Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reginald Blanton's Statement About His Execution Date

Death Salivates
October 27th 2009
Execution Date

2pm. 7-16-09. I just woke up. I had slept for exactly 8 hours. I am a night owl. Yet, I was not rejuvenated. I did not feel balanced. I told myself that something was happening in the Universe. In the distant dark galaxy of my being I felt something approaching. I’d had an earlier hunch but dispelled it with my exhale. I grabbed all my senses; all of my energy and brought them inside, concentrating it. Concentrating on soothing the waters of what I thought was a turbulent mind-body. Here I was, doing the same thing today. An hour went by. I was frustrated because my meditation yielded very little. I decided to conclude my meditation with the Tripod Pose, a Hatha Yoga posture where I ease into a headstand, feet in the sky, while focusing on my breathing. This pose is designed to calm your mind-body. I felt it might do the trick. It has always worked in the past.

I heard the gate pop. Then there were jangling keys as somebody made their way upstairs to

2 row where I was encaged. I brought my attention back, like, “Get back over here!” Like that. Then my sense went back outside. “Blanton! What are you doing? The Major wants to talk to you,” said the Sergeant. I eased out of my posture and into another called Child Pose before getting up and telling the Sergeant I had been meditating and needed some time to brush my teeth. I brought my attention fully back and noticed that I was nervous. I knew what it was. Damn! I knew what it was…

I gave the Sergeant my jumpsuit, sort of spun while shaking out my boxers to try to keep from having to degrade myself by stripping completely naked and having to turn around and spread my…well, you know. The Sergeant wasn’t tripping today. He told me to just come on. I didn’t like that. He was being a (little) nice. That was not a good sign. Not good at all…

Damn!

We get out in the hallway and he asked me if I knew what this was about. But it was the way he said it. He said it like he knew what it was about. Damn. I told him I did. I saw the nurse and asked him if he had my morphine shot. Ha, ha, um, ha, *ahem*. That did not make me feel any better. I tried though. I just decided to stay quiet the rest of the way.

We get in the Major’s office. I sit down and cross my legs, looking him square in the eye, all sorts of emotions flowing through me: Anger, embarrassment, sadness…”What’s up, Major?” I asked. In a slow and somber tone he told me that I had an execution date and he was going to explain a few things to me and have me moved to Death Watch. He said that he’d just found out himself. All I could see in my mind was my Queen. All I could feel is what she would feel. I thought I was going to be sick. I tried to hide it. I knew what time it was. I knew this was coming. And after the march we just had outside of the courthouse in San Antonio, I knew that the D.A.’s weren’t going to hesitate to immediately set a murder date for me. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. It just wasn’t. Maybe I was naive. Me, the “realist”, na├»ve. The courts were going to see the injustice and refuse to let me be railroaded. Yet they railroaded me. It was like the many stories I’ve read about battered women. She’s getting beat by her husband. She knows that he’s going to keep on beating her. He’s vicious. She knows he’s going to stop. He’s a good man.

Everything was suddenly happening so fast. Everything was surreal. Yet I had been preparing for this for 9 years.

No! You cannot prepare for something like this. You just can’t. 28 years young. Just the other day that one officer cried when she found out how young I was; how much I remind her of her own kids. I hate too much life where the said only dwelt death. I have too much life pouring out of me to prepare to die. Die? Die for what?! Ya’ll are trying to kill, wrongly, a loving, beautiful man. Not a killer. Not a monster. A man with a family. A beautiful, loving wife. A beautiful, loving step-son. My Mama. My people. My people need me. You are trying to steal me away from the people who need me.

The Major tells me about the number of witnesses I can have; talks about a last will. A last will, ya’ll! A “last will”?! What about my will to live?!

The Major talks…I drift in and out of even being there at all. He talks about disposition of any trust funds, disposition of personal property. He talks of my last meal; how they won’t get me any lobster or shrimp, or T-bone steak. He was trying to make light of the situation. But there was nothing “light” about it – at all. It was heavy; heavy like my consciousness. “Lobster ?!” I don’t give a damn about a last meal!

Free Film Screening: Willie Francis Must Die Again

On August 6, 2009, "Willie Francis Must Die Again" Film Screening will take place at 7 PM. The documentary is about Willie Francis who was a teenager wrongfully accused of killing a pharmacist and survived a botched electrocution only to lose his Louisiana Supreme Court appeal and be executed again.

It is free and refreshments are available. It will be at the Texas Music Museum-Marvin Griffin Building, 1009 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas 78702 (512) 236-0644. www.ProArtsAustin.org

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Planning Meeting For 10th Annual March Against the Death Penalty in Texas!

Wednesday, July 29th at 7pm
Carver Library, Room 4, in Austin

The March to Stop Executions has been held each October since 2000 in cooperation with several Texas and national anti-death penalty organizations. It is a coming together of activists, family members of those on death row, community leaders, exonerated prisoners and all those calling for abolition. This year’s march is slated for Saturday, October 24th in Austin, Texas. Join us for the initial planning meeting for this year's 10th annual march.

Bring your ideas on how to make this year’s event a huge success!

Whether you're a seasoned fighter for social justice or new to activism altogether, you have an important role to play in this grassroots show of participatory democracy in action!

If you belong to an organization interested in sponsoring the march, or if you have any questions, please contact laura @ 512.638.0403 or e-mail @ lauraebrady@hotmail.com

*****************************************

RALLY FOR THE YOGURT SHOP DEFENDANTS!
Drop ALL charges in the Yogurt Shop Case!

Saturday, August 8, at 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Travis County District Attorney's Office (11th and Guadalupe St.)

Riddled with coercion, false confessions and a lack of evidence, the Yogurt Shop Murders case stands as an embarrassment to Texans, fully exposing the problems plaguing our justice system. New DNA evidence has exonerated Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen, and after a decade-long struggle, they are finally home on personal recognizance bonds.

Despite this new evidence, the Travis County District Attorney insists on pursuing prosecution. After numerous push backs, their trial has now been set for August 12th.

Grassroots organizing and community support have played a critical role in bringing these men home. We thank you for your support throughout the years and call on you now to stand with us Saturday, August 8th at 4 PM outside the Travis County District Attorney’s Office in support of Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen.

We must demand an end to this injustice once and for all! Austinites are tired of the legal charade these men and their families have been dragged through and have made their demands clear: “Free the Yogurt Shop Defendants and Drop ALL charges in the Yogurt Shop case NOW!”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Texas Monthly: "The Judgement of Sharon Keller"

Texas Monthly has a long article by Michael Hall in its August edition titled "The Judgement of Sharon Keller" about the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Keller said "we close at 5" when asked by attorneys for Michael Richard in 2007 to allow them to file a late appeal for Michael Richard on the day of his scheduled execution. Keller's trial is scheduled to start August 17 in San Antonio on charges of misconduct and incompetence arising from complaints filed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct by several groups, including Texas Moratorium Network which filed a complaint signed by about 1900 people. (For more background information visit www.sharonkiller.com.)

According to the Texas Monthly article:
The main charge was that Keller’s “failure to follow the CCA’s execution-day procedures” violated the Texas constitution (which states that a judge must not exhibit “willful or persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit upon the judiciary”) and the Code of Judicial Conduct (“a judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”).
“It’s going to be a donnybrook,” says Cathy Cochran in the TM article. Cochran is also a judge on Keller’s court. The article says that "Judge will testify against judge", implying that Cochran will likely testify against Keller.

The article says that when she ran for election in 1994, Keller
described herself as “pro-prosecutor,” explaining to a reporter, “I guess what pro-prosecutor means is seeing legal issues from the perspective of the state instead of the perspective of the defense.”
The article says that Keller believes in following rules and the law (although she violated the rules of her own court in her handling of the Michael Richard appeal).
In 2000 Keller ran for presiding judge. Her opponent, fellow judge Tom Price, asked, “How far to the right is this court going to be? Even Republicans want fair trials.” (Price would later say that the Criner case had made the court a “national laughingstock.”) Keller was asked in a preelection interview if she was bound to follow the law, even if it meant an unjust result. “Absolutely,” she replied. “Who is going to determine what justice is? Me? I think justice is achieved by following the law.” According to some who have worked with her, she was also answering to a higher power. “She’s extremely religious,” says a colleague. “She believes strongly that God is on her side.”
The article contains a long description of the events on the day that Keller said 'We close at 5". Click here to jump to the section of the article covering the timeline of events, many of which appear to be taken from the formal charges of the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

So what does Hall think will happen at the trial?
SOON THE JUDGE will have her own day in court, before special master Berchelmann. Her defense will rest on several things, first and most important her interpretation of the infamous phone call. She has said she thought Marty was asking specifically about the clerk’s office, which, like all state offices, closes at five and never stays open late. “It is clear that Judge Keller did not have a duty to do anything other than what she did,” her response to the CJC says, “which was to answer a question about whether the clerk’s office closes at 5:00 p.m.” In other words, Keller followed the rules—as she had always done. But Marty told the CJC that he said either “They want the court to stay open late” or “They want to hold the court open.” If Berchelmann determines that he said (and that Keller understood him to say) “court,” the special master might rule that Keller had a duty to do more than she did.
Hall thinks that Keller will blame the attorneys for Richard, especially for not contacting another judge on the CCA, but at least one other judge on the CCA does not seem to buy that excuse. Hall says he
asked Cochran if she had ever been phoned by a defense lawyer seeking to file a pleading. “Never,” she said. “I would consider it an ex parte communication. I don’t want to be put in that position. If the clerk’s office is closed, the general counsel is the normal person you go to.”
Keller is also likely to try to make General Counsel Ed Marty the fall guy.
Why did he even call Keller at home? Why not go straight to the duty judge?
In Hall's article Judge Cochran comes out looking like the CCA judge with the best ethical judgement. Hall
asked Cochran about the distinction Keller’s defense makes between “clerk’s office” and “court.” “The bottom line is, we accept anything and everything before an execution takes place,” she says. “We will do whatever it takes.” Did she have any doubt about whether she would have made it happen? “No. I can’t imagine the concept of not accepting a death penalty filing even though it’s after the clerk’s office closes. That’s what courts are for. The Supreme Court doesn’t close on death days. It would have been so easy to say, ‘Mr. Marty, tell ’em to fax it.’

“Sometimes you just do the right thing. The right thing is not to close the courthouse when someone is about to be executed.”
On the other hand Lawrence Meyers, another judge on the CCA and one who is up for re-election in 2010, defends Keller saying "Judge Keller had no more duty than anyone else." and
“I don’t know what I would have done,” says Meyers. “We’re not supposed to counsel these people on what to do. We’re under the presumption that they are highly specialized attorneys. From a technical standpoint I don’t think she did anything wrong. She didn’t do anything not prescribed by the code.”
To read the entire article by Hall, click here to go to Texas Monthly or pick up a copy of the August issue on newsstands.

h/t to TMN

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Death penalty is abolished in Kazakhstan


Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s President, has signed the law abolishing death penalty in all cases except acts of terrorism entailing loss of life and especially grave crimes committed in wartime. The law includes the right to seek pardon.

Abolishing the death penalty has been one of the main objectives of President Nazarbayev. Back in December 2003, the Kazakh President signed a presidential decree which imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. The moratorium remained in operation until the final abrogation of capital punishment in Kazakhstan this week.

This new law follows President Nazarbayev’s proposal of a series of political reforms in 2007 including capital punishment.

The law will adjust legislation on death penalty in accordance with the Kazakh Constitution. Amendments concerning crimes punishable with life imprisonment have also been added to the Criminal Code.

The resolution of the Committee for Legislation & Legal Reforms of the Majilis (the Kazakh Parliament’s Lower Chamber) with regard to the amendments to the Criminal Code on the issues of capital punishment was signed earlier this year, on March 25th, by Serik Baymaganbetov, Chairman of the Committee.

When Kazakhstan introduced a moratorium on death penalty in December 2003, the decision was welcomed by the international community that acknowledged that this represented a fundamental advance in the promotion of human rights and an important contribution towards the universal abolition of the death penalty.

Source: International Information Centre of Kazakhstan

Troy Davis on CNN's Anderson Cooper

Troy Davis' case will be featured on CNN's Anderson Cooper tonight. I will try to post a link to the coverage tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Urge your MOC's to Remove Death Penalty Provision

Dear Abolitionists,

Today (7/20/09) the U.S. Senate passed the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, with an amendment making hate crimes punishable by death. Below please find the statement of the President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, of which NCADP is an active member.

Please contact your members of congress (House and Senate) to urge them to remove the death penalty provision when it goes to conference.

You can reach the US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your Senator's or Representative's office. If you do not know who your two U.S. Senators or your Representative are, or for their direct office phone numbers and e-mail addresses, go here: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt

AFTER YOU CALL, please forward this message to your friends, family, etc. and ask them to call, and then please also send an e-mail to each of your two Senators and your Representative.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 20, 2009

Contact: Maggie Kao (202) 466-2735

Death Penalty Amendment Threatens Vital Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Statement of Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. - The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) released the following statement on today's Senate passage of S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill (S. 1390).

"Today the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights applauds the Senate for passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But, the victory is blighted with an unnecessary and poisonous death penalty amendment that is designed to kill this landmark legislation.

We urge Members of Congress to recognize this egregious effort to dismantle the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for what it is, and remove the death penalty amendment from the bill when it goes to conference.

The Leadership Conference - along with the sponsors of the bill and the more than 300 civil rights, human rights, religious, and law enforcement organizations that support the strengthening of hate crimes legislation - strongly opposed this amendment.

The need for hate crimes legislation has become apparent as we hear stories about individuals like Stephen Tyrone Johns of Washington, D.C., Sean Kennedy of South Carolina, Angie Zapata of Colorado, Luis Ramirez of Pennsylvania, and Matthew Shepard of Wyoming, and others who have found themselves targeted because of the color of their skin, their national origin, their religion, their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.

In an increasingly diverse America, no civil right is more vital to the American Democracy than the government's role in protecting individuals from acts of violence because of who they are."

# # #

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is the nation's oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. For more information on LCCR and its over 200 member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.


Urgent Federal Action

Dear Friends,

Senator Sessions is expected to offer an amendment to the Mathew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act which would authorize the penalty for hate crimes offenses. The Sessions amendment will introduce constitutional issues concerning the use of capital punishment for non homicidal crimes. Moreover, even if the death penalty is limited to hate crimes that resulted in the victim’s death, the Sessions amendment would create serious issues concerning the risk of arbitrariness and discrimination in the administration of the death penalty under this legislation.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty asks YOU to call your U. S. Senators' offices and express your opposition to the Sessions Death Penalty Amendment to the Mathew Sheperd Hate Crimes Act.

Reach the US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your Senator's office. If you do not know who your two U.S. Senators are, or for their direct office phone numbers and e-mail addresses, go here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

AFTER YOU CALL, forward this message to your friends, family, etc. and ask them to call, and then please also send an e-mail to each of your two Senators. The vote is expected Monday afternoon by 3pm (you can watch on CSPAN), so please make your calls right now, and definitely before 3pm EDT TODAY!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

999th Person Executed in U.S. By Lethal Injection

On July 14, John Fautenberry became the 999th person executed by lethal injection in the United States. Amnesty International Canada francophone in Montreal on Tuesday protested Fautenberry's execution and the upcoming 1000th lethal injection in the U.S. by reenacting a lethal injection (link to French-language news article in Le Devoir). The photo was sent to us by Charles Perroud, who also recently organized a protest in Montreal of the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

The 1000th execution by lethal injection in the U.S. could occur on July 21 when Ohio is set to execute Marvallous Keen. If Keen receives a stay, the next lethal injection could be of Roderick Newton in Texas on July 23.

Other than the 999 lethal injections, other execution methods used since the reintroduction of capital punishment in the U.S. in 1977 have been electrocution, gas chamber, hanging and firing squad.

In 1977, the state of Oklahoma passed legislation permitting lethal injection as a form of execution, but it was not the first state to actually use the method. The first execution of a person by lethal injection in the United States was on December 7, 1982 in Texas. That was also the world's first execution by lethal injection of a person who had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. (The Nazis in Germany had actually been the first government to use lethal injection. They used it as one of the methods in the T4 program to exterminate people with mental retardation, mental illness or other physical disabilities or illnesses.)

Executions in U.S. since 1977

Lethal Injections 999
Electrocution 155
Gas Chamber 11
Hanging 3
Firing Squad 2
All since 1977 1170

Read a 2007 Amnesty International report "Execution by lethal injection: A quarter century of state poisoning". Excerpt:
In lethal injection executions, prisoners are commonly injected with massive doses of three chemicals: sodium thiopental (also known by the trade name Pentothal) to induce general anaesthesia; pancuronium bromide to cause muscle paralysis, including of the diaphragm; and potassium chloride to stop the heart. Doctors have expressed concern that if inadequate levels of sodium thiopental are administered (for example, through incorrect doses of thiopental, faulty attachment of the line, or precipitation of chemicals) proper anaesthetic depth will not be achieved or the anaesthetic effect can wear off rapidly and the prisoner will experience severe pain as the lethal potassium chloride enters the veins and he or she goes into cardiac arrest. Due to the paralysis induced by pancuronium bromide, they may be unable to communicate their distress to anyone.

Such issues have led to these chemicals – used on humans as punishment – being barred from use on animals in euthanasia. The professional body representing the USA’s veterinary surgeons has argued that the use of pancuronium bromide is unacceptable for euthanasia of domestic pets.The American Veterinary Medical Association has taken the view that a mixture for euthanasia of animals by sodium pentobarbital should not include a paralysing agent and that humane killing of animals by potassium chloride requires prior establishment of surgical plane of anaesthesia characterised by "loss of response to noxious stimuli"(14) by a competent person.(15) The use of pancuronium bromide in animal euthanasia has since been banned in individual US states including Tennessee(16). In September 2003, a new law came into force in Texas prohibiting the use of pancuronium bromide in the euthanasia of cats and dogs. Texas is the US state which uses lethal injection the most frequently for humans, having executed some 400 people by this method since 1982.
h/t TMN

Message from Kenneth Foster

Greetings Brother of the Struggle!

I begin this missive with nothing but Plenty Much Love, Honor and Respect as I bow to the Right to those whose path is Righteous and also to those Brothers and Sisters who have fallen and are amongst the Kings and Queens that sit in Heaven.

It is said to hold what we are fighting for close to heart and never forget Our Cause. Therefore, as I stand to protect, I will put on the armor of God that is given: the helmet of salvation to shield the Minde, the brestplate to shield the Body and the belt of truth to uphold the Righteousness of my Soul. Thus, I stand with the sword to defend what rest within this Great Discovery.

I bring in a very interesting situation to you and if you are established in the proper ranks, you will be able to bring a powerful movement into motion. First and foremost I reach out to you from the wastelands of Texas. For 17 years I have walked down this Yellow Brick Road - blessed with the Vision by a Brother from East Detroit (out of hood called Plymouth Rock). At the time Insane was the way of thought, but in due time nothing but Growth and Development would be the path.

My story is an interesting one and if you take out 30 minutes to look up the information I leave you, I think you will find something of Great Depth. In 1997 I found my way to death row in Texas. The bottom line to that horror came about because I would not violate myself or those I was with by becoming a state witness. So, in retaliation I was slam dunked on the case. Over the years I spent my time working HARD to save my life and build international support. I won't have to tell all of this, because it's all documented on the Internet and you can read about it, google it, see videos, hear interviews and so on. In 2007, 6 hours before my execution, because of international and political pressure my sentence was commuted to life. Of course, a life sentence that I will not accept, thus this is only the first steps in going for full liberation. I would like for you to research me and my plight so you will KNOW who is talking to you. Take the time to do the following:

*look up:
www.freekenneth.com
www.kennethfoster.de (go to the PICTURE PERFECT section and pay attention to the first 6 photos)
www.kennethfoster.it
www.drivemovement.org
*google Kenneth Foster or look up Rick Perry on Wikipedia
*
www.myspace.com/kf999232

This is just really the start, but it's enough to show you what I have done and what I'm about.

When I went to death row I met some of the deepest Folks from around the world. Some were from Detroit, Alabama and Mississippi. Some are now executed and it's a few left. It wasn't until I went to death row that I truly began to understand and study the concepts and ideology of this 14. Now, Texas is #2 in the U.S. with prisons, so it's a large variety of mentalities from Unit to Unit. Some are more on-point than others and some prisons are rougher than others. Therefore, that will decide how the Growth and Developments communities function. From what I've seen in my 13 years on the inside is that Texas has been greatly neglected by our elders up North. In many ways it seems Texas is looked at as a waste land. However, there are GOOD Brothers here and many are on-point. We just lack the support and sponsors. Thankfully, while I was on the row, my Brother that was from Detroit gained a sponsor out of Munising (Algier Maximum Correctional Facility) and we was given the proper instructions on how to formulate a community. Sadly, when Texas ended inmate to inmate correspondence around 2002 that killed our birthline. We have done the best we could since then. The mentality on death row has always been serious, so we weaved what teachings we had into politically-militant type actions and used that in our daily walk. So, in every aspect of my Struggle I utilize these teachings to get things done.

This demo here is a SOS signal for help in this region. For the most part the Better Development Brothers have a strong structure. They had elders from up North that came down and set them on the Right path, so on the inside and outside they have a proper COC. The Growth and Development Brothers lack that. So, what Brothers have done down here is taken the INITIATIVE to construct structure, but that gets bucked by many (really on a selfish and renegade mentality) because they say ones don't have the proper authority to do this. And then you have ones who still remain in the past holding on to old concepts (like with the B in front) and that creates conflict. We stand that we acknowledge only this: GD, BD, LD and those under F.N. The Latin community is in disarray because for the most part Mexican gangs have ran the prisons, so when they come to prison the Mexican gangs put pressure on them and cause them to flipflop (Ambrose to be specific). But, that is another story which needs to be told.

Now that I am in population I can do a lot more for this Texas community. I have the outside network team to make things happen. We do not have access to computers in here, so everything goes through different supporters of mine. But, anything you send will get to me and will be responded to. I want to tap into this network. And YES just as you may seek to get to the depths of my Knowledge I will seek to get to depths of yours, because Brothers that have been baptized in the same Knowledge will recognize each other. I'm sure I may not possess all thepieces of our Lit and History, but I'm sure with enough conversation you'll know I'm enlightened through our Books of Life. And that is another thing we are need of - the cleansing of the 12-9-20 that we possess. Sometimes Brothers pop up with items and it could be something they made up after reading the 48 Laws of Power or something. But, I have stayed cautious and kept it simple to my Creed, AR804 (also known as the Institutional U-16), I pledge, We Pledge, Plug-In/Plug-Out and some other items.

It's important that you Brothers up North know that it's some SERIOUS Brothers down here. We have been doing this for a long time and as always we need to take it to the other level. As we are taught - we are to become a reckoning power BEYOND boundaries and without measure! I have found that honorable Chariman has a MySpace up, so I will be seeking to get accepted as a Friend there. I've also attained the Ghetto Prisoner clothing line address in Chi and may seek to drop a package there (if I'm able to find out the info will be accepted in safe arms). I'm sure you realize we have Brothers in many of these death rows across amerikkka. They need to know they are not forgotten. It's a vision of mine to create a newsletter for Texas. But, that is just one of many.

I am going to let this do for now. I will patiently wait for a response and I will be ready to split some bricks with you. With Love, Loyalty, Life it was started and without Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding we'll soonly be departed. May the Blessing of Our Most Glorious Six be upon you and I extend the Highest Greetings of Love to all those that are Righteous and Striving that are around you. I am what I am and what I am not I will never be. I leave as I came...

In Struggle
Outlaw

Friday, July 17, 2009

Countdown to USA's 1000th Execution by Lethal Injection

Pending U.S. Executions (as of 7/17/09)

July
21 Marvallous Keene Ohio 1000
23 Roderick Newton Texas 1001

August
7 Kenneth Baumruk Missouri 1002
18 Jason Getsy Ohio 1003
20 David Wood Texas 1004

September
15 Romell Broom Ohio 1005
16 Stephen Moody Texas 1006
22 Christopher Coleman Texas 1007
24 Kenneth Mosley Texas 1008
30 John Balentine Texas 1009

Methods of execution and numbers executed by that method in the USA are:
electrocution (155), firing squad (2), gas chamber (11), hanging (3),
and lethal injection (999).

h/t Rick Halperin

Press Release: Reginald Blanton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
CAMPAIGN TO END THE DEATH PENALTY
Lily Hughes (512) 482-0642 or Laura Brady (512) 638-0403

Friday, July 17th: Austin's chapter of the Campaign to END the Death Penalty condemns the execution date recently given to Texas Death Row prisoner Reginald Blanton. Blanton was delivered an execution date for Tuesday, October 27th 2009 by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Blanton's supporters with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) claim he has a strong innocence claim. According to Randi Jones of the CEDP, no physical evidence links him to the crime.

"Reginald's case exemplifies serious prosecutorial misconduct," said Jones, "They systematically excluded African Americans from the jury pool."

Jones added that Blanton was forced to rely on an incompetent public defender who failed to present evidence of innocence at the original trial.

Blanton has a strong base of support. Most notably, his mother Anna Reese has, along with fellow parishioners at San Antonio's Macedonia Baptist Church, held several events to publicize Blanton's case.

Blanton is a founding member of the DRIVE Movement, a group of prisoners who seek to unite the death row community and organize for better living conditions at the notorious Polunsky Unit, Texas’ Death Row prison house in Livingston, Texas.

Reginald’s case is not free from the problems that exist throughout this country.

Texas continues to buck the national trend, which is turning against capital punishment and is churning forward with numerous scheduled executions in spite of the recent 135th national exoneration from death row.

Tonight: Troy's case on BET

Watch 106 & Park BET Show from 6:00 to 7:30 pm and NAACP members will highlight the Troy Davis Case.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Judge Sotomayor on the Death Penalty

From NYT's The Caucus blog:

Putting on the Greens | 12:10 p.m. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, lamented many decisions made by the Supreme Court over time that he said went well beyond the jurisdiction of the court. It has micro-managed the death penalty, he said, “relied on international law that the people have never even adopted. The Supreme Court has even taken on the rules of golf.”

Later, he says rather bluntly when talking about her speeches that no one would disagree with the widespread belief that she was candid, and said he hoped she would explain some of her many statements.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Inside Death Row," Nat'l Geographic Channel, Sunday at 8pm

On Sunday, July 12, at 8pm (Tonight), the National Geographic Channel is airing a program they filmed in Huntsville and Livingston, Texas last winter. It is on a show called EXPLORER and the show is titled "Inside Death Row."

We believe the three men featured in the program are Willie Pondexter, Johnny Ray Johnson, and David Martinez. All three men are now dead, victims of the state of Texas.

Inside Death Row

Image: Death chamber
In most places death has no schedule, but in Huntsville, Texas, an average of 16 people per year are scheduled to be executed by lethal injection. Inside Death Row interviews three inmates as their dates of execution draw near, and follows the stories of their families and loved ones as they deal with death firsthand. This story is not one of guilt or innocence; it is about how the State of Texas carries out the death penalty as well as the men and women whom, by choice or circumstance, become players in the act of executing another human being. Lastly, it explores how the residents of Huntsville feel towards living in a town that is ground zero for capital punishment in the United States.


Read more: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/4082/Overview#tab-Overview#ixzz0L0A9Y55K&C


Here is a some information from the producer:

Visits to Death Row

By: Katy Jones, Associate Producer

The only way to communicate with death row inmates in Texas is by actual U.S. Postal Service mail. I spent a great deal of time during the planning stages of this project writing letters to death row inmates. It is odd enough to write to a stranger, out of the blue, but I was writing to strangers who were convicted of murder and condemned to die. What do you say? “Greetings from a girl sitting in a cubicle who isn’t quite sure how she feels about any of this?”

It was a lot we were asking. We were asking men who knew the date they were going to die if, without any tangible reward, they would be willing to share their story with us. We were transparent about our plans. We would be contacting everyone involved in the executions of those men who volunteered to participate. We would contact the families of the victims. We would interview wardens & correctional personnel. We would talk to their families. And we would film everything.

I watched the mailbox daily, hoping for return letters. We received them. After various exchanges, we settled on the three men in our film. When we met them in person, what was most surprising to me was how normal they appeared. It would be easier in some ways if you could come to death row and walk away knowing that all murderers were scary monsters. But they were normal, the type of guys who, without the jump suit and plexiglass, could have lived next door, or stand in line at the supermarket. These were just guys.

You couldn’t get away from the fact that these crimes were often awful. And some of the crimes, well - I once sent an email to my producer with a case history. I included the disclaimer, “If you are going home to your children, DON’T even open this case until the morning.”

We spoke with people who held strong opinions about the death penalty – both for and against it. What I walked away with – was that everyone on all sides of the issue – both for and against - were all deeply committed to justice. Everyone involved wanted to participate in a just society. And each participant – anti-death penalty lawyers, correctional officers, district attorneys, protesters, wardens, families, even inmates – every person was doing what they could to preserve the concept of justice.

The three men in our film were executed within the span of a month. One by one, after months of exchanging letters and visiting, we recorded our last interviews. We often were able to conduct an interview the day before they died. We’d say our good-byes, touch hands to the glass - the death row method of hand-shaking - and say whatever we could awkwardly think of to say. “Thank you for being part of our project” was all I could say.


Read more: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/4082/Overview#tab-blog#ixzz0L09D1NMG&C



Image: Anti-death penalty protestors
Professor Dennis Longmire, Sam Houston State Univ in Huntsville, Gloria
Rubac, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement; Kellie, TCADP, and
other abolitionists outside the death house on execution night.

Friday, July 03, 2009

What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?

In this video, Danny Glover recites Frederick Douglass' speech on the 4th of July in 1852 titled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"



A few years ago, death-row prisoner Howard Guidry wrote a commentary on this subject entitled “What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?” that was widely disseminated. His taped greeting was played to the crowd of hundreds at the annual Texas March to Stop Executions in Austin.

What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?
By Howard Guidry
July 1, 2006

To commemorate the independence of the United States of America, Texas prison kitchens are fired up earlier than usual. The traditional Fourth of July meals are prepared by unpaid prisoners (can you say slaves?) whose only incentive for the extra work is leftover mashed potatoes and an extra oven-barbecued soybean patty, if they are lucky.

By afternoon, Texas prisons are bustling with activities. But today the activity is not the thousands of slaves in the cotton fields. No, the hoe squads, which are normally sweating in the fields while being watched by their armed overseers on horseback, are resting today.

Instead, volleyball nets are brought out and tournaments are organized around the basketball and handball courts. The big men work up a sweat on the weight pile, encouraged at times by female prison guards proudly displaying American flag patches on the shoulder of their confederate-colored uniforms.

The American flag itself is flown at high mast along side the Texas flag for all to see. Even the men living in super max segregation, isolation, and sensory deprivation—the death row population who is not privy to the day’s celebration--can climb up to the small slit of a window high in the back wall of their individual cage and watch those flags rip in the wind.

Despite the irony, not enough of Texas’ 150,000 slaves seem to question the purpose of a celebration of independence in a prison.

Prisoners were obviously not a consideration when the Declaration of Independence was written.

In fact, the reality is that prisons are neocolonial concentration slave camps. For the plantation to run smoothly, the master is dependent on the docility and ignorance of the inmates/slaves.

In Texas prisons, where the population is disproportionally Black and Latino, rehabilitation and educational programs are rare to nonexistent. The only thing a prisoner is guaranteed to learn how to be a better criminal, guaranteeing their return to enslavement, again and again.

For most prisoners, the July 4th holiday signifies a moment of relief, a day to eat, drink and be merry.

For the 400 Texas death row prisoners, the Fourth of July is simply a day closer to our impending execution.

God Bless America?

In 1995, an 18-year-old Howard Guidry was coerced by HPD to sign a confession to a crime he knew nothing about. A federal judge threw out the confession and overturned his case. Guidry is off death row and back at the Harris County jail, waiting to be retried or released. He is appealing for support. Like Malcolm X and George Jackson, Guidry has educated himself in prison. Now 30 years old, he possesses knowledge, courage & integrity. He is ready to join the struggle on the outside.