern that executions are occurring despite increasing recognition of the inherent flaws and failures of the Texas death penalty system.
- Express outrage and alarm at the high number of executions that continue to take place in Texas, and note that our state has accounted for more than one-third of the executions nationwide to date in 2019.
- Urge the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend clemency.
Contact information for calls, letters, and emails*
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757
Phone (512) 406-5852
Fax (512) 467-0945
Online Contact: email@example.com
*Letters and emails are preferred by the Board.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Information and Referral Hotline: (800) 843-5789 [for Texas callers]
Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782 [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]
Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: 512-463-2000
Online Contact: https://gov.texas.gov/contact/
The governor has the authority to grant clemency only upon the written recommendation of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.