Sunday, March 26, 2006

Texas Public Radio interview with spring break student Audrey Lamm

Texas Public Radio interviewed Audrey Lamm when she was here for spring break. They did the interview by cell phone while she was standing outside the prison in Huntsville protesting an execution on March 15. The interview was aired on the same radio stations that carry NPR in Texas.

Here is the link:

Click on show #290, March 17, 2006. It starts around minute 16 and 34 seconds and goes for about seven minutes.

Friday, March 24, 2006

CEDP-Austin: update about Rodney Reed

Coverage in the local media for the first day of Rodney's hearing was
pretty decent. Check the links below to find out more.

RODNEY STILL NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT. We need to make all the noise we can
to mkae sure Rodney gets justice. COME TO THE MARCH TOMORROW!

More information at

KEYE 42 -- With video
Death Row Inmate From Bastrop Could Get New Trial

Austin American-Statesman
Secret of Rodney Reed death row appeal revealed
Witness says victim's fiancé once explained how to strangle without
leaving fingerprints.

News8 Austin
Judge hears 'new' evidence in Reed case

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring Break video and the TDCAA blog

Although most of the spring break reviews by the Texas County and District Attorney's Association's (TDCAA) blog is negative, I found this comment by a prosecutor from Fort Worth named "Ray" interesting.
He said: "On a more serious note, I am not at all concerned with young people engaged in any sort of political discussion. Having seen in the past the level of discourse on previous "MTV Does Spring Break in Cancun" et cetera, discussing or even attempted brain washing regarding the death penalty is a definite upgrade. I remain confident that if the young generation spends time discussing life or death issues they will turn out far better than if they discuss the type of suntan oil to use at Cancun or how many shots it takes to reach alcohol saturation.
As prosecutors we should welcome the discourse, our best argument will always be the criminal defendant and his actions."

Also the bus trip section of the 2006 Anti-Death Penalty Spring Break is available at Google Videos. This video includes the bus trip to Huntsville Texas to protest execution of Tommie Hughes and also the speech by Rev. Caroll Pickett who witnessed 95 executions during his time as the Chaplain of the Texas Death Row.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Support TSADP by purchasing a DVD

Buy a copy of The Exonerated through the link above,
and support Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and Exonerated Inmates. TSADP will receive 50% of the purchase price!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

email from TDPAM

A big hat's off to Scott Cobb with the Texas Moratorium Network and Hooman
and all the youth with the Texas Students Against the Death Penalty for
their hard work this week. These young folks made an enthusiastic
abolitionist statement yesterday in Huntsville outside the Walls Unit where
the state of Texas murdered Tommie Hughes.

The young folks energized everyone with their continuous chants and
optimistic enthusiasm for the abolition of the death penalty. They were
also very respectful of the family and ended the protest right before 6:00
PM and requested that the crowd remain silent during the execution.

Tommie's family had around 60 people in Huntsville and they knew that we
were all there for them. Tommie's mother and grandmother both witnessed the
execution and Tommie was blessed to have two such strong women in his life.
Tommie's two uncles who joined the large protest thanked everyone for being
there and for supporting the family.

The students weren't only from Texas, but from several other states,
including as far away as Oregon. While other students were heading to South
Padre and other beaches, these young people were showing all of us the best
of their generation. They are participating in all week in activities,
workshops, lobbying, seminars, petition-signing and yesterday's bus trip to
Huntsville. They were organized, prepared, disciplined and energetic. And
most of all, their seriousness about fighting the racist death penalty was

As always, it was great to see Rennie Cushing with Murder Victims Families
for Human Rights who is forever ready to lend a hand here in Texas. Rennie
will be speaking with the youth today in Austin. Check out the students'
web site at:

From the Abolition Movement, we say to you young people, "You are the best!
Stay serious and committed and abolition will surely be a reality, even in

Students take stand against death penalty

Matt Pederson
Staff Reporter

Many college and high school students prefer to head somewhere tropical to spend their spring break, but a few came right here to Huntsville on Wednesday, and they came with a purpose.

Students from all over the state, and a few from across the country, flocked to Huntsville to take part in a protest of the execution of Tommie Hughes. The event is part of the 2006 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, sponsored by Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.

Tommie Hughes, 31, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Foluke Erinkitola. He robbed and then shot Erinkitola and her friend, Roxanne Mendoza, in their car after the women had watched a movie.

Hughes denied he killed the two women or planned the robbery and said his girlfriend at the time, Alina Henry, shot them in a jealous rage when she found him talking to the women.

Josh Tucker, a student at the University of Texas, came with the group Wednesday, because he believes it is time for him to make a difference in the way things are.

“I’ve seen some horrible things happen and seen people hurt, and I’ve been very angry,” Tucker said. “You see these things happen, and I had sort of a moment of pause and said, ‘Well, I can either act from this anger or I can stop and think about what solves the problem. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

“I think that because the death penalty is racist and because it unequally targets poor people, you’re looking at something that doesn’t solve the problem. You’re killing somebody to tell people we don’t kill people.”

During the day Wednesday, students visited the Texas Present Museum and heard a lecture from the Rev. Carroll Pickett, a former death house chaplain at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit. Pickett ministered to 95 men on the final day of their lives and was present in the chamber during their executions. He drew heavily on his own experience in talking to the students about spending time with prisoners during their last days.

Joel Pasley and Angela Martellaro are high school students who came all the way from Shawnee, Kan., to spend their spring break fighting the death penalty.

In attending the lectures and learning about the system, Pasley said he was most shocked to learn about the condition the prisoners live in.

“Some people have letters from pen pals about the conditions,” Pasley said. “For just minor things, their clothes were taken away and their meals were taken away and it really surprised me that in the United States that would go on. It seems like something that would go on in another era in another country.”

Martellaro said her vacation has so far been a learning experience for her in which her beliefs were even more firmly ground.

“We all had a simple understanding of the problems with the death penalty and after coming here, we’ve learned so much in detail about what goes on with capital punishment,” Martellaro said. “It’s just been so educational, because we all are in agreement that it is wrong and there are problems with the system, and this has been so specific, with so much information, that it really strengthened my beliefs.”

By listening, learning and participating, Pasley is hoping to go back home with a better understanding of how to fight what he believes to be an unjust policy.

“I want to learn how to petition to get a moratorium on the death penalty in Kansas,” Pasley said. “Even though it’s suspended right now, why wait until somebody is executed to try and save more lives.”

some press coverage:


Monday, March 13, 2006

It's time for Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break

Taken from TMN Blog

Texas Students Against the Death Penalty has done an execellent job preparing for this year's Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, March 13-17 in Austin.

This will be an invaluable hands-on, learning experience for students, who will plan and carry out various activities, including a protest in Huntsville. Students will gain valuable training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying, preparing a direct action, media relations and other skills. They can apply what they learn against the death penalty or in their activities involving other issues.

Housing is available for a fee of $25 We will house participants in rooms at a dormitory near the University of Texas at Austin. Most students will be at The Goodall Wooten, a few people will stay somewhere else. Students will share the room with one or two other people. To register, contact Hooman Hedayati at:

There is no participation fee for the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break except for those people who need housing. The fee for housing is $25, which covers the entire week. If you do not need housing, because you live in Austin or you are making your own housing arrangements, then your participation is free, but please register so we know how many people to expect. Participants are expected to travel to Austin at their own expense and pay for their meals and incidental expenses while in Austin.

Housing spaces are limited, so please register soon. Participants who register for housing need to bring towels, sheets and pillows.

Alternative Spring Break Schedule

If you have questions or need directions anytime during alternative spring break, call Hooman Hedayati at 210-601-7231 or Scott Cobb at 512-689-1544.

Monday, March 13
Monday's events will be held on the University of Texas campus in room 201 of Waggener Hall - WAG (WAG 201), which is located in the East Mall Area on the UT campus.

9AM - 3:00 PM Housing check-in for people who have signed up for housing. Meet at The Goodall Wooten Co-ed Dormitory, 2112 Guadalupe (Corner of 21st and Guadalupe). Parking is available behind the building. Students will be staying here if they sign up for housing. If you can not check in by 3 PM, then just go directly to the Wagner Building, Wag 201 where Monday's workshops are taking place and you can check in to your room after the workshops.

3-3:30 PM -- Meet at Wag 201 for snacks and socializing before the first workshop.

3:30-4 PM Introduction to Alternative Spring Break by Hooman Hedayati.

4:00 - 5:00 PM Death Row Penpal, life and living conditions on death. Delia Perez Meyer, sister of a death row inmate, will give a workshop on how to get in contact with people on death-row and become a penpal. She will also talk about living conditions on death row. Inmates are locked in a cell most of the day. They are very isolated. Friends and family often lose touch with the inmate. Thousands of forgotten men and women in federal/state penitentiaries, county jails, correctional facilities, and overseas prisons are desperately hoping for correspondence that may lead to friendship, romance, redemption or legal help.

5 Free Pizza and soda served at first night's events

5:30 PM JEB V. GEORGE. This is a Docudrama from the Awful Truth TV show by Michael Moore about the state of the Death Penalty in Texas and Florida. It was produced in 2000. The states of Texas (Governor George W. Bush) and Forida (Governor Jeb Bush) have turned capital punishment into a state pastime. They are two of the most enthusiastic proponents of the death penalty. Correspondent Jay Martel looks at the brotherly rivalry of the Bush brothers through the prism of a football rivalry, complete with a satirical pep rally outside an actual execution in Texas.

6-7 Anti-Death Penalty Organizing Workshop presented by Campaign to End the Death Penalty and including a showing of the 12 minute film "A Voice from Death Row" produced this year by Austin filmmaker Nathan Christ. The film features Shugaa Graham speaking at a forum CEDP held at UT, as well as scenes from the "6th Annual March to Stop Executions" held on Oct 29, 2005.

7-8 PM "The Death Penalty in Texas", a question and answer open discussion with Walter Long, who was one of the leaders of the effort to ban executions of juvenile offfenders. The U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of juvenile offenders on March 1, 2005. Walter Long is an attorney who represented Napoleon Beazley and Karla Faye Tucker, among others.

8 PM Evening Time on your own for enjoying Austin, including the SXSW film festival.

9 PM (Optional movie night at Goodall Wooten) -- Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story Redemption tells the story of Stan "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips L.A. street gang. Story follows his fall into gang-banging, his prison term, and his work writing children's novels encouraging peace and anti-violence resolutions which earned him multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations. After exhausting all forms of appeal, Tookie was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison, California; he was declared dead on December 13, 2005 at 12:35 a.m. PST (08:35 UTC). Williams was the 12th person to be executed by California since it reinstated the death penalty in 1977.

Tuesday, March 14
Tuesday's events will be held in room 1-104 of the William B. Travis (WBT) building at 1701 Congress. Here is a map.

11am- 1:00pm: Skills Building Workshop: Winning Step-By-Step: How to Organize and Win Moratorium and Abolition Resolutions presented by Shari Silberstein, Co-Director of Equal Justice USA/Quixote Center ( EJUSA is a national leader in the movement to halt executions, providing hands-on technical assistance, grassroots organizing support, and capacity building to state and local campaigns across the country.

1 - 2:30 PM -- Lunch

2:30 - 4 PM -- Workshop: Influencing the Texas Legislature with Les Breeding, former legislative director for a member of the Texas Legislature. During the workshop, participants will learn how to interact effectively with legislators or legislative aides.

4 - 5 PM -- Planning and Sign-making session for the next day's protest in Huntsville.

Wednesday, March 15
Bus trip to Huntsville
(Everyone meet at the Goodall Wooten Dormitory at 2112 Guadalupe to get on the bus)

8 AM Bus Departs Austin for Huntsville

1 PM Arrive in Huntsville, have lunch (at your own expense)

2:30 PM Tour of Texas Prison Museum

3:30 Texas Death Row, talk by Reverend Carroll Pickett, 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 is the author of "Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain".

4:30 PM Arrive at The Walls Unit to prepare for protest of execution of Tommie Hughes.

5-6:30 PM Protest Execution of Tommie Hughes,

7 PM Depart for return trip to Austin.

Thursday, March 16
Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol

9 AM Start getting to the Capitol. If you drive, parking is available either at meters along the streets or a short walk away at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $.75 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $6.00) Map of the Capitol Complex.

10-12 PM MVFM (Murder Victim Family Member) panel. The Panel will take place in room E2.016 in the lower level of the Capitol. Panelists include:
Renny Cushing: Renny Cushing is the founder and Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights. His father’s murder in 1988 has shaped his work as an advocate for crime victims and as an opponent of capital punishment. As a victim-abolitionist Renny has been a pioneer in the effort to bridge death penalty abolition groups and the victims’ rights movement.

Audrey Lamm Audrey is a senior at the University of Oregon. When Audrey was two years old her mother and her mother's friend were murdered in Nebraska. Audrey was in the building when the killings 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.

Christina Lawson: Christina suffered the loss of both her father and her husband. Her father was murdered when she was a child and her husband, David Martinez, was executed this past summer, July 28, 2005. She has witnessed the pain from both sides: the loss of her father, the anger and hate felt towards his killer, the loss of her husband, the sorrow for his victim's family and loved ones, the loss of a Daddy for their child. She has realized through her pain, that the death penalty does not bring anyone back, it does not heal anyone... it brings back the pain of losing a loved one and destroys another innocent family.

12-1 Lunch

Afternoon: Visits with legislators and/or their aides.

4 PM Tour of the Capital

4:30 PM Meet in the Capital Cafeteria to socialize and exchange information about what people learned during their visits with legislative offices.
More time on your own for enjoying Austin

5 - 8 PM -- Petition Signature Gathering Competition: We will divide into teams and fan out throughout Austin to collect signatures on a petition against the death penalty. People can collect signatures at places such as where SXSW events are taking place, outside certain bookstores or other stores if they allow it, on the streets in downtown Austin and wherever else the teams want to try. The team that collects the most petition signatures (with names, addresses, email addresses and possibly phone numbers) will win a prize of $100 We will decide as a group on the workshop what size the teams can be. Options are 1, 2, 3, 4, or more person teams.

8-9 PM -- Gather at Goodall Wooten to announce the winner.

9 PM -- More time on your own for enjoying Austin

Friday, March 17

This is Spring Break, so today we will have some fun and take a break after all the hard work we have done all week. Everyone is free to choose their own activities. Some things people could do are: Go swimming at Barton Springs Pool, attend a SXSW film or music event, go shopping, take a Segway tour of Austin, go jogging around Town Lake, go bike riding, visit a museum or do something else. Some of these activities cost money, so plan accordingly.

11 PM -- UT Campus visits (optional) - Each day, UT offers two student-guided walking tours of campus for prospective students and families that begin at the Main Building ("UT Tower") and cover the center of campus from the unique perspective of a current student. This is one of the best ways to get a feel for campus and we recommend that all prospective students who are mobile take the tour. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, and feel free to bring your camera.

7 PM We all go have a final meal together! (Everyone buys their own dinner. We will decide as a group where to go eat).

9:30 PM (Optional Friday night event):- At the Alamo Downtown, there will be a showing of State vs. Reed directed by Ryan Polomski & Frank Bustoz. Synopsis: Did Rodney Reed kill Stacey Stites? This documentary explores the case that landed a 28 year old Bastrop man on Texas' Death Row.

Saturday, March 18: Departure Day
Students leave Austin when they get up if they didn't leave Friday night.

Alternative Spring Break was started by Texas Moratorium Network in 2004. It is now a program of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and is entirely run by students for students. Co-sponsoring organizations include Texas Moratorium Network, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin Chapter, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Murder Victims Families for Human Rights, Victims of Texas, The Peace and Justice Committee of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX and Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

TSADP Grant and spring break

TSADP just received a $1000 grant from Center for American Progress to use for the Anti-Death Penalty Spring Break Alternative.

During the spring break I am going to ask students to share their experiences with you in this blog. So please come back!

We are renting a bus and making a trip to Huntsville on March 15 as part of alternative spring break to protest the execution on March 15. If you would like to get on the bus and go with us, email hooman(at-) to get on the list. Former death house chaplain Rev Carroll Pickett will meet with the group in Huntsville to talk with them about his experiences ministering to 95 people before their executions. If live live in a city besides Austin, just find your own transportation and meet us in Huntsville. Bring signs for the protest!

Bus Trip: Bus trip to Huntsville, March 15
(Everyone meet at the Goodall Wooten Dormitory at 2112 Guadalupe to get on the bus)

Thursday, March 16
Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol

For more information please visit:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

MtvU wants to turn Spring Breakers into action-makers

By Ashley Richards
The University Star

The typical college Spring Break has been painted in the minds of young people for more than a decade based on documentaries from MTV’s Cancun getaways. Venturing from that stereotype, mtvU, the network’s university-affiliated station, will be following students next week as they spend their break time in Austin at workshops during the third annual Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, hosted by Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.

Read more....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Friedman testifies on behalf of Soffar


Last summer Kinky Friedman signed TSADP's Moratorium Petition in San Antonio. At the time Kinkster said that his main concern was to focus and to be “Damn sure we won’t execute the wrong guy”. Mr. Friedman went so far as to boldly state he would find an alternative to Texas’ “Eject ‘em or inject ‘em” policy on death row legislature. However according to Houston Chronicle, "Friedman said Tuesday that he has changed his position and will campaign against capital punishment."

"The (criminal justice) system is not perfect," he said. "Until it's
perfect, let's do away with the death penalty."

Friedman testified during the punishment phase of Max Soffar's trial that the defendant should not be executed and questioned the evidence used to convict him.

"I've seen the problems with the lawyers. Everybody's dead. All the witnesses are dead. There’s no evidence against him," he said. "And I can't even believe he was brought to trial in the first place."

Friedman, a musician-turned-mystery author-turned-politician, said his court appearance had nothing to do with his run for governor. Known for his trademark black cowboy hat and cigar, Friedman needs to collect more than 45,000 signatures after the March 7 primaries to be placed on the November ballot.

Go to our website to see a picture of him signing the petition.


Kinky at Tarleton's Langdon Center in Granbury, TX (photo by Craig Clifford)