Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kenneth Foster update

We are expecting a decision from Board of Pardons and Parole regarding Kenneth Foster anytime now.

Democracy Now is reporting that former President Jimmy Carter and South African archbishop Desmond Tutu have urged Texas to stop Thursday's scheduled execution of death row prisoner Kenneth Foster. Meanwhile Dissident Voice is reporting that Rep. Charlie Rangel has shut the door on Kenneth Foster.

They didn’t want to let us up at first, but at last Rangel’s policy advisor came down to meet our community delegation. He sat us around a cafeteria table, and explained to us that Rangel was a very busy man, that he hadn’t read the letter and that we hadn’t gotten it to him in time. He explained that whether we liked it or not, Kenneth had been convicted by a real law in Texas, and that Rangel had to be careful what he said about that. He seemed to have forgotten that the fight for racial justice in the US meant overturning “real” laws like slavery and Jim Crow. Unjust laws are made to be broken. Rangel, the man said, had a pile of papers on his desk. This representative of our elected official sat at a table with those who’d been railroaded by the criminal injustice system and had their lives destroyed by it and told them that Kenneth’s case was not urgent enough.
Court TV has done some good reporting on Kenneth Foster, which includes videos, pictures from Kenneth's childhood and his poems.
"It's up to us what we let this process be. We can let it be a curse or we can let it be a blessing. And I've chose no matter what, through all the criticism, through all the doubts, through all the hate, I said I'm going to make this something positive. I'm going to make it a blessing, I'm going to go through something hard and I'm going to find something better through it, and every day that's what I've tried to make this process be."
Finally has published an opinion piece by Christopher Hill, who is the Capital Punishment Project State Strategies Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Like a number of other states, Texas’ Law of Parties establishes criminal liability for one person if he or she assists another in committing a felony. It also states that a person is responsible for the acts of another when in the attempt to conspire to commit one felony, another felony is committed. This liability exists even if a person did not commit the second felony and had no intent to commit the second felony.

Even in non-capital cases, this criminal liability is unfair. Any first year law student can tell you that a crime has two elements; the criminal intent and the criminal act. According to a principle deeply ingrained in American law, a person should be punished based both on his actions and his intent. The felony murder rule should be abandoned.

Clearly, however, in capital cases the Law of Parties makes absolutely no sense, logically or legally. It is nothing short of barbaric to execute a human being for a murder he or she did not commit and did not intend to take place.

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