[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., GA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Dec 31 12:14:40 CST 2005
No public hearing for inmate
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he would not hold a public clemency
hearing for Clarence Allen, who is scheduled to be executed Jan. 17 for
ordering the murder of 3 people in 1980.
Allen, 75, is the oldest man on death row, and is asking Schwarzenegger
for mercy because he uses a wheelchair, is deaf and blind and suffers from
other medical conditions.
Schwarzenegger has denied clemency to the 3 other condemned prisoners who
have asked him since taking office 2 years ago.
Schwarzenegger could hold a private clemency hearing, as he did earlier
this month for Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the Crips gang co-founder
executed 2 weeks ago. Schwarzenegger, as California's chief executive,
sets the rules on clemency petitions.
The governor's office has not announced whether Schwarzenegger would hold
private hearings, or whether he would grant clemency to Allen.
While serving time for murder at Folsom State Prison in 1980, Allen was
sentenced to death for hiring a hit man who murdered 3 people at a Fresno
market. Allen had the trio killed because he feared their testimony would
hurt his chances of prevailing at overturning his murder conviction on
appeal, prosecutors said.
The convicted hit man, Billy Ray Hamilton, also is on death row.
Prosecutors said Hamilton was following Allen's orders when he killed
Bryon Schletewitz, Douglas Scott White and Josephine Rocha.
Allen also is petitioning the California Supreme Court to block his
execution, saying it would be unconstitutionally cruel because of his
medical condition. Allen suffered a heart attack in September.
(source: Associated Press)
Judaism behind bars----Chaplain finds congregation at San Quentin
"I call them my congregation. But whether or not they can get to chapel is
Carole Hyman is speaking about Beth Shalom, the congregation at San
Quentin State Prison. For the past year, she has served as the Jewish
chaplain at the Marin County prison.
In this maximum-security facility with the only death row for male
prisoners in the state of California, her congregants are mostly lifers,
with some condemned to be executed.
And since death row prisoners cannot attend services in the chapel, she
must go to them.
Others must make their way through several security checkpoints in order
to get to the chapel.
On a recent Saturday morning, four prisoners showed up to attend services
in a nondescript room with a sign reading "Congregation Beth Shalom" over
The same space doubles as a mosque for the Muslim prisoners; the Christian
church and Native American sweat lodge are right next door. The chapels
are in a courtyard just inside the prison's black iron gates.
With its ark, Torah and tallits draped over chairs, Beth Shalom has some
of the trappings of a synagogue anywhere - except for the congregants, all
dressed in light-blue uniforms.
Hyman, who is petite with large glasses, wears a suede kippah around the
prison. She often plays a CD with Jewish songs during services. The Torah
is smaller than usual, and was donated decades ago.
Describing the size of Hyman's congregation is difficult, because prison
is not a place where Jews often want to be "out" as Jews, she said. But
among those who do identify as Jews, there is a remarkable diversity.
Some formerly secular Jewish prisoners become Orthodox while in prison,
and request kosher food. Then there are those who take an interest in
Judaism and attend services, or take Hymans Bible study class, yet its
clear they have no Jewish background and were not born Jewish.
She makes no distinction, and administers to them all.
"If an inmate tells me he wants to practice Judaism and if he's sincere
and demonstrates his commitment to it, then I consider him Jewish," she
There are some 6,000 prisoners at San Quentin, and more than 600 of them
are on death row. Hyman visits more than 10 Jews regularly who are
condemned to die.
Citing the Jewish concepts of the "yetzer ha'ra" and "yetzer ha tov" ("the
impulse to do bad" and "the impulse to do good"), she said, "I haven't met
anyone here that I don't recognize the humanity of."
Hyman, 58, has an unusual background for a prison chaplain. Originally
from Maryland, she grew up in a Reform household. She entered Ohio State
University as a student, but dropped out in 1969 to move to California.
"It was a time of great turmoil in this country, and suddenly English and
philosophy didnt seem terribly relevant," she explained.
She moved to Marin, got married and gave birth to 2 daughters. Only after
that did she return to finish college.
Later, the family moved to Sonoma County. Though she was hardly a wine
drinker, the grapevines of her environs piqued her interest. She was also
interested in agriculture, so she did some preparatory classes until she
could enroll at U.C. Davis. Eventually, she got a masters degree in
viticulture and enology.
She gave birth to a son in 1980, and began working in wineries - not as a
winemaker, but as a chemist. "There was a great resistance to women in the
wine industry then," she said.
Nevertheless, she was able to work her way up to assistant winemaker at
Then, in 1993, an advertisement in a trade publication caught her eye. A
winery in Hungary was looking for an American consultant, as it hoped to
make wine that would appeal to the American market.
Hyman's paternal grandparents were from Hungary. She applied, and went.
At the end of her consultant gig, she traveled around the country, where
the occasional ruin of a synagogue began to haunt her.
'I felt it was something I could do well'
One day, toward the end of her stay, she found herself gazing up at the
top of a hill, where a Star of David dominated the landscape. Once again,
it was the ruins of a synagogue. The tremendous loss of Hungarys Jews hit
"All of these abandoned synagogues, with no Jews," she said. "I kept being
told they were gone, that all there is left here of Jews is ruins. It was
amazing to me. It was like it hit me in the solar plexus."
That trip, and perhaps more specifically, that moment, sparked a journey
that landed Hyman where she is today. "I had always been Jewish and
believed in God, but wasnt observant, and I wasn't that (Jewishly)
educated," she said. "While I had grown up active in synagogue, I didn't
bar mitzvah my kids or belong to a synagogue."
While continuing to work in the wine industry, she did research, and in
1995, she began taking classes at the Graduate Theological Union in
Berkeley. She started studying Hebrew, and went to Israel to study it
She considered rabbinical school, but with a teenage son at home, she
ruled out moving to Los Angeles, which had the nearest seminary.
"I didn't want to enter academia, as I didn't think I was in this for
teaching. I wanted to do something spiritually oriented."
By 2000, Hyman had pieced together a chaplaincy program for herself by
taking Jewish studies courses at GTU and other courses at the
Berkeley-based Pacific School of Religion, a multidenominational Christian
seminary. When she obtained a master's in divinity, she began as a
chaplain at a correctional facility in Martinez.
"That I would enjoy working with prisoners was not something I knew or
suspected, but somehow, I felt it was something I could do well," she
Once she became board-certified, she became the chaplain at a facility in
Vacaville, which she still visits once a week; the other 4 days she is at
Jewish inmates on death row
Hyman's inside view of the prison system has left her with some
"What causes people to cross this line? And how can you heal them? We
don't know how to do that as a society. The 1st step is isolating them,
but what can we do beyond that?"
Hyman is certain of one thing: "Rejecting and demonizing them doesn't
Hyman said much of her duties include keeping in touch with family members
of inmates on the outside.
Earlier this year, she conducted a memorial service for a Jewish inmate
While no Jewish prisoners have been executed while she has been there,
there are Jewish inmates on death row who are in varying degrees of the
"I have made it known that if they ask me to be with them if it should
come to that, I will do that," she said.
When asked if her being a woman was ever problematic, Hyman said she had
only been treated with respect, both by Jewish and non-Jewish inmates.
That she wears a kippah is sometimes a curiosity, though.
"The prisoners appreciate that someone is here that doesn't wish them ill
in any way, and because I'm not in uniform means I'm not in an enforcing
role," she said.
The Jewish prisoners range in class and education, she said, and no
generalizations can be made.
Despite how difficult her chaplaincy at San Quentin can be, Hyman said she
saw her role as to help her congregants, in the best way she could.
"I'm trying to help them be alive, both psychologically and emotionally,"
Lawyers spar over juror questions in socialite slaying trial
Prosecutors and defense lawyers argued Friday over how to question
potential jurors about their attitudes toward the death penalty as the
murder trial nears for a wealthy businessman accused of hiring a hit man
to kill his socialite wife almost 19 years ago.
James Sullivan, 64, could face execution if he is convicted of the
contract killing of his wife, Lita, who was shot to death on her doorstep
in Atlanta's tony Buckhead neighborhood on Jan. 16, 1987, by a man
carrying a box of pink roses.
The alleged triggerman, Phillip A. "Tony" Harwood, pleaded guilty in
February 2003 to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in
prison. In court papers filed since then, he has denied committing the
Sullivan is accused of paying Harwood $25,000 to kill his wife because he
feared losing money and a Palm Beach, Fla., mansion in the couple's
Sullivan fled the country around the time he was indicted on state murder
charges in 1998. He was captured in Thailand in 2002, then extradited two
years later. Related federal charges against Sullivan were thrown out at
trial in 1992.
The state Supreme Court has ruled the current prosecution does not violate
double jeopardy rule.
Sullivan's state trial is set to begin Thursday with potential jurors
filling out questionnaires. The trial, which will be broadcast by Court
TV, is expected to last 1 to 2 months.
After a hearing Friday, Judge John Goger ruled that both sides are not
permitted to mention the federal trial during the state trial, said Erik
Friedly, a spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.
During the hearing, defense lawyers Don Samuel and Josh Moore told Goger
they want the questionnaires to ask potential jurors specific questions
about their attitudes toward the death penalty.
They said those questions should ask the potential jurors if they would
vote for the death penalty based on specific facts of the case.
But prosecutor Anna Green said to give potential jurors details of the
case before testimony gets underway would be improper because it would
encourage them to prejudge the decision about the death penalty based on
She said the questions about attitudes on the death penalty should be more
general during jury questioning and more specific only during the
sentencing phase if Sullivan is convicted.
Goger did not immediately rule, but Friedly said that after the hearing
both sides agreed to a list of questions for jurors. He did not provide
(source: Associated Press)
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