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Saturday, March 31, 2001

Moratorium Legislation Action Alert!

The State Affairs committee in the Texas House of Representatives recently held a public hearing on a bill to establish a moratorium on executions in Texas.

This is a *major* step forward.
Media Coverage
According to a recent poll, almost 2/3rds of Texans believe that an innocent person has been executed in Texas. While some good bills have been introduced to improve the death penalty system, some serious flaws are not being addressed, such as racism and police or prosecutor misconduct. Nor will these bills benefit the men and women who are already on death row as the result of a system that the public no longer trusts.
Texas Moratorium Network is calling for a temporary halt on executions until a comprehensive study of the entire system is undertaken, and additional safeguards are implemented to prevent the wrongfully convicted from being executed.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please call at least one member of the State Affairs Committee (phone calls to legislative offices should be brief):
  • thanking them for holding the hearing
  • expressing how important it is to halt executions while so many problems in the Texas criminal justice system remain unresolved
  • urging them to support and vote in favor of HB 720.
The members of the House State Affairs Committee are as follows (all area codes are 512):

DEMOCRATS

Steve Wolens      463-0746
Sylvester Turner   463-0554
Kevin Bailey        463-0924
David Counts       463-0480
Debra Danburg    463-0504
John Longorio     463-0618
Ruth McClendon 463-0708

REPUBLICANS

Tom Craddick     463-0500
Paul J. Hilbert     463-0572
Kim Brimer         463-0632
Kenny Marchant 463-0468
Bob Hunter         463-0718
Brian McCall      463-0594
Delwin Jones     463-0542
Tommy Merritt   463-0750
You may also want to call your own Representative, if she or he is not on the State Affairs Committee. If you don't know who your Representative is, you can go to the following website:
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of this important legislation. If you have any questions, or get any interesting responses, feel free to email us, or call us at: 512.302.6715.

CALL TODAY!

Since the United States Supreme Court decision to reinstate the death penalty in 1976, more than 240 prisoners have been executed in Texas, which is more than in any other state. Last year, Texas executed more prisonersthan in any previous year. Concerns exist regarding the possible execution of innocent individuals and are evidenced by recent initiatives on issues surrounding capital punishment, including the examination of the indigentdefense system, postconviction DNA testing of defendants, and sentencing alternatives. However, Texas does not currently conduct a comprehensive assessment and examination of its capital punishment system. House Bill 720 creates the Texas Capital Punishment Commission to study capital punishment in this state and places a two-year moratorium on all executions in the state.
House Bill 720 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to create the Texas Capital Punishment Commission (commission). The bill requires the commission to study capital punishment in this state, concentrating particularly on issues relating to the legal representation of inmates in capital cases, the certainty of the guilt of individuals convicted in capital cases, and the sufficiency of appellate review of convictions in capital cases. After completing the study, the bill requires the commission to propose legislation to correct any inequities in the capital punishment process in this state and to submit the proposed legislation to the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house of representatives not later than December 1, 2002. The bill also sets forth the composition of the commission, the necessary qualifications of commission members, and when they must be appointed.
H.B. 720 also prohibits the state from executing an inmate on or after September 1, 2001, and before September 1, 2003. The bill also provides that the commission is abolished on January 1, 2003, and that these provisions expire on that date.
EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.
Source : Texas House Resource Organization

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