TCADP – Common Ground for Texans

“Advocating positive solutions through civil engagement”

What: Considering the Death Penalty in Texas and the US
When: Saturday, November 7th, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Where: Yarborough Library, 2200 Hancock Dr, Austin TX (see map)

Join Common Ground for Texans at our next meeting, Saturday, November 7, for a discussion of the death penalty in America — an issue that has received increased attention in recent months, with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer saying, “it’s time to revisit the issue” and President Obama also publicly questioning its application.

We’ll consider whether elected judges are more likely to impose the death penalty, whether racial biases in the justice system result in the death penalty being disproportionately used against people of color, and other questions. As always, we strive to discuss contentious issues with civility and respect for differing opinions.

We’ll hear from Les Breeding of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and hopefully from an advocate for the death penalty (TBD). It should be a lively discussion — we hope you can join us!

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

tcadpTCADP, in conjunction with the Texas Mercy Project of the Texas Catholic Conference, The Office of Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., and the Catholic Mobilizing Network, is sponsoring “Journey to Mercy: Rethinking the Death Penalty in Texas” on Friday, October 23rd. The event will take place at the Texas Capitol Auditorium and Legislative Conference Center (1100 Congress Ave.) from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. To RSVP for this free conference, please visit http://bit.ly/1McTsbc .
For more TCADP news, click here.

Texas Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty

tcadp

The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out one execution this month:

  • Derrick Charles is scheduled to be put to death on May 12, 2015.  He was convicted of killing his 15-year-old girlfriend, Myiesha Bennett, her mother, Brenda Bennett, and her grandfather, Obie Lee Bennett, in 2002 in Harris County.  Charles was 19 years old at the time.

The State of Texas has carried out six executions to date in 2015.  Two individuals scheduled to be executed last month – Robert Pruett and Richard Vasquez – received stays.  Six people have received stays of execution this year, although the stay granted to Lester Bower by the U.S. Supreme Court has been lifted and his execution rescheduled for June 3, 2015.  At this time, no executions have been scheduled past June 18, 2015.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions in Texas. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Information and updates on these cases are available on TCADP’s website.

 

Advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature

“The death penalty has worn out its welcome.”  That’s the message Anthony Graves delivered to members of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence during his riveting testimony last week in support of House Bill 1527.  The hearing on HB 1527 – State Representative Jessica Farrar’s abolition bill – took place on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Anthony went on to tell the committee the death penalty does not work and the fact that he spent 18 years in prison, including 12.5 years on death row, and faced 2 execution dates should concern all of us.

MFSA was pleased to hear Mr. Graves speak at our 2014 Annual Conference Luncheon.

 

Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) Events

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iACT’s Hope Awards

“Forgiveness through Faith”

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
98 San Jacinto Boulevard

The Hope Awards provides support for iACT’s outstanding community service programs. Hands on Housing repairs the homes of impoverished seniors and people with disabilities. iACT for Refugees provides basic educational assistance to newly arrived refugees from around the world. The Red Bench dialogue program encourages meaningful conversations that matter.

We will honor Michael Morton, who was wrongfully convicted in 1987 in a Williamson County court for the brutal murder of his wife. His faith gave him the strength to endure hardship and the mercy to forgive.

Locked away in Texas prisons for a quarter century, he had years to ponder questions of justice and innocence, truth and fate. Though he was virtually invisible to society, a team of dedicated attorneys spent years fighting for the right to test DNA evidence found at the murder scene.

He was exonerated by DNA evidence which supported his claim of innocence and pointed to the crime being committed by another individual. Morton was released from prison on October 4, 2011, and the prosecutor was convicted of contempt of court for withholding evidence after the judge had ordered its release to the defense.

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Texas Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty

Four Executions Scheduled For AprilJoin MFSA and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) in April for a vigil  in your community for the four scheduled executions of Texas prisoners:

Information and updates on these cases are available on TCADP’s website.

TCADP – Texas Faith Leader Advocacy

On Monday, March 9, 2015, TCADP and Texas Impact held a press conference at the State Capitol in Austin to release the Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty, which was endorsed by more than 500 faith leaders across Texas. The signatories represent 25 different faith traditions, including Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reform Judaism, United Methodist, and United Church of Christ. More than 20 Jewish leaders in Texas endorsed the accompanying Rabbis’ Statement.  (Pictured here: Participants in our Faith Leader Advocacy Day at the Capitol on March 9; photo courtesy of Jeff Campbell Photography)

Many of the United Methodist clergy signatures were from clergy who attended the 2014 Peace & Justice Luncheon at the Southwest Texas Annual Conference after hearing the story of Anthony Graves, death row exoneree – http://anthonybelieves.com/about-anthony/. Thanks for the witness of these and other clergy who stood in opposition to the death penalty. http://umc-gbcs.org/faith-in-action/abolish-texas-death-penalty

 

Legislation advances in Nebraska, Delaware, Colorado, & MarylandNebraska – The Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature voted unanimously for the first time to advance a bill to repeal the death penalty!  The full legislature now will debate the bill.  Follow #nerepeal on Twitter for updates and share this graphic provided by EJUSA on Facebook to congratulate our friends at Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Delaware – On March 26, Delaware’s Senate passed (11-10) a bill to repeal the death penalty, after amending it to exclude current death row inmates. Those who testified in support of the repeal cited racial disparities, a lack of deterrent effect, and the high costs associated with capital punishment. The bill will now move on to the House of Representatives, which is expected to consider the measure in April.

Colorado – On the same day, Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee voted (6-4) against a repeal bill. Legislators heard nine hours of testimony regarding the bill, largely from supporters of the measure. Seventeen states have either considered legislation to repeal the death penalty this year or will likely consider it in the next session.

Maryland – Earlier in March, a bill to repeal the death penalty passed the Maryland General Assembly, and the governor has pledged to sign it into law, making Maryland the 18th state to do away with the death penalty

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

23 February 2015

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Rodney Reed

STAY OF EXECUTION TEXAS. COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

Today, February 23, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Rodney Reed, which was scheduled to take place on March 5th.  The court issued the stay to consider new evidence that may establish Reed’s innocence in the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites.

Here’s a statement from Reed’s lawyer, Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law:

We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr. Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence. We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime.

The new evidence includes affidavits that confirm Reed’s romantic relationship with Stites and statements from three forensic examiners who reviewed the case and believe Stites was likely killed hours earlier than previously thought, challenging the timeline of her death as presented at Reed’s trial.

Six judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to the stay, which is “pending further order of this court.”

Read more about today’s ruling from the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman.

A copy of the court’s order is available at http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/ReedR_wrt07_ord.pdf.

Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty – Monday, March 9

Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty – Monday, March 9
Join the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) at the State Capitol in Austin on Monday, March 9, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM to release the Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty and voice your concerns about capital punishment to members of the Texas legislature.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

TCADP 2015 Annual Conference:
Register by February 13th
 tcadpRegister today for TCADP’s 2015 Annual Conference – Death Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground. The conference will take place on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin.  Go online to pre-register.  (Note: Rates will increase after February 13th).

If you can’t join us for the full day, consider attending the awards luncheon and keynote address by former District Attorney Tim Cole.  You won’t want to miss it!

Also, please note that anyone wishing to place an ad in the conference program, reserve an exhibitor table, or sponsor a table at the awards luncheon must do so by Friday, February 6th.

Rio Texas is pleased to be a sponsor of this conference.

Executions in 2015

Scheduled Executions
February 4: Donald Newbury
February 10: Lester Bower, Jr.
March 5: Rodney Reed
March 11: Manuel Vasquez
March 18: Randall Mays
April 9: Kent Sprouse
April 15: Manuel Garza
April 23: Richard Vasquez
April 28: Robert Pruett
May 12: Derrick Charles

Executions
January 21: Arnold Prieto
January 29: Robert Ladd

Stays of Execution
January 28: Garcia White

 

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Texas Executions Drop to Lowest Number Since 1996, According to New Report by TCADP

New death sentences decline nearly 80% since 1999, remain geographically isolated

 

(Austin, Texas) — The State of Texas put 10 people to death in 2014, the fewest executions in the state since 1996, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review.

“Over the last 15 years, we have witnessed significant change when it comes to use of the death penalty in Texas, mirroring national trends. Texas has gone from a peak of 40 executions in 2000 to the fewest executions in nearly two decades,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review is available online.  Contact report author Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.  See the report for additional charts illustrating trends related to executions and death sentences in Texas.

How you can get involved:

  • Share the report with your State Senator and State Representative and with faith and civic leaders – forward the press release and report to them.
  • Join TCADP at the State Capitol on January 22, 2015 to hand deliver copies of the report to every member of the Texas legislature. Contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer!
  • Join the TCADP Lobby Corps. TCADP is recruiting its third class of Lobby Corps members! This dedicated group of people works with our staff and board members to advance our legislative agenda at the State Capitol.  They have continued to build relationships with legislators and share information about important death penalty developments during this interim period.  Apply now to join the TCADP Lobby Corps!
  • Donate – https://secure.qgiv.com/for/?key=tcadp
  • Attend TCADP 2015 Annual Conference – Death Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground Now in its 16th consecutive year, TCADP’s Annual Conference is a must-attend event for everyone involved in the abolition movement in Texas.  It features inspiring speakers, informative workshops, and great networking opportunities! Online registration

Saturday, February 21, 2015
8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
St. David’s Episcopal Church
301 E. 8th St.
Austin, Texas 78701

TCADP News

tcadpScheduled executions

Outrageously, the State of Texas just set a December 3, 2014 execution date for Scott Panetti.  Panetti, who has suffered from severe mental illness for more than 30 years, has a fixed delusion that Satan, working through the state, is trying to kill him for preaching the Gospel.  Read background information on his case and watch “Executing the Insane: The Case of Scott Panetti,” which includes heartbreaking interviews with several members of his family.

We will provide updates on this case as they become available.  Please contact TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org or 512-441-1808 for more information.

Support clemency for Max Soffar

Imagine spending 34 years in prison – most of them on death row in Texas – for a crime you didn’t commit.  Now imagine being told by doctors that in a matter of months, maybe weeks, you will die of liver cancer.  That’s the situation facing Max Soffar, who will die behind bars before any court can exonerate him.  The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recently denied his petition for clemency, citing the absence of an execution date. Read more from Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, and join him and Sister Helen Prejean in calling on Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency to Max so that he can die at home.  Sign this change.org petition!

TCADP 2015 Annual Conference

Registration for the TCADP 2015 Annual ConferenceDeath Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground – is now open!  The conference will take place on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.

In case you missed it

Gallup Poll finds decreasing support for death penalty among Republicans
According to the annual Gallup Poll, support for the death penalty among Republicans has dropped nine points over the last decade.  Read more about the reasons behind the decline.

Pope Francis condemns the death penalty
On October 24th, while addressing a group of members of the International Association of Penal Law, Pope Francis called on all people of good will to fight for abolition of the death penalty in “all of its forms” and for the improvement of prison conditions.  Learn more from the National Catholic Reporter.

For more information, go to the TCADP web site.

TCADP News

tcadpScheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions this month; if they occur, these will be the last executions in our state in 2014:

  • On October 15, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Larry Hatten for the 1995 shooting death of 5-year-old Isaac Jackson in Corpus Christi. Jackson was killed while in bed with his mother, Tabatha Thompson, who was also severely injured.  Hatten reportedly suffers from mental illness and has been forcibly medicated at times while incarcerated.  Earlier this year he decided to forego any further appeals in his case.
  • On October 28, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Miguel Paredes, who was convicted in San Antonio in 2000 for the murders of Adrian Torres, Nelly Bravo, and Shawn Michael Caine.  He was 18 years old at the time of the crime. After Paredes and his two accomplices shot the three victims, they took their bodies to Frio County, where they set them on fire.  His two co-defendants are serving life sentences. Read an interview with Paredes that appears in The Baptist Standard.

To date in 2014, Texas has executed nine people, out of 30 executions nationwide.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice still refuses to identify the source of the drug used in executions.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Updates on these cases will be posted on the TCADP website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Events Around the State

Austin: Columbia Law School Professor James S. Liebman will appear at the Texas Book Festival in Austin on Sunday, October 26th at 3:30 PM in the CSPAN location to discuss his book about the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna, The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution. Mike Farrell will be moderating.  More details coming soon.

Irving: TCADP volunteers will assist the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN) with an information table at the University of Dallas Ministry Conference, taking place in Irving from October 23rd to 25th.  CMN’s Sister Ilaria Buanriposi will provide three workshops on the death penalty and restorative justice during the conference.

MFSA Annual Conference Luncheon

Life After Death Row – With Anthony Graves

Peace and Justice Luncheon

Henry Garrett Prefunction Area

Corpus Christi, SWTX UMC Annual Conference
June 13 at Noon

antony_gravesAnthony Graves is known by most as death row exoneree 138.  But he is known by those close to him as a loving son, brother, father and friend taken away from them at a young age.  Anthony lost eighteen and a half years of his life when he was wrongly convicted of a brutal crime and incarcerated in Texas prisons, sixteen of those years in solitary confinement, twelve on death row, with two execution dates.  Ultimately, perseverance, faith and the tireless work of The Innocence Network and others on Anthony’s team, put enough pressure on the system from the outside, and from the inside, where Anthony remained strong.  Anthony was proven innocent.

Today Anthony Graves is an advocate for those he left behind. He speaks worldwide about his case and others like it. In the Fall of 2013, Anthony established a scholarship at the University of Texas Law School in the name of his champion Professor Nicole Casarez.  http://anthonybelieves.com/about-anthony/

Join us for this on-site luncheon.  In addition, we’ll honor the recipients of the MFSA “Building a Just Community” Awards and the SWTX Conference Peace With Justice Awards

Link to the luncheon flyer:   https://swtmfsa.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/mfsa_peace-and-justice-luncheon-2014.pdf

Pre-Conference Report: 2014 PreConf 42514

 

 Luncheon Registration Information

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Cost:     $12.00 in advance (by June 8) – Check or cash

$15.00 at the door (limited number available)

Or, pay by credit card* – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peace-and-justice-luncheon-life-after-death-row-tickets-10873526009

News from TCADP

Download – Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty 2014 Spring Quarterly NewsletterIn this issue:

Cover Story TCADP’s Strategic Plan prioritizes 5 areas of importance for furthering our goals of first decreasing and then ending the use of the death penalty.  We invite your support and involvement in these initiatives.

Voices of Texas:On page 4, our colleagues at Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation share with us the best ways to respond to those we know touched by violence.

Death Penalty Developments:  TCADP works to stay apprised of new death sentences, stays of executions and emerging trends in Texas’ response to capital punishment, found on page 5.

Can Social Media Increase Anti-Death Penalty Engagement?  Find the answer on page 6 and learn several specific ways to increase your impact and further our efforts.

Special Events:  Check the TCADP calendar for events of interest happening in your community.

Thank You, Members, Donors, and Partners for Justice:  Thank you to everyone who supported TCADP during Amplify Austin in March!  TCADP repeated its win of an extra $1000 for most donors during 1:00-2:00pm of the campaign.  We couldn’t be as effective as we are in the fight to end the death penalty without those of you who support TCADP as annual and sustaining members, Partners for Justice and generous donors. Celebrate your fellow TCADP members by seeing who gave this quarter.

The Trial of Jesus – Manchaca UMC

Manchaca United Methodist ChurchSunday, April 13 at 2:00pm.

In this powerful presentation, two Christian attorneys, Mark Osler and Jeanne Bishop, stage a mock death penalty trial of Jesus based on current Texas law.  The unscripted courtroom drama features legal arguments and live witnesses testifying about whether Jesus should live or die.  A judge presides and the audience is the jury.

Mark Osler is the author of Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment.  A former federal prosecutor, he teaches criminal law and sentencing at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.

Jeanne Bishop is a felony trial attorney with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago and an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy at Northwestern University School of Law.  She is also the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was murdered with her husband and their unborn child in 1990.

All are welcome.  For More Information call: 512-282-7274 www.ManchacaUMC.org

Download Flyer to Share.

Christian Unity Gathering May 18-20

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Council of Churches (NCC) will host a Christian Unity Gathering (CUG), Sunday through Tuesday, May 18-20, at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport here.Primary focus will be on the scourge of mass incarceration.The gathering is to convene people of faith to explore the widening revelation of God’s love and challenge us to deepen our commitment to work with people marginalized and disenfranchised from opportunities God desires everyone to enjoy.At this gathering the primary focus will be on the scourge of mass incarceration and what the ecumenical community is already doing and can do together to combat a justice system that warehouses and disposes disproportionate numbers of people of color.

Featured speakers

Featured speakers include the following:

  • Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference;
  • Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund;
  • Dr. Harold Dean Trulear, national director of Healing Communities; and
  • Jim Wallis, president/editor-in-chief of Sojourners.

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches – USA, will lead a Bible study.  In addition, new NCC General Secretary/President Jim Winkler will offer his vision for the organization during a service of celebration. For more information, visit the CUG webpage for the full roster of presenters, schedule and registration.