Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kinky Friedman testifies for death row inmate

It's not everyday that a candidate for Texas governor testifies in favor of a person who has been on Texas death row for more than 20 years.Kinky Friedman testified that he believes Max Soffar is innocent. Kinky has signed a petition calling for a moratorium on executions. Go to the website of TSADP to see a picture of him signing the petition. Though he told an interviewer last year that he did not oppose the death penalty, 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. Tthere'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.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Texas Moratorium Network Receives Grant Award from RESIST, Inc.

Texas Moratorium Network has just been awarded $3,000 by RESIST, Inc., a national progressive foundation located in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Texas Moratorium Network
received funding for our work fighting for a statewide moratorium on executions in Texas. “We are very pleased to receive this grant from RESIST”, said Scott Cobb, President of TMN. "The grant comes at a busy time for TMN. We are working on two major projects this Spring – an alternative spring break and an art show".

“Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break” is March 13-17. TMN began the alternative spring break in 2004 and this year turned it over to a new, statewide, student-run organization called Texas Students Against the Death Penalty. MTV will feature this year’s “Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break” on the MTVU channel and online at

Justice for All?: Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty” is an international, juried art show to be held at Gallery Lombardi in Austin May 6-22. The deadline for submissions to the art show is March 20, 2006. Jurors for the show are Annette Carlozzi, Curator of American and Contemporary Art at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in Austin; Lora Reynolds, owner of Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin; and Malaquias Montoya, an artist and professor at the University of California, Davis. The art show is funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. Visit for more information.

RESIST began in 1967 with a “call to resist illegitimate authority” in support of draft resistance and in opposition to the Vietnam War. RESIST has continued to fund movements for social justice, including: civil rights; environmental; international human rights; reproductive rights, women’s rights, economic justice; prisoners’ rights; media and culture; and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender rights. Over the years, RESIST has evolved into a national foundation providing small but timely funding for grassroots peace and social justice groups. RESIST has six funding cycles during the calendar year. RESIST gives grants and loans up to $3,000. In fiscal year 2004, RESIST gave almost #305,000 to 136 organizations across the country.

“Each year, RESIST funds groups like Texas Moratorium Network, because our mission is to support people who take a stand about the issues that matter today, whether it’s to resist corporate globalization, promote a woman’s right to choose, or develop activist leaders,” says Board Chair Marc Miller.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Donate against the death penalty by sending a text message on your cell phone using TextPayMe

We recently discovered a cool new service called TextPayMe, which allows you to send money to others via a text message on your cell phone. Paying for stuff through text messaging is pretty common in Europe and Japan, but it hasn't yet caught on here in the States. We think that it will be as popular as PayPal in a short time.

Click the banner below to check it out and sign up for free. They'll even deposit five dollars in your TextPayMe account when you sign up. No kidding. You get $5 for free. It costs you nothing. So sign up by clicking on the link below, get your $5 for free, and then you can help us out by donating the $5 to Texas Moratorium Network, so that we can raise some funds to use against the death penalty.

And, if 35 more people sign up via the link below, TextPayMe will give us an XBOX 360, which we will then auction on Ebay and raise some more funds for our non-profit work.

It is very easy to use. To donate to TMN, just follow the instructions and text the message to the cell phone number 512-689-1544.

SignUp at TextPayMe

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Art Show

We are receiving some amazing submissions to the art show, "Justice for All?: Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty". Already, we have received submissions from 21 U.S. states and five countries other than the U.S.

The deadline for submissions is March 20, 2006.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Clyde Smith Executed

Ten people came to the Governor's Mansion in Austin today to protest the execution of Clyde Smith, who became the 359th person executed by Texas since 1982. There were lots of people who drove by and honked or waved to show support for the people protesting the execution. Only one person was noticed giving the thumbs down sign. More than 100 people used TMN's email system to send emails to Governor Perry protesting the execution. Smith dropped out of the ninth grade in Laurel, Miss.

The Houston Chronicle reports on the execution here.

HUNTSVILLE — Convicted killer Clyde Smith was executed today for the 1992 fatal shooting of a Houston cab driver during a robbery.

"I want to thank you all for being here and for your love and support," Smith said to friends who watched from a nearby window.

Smith, who was executed for the 1992 death of cab driver David Jacobs, did not acknowledge the relatives of another slain cab driver who were present for the execution.

Seven minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CST.

His execution was the fourth this year in Texas and the second of three scheduled this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

Our sympathies go out to the family of Clyde Smith and to the families of David Jacobs and Victor Bilton, who were murdered by Smith.

Next on the execution schedule is Steven Staley, scheduled to be executed Feb. 23.

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MTV and Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break

MTV is interested in covering Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break. Here is what one of their producers wrote about their plans: "When people think of Spring Break the vision of beaches, night clubs and drinking until you drop usually comes to mind. MTVU wants to put a new spin on the typical Spring Break stereotypes by showcasing college students from around the country with alternative plans. The new Spring Break trend has students using their time away from school for more meaningful purposes -- whether volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, helping restore properties affected by Hurricane Katrina or protesting a cause they believe in. We want to showcase these unique Spring Breaks by following students on their adventures. We’ll not only shoot the events they’re partaking in but also get the back stories for why these students chose their plans, how they feel throughout the trip and what they come away from the trip with. It's time to put the spotlight on students who are getting more than a great tan out of their Spring Break!"

If you are planning to come to Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, you may end up on MTVU, which is MTV's university channel. They want to cover a few of the students from beginning to end, in reality tv style.

Plans for other aspects of spring break are also firming up. There will be a bus trip to Huntsville on March 15. Former death house chaplain Rev Carroll Pickett is going to meet with the group at the Texas Prison Museum and talk to us about his experiences ministering to 95 people before their executions. He is now an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and the author of "Within These Walls : Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain". During the executions, Rev Pickett often held onto the ankle of the person being executed in an effort to comfort them, so he was the last human touch many executed people felt.

After Rev. Pickett's talk, we will head over to The Walls Unit (pictured below) to protest the execution of Tommie Hughes.

To register for spring break, visit Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Anti-Death Penalty play at Hyde Park Theatre in Austin

This looks interesting. Art is a powerful medium for creating civic dialogue. You can read more about this play at the Hyde Park Theater website.

For Information:
Call Ken Webster at 300-3635 or email

Hyde Park Theatre

The Southwest Premiere of

The Glory of Living
by Rebecca Gilman

Directed by
Ken Webster

Kelsey Kling, Joey Hood, Ken Bradley, Monika Bustamante, Jude Hickey, Joel Citty, Andrea Skola, Jessie Tilton, and Heather Huggins

March 23- April 15, 2006
Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 PM

Hyde Park Theatre is proud to present the Southwest premiere of The Glory of Living by Rebecca Gilman. The Glory of Living is Gilman's award-winning play that traces the journey of a teenage girl who runs away with an ex-convict, only to be drawn into a world of sex, lost innocence and murder. This powerful indictment of the death penalty was inspired by the Judith Neelley case in Georgia in the 1980's.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Number of Communications received by Gov Perry regarding executions

We have been monitoring the number of communications received by Texas Governor Rick Perry regarding the last few executions. He receives both written correspondence and phone calls. Written correspondence includes letters, faxes and emails submitted either through the governor's website or through outside websites or email lists such as Texas Moratorium Network's, which uses Democracy in Action to allow people to email the governor. The number of phone calls may be underrepresentative of how many people try to call, since the phone lines are often busy. Also, petitions with multiple signers on each page are not included.

This information was obtained through requests submitted by Scott Cobb under the Texas Public Information Act.

12,201 people wrote Perry opposing the execution of Frances Newton last Sept. Ten people wrote him supporting the execution. Most recently, 2,627 people wrote opposing the execution of Jaime Elizalde on Jan 31. Nobody wrote Perry supporting Elizalde's execution. For the execution of Marion Dudley on Jan 25, only 141 people communicated their opposition to the execution to Perry's office and nobody wrote Perry supporting the execution.

Here is a pdf of all the information, broken down into communications from inside Texas, other U.S. states and outside the U.S and including both written correspondence and phone calls.

Below is the same information posted on one of those new web 2.0 spreadsheet sites called Num Sum.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tony Ford gets execution date lifted

Tony Ford, an El Paso man who had been scheduled for execution March 14, 2006 , has had his execution date stayed. District Court Judge William Moody abated the execution order because DNAtesting must be done on clothing that could clear Ford's name. The clothes will be sent to California in the next 2 weeks, and JudgeMoody says results could be in by mid-March. Ford has always maintained his innocence in the 1991 shooting death of 17-year-old Armando Murillo.

It's a good thing they are sending the evidence out of state for testing, considering all the problems with crime labs in Texas.

Read more about the case of Tony Ford.

Another Tony Ford webpage.

Tony Ford's page at ALIVE.

Sign a petition for Tony Ford.

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Call for Entries: Justice for All?: Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty

Originally uploaded by niris.
"Justice for All? Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty"
Austin, TX - Sponsored by Texas Moratorium Network

This is an international, all-media, juried art exhibition on view May 6 through May 22, 2006 at Gallery Lombardi in Austin, Texas and online for at least one year at Artwork must address the issue of the death penalty. Purpose of the juried art show is to foster the creation of new artwork on the death penalty, to celebrate artwork that may already have been created and to encourage and enhance civic engagement and dialogue about the death penalty. We welcome submissions from artists who engage the issue from any and all viewpoints.

JURORS are Annette Carlozzi, Curator of American and Contemporary Art at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin; Lora Reynolds, owner of Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin. Lora Reynolds Gallery presents contemporary art in all mediums by established and emerging, national and international artists; and Malaquias Montoya, an artist and professor of art at the University of California, Davis.

For an easy online entry form please visit the website or contact the organizers by email. Work in all media is eligible.

Prizes totaling $1,300 including $500 for Best in Show.

Two-dimensional work must be suitable for installation, ready to hang and must not exceed 84” in any dimension. Sculpture should not exceed 84” including base, and must be light enough for two people to handle. Videos/DVDs must be no longer than 15 minutes. Fees: Up to 3 slides/JPGs/photographs/videos = $15/artist. Additional slides/JPGs/photographs/videos = $5 each.

For more information, contact: Scott Cobb at 512-302-6715 or Email:

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Texas Moratorium Network got started back in 2000. We have been running a sort of proto-blog on our website at for several years, but we wanted to try out newer blogging features that have been developed since we adopted the platform that we use for our website. For instance, Blogger lets us post pictures from Flickr, post entries via email, and other things, so we thought we would give blogger a try. Also, by using blogger, we will easily be able to allow more members of our network to contribute to the blog. So, look for posts from various people on here.

You should still visit our website for lots of items that we will not post to the blog.

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