Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Darlie Routier's Mother Asks Public to Sign Petition for Daughter

If you would please take a few minutes to read this petition and sign it for Darlie, I would appreciate it. I hope to gather enough signatures to present this to the District Attorney here in Dallas this summer.Perhaps we will succeed in getting her DNA tested or a new trial OR BOTH.

I will have it available on the web site later this week but please circulate among your friends and family members as soon as you can.

You may also post this link on web sites.

Thank you,

Darlie Kee

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Protest the First Texas Execution in 9 Months at Rick Perry's Home

There will be protests of the first execution in Texas after the Supreme Court ruling allowing executions to resume after a de facto moratorium since Sept 25. The protests will occur prior to the first execution. Currently, the first execution is on June 3rd. If another one is scheduled before that date, then the protests will be adjusted accordingly.

Derrick Sonnier, is scheduled to be executed in Huntsville on June 3rd.

This will be the first execution in Texas since Sept 25th when Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said, "we close at 5" and refused to accept an appeal 20 minutes late for a man later executed that night. Around 1900 people signed on to a complaint that we submitted asking the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to remove Keller for her unethical action.

Monday, June 2nd at Governor Rick Perry’s temporary home. He has moved out of the governor's mansion while it is being renovated. The address where Perry is living is 8113 Hickory Creek Drive.

Tuesday, June 3rd at 5:30PM at the Capitol
On the steps at Congress and 11th

The Supreme Court recently decided a case allowing the use of the current method of execution by lethal injection to stand. Executions are already scheduled in a handful of states, including Texas.

Events sponsored by Campaign to End the Death Penalty and Texas Moratorium Network. If your group or organization would like to co-sponsor and/or help plan this event, let CEDP know at 494-0667 or cedpaustin@gmailcom.

The rent at Governor Perry's temporary home is paid for with tax payer money. The state is paying almost $10,000 a month for Gov. Rick Perry and his wife, Anita, to live in this Hickory Creek Drive home for a year.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Democrats Against the Death Penalty Caucus

“Democrats Against the Death Penalty Caucus” will meet at the Democratic State Convention in Austin at the Austin Convention Center in Room 6A, from 12:00-1:00pm on Friday, June 6, 2008.

This caucus was founded in 2004 and also met at the 2006 state convention.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

2 New Execution Dates Set in Texas

After 7 months without executions, Texas has scheduled two people for execution. Meanwhile, we are still waiting on a response from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to the complaint against Judge Sharon Keller that we sent them that was signed by around 1900 people regarding Keller's unethical behavior on Sept 25, the last time a person was executed in Texas and in the entire U.S.

From the Houston Chronicle:

At least two condemned Texas inmates already have execution dates following last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the lethal injection process.

Charles Dean Hood, convicted of a double slaying in the Dallas suburb of Plano more than 18 years ago, and Larry Donnell Davis, condemned for a 1995 robbery-slaying in Amarillo, are set to die, said the Texas Attorney General's Office, which handles federal appeals involving capital murder cases.

Hood, 38, was set for lethal injection June 17 by State District Judge Curt Henderson. Davis, 40, was set to die July 31 by State District Judge John Board.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"America is viewed with horror"

The New York Times has an article on the number of people in prison in the U.S. compared to other countries. “Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons."

The end of the article offers one explanation, “Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is democracy — just what Tocqueville was talking about,” he said. “We have a highly politicized criminal justice system.”

Some highlights:

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.


The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison.


The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.


People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, Mr. Whitman wrote.

Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

Those figures have drawn contempt from European critics. “The U.S. pursues the war on drugs with an ignorant fanaticism,” said Ms. Stern of King’s College.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Special Screening "At the Death House Door" May 20 Austin

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
San Jose Catholic Church
(South Austin off of Oltorf St.)
2435 Oak Crest Avenue (map)

At the Death House Door

through the eyes of Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous "Walls" prison unit in Huntsville. During Pickett's remarkable career journey, he presided over 95 executions, including the world’s first lethal injection. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber.

The film also focuses on the story of Carlos De Luna, a convict Pickett counseled and whose execution troubled Pickett more than any other. He firmly believed De Luna was innocent, and the film tracks the investigative efforts of a team of Chicago Tribune reporters who have turned up evidence that strongly suggests he was.

From award-winning directors Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and Peter Gilbert ("Vietnam: Long Time Coming").

“Broadcast debut of At the Death House Door on IFC May 29th at 8pm”

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Inmate Dreads LWOP more than execution

The Austin American Statesman is reporting that an Austin man sentenced to death wants to drop his appeals and be executed because living in prison is too hard. His complaint makes a good argument for abolishing the death penalty and sentencing people to life in prison.

Sentenced to die for the 2006 killing of his girlfriend's mother, Selwyn P. Davis told a judge in Travis County on Friday that he wants to waive most of his appeals because he is guilty and he doesn't want to spend his life in prison.

"I'm certain of what I want," Davis told state District Judge Julie Kocurek. "The quality of life is not, basically, to my standards, you know what I am saying? Basically, jail sucks."

He talked about death row in Huntsville: He is confined 23 hours a day to a tiny cell, can't watch television and hasn't had any visitors since he arrived last year. He said a life of listening to the radio, writing poetry, reading and corresponding with a few pen pals does not appeal to him.

Davis said that since he's been back in Travis County, he read in the newspaper about a death row inmate who was executed though some think he may have been innocent.

"I'm guilty of my crime," he said. "They did not let him go; why would they let me go?"

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Supreme Court Justice Wants End to Executions

ABC News is reporting more on what we noticed already about yesterday's supreme court ruling on lethal injection, which is that Justice Stevens gave notice in his dissent that he in favor of abolishing the death penalty, making him the newest, and currently only abolitionist Justice on the Supreme Court.

Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court's most senior member, took aim at the entire system of capital punishment Wednesday, writing in an opinion that it was a "pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes."

Stevens' stance came to light in his opinion on Kentucky's lethal injection protocol, which the court, including Stevens, upheld Wednesday in a 7-2 decision. There had been an unofficial moratorium on executions while the court mulled the case.

It is the first time 87-year-old Stevens has called on states to stop executions entirely.

Stevens wrote, "the risk of executing innocent defendants can be entirely eliminated by treating any penalty more severe than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as constitutionally excessive."

In essence, Stevens has sent a signal that, while he recognizes the court has, in the past, found the death penalty to be constitutional, he thinks it's now time for state legislatures, Congress and the courts to reconsider.

He wrote how current attempts to "retain the death penalty as part of our law" are the "product of habit and inattention, rather than an acceptable deliberative process" that weighs the costs of administering the penalty against its benefits.

In 1976, only months after he had been nominated to the high court by President Gerald Ford, Stevens voted to reauthorize the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia. Four years earlier, the court had invalidated it.

In speeches, Stevens has hinted that he found problems with the way the death penalty was administered, but Wednesday marked the first time he has used an opinion to clarify his position.

In an August 2005 speech before the American Bar Association, Stevens cited reports that death sentences had been imposed erroneously. "That evidence is profoundly significant," he said, "not only because of its relevance to the debate about the wisdom of continuing to administer capital punishment, but also because it indicates that there must be serious flaws in our administration of criminal justice."

Stevens joins only three other justices in history  William J. Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun  who voiced their opposition to the death penalty.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Justice Stevens Says Abolish the Death Penalty

In a day of unfortunate but not unexpected news from the Supreme Court, which ruled that lethal injections are not unconstitutional, one of the Justices on the Court for the first time called for the abolition of the death penalty.

From the NY Times:

Another member of the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens, said in his separate opinion that he felt bound by the court’s precedents to uphold the constitutionality of the Kentucky protocol. But he went on to call for abolishing the death penalty, both as a matter of policy and of Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. “State-sanctioned killing,” Justice Stevens said, was “becoming more and more anachronistic.”

Justice Stevens voted with the majority that restored capital punishment in 1976, his first year on the court. But he said he had changed his mind, based on “my own experience” in seeing how the death penalty is actually carried out in a changing climate. Among the factors he singled out was a series of decisions that he said had “endorsed procedures that provide less protections to capital defendants than to ordinary offenders.”

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Lethal injections could resume in Texas

KXAN Article
April 16, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN/AP) -- Texas and dozens of other states soon may resume executions after the Supreme Court's rejection of challenges to Kentucky's lethal injection.

Use of the death penalty has been on hold for seven months while the high court considered inmate complaints about Kentucky's three-drug method of execution.

The justices issued their ruling Wednesday. Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network said the opinion was not unexpected. Cobb said he anticipated at least one district attorney in the state would file the paperwork to reopen the death penalty in Texas by the end of the week.

The Texas Moratorium Network, on the other hand, is pinning more of its hopes on the November general elections. The last time a moratorium on the death penalty seriously was considered in the Legislature was 2001; by no coincidence, that was the last year the Democrats held the majority in the House. Cobb points out Democrats are only five seats away from a majority.

Even a new Speaker of the House could make a difference, Cobb said. Rep. Brian McCall (R-Plano) was the sole Republican in the House to vote in favor of a death penalty moratorium in 2001. Right now, McCall is one of a number of potential candidates who may challenge current Speaker of the House Tom Craddick next session.

The recent exoneration of multiple Dallas County prison inmates -- based on DNA tests requested by new DA Craig Watkins -- may be just the push to encourage lawmakers to take a moratorium and study committee on the death penalty seriously, Cobb said.

The nation's last execution was Sept. 25, when Texas inmate Michael Richard was put to death. Cobb noted the intervening months -- seven -- would have been more than enough time to make seriously inroads on a study committee. Cobb says the months on hold without an execution also prove the sky will not fall if the death penalty is put on hold.

Texas leads the nation in death penalty convictions, and Harris County leads the state in executed inmates. The death penalty was an issue in the recent district attorney's race. Only Rick Reed said he would say "no" to the death penalty. Rosemary Lehmberg won the recent runoff election in the Democratic primary. She faces no opponent in November.

Gov. Rick Perry said the court's ruling affirms Texas' method of execution and that he supports continued use of capital punishment.

"Texas is a law-and-order state, and I stand by the majority of Texans who support the death penalty as it is written in Texas law," Perry said in a released statement. "It is an appropriate response for the most violent crimes against our fellow human beings."

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he is grateful the court rendered the decision it did.

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Rusty Hubbarth responds to Supreme Court Ruling: "Let the Games Begin"

Rusty Hubbarth of the Houston-based pro-death penalty group Justice For All called and left a message on the TMN voice mail this morning gloating about the Supreme Court decision today in the Baze case. He called to say "I just want you to have a real nice day" and to let us know that the Court "said that it is not unconstitutional or cruel and unusual for capital punishment to take place through lethal injection, so let the games begin".

Rusty is apparently eager for executions to resume after the 7 month moratorium while the states waited for today's Supreme Court ruling, but he does his pro death penalty cause a great disservice by describing the probable resumption of executions with the phrase that traditionally is used to start the Olympic Games.

If an aide to John McCain or one of the other presidential candidates had responded to the Supreme Court news this morning by saying, "Let the games begin", that aide would probably be fired.

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