Sunday, February 14, 2010

Death Penalty Resolutions for Texas Democratic Party Precinct Conventions

The Texas Democratic Party will hold precinct conventions on March 2 at 7:15 PM. They are open to anyone who votes in the 2010 Texas Democratic primary. At the conventions you can take resolutions that will be voted on at the precinct conventions, and if they are also approved at the county or senatorial district conventions on March 20, they will go to the state convention for consideration. We got the party to pass a moratorium resolution in 2004 and to put it in the party platform every year since then.

You can read drafts of two proposed resolutions. Feel free to use them as is, change them or write your own versions. The important thing is to take some sort of anti-death penalty resolution to your precinct convention and get it approved. We need as many different
senatorial conventions to approve resolutions as possible, so forward them to people across the state to get good geographical distribution.

In 2008, the resolutions committee at the State Convention approved a resolution to abolish the death penalty, but the resolution did not get voted on by the floor of the convention. But it was a major success to get the abolition resolution approved by the committee.

The state convention this year is in Corpus Christi June 25th and 26th. The first step to being a state convention delegate is to attend your precinct convention on March 2.

If you attend the precinct conventions, you can try to get elected a delegate to the senatorial district convention and then to the state convention, where we will need help to build support against the death penalty.

There will be a "Democrats Against the Death Penalty" caucus meeting at the State Convention. The caucus started in 2004. In 2008, there was a record overflow turnout at the caucus of probably 300 people.

Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Executions

WHEREAS Texas leads the nation in executions with 449 since 1982 (as of February 1, 2010). The frequency of executions and inadequacies in our criminal justice system increase the risk that an innocent person will be executed and because the execution of an innocent person by the State of Texas would be a grave injustice and would undermine public confidence in our criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS there is a significant risk that innocence cases in Texas are not being discovered, and innocent persons both reside on death row and could be wrongly executed in a system of capital punishment that often escapes governmental scrutiny and meaningful judicial review; and

WHEREAS an innocent person may already have been executed by Texas. The Chicago Tribune reported on December 9, 2004 that a Corsicana, Texas man named Cameron Todd Willingham may have been innocent of the arson/murder for which he was executed on February 17, 2004. A state-funded report commissioned by the Texas Forensic Science Commission written by fire expert Dr Craig Beyler said that “
a finding of arson could not be sustained” in the Willingham case. Beyler said that key testimony from a fire marshal at Willingham's trial was "hardly consistent with a scientific mind-set and is more characteristic of mystics or psychics”; and

WHEREAS Rick Perry received information prior to the execution of Todd Willingham that cast serious doubt on the scientific validity of forensic evidence used to convict Willingham, but Perry refused to issue a 30 day stay of execution to give more time for the evidence to be analyzed; and

WHEREAS Rick Perry interfered with an investigation into the Willingham case when he replaced the chair and all of his gubernatorial appointees to the Texas Forensic Science Commission only days before a scheduled hearing about a report submitted to the commission by Dr Craig Beyler; and

WHEREAS the Houston Chronicle reported on November 19, 2005 that a San Antonio man named Ruben Cantu may have been innocent of the crime for which he was executed on August 24, 1993 and the Chicago Tribune reported on June 24, 2006 that a Corpus Christi man named Carlos De Luna may have been innocent of the crime for which he was executed on December 7 1989; and

WHEREAS eleven people have been exonerated of murder and released from Texas Death Row and 139 people have been exonerated and released from death rows in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970's; and

WHEREAS local taxpayers can be faced with the financial burden of settling lawsuits when innocent people are wrongfully convicted or executed because of problems in the criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS seeking a death sentence costs three times more than the cost of seeking life without parole.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Texas Democratic Party supports a moratorium on executions and the creation of a “Texas Capital Punishment Commission” to study the administration of capital punishment in Texas to correct any injustices or unfair processes that are found in the administration of the death penalty and to study how to eliminate the risk of innocent people being convicted and executed.

Resolution to Abolish the Death Penalty

Whereas the death penalty system is a human system that makes errors;

Whereas Texas has sent innocent people to death row;

Whereas it is impossible to correct the error of a wrongful conviction once someone has been executed;

Whereas Texas as of 2005 has life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty;

Whereas the death penalty is applied unevenly throughout the state of Texas;

Whereas the death penalty discriminates against the poor and racial minorities;

Whereas the death penalty does not deter others from committing violent crime;

Whereas the death penalty costs 2 to 3 times more to implement than life without parole;

Therefore be it resolved that the Texas Democratic Party supports abolishing the death penalty in Texas and using the money saved by abolition to help victims of crime and to implement crime prevention measures that are truly effective.

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