Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tonight the state of Texas plans to murder death row inmate 29 year old Hassan Shakur. Formerly known as Derrick Wayne Frazier, Shakur was convicted in the 1997 double murder of Betsy and Cody Nutt in Refugio County, Texas. Anti-death penalty activists are calling on Texas Governor Rick Perry to grant Hassan Shakur clemency on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial. Shakur was tried and convicted by an almost all-white jury who sentenced him to death despite the lack of physical evidence placing him at the scene of the crime. The sole piece of incriminating evidence was a video tape of Shakur confessing to the murders. However, crucial information related to the video was never provided to the jury. Also, according to witness testimony, one juror had contact with the husband of one of the victims during the trial. Hassan Shakur’s defense attorney was also under investigation for misconduct as he handled Shakur’s case. Jermaine Herron, a friend of Shakur’s, who was also convicted in the double murder, was killed by the state in earlier this year in May.
Hasan’s supporters are sending pleas for clemency to to Texas Governor Rick Perry, at (512) 463-2000 or Fax (512) 463-1849. For more information, visit www.hasanshakur.com.
Mumia Abu Jamal is a political prisoner and death row inmate. He wrote a commentary on Hasan Shakur. Mumia’s commentaries are online at: www.prisonradio.org.
Download the Welfare Poets’, Song for Hasan: http://www.welfarepoets.com/Music/Song_For_Hasan.mp3
Find out more about “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” by the Welfare Poets at: http://www.myspace.com/deathpenaltycd
Monday, August 28, 2006
Reverend Carroll Pickett is the former death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville from 1982-1995. Pickett ministered to ninety-five men on the final day of their lives and was present in the chamber during their executions.
He provides a first hand account of the execution of Carlos DeLuna in his book "Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain". According to Chicago Tribune, new evidence suggests the May 1989 execution of Carlos DeLuna in Texas was a case of mistaken identity. You can read part one of this story by looking at our August 24 post.
In the fifteen years I served as the Death House chaplain, I sought psychological help only twice. Both occasions came in the wake of Carlos DeLuna’s death.
For several after his execution I could not sleep. Shrouded in depression, I went through my routine responsibilities like Zombie, ineffective and racked with a kind of guilt that I had never before experienced. I needed to talk to someone far removed from the world of prison life and criminal justice.
David Erb, the chaplain at the
On an early Monday morning I sat in his office, confining things I’d spoken of to no one else. I told him about the execution of Carlos DeLuna ad the oppressive guilt I was unable to shake. I questioned why compassion and human kindness had been so badly beaten down by anger and revenge that, at times, I had begun to wonder if perhaps I was one out of steps with the realities of the world. Had I reached a point where concern for men who had committed unthinkable evil blinded me to the pain and suffering of their victims?
My ministry, I confided, was becoming increasingly difficult.
For several hours he listened as I described the frustrations and the doubts, the sleepless nights and the ever-present lack of hope that regularly visited my own office. Mostly, however, I talked of the death penalty and the role that I played in it. And, for the first time, I questioned how much longer I could do it.
Finally, it was chaplain Erb who addresses the issue I’d been reluctant to verbalize. “I have to wonder,” he said, “if the basis of all the problems you are describing is your own feelings about the judicial system that makes it illegal to take a life. Do you believe in the death penalty?” he asked straightforwardly.
There, in the privacy of his office, I felt comfortable in the responding to a question that had been posed to friends by friends, coworkers, inmates, and the press, but which I had never answered. For the first time I was able to voice my belief without concern over the effect. “No,” I responded. “I do not believe its right. And with every execution that is carried out, that belief is stronger.”
It felt good to say so.
“Then you are wrestling with a dilemma no man should have forced on him,” the chaplain said. He invited me to return the following week to continue out discussion.
In the days that followed. I did a great deal of soul-searching pondering the responsibilities that had been given me, Tabulating the pluses and minuses of my life’s work. And for the all dark and disturbing concerns-the execution of a man who was clearly mentally ill, the possibility that innocent men might have died at the hands of inmates and families of victims alike-there was one belief that continued to return to my mind. It was my credo the firm basis of my decision to accept the role of Death House chaplain in the first place: no one, however troubled his past, however unforgivable his sins, should be made to die alone.
A man who had never aspired to be anything more than a caring country preacher, I knew, was not likely to dramatically change the world. He could, however, offer care and comfort whenever it might be needed. There was my answer.
I shared it with Chaplain Erb on my next visit. He did not seem surprised by what I had to say. “No one,” he said, “not even god Himself, would fault you if you chose to walk away. But the service you provide is of such importance. I’m pleased that you realize that.”
With that I returned to my calling.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Are you interested in politics and criminal justice issues? If so, then TSADP blog needs you. TSADP is looking for high school and college student bloggers. We are looking for people with proven ability to crank out opinionated, witty and controversial posts.
By becoming a TSADP editor, you will receive posting ability under your own chosen username. Anyone can post in the comments section of each blog's individual posts - it does not require a blogger account.
To become a TSADP editor, simply send an email to hooman(att)texasabolition.org and we will get back to you. Please remember to include links to your Web site and/or writing samples that clarify your political position (please no radicals or fundamentalists and definitely no hate-speech).
Friday, August 25, 2006
Anti-Death Penalty activists were joined by other local groups protesting the war in Iraq and demanding justice for migrants, workers, stopping the militarization of US-Mexico border, and bringing and end to migrant raids and round-ups.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Reverend Carroll Pickett is the former death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville from 1982-1995. Pickett ministered to ninety-five men on the final day of their lives and was present in the chamber during their executions. He is now an outspoken activist against the death penalty.He provides a first hand account of the execution of Carlos DeLuna in his book "Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain".
In 1986 he had been convicted of robbing and murdering a twenty-four-year-old
DeLuna fled on foot with the small amount of money that he'd taken from the cash register. Shortly afterward, police found him hiding beneath a truck parked only a few blocks away. Though he was twenty-seven when I met him, he seemed much younger. That he'd managed to pass through the first nine years of public school was a sad commentary on our education system. As we talked, I found myself trying to imagine my own children-teenagers at the time--attempting to grasp the concept of their own death.
Upon his arrival at Death House, he demonstrated the characteristics that, since the Penry case, I'd often prayed never to see again. Like several I'd encountered before him, he had no real understanding of why he was there.
The signs were always the same. While the inmate of average of above-average intelligence was always focused, those with low I.Q.s seemed disoriented their thoughts ping-ponging from one subject to another. Despite the popular myth most condemned men who order an elaborate last mean only pick at it. The mentally challenged always display a voracious appetite. When the time came to describe procedures that would occur inside the death chamber, most have an endless series of questions. But all DeLuna was concerned with was the pain he might feel when the needles were inserted into his arms.
"It'll be like getting a shot in doctor's office," I tried to explain.
"You promise it won't heart?"
"Will you hold my hand?"
That I told him, would not be possible.
Because, I explained, his hands would be taped down to the gurney. As I'd done so many other occasions, I explained that when the warden removed his glasses, it would be the signal for the injection to begin, and I assured him that once they started it would be no more than seven to twelve seconds before he was unconscious. Several times before the time came for him to leave the cell, we counted the numbers off together one...two...three...
Still, as we entered the death chamber, a lot of utter confusion swept over DeLuna's face, his piercing brown eyes searching mine. What happening? Why are they doing this to me? When can I go back to Ellis? As members of the tie down team were strapping him down to the gurney, they briefly blocked him from my view. "Where did the chaplain go?" he suddenly cried in a childlike voice. I immediately moved to a position where he could see me. "I'm here," I told him. "I won't leave you."
He responded with a smile. "It will be over soon," I assured him.
"Hold my hand?"
"Carlos, I told you, I can't."
"Why?" why, indeed?
Standing at the foot of the gurney, I again tried to assure him that only a few seconds would pass before the process was completed. He would, I whispered, be aware when the chemicals began entering his body. "Breathe out," I said, repeating advise that a doctor had suggested I offer. "Clear your lungs of air, and you'll go to sleep more quickly."
With that I placed my hand on his ankle.
Soon, the warden left his glasses, the chemicals began to flow, and the seconds ticked away. They stretched into an eternity. Well passed the twelve seconds I had promised, I could still feel a pulse beating beneath my hand. Carlos DeLuna's eyes remained open, staring at me, filled with fear and disappointment. I was certain that I could read his though; You lied to me. You promised. Why did you lie to me?
I felt my own body began to shake as several more agonizing seconds crept by before he died. His eyes never closed, and as I looked down on his lifeless body, i was overwhelmed by a feeling of failure. He was the 33 inmate put to death since I'd become the prison chaplain, and for the first time I felt I let someone down.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Please sign JUSTICE FOR RODNEY REED online petition. The petitions will be turned in to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on September 13, 2006. We has designed a website for Rodney Reed through our Online Mobilization Fund!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Today, TDC decided to hear the voice of reason and I wanted to thank all for your support. It meant a lot to me personally and I am sure it means even more to the men and women on death row. I feel no sense of victory and none of us should, but a strong sign that we must open and maintain the dialog with both TDC and the Polunsky Warden to resolve such matters peacefully before it gets out of control.
I would like to add that it is vital for ALL visitors (from overseas or otherwise) to strictly respect the rules (correspondance and visitation). We have lost many privileges over the years because visitors violated the rules, sometimes purposely, sometimes in good faith. Someone new to this may feel that by cheating the system they have won something, but believe me we all lose in the long term and mostly our friends on the row are the big losers. Respect works both ways, whether we like or not. If a rule change seems necessary we can all work together with the proper authorites to implement chages, breaking the rules adds unnecessary pressure for all concerned.
To conclude I would like to add that at no point did I feel that Warden Massey was at fault, merely enforcing a system, maybe over-zealous and under a lot of pressure, but certainly I hope he won't be sanctionned for it. In his days as assistant warden at the same unit, he was a decent man, fair and open to conversation, let's hope that now we will get back to productive conversation rather than one-sided decisions.
Anyway, thank you all very much for your support. The petition will be closed tonight now that TDC has officially anounced the change of policy. Let's be sensible about the whole thing, enjoy your visits and don't play with fire.
Best to you all.
Picture: Bob Wakfer & Sandrine Ageorges meet Governor Ryan at the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty Conference -- January 29, 2005
Monday, August 21, 2006
Thanks to TMN for breaking the news!
This video clip is part of the Bush Bowl 2000 episode of the award winning Awfull Truth series by Michael Moore. Jeb stands no hope of winning if he doesn't have a team, like the one George does! Come back tomorrow to watch the full episode (30:00 minutes).
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
According to BBC,
Speaking to reporters in
Session 4, Episode 3
We understand the feelings of rage felt by crime victims and their families. But - studies show there is no deterrent effect to State executions. And, DNA evidence has exonerated 122 men formerly on death row! If we're killing inmates to satisfy a primitive emotion, if we can't be sure the criminal is guilty as charged, and we have ways to keep someone locked up and out of circulation for life and for less cost, why does our government still support the archaic, primitive, cruel and costly BULLSHIT known as the Death Penalty?
Executive Director, Beyond Missing and Klaas Kids
Executive Director, National Black Police Association
Clatsup County Oregon District Attorney
Professor, Southern Methodist University
Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy and Political Science
Death Penalty Supporter... (more)
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
"I honestly feel that the death penalty, they say it's a deterrent and everything, if you're going to use it as a deterrent, it should be done in the public eye. They should do it at a time when children are in school and old enough to see this and televise it, so they can see what the outcome of leading a bad life can come to. "
"I'm not proud of some of the things that I've done in my childhood. But I had been molested as a child. The person who did that was a close family friend and what they would do is they would put a rag with gasoline on my face and, to, I guess, get me intoxicated off the gas so I wouldn't remember what was going on. And I think that had a lot to do with my learning disability — the gasoline, you know, and stuff like that. He would feed me beer and stuff. But maybe if I would have been in a better environment my life would have been completely different."
Richard Hinojosa is scheduled for execution on August 17, 2006 for the murder of Terry Wright, whose body was found on May. 10, 1994.
She had been raped and stabbed eleven times. Several days later Richard Hinojosa, who suffered from severe dyslexia was arrested and charged with her murder. The evidence against Hinojosa was circumstantially strong; DNA and a footprint at the crime scene both pointed towards Hinojosa as the murderer. Semen samples taken from Wright’s body were originally compared with DNA from Hinojosa were found to be inconclusive. They were then sent to an outside laboratory where a match was found. One eyewitness testified that she had seen two men and a woman in Wrights apartment the night of the murder. She said it looked like the three were dancing. Another person came forward and testified that early that morning he had seen two men working on a Black Beretta, Wright’s car. The other man was never found; Hinojosa was the only one arrested for involvement in the murder.
Hinojosa’s defense attorney argued that he and Wright had had consensual sex prior to the murder, explaining the presence of his DNA in Ms. Wright. A co-worker of Hinojosa’s testified that he had seen Hinojosa bring Wright to the country club where they worked. The court documents make no mention of rape, just that Hinojosa’s sperm was found inside Ms. Wright.
In addition to sending Gov Perry an email, you can leave him a phone message at: 512-463-2000, fax him at 512-463-1849 (his fax line is often busy, so just keep trying) or write him at:
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
You can also contact Governor Perry through his online contact form or sign our online petition
Thank you for taking action. Please click in the link below to see the action form. Please fill out all fields, including your email address, so that Governor Perry can respond to you. The system can not process your message if the email address is left blank.Urge Governor Perry to Stop the Execution of Richard Hinojosa
TDCJ Info on Richard Hinojosa
Monday, August 14, 2006
And that is how this so-called man of God proudly became the judge, the jury, and the executioner of a child, whose "crimes" were only described as "acts incompatible with chastity."
After her execution, the state-run newspaper accused Atefeh of adultery and described her as 22 years old.Yet, Atefeh was not married - and she was just 16. The transcripts of Atefeh's court proceedings have never been released.
A group of brave journalists entered Iran in disguise to investigate Atefeh's death sentence after hearing rumors that she was only 16. The following video is the heart-wrenching documentary of Atefeh's story, compiled and produced by BBC.
By Dante Smiriglio, student at Stevens Institute of Technology and member of SADP Facebook group!
Photo: SCP Journal "When the State becomes God" by Lee Penn
Saturday, August 12, 2006
MTV feaure of the 2006 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break.
Audrey Lamm: Audry is a senior at the University of Oregon. When Audrey was two years old her mother and her mothers friend were murdered in Nebraska, and Audrey was in the building when the killing took place. The killer was apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Several years ago, as the date of execution for her mom's killer approached, Audrey and her father, Gus, became involved in an effort to prevent the killer's execution. The Killer, Randy Reeves, had his life spared and is now serving life in prison instead of facing execution.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Indonesian officials have delayed the execution of three Christians sentenced to death for attacking Muslims.
The three were due to executed by firing squad early on Saturday, but were given a last-minute reprieve after an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI. They were sentenced for inciting attacks during religious rioting in Central Sulawesi in 2000. read more...
Thursday, August 10, 2006
A decade ago my sister Claire and her husband Bernie died in a hotel fire. Their three sons were with them, but managed to survive. Two others also died in the fire. This tragedy brought more grief and despair on our families than I would have thought bearable.
Five months later the tragedy was made worse, when we found out the hotel owner had been arrested for arson as part of an insurance scam. How could the lives of four people be worth a few pieces of silver? How could the pain and suffering ever be repaid?
Bernie's family and ours had scheduled a meeting to discuss taking care of the boys, and some of the other details regarding the estate. Bernie's father, Abe, although in poor health, was at the meeting. His daughter encouraged him to tell the story of his concentration camp being liberated at the end of World War II.
Abe described how, when Allied soldiers liberated his concentration camp, the camp guards donned the rags of the prisoners, and tried to blend into the background. The soldiers knew this was going on, but didn't know how to tell the guards from the prisoners. An officer asked Abe, "Which are the Germans?" To which Abe replied, "Look at their shoes."
The guards had changed their clothes, but failed to change their shoes. After the guards were rounded up, an officer handed Abe his gun. Abe looked at the officer, and the officer told him to go ahead and shoot. Abe told the officer he couldn't, because it would make him no better than them, and he handed the gun back.
For a second time in his life, Abe was faced with a decision: Should those who killed his children be put to death? This is a decision no one should have to face a single time in his life now he was being asked the question a second time.
Abe was still able to say that putting a man to death made us no better than the murderer, and we would be "less than human."
The hotel owner, whose name is Kumar, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Some make the claim that a life sentence is more punishment than the death penalty. I no longer buy this argument. Unfortunately, no punishment will bring justice. There is nothing you can do to murderers that will ever make up for the pain and suffering they have caused. The death penalty is revenge, and nothing more.
Society is perfectly justified in putting these people away for life, so they can no longer inflict pain and suffering on others. Allowing them to live opens up the possibilities of what it truly means to be human. Perhaps someday Kumar will repent his crimes, and try to do something useful with the rest of his life. Perhaps one day I will find the strength to forgive him. Perhaps some other relative, or one of Bernie and Claire's sons, will find the strength to forgive.
Do I think any of these scenarios are likely? No, none of these things are likely to happen, but to put Kumar to death rules out all these possibilities. It rules out the chance to show our humanity, and even if that chance is slim, it is important to hold onto that slim chance. Putting someone to death rules out the chance to be as human as Abe.
The following New Year's holiday, Bernie's sister took the boys to Florida to see their grandparents. Abe was in very poor health. They saw him one last time on a Friday, and flew back to Chicago on Saturday morning. Abe died Saturday night. It was exactly one year since Claire and Bernie died.
Abe was buried in a cemetery on the west side of Chicago. A portion of the cemetery had been set aside for people from his village in Poland who had survived the Holocaust. He was buried next to a childhood friend, 4,000 miles from where they had grown up. Abe was a simple man, but he taught a profound lesson about what it means to be human.John Hallinan lives in Stoughton.
Published: August 9, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Execution date set for August 31, 2006
The facts and the claims in this case have not changed in any way. The most serious claims are:
-Incompetent trial attorney(s)
-Lack of physical evidence
-No mitigation evidence presented in punishment phase
-Jurors and victims' family had contact during the trial
To sign the petition go to hasanshakur.com
In its latest annual analysis on the use of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International also disclosed that at least 2,148 people were executed during 2005 in 22 countries -- 94 percent in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA alone. 5,186 people were sentenced to death in 53 countries during 2005.
Amnesty International’s report also highlights the deadly consequences of unfair trials.
In Japan, a number of people have been sentenced to death after ill-treatment and the extraction of forced "confessions" for crimes they did not commit.
The flawed criminal justice systems in Uzbekistan and Belarus provides a fertile ground for judicial error. Executions in Uzbekistan often follow credible allegations of unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment, often to extract “confessions”.
“The momentum against the death penalty has become unstoppable. In 1977, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes. By 2005, that figure had risen to 86. Amnesty International's campaign will continue until every death sentence is commuted and capital punishment abolished,” declared Irene Khan, Amnesty International's Secretary General.
"Human rights are for the guilty as well as the innocent, the best of us and the worst of us. That is why the death penalty must be abolished worldwide."
Saturday, August 05, 2006
OF JUSTIN FULLER:
A MOCKERY OF
DUE PROCESS!Justin Fuller has been on
- Donald Killingsworth was appointed to represent Justin at trial. Mr. Killingsworth had not paid his bar dues or attorney taxes and was facing disbarment. He requested that Wes Voldbering, be appointed co-counsel, despite the fact that Mr. Voldbering had no experience in capital cases. During the discovery phase of the trial, Mr. Killingsworth was suspended from practice. This left the inexperienced Mr. Voldbering as Justin’s only defense during a critical portion of the trial.
- Prior to trial the prosecutor offered a plea bargain, which would have allowed Justin to receive a life sentence. Justin’s attorney’s did not tell Justin of the plea offer, although Justin has indicated that he would have accepted it.
- There were many errors throughout the trial. During jury selection, the prosecution was able to strike all but one black juror, with no attempt by Justin’s attorney’s to challenge the racial prejudice to the court. In addition Mr. Voldbering told the jury that Justin would testify, when Justin did not intend to testify.
- Toby Wilkinson was appointed to carry out Justin’s state habeas and he demonstrated one of the grossest displays of negligence and incompetence in this case so far. Mr. Wilkinson submitted to the court a previous habeas pleading he filed on behalf of Henry Earl Dunn, copying it page for page, often without changing names, dates or facts of the other case. Although the court noted that the habeas was a copy of Dunn’s pleading, they let the case go forward.
Justin’s current lawyer, Don Bailey, has filed numerous claims about the incompetence of Justin’s previous representation, only to be rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The law states that every defendant has a right to a competent attorney. Without adequate representation, defendants have little to no chance to prove their innocence or to receive lesser sentences. In the state of
Recently the 5th Circuit denied Justin a rehearing, and an
execution date has been set for August 24th of this year.
Please find out how you can help!
Call Lily Hughes at (512) 494-0667 or email email@example.com for more information.
Or contact Don Bailey at (903) 892-9185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following artists were selected by the jury for the exhibition at Gallery Lombardi. Many of the artists have recorded audio statements, which you can listen at deathpenaltyartshow.org If a piece of art has a price listed and you are interested in purchasing the artwork, please contact the artist directly.
Friday, August 04, 2006
State lawmakers should give serious consideration to creating an innocence commission when they convene in January ... State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, twice has unsuccessfully attempted to get legislation on an innocence commission passed. The bills met with heavy political resistance and never made it out of committee ... Texans need a criminal justice system they can trust. Establishing a mechanism for reviewing questionable cases would be a worthwhile and important step.Editorial: Cantu Case Merits Independent Probe
Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed made the right move when she opened an investigation into allegations that a
man may have been wrongfully executed… However, she now needs to step away from the probe into the Ruben Cantu case and allow an independent investigator to take over…Reed can erase questions about the objectivity of the probe by removing her office from the proceedings and asking an independent law enforcement agency to do it. It's the right thing to do. The public must be confident that the investigation is conducted without preconceived notions about the result. San Antonio
Thursday, August 03, 2006
We are planning to double the members of our facebook group by end of August. Therefore we are giving away a prize named after Patrick Williams. The grand prize is one new iPod loaded with anti-death penalty music. Other awards include anti-death penalty T-shirts, DVDs, bumper stickers, books and etc.
Patrick Williams is the successful Managing Editor of Dallas Observer. In his latest article Mr. William’s gave us the idea of offering prizes. You can read about Mr. William’s by reading our July 20 post.
In order to be eligible to participate in this raffle you need to invite your facebook friends to join the SADP group. After you invite them send a facebook message to Hooman Hedayati and we will include your name in the raffle.
The winners will be selected in around three weeks during an execution vigil in front of Governor Rick Perry’s mansion in Austin by one of the protesters. The video coverage of the Patrick Williams Award will be available the same night in Google videos, Youtube and this blog. We will provide the names of the winners to the Dallas Observer and local media for possible news article.
Remember that you need to inform us after your invitation in order to include your name in the raffle.
Good night and good luck!