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Death Penalty

The Olympia FOR works hard to abolish the death penalty and has an active Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.  People can contact our committee at deathpenalty@olympiafor.orgDeath Penalty News from Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation May 25, 2014The Death Penalty Is Also a Peace Issue [May 25, 2014]

 

Death Penalty Info Posted in Early August 2014 (pdf)

 

Death Penalty

The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation – (360) 491-9093 www.olympiafor.org – has been working for decades to abolish the death penalty, along with other issues related to peace, social justice and nonviolence.

The death penalty section of Olympia FOR’s August-September 2014 newsletter offers a few news items and other resources about the topics listed below, and our website’s death penalty section includes very much more information and live links to source materials. Please read our bimonthly newsletters and also visit www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm

Our death penalty committee meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm at a convenient location in Tumwater. For location and other information contact Emily Hammargren at (360) 352-0695 deathpenalty@olympiafor.org or Glen Anderson at (360) 491-9093 glen@olympiafor.org

See below and on our website for information about these topics:

Read the book I Am Troy Davis and discuss it at 6:00 pm Sunday September 21

Another botched lethal injection – this time in Arizona

Even more cases of innocence

Conservative federal judge in California rules death penalty unconstitutional

Work with non-traditional allies toward abolishing the death penalty

Washington State’s “Safe and Just Alternatives” campaign to the Legislature

Debunking the “closure” myth

Read the book I Am Troy Davis. Discuss it at 6:00 pm Sunday September 21, 2014

Read the book I Am Troy Davis now. Gather with other people to discuss it on Sun. Sept. 21, 2014: On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia executed Troy Anthony Davis, despite strong evidence of his innocence and protests by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Pope Benedict XVI, President Jimmy Carter, and 51 members of Congress all appealed for clemency. The book I Am Troy Davis was coauthored by Jen Marlowe and Davis’ sister Martina Davis-Correia. This powerful book tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. Today – the third anniversary of his execution – people all over will be discussing the book. The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is organizing a discussion at 6:00 pm today at Traditions Café, 5th & Water, downtown Olympia. We urge people to read the book in advance and come to discuss it. We placed copies in Traditions’ lending library, or you may buy a copy from an independent bookstore (preferably, to avoid the big chain stores). Info about the book discussion: Alice Curtis (360) 943-4076 olyalice@gmail.com See much info about the death penalty at www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm

More information about Troy Davis and the book: For more information about Troy Davis and the gross injustice of his case, see relevant websites (e.g., www.deathpenaltyinfo.org), and see the flyer and news release posted on the death penalty part of Olympia FOR’s website, www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm For more information on this case, other cases of innocence, and the death penalty overall, please see our website’s “Death Penalty Information Resources” (available as a Word document and as a .pdf document).

Another botched lethal injection – this time in Arizona

Lethal injection caused suffering, gasping for breath for nearly two hours: On April 29, 2014, Oklahoma horribly botched the execution of Clayton Lockett, and now – just three months later, on July 23 – Arizona botched the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood. Also, this past January Ohio had botched the execution of Dennis McGuire. Lethal injection is clearly not a nice medical procedure. It is as problematic as other ways to kill people. Joseph Rudolph Wood’s execution was supposed to have taken only a few minutes, but it lasted nearly two hours, while he suffered and gasped for breath more than 600 times. Wood’s execution took so long that his lawyers had time to file an emergency appeal while it was ongoing. Arizona had given him the same combination of drugs that Ohio had used in making Dennis McGuire suffer in January. More lethal injection executions were scheduled in other states, using inappropriate chemicals and flawed procedures. For information about methods of execution see the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) amazingly comprehensive website, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org

Lawyers call for independent review of Arizona’s botched execution: See the Reuters news article at http://tinyurl.com/mrpbvk2

Tom Tomorrow’s cartoon about lethal injection: See http://tinyurl.com/mwpn93o

Four more cases of innocence

Innocent man spent 29 years (half of his life!) on Florida’s death row: DNA testing proved that the evidence used to tie Paul C. Hildwin to the murder of Vronzettie Cox actually belonged to her boyfriend. Also, witnesses who could have proven Hildwin’s innocence were never called to testify at the original trial, even though they had reported what they saw to investigators at the time. More people have been exonerated from death row in Florida than in any other state. Hildwin’s case shows why we should not speed up executions, but in a horrible irony, in 2013 Florida passed the “Timely Justice Act,” which would speed up the pace of executions and result in executing more innocent persons.

Two more cases of innocence: While the criminal “justice” system continues to make serious mistakes, an online petition effort through www.change.org helped free Mark Woodworth and Ryan Ferguson. Mark Woodworth spent 17 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. His conviction was overturned twice, and finally on July 15, 2014, prosecutors said they were dropping all charges against him. Mark was only 16 years-old in 1990 when his neighbor was shot and killed in her home, and three years later he was indicted for her killing. Soon it was revealed that prosecutors withheld evidence that pointed to his innocence. In a separate case in the same state (Missouri), Ryan Ferguson was another innocent victim of our criminal “justice” system. He spent nearly a decade in prison for a murder that he did not commit. See http://tinyurl.com/lcg92hn

Rodney Reed’s struggle for justice continues, while Texas refuses to test all of the DNA that could prove his innocence: If the criminal “justice” system really sought truth and justice, it would halt Rodney Reed’s execution and test the DNA that could prove him innocent. Instead, in July 2014, senior judge Doug Shaver did not even pause after the prosecutor finished speaking before scheduling Reed’s execution for January 14, 2015. This despite the fact that Texas has agreed to test less than all of the relevant DNA. The gross injustice is so severe that eight retired federal and state judges (representing six states around the U.S., including Texas, and both the Republicans and Democrats) took the unusual step of filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that Reed's appeal be heard. By the way, Reed, who is African-American, was convicted for raping and murdering Stacey Stites, a white woman, with whom he was having a consensual relationship. There is strong evidence that Stites was killed by her fiancé, a local police officer in the same town, who is currently serving time for raping a woman while he was on duty. However, the police never investigated compelling evidence about Stites’ murder. Reed was convicted by an all-white jury. See more information at the website of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP), www.nodeathpenalty.org

Conservative federal judge in California rules death penalty unconstitutional

In July 2014 a conservative federal judge ruled California’s death penalty law unconstitutional: In 2003 George W. Bush had appointed Cormac Carney to U.S. District Court. On July 16, 2014, Judge Carney ruled that California's death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.” See info posted at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), www.ncadp.org; at a San Francisco Gate news article, http://tinyurl.com/no4fxmz; at a Huffington Post article, http://tinyurl.com/qzty24q; and reporter Bob Egelko’s July 16 article posted at the San Francisco Chronicle, www.sfchronicle.com. (He is at begelko@sfchronicle.com) Also see more information from California’s statewide abolition organization, Death Penalty Focus, www.deathpenalty.org

While other judges had previously criticized the death penalty’s arbitrariness, delays, etc., U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of Santa Ana said that for most of the 748 persons currently on California’s death row, “systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.”

More than 900 convicted murderers have been sentenced to death in California since 1978. However, only 13 have been executed; 94 have died from illnesses, suicide or other causes; and 39 have had their sentences overturned. The federal judge said that more than 40 percent of the others have been on Death Row for more than 19 years. One of these, Ernest Jones, had filed the appeal in which the judge ruled. Nobody has been executed in California since February 2006, when a federal judge found a number of serious flaws in the state’s lethal injection procedures. Although Judge Carney commuted Ernest Jones’ death sentence to life in prison without parole (LWOP), he did not issue a statewide order. He did lambaste the “dysfunctional administration” of California's death penalty system,” and said that a lack of funding made it worse.

Work with non-traditional allies toward abolishing the death penalty

Work with non-traditional allies – including conservatives – toward abolishing the death penalty: One option for us to explore is the exciting potential of working with “nontraditional” allies – persons and constituencies and organizations that we usually do not work with. See this link for information about Equal Justice USA (EJUSA), which has been doing this: https://www.newtactics.org/search/gss/ejusa Click this link, scroll down somewhat, and click the link to watch the short video from CPAC (the nationwide conference of political conservatives) and see that we have allies who are politically conservative: https://www.newtactics.org/comment/7049#comment-7049 On May 14, 2014, Newsweek published an in-depth article about conservative support for repealing the death penalty. “An Unlikely Conservative Cause: Abolish the Death Penalty” (http://tinyurl.com/k4gs2x4) features Equal Justice USA’s new group, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty , and a local group, North Carolina Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. A growing number of conservatives – including former congressman Ron Paul, evangelical leader Sam Rodriguez, and conservative icons Richard Viguerie and Oliver North – have been coming out against the death penalty. The growing movement for repealing the death penalty crosses ideological barriers and party lines! Abolitionist organizations must do more to reach out and devise new strategies and efforts to appeal to specific diverse constituencies. Equal Justice USA is especially strategic and skilled at this. See information at www.ejusa.org

Kansas Republicans remove death penalty support from 2014 platform: Across the country, more conservatives and libertarians have been reconsidering their support for the death penalty. Nowhere is that more evident than in Kansas. Even though there is a long tradition in Kansas of prominent Republicans opposing the death penalty, the Kansas Republican Party nevertheless had a pro-death penalty plank in its platform. That changed in April 2014, when the Republican Party removed the death penalty completely from its newly published 2014 platform. Mary Sloan, Executive Director of the Kansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (KCADP), applauded the move. She said, “The death penalty is a broken system that is fiscally irresponsible and can put innocent life at risk. It comes as no surprise that more people across the political spectrum are rethinking their support for it.” KCADP and Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty have partnered to organize events on the death penalty with a number of conservative organizations, including local Pachyderm and Tea Party groups. See more information posted in the Kansas portion of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, http://conservativesconcerned.org/in-the-states/kansas/

Kansas Libertarian Party’s 2014 statewide platform calls for abolishing the death penalty: It states, “As men and women are fallible and imperfect, and can and do make mistakes, the death penalty should be abolished.”

In fact, more than 90 million Americans across the political spectrum oppose the death penalty and want to end it. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), Equal Justice USA (EJUSA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International (AIUSA), the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP), and other organizations are working hard on this. See their contact information listed in the document “Death Penalty Information Resources” posted on www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm We invite you to sign NCADP's “Halt All Executions” petition, work with the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and take other actions.

Washington State’s “Safe and Just Alternatives” campaign to the Legislature

The Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (WCADP, www.abolishdeathpenalty.org) has been working for decades. For the past several years WCADP has been working with the ACLU of Washington (www.aclu-wa.org) and others, including the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (www.olympiafor.org), to promote the “Safe and Just Alternatives” (SJA) campaign to mobilize people statewide to urge the Washington State Legislature to repeal Washington’s death penalty law. See fact sheets, personal stories, and other resources at www.sjawa.org.

Debunking the “closure” myth

This is a long time to make victims’ families wait for "closure" The U.S. government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics issued a report titled, “Capital Punishment, 2012.” (www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4991) The report noted that the average time between sentencing and execution in 2012 was 15.8 years. This proves that our “justice” system is wrong when it tells a grieving family that their only solace will be the death penalty, because on average they have to wait nearly 16 years for the promised “closure.” A great many families must wait even longer. And, of course, many families find that executions never bring them the “closure” that was promised, because the families’ suffering cannot be healed by killing yet another person. Families need other services rather than another cycle of violence.

 

 

The Death Penalty Is a Peace Issue (Word) [May 25, 2014]

 

The Death Penaly Fails to Deliver What it Promises. Instead, it Causes More Problems (Word) (pdf)

 

The Olympia FOR is urging people to read I Am Troy Davis and discuss it on Sun. Sept. 21 at 6:00 pm at Traditions Café.

Read the book I Am Troy Davis now. Gather with other people to discuss it on Sun. Sept. 21: On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia executed Troy Anthony Davis, despite strong evidence of his innocence and protests by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Pope Benedict XVI, President Jimmy Carter, and 51 members of Congress all appealed for clemency. The book I Am Troy Davis was coauthored by Jen Marlowe and Davis’ sister Martina Davis-Correia. This powerful book tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. Today – the third anniversary of his execution – people all over will be discussing the book. The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is organizing a discussion at 6:00 pm today at Traditions Café, 5th & Water, downtown Olympia. We urge people to read the book in advance and come to discuss it. Copies are in Traditions’ lending library, or you may buy a copy from an independent bookstore (preferably, to avoid the big chain stores). Info about the book discussion: Alice Curtis (360) 943-4076 olyalice@gmail.com See much info about the death penalty at www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm

Old Death Penalty Events

Abolish the Death Penalty

“Progress and Strategies for Abolishing the Death Penalty” --- Millions of Americans who want to abolish the cruel, archaic death penalty feel frustrated that it persists. But abolitionists and the general public do not recognize how much progress has already been made, if we take the long historical view. Public support for the death penalty peaked years ago, along with the number of executions and the number of new death sentences imposed. All of those have been sliding for nearly 20 years. In the past six years, six U.S. states have abolished the death penalty. We can learn from our history – especially our recent history – in order to keep doing the things that have worked, and also to devise smarter strategies for the abolition movement. Glen Anderson devised an interactive workshop titled “Progress and Strategies for Abolishing the Death Penalty” on this kind of history and strategy. When he presented it in Tacoma and in Olympia, those audience found it very interesting and encouraging. He is eager to present it to more audiences. Contact him at (360) 491-9093 glen@olywa.net. See much information on the Olympia FOR website’s death penalty section, www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm

Every summer the Olympia FOR’s death penalty committee reaches out to the public with information booths at summertime events:
Look for us on Saturday afternoon June 22 at the Capital City Pride Festival in Olympia’s Sylvester Park, and Saturday and Sunday July 27-28 at Ethnic Fest in Tacoma’s Wright Park (north of downtown). Every year we feature a game that will attract people to our booth and engage them in fresh thinking about the death penalty. Our 2013 game focuses on the huge cost of the death penalty and invites people to think about how to better spend the tax dollars we waste on it, so we could reduce crime in more effective ways. We’ll offer six jars with labels for “death penalty,” “mental health treatment,” “drug and alcohol treatment,” “help for victims’ families,” and other alternatives. We’ll hand each person a stack of 10 pennies that represents the amount we spend currently on the death penalty, and invite the person to allocate those pennies into the six jars according to how they would like to see our tax dollars spent. We expect people to spend less on the death penalty than at present, and to allocate them to more effective purposes. For more information about our 2013 game – and to invite us to set it up at other locations – contact Glen Anderson at (360) 491-9093 glen@olywa.net. Contact the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty through its chairperson, Emily Hammargren, at (360) 352-0695 deathpenalty@olympiafor.org

How much does Washington State’s death penalty cost? It costs taxpayers a heck of a lot, according to a 2006 report to the Washington State Bar Association. Many people think that appeals are the most expensive part of the death penalty, but actually the original trial costs a lot more. A death penalty case requires two trials – one to determine guilt or innocence, and a second one to decide whether to impose the death penalty or life without parole. Each trial is extremely complex and runs enormous (potentially deadly) risks that any part of it can go wrong, so each trial becomes extremely detailed and expensive. The 2006 report estimated that at the trial level, death penalty cases were estimated to generate roughly $470,000 in additional costs to the prosecution and defense over the cost of trying the same case as an aggravated murder without the death penalty and costs of $47,000 to $70,000 for court personnel. On direct appeal, the cost of appellate defense averaged $100,000 more in death penalty cases, than in non-death penalty murder cases. Personal restraint petitions filed in death penalty cases on average cost an additional $137,000 in public defense costs. This information came from the December 2006 “Final Report of the Death Penalty Subcommittee on the Committee on Public Defense, Washington State Bar Association.” Costs nowadays are likely much higher. Some people say we could reduce costs by limiting appeals. Already, more than 140 wrongfully convicted persons have been released from death row – some after many years of struggling to establish their innocence – and several innocent persons have been executed in recent years. Limiting appeals would certainly cause more innocent persons to be executed.

Films about the death penalty stimulate thought and discussion:
Over the years the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has shown many films at Olympia Film Society and in our members’ homes. These have informed people and stimulated fresh thinking and interesting discussions. Our most recent examples were three films about the West Memphis Three, three innocent teenagers who were wrongly convicted of murder in 1994 in West Memphis, Arkansas. They were victims of people’s prejudices, sloppy police work, over-eager prosecutors, and other problems common in death penalty cases. We helped publicize the showings of “West of Memphis” at the Olympia Film Society at the Capitol Theater from April 27 through May 2. We also provided printed materials in the lobby. One evening we introduced our group’s existence and hosted a discussion following the film. Contact the chairperson of the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Emily Hammargren, at (360) 352-0695 deathpenalty@olympiafor.org


Only 30 minutes before executing Warren Hill, the State of Georgia finally obeyed a US Supreme Court decision and stayed his execution:
Despite the 2002 US Supreme Court decision prohibiting executions of “mentally retarded” persons (because of the constitutional safeguard against cruel and unusual punishment), the State of Georgia was planning to execute Warren Hill, 53, with an IQ of 70, until the US federal appeals court for the 11th circuit stayed his execution with only 30 minutes to spare. Georgia is the only state in the US that insists prisoners must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that their mental limitations are serious enough to qualify for the legal exemption. Experts say this standard is almost impossible to achieve. Hill had come within just 90 minutes of execution seven months before. Hill's attorney, Brian Kammer, issued a statement after the stay: “All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation, so there is no question that his execution would have been in violation of the US Supreme Court's 2002 ruling in Atkins v Virginia.” The injustice of Hill’s case attracted some international attention but much less than the case of Troy Davis, whom Georgia executed in September 2011, despite strong evidence of his innocence.

Death Penalty News

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens explains changing to oppose the death penalty:  Adam Liptak reported in the November 27, 2010, New York Times the story of how one US Supreme Court Justice came to oppose the death penalty.  Shortly after joining the Court in 1976, Justice Stevens voted to bring the death penalty back after its arbitrariness had been ruled unconstitutional in 1972.  He wrote that clear procedures could make it possible to ensure “evenhanded, rational and consistent imposition of death sentences under law.”  But in 2008, two years before announcing his retirement, Justice Stevens wrote in a Court decision that he now believed the death penalty was unconstitutional.  In November 2010 he explained his reasoning.  He lamented that newer justices and “regrettable judicial activism” had resulted in a death penalty system full of racism, biased against defendants, and infected with politics and hysteria.  See www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/us/28memo.html

International support grows for a United Nations moratorium on the death penalty:  On November 11 the US joined China, India, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in voting against a resolution in the United Nations seeking a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.  The motion passed with 107 countries supporting, 38 opposing, and 36 abstaining.  The vote occurred in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, a body composed of all 192 UN member states that addresses human rights and humanitarian issues.  The General Assembly adopted a similar resolution in 2007, but the 2010 vote won by a larger margin.

Three major newspapers in Texas call for ending the death penalty:  Texas's largest newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, recently joined the Dallas Morning News and the Austin American Statesman in calling for abolishing the death penalty.  Massively embarrassing scandals about innocent people on death row (and some executed), racial bias, and other problems have led the three newspapers to conclude that the death penalty is unworkable, and that Texas should stop it altogether.  See the Houston Chronicle at www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/7362050.html

Learn about and discuss the Death Penalty:  Olympia FOR can present a 6-session study group in your faith community or other organization:  Are you troubled by the death penalty?  You can learn a lot about it and discuss various aspects in the Olympia FOR’s six-session study group, which addresses many aspects of the death penalty, including innocence, racial and economic class bias, cost, victims, legal history, and other factors.  It can include a variety of faith perspectives if you want them.  Participants read and discuss various printed materials, watch three compelling short videos, and share their own insights.  The Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty offers this study group series for faith communities and other settings.  If you would like to host this Death Penalty Study Group from Faith Perspectives, (or the study group without the faith-based content), please contact (360) 491-9093 glen@olympiafor.org

ACLU report on faulty decisions in Washington state’s DP cases (Word and .pdf)

ALI article by Adam Liptak – Jan 4, 20120 (Word and .pdf)

Arbitrariness in the Courts 2007 from DPIC (Word)

Article about the Illinois Moratorium on the Death Penalty (Word)   pdf 

Catholic Workshop (.pdf only)

Christian Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty ( .pdf.)

Christian Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty  (Word)

Colorado Law Review – 116-page report on the DP moratorium movement (.pdf only)

The Death Penalty Is Expensive!

Cruel and Unusual Punishment – one page of information and insights (Word and .pdf)

Cycle of Violence - McVeigh, War, the Death Penalty   pdf

Death Penalty Information Resources (Word)    pdf

Death Penalty Fact Sheet (Word)   pdf

Death Penalty News from Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation May 25, 2014

Death Penalty Quotations

Death Penalty Study Group from Faith Perspectives – one-page overview (.pdf only)

Death Penalty Timeline - Based on DPIC Info (Word)

Eye Witness Errors (pdf)  (Word)

Fact Sheet - Cost (Word)   pdf

Fact Sheet - Deterrence   pdf

Fact Sheet - Innocence   pdf

Fact Sheet - Racial Bias   pdf

Gandhi and the Death Penalty (pdf)

History of the Death Penalty based on DPIC information (pdf)

How Mistaken and Perjured Eyewitness Mistaken and Perjured Witnesses Put 48 Innocents on Death Row (Word)

If Not the Death Penalty, What

Illinois Moratorium Commission's Complete Report (pdf)

 Jewish Statements on the Death Penalty  pdf document 

Lethal Injection Fact Sheet

"Life Without Parole" pdf document by Glen Anderson

"Murders in the Bible" pdf document

MYTHS about the death penalty are DEBUNKED here (.pdf only)

Public Wants to Cut Death Penalty and Spend for Better Purposes (pdf)

Replace Death Penalty With Life Incarceration - Death penalty background by ACLU (pdf)

Smart on Crime-Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis (.pdf)

The Next Strategic Step toward Abolishing the Death Penalty: Exempting Mentally Ill Persons

The Worst of the Worst (.pdf)

"That's the Man" - Eye Witness Errors   pdf

The Death Penalty Is a Peace Issue (Word) [May 25, 2014]

Writing Letters to Editors about the Death Penalty

 

 

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