[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, DEL., GA., USA
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Jan 20 18:12:18 CST 2012
Death penalty foes march on MLK Day
“Clarence Brandley!” boomed over the loud-speaker system, and the crowds lining
the downtown sidewalks answered, “Pay him now!” The Texas Death Penalty
Abolition movement honored Clarence Brandley in the 34th Annual Martin Luther
King Jr. Parade Jan. 16 in downtown Houston, sponsored by The Black Heritage
Brandley, who is known and loved by African Americans as well as activists of
all nationalities around Texas, was exonerated off Texas death row exactly 22
years ago. But he is still fighting for compensation from the state of Texas
for the 10 long years that were stolen from him.
Abolitionists and progressive activists, along with their children, formed a
spirited contingent in one of the largest MLK parades in the country. They not
only demanded an end to the racist and anti-poor death penalty, but also
demanded compensation for Brandley. Brandley and his brother, the Rev. Ozell
Brandley, rode in the back of a pickup truck covered with signs about
Clarence’s struggle with Texas. As children tossed candy to the crowds,
activists distributed thousands of leaflets about Clarence Brandley and the
death penalty, as well as leaflets about political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. In
1995, after five years of struggling to find and keep a job, Brandley went to
Philadelphia to support Abu-Jamal when he had an execution date. Brandley says
he was glad to contribute to another innocent man getting a stay of execution,
just as others had done for him.
Today Brandley works with Witness To Innocence, an organization made up solely
of people who have been exonerated off death row. (In the U.S., 130 people have
been exonerated.) Brandley is fighting to abolish the death penalty in Texas.
He says he will never forget his time on death row and will continue to fight
for those he left behind.
(source: Workers World)
When it comes to executions over the last 30 years in Texas, Harris County with
116 has the most.
Surprisingly, at number 9 on that list is Potter County with 10 executions.
What's also a surprise is, Randall County near the bottom of the list with 3.
Both James Farren and Randall Sims have the same assumption as to why they
think numbers have fallen here over the last seven years, and both feel the
same when it comes to pursuing the death penalty in court.
James Farren says when comparing the crime rates in Potter and Randall counties
the numbers should be close to the same, but types of crime is where things
"Potter County certainly has more violent crime than Randall County, we have
more property crime. Potter County has more drive by shootings, more drugs,
more drug cases, more assaults, and more homicides."
He says prosecutors must be very circumspect when it comes to seeking the death
"The death penalty is appropriate in an appropriate case, but with life without
parole now available and with changing attitudes people have towards the death
penalty, we have to be really careful."
And Potter county DA Randall Sims agrees.
"The legislature changed it from the 2nd possibility of being life without
parole, and that's also effected the decision making on some of the prosecutors
part on whether to try and seek the death penalty or not."
Farren says for the state to be serious about taking the life of a citizen, the
crime must be *very* serious and the evidence has to be overwhelming.
The last time someone was sentenced to die out of Potter County was in 2005,
and in Randall County, it was just last summer.
Gattis agrees to commutation conditions
Under the mechanics of Delaware's death penalty, Wednesday would have been the
day that Robert A. Gattis was moved from his cell on death row to one in the
building where his lethal injection was to be carried out early Friday morning.
Instead, the 49-year-old Gattis appeared in New Castle County Superior Court,
dressed in his orange Department of Correction jumpsuit, to formally accept the
conditional commutation that Gov. Jack Markell offered him on Tuesday.
In exchange for his life, Gattis agreed to abandon any future legal appeals and
to never challenge in any way his conviction for the May 1990 murder of his
onetime girlfriend Shirley Y. Slay. He also had to agree to spend the rest of
his life in the maximum security unit at the state prison near Smyrna.
Sitting in the back of the courtroom Wednesday were Shirley E. and Willie Slay,
the parents of Gattis' victim.
Gattis did not make a statement and instead answered a series of "yes" and "no"
questions from Superior Court President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. designed to
ensure that Gattis' waiver was knowing and voluntary.
At the conclusion, Vaughn made the document Gattis and his attorneys signed
agreeing to Markell's conditions an official part of the court record, closing
"It's done. It's done. There is nothing else to say," said Shirley E. Slay,
shaking her head as she exited.
Willie Slay declined comment, saying people did not want to hear what he was
The proceeding was a first, just as the recommendation from the Delaware Board
of Pardons to commute Gattis' sentence was a first -- as near as anyone can
tell -- as was Markell's commutation of Gattis' sentence.
Attorneys involved said they had no precedent to draw on for a prisoner waiving
his rights as part of a conditional pardon, so they crafted a procedure similar
to when an inmate agrees to plead guilty and waive certain rights.
State prosecutors were left in an awkward position, sitting in on a proceeding
they opposed and one in which they had no formal role.
"Our goal, as it has been throughout this case, and as it is each and every
day, is to be strong and steady advocates for those who suffer the horror of
domestic abuse," Deputy Attorney General Paul Wallace said.
Wednesday's gathering in court was requested by Markell's office, which wanted
to have some kind of formal and legally binding proceeding in which Gattis and
his attorneys would agree to abandon all future appeals.
Wallace said the state's role at this point is to ensure that the trauma of
ongoing appeals and litigation for Shirley Slay's family ends with this
proceeding, a sentiment echoed by Markell's Chief Legal Counsel Mike Barlow.
Gattis' mother, Barbara Lewis, was also in the courtroom Wednesday and said
afterward she was grateful to God for what happened. "I see God in this," she
said, adding she is extending her prayers to the Slay family that they find
peace and forgiveness.
Gattis' attorneys Karl Schwartz and John Deckers reiterated that both they and
their client were grateful and humbled by Gov. Markell's decision to spare
"He doesn't take this lightly," Schwartz said, adding it has added to Gattis'
resolve "to do right and to be a better person."
(source: The News Journal)
Ga. Supreme Court hears murder case
Attorneys for John David Clay, who is facing the death penalty for allegedly
killing a woman in March 2007 in a Glynn County motel room, will argue before
the Georgia Supreme Court Monday in Atlanta.
Lawyers for Clay hope to keep jurors from hearing statements Clay made to
police when he was arrested or seeing the bloody clothes he was allegedly found
Police allegedly found Clay unconscious and covered in blood -- and intoxicated
-- on Jessica Lane after 4 a.m. March 4, 2007. Police had received a 911 call
from someone who saw him in the street.
Minutes later, they responded to room 303 at Guest Cottages, 150 Venture Drive,
a nearby motel, and found the body of Janice Gayle Swain, 45, of Brunswick.
Swain was found dead in a bathtub, fully clothed, with multiple knife wounds to
her neck and chest.
Clay was indicted for the murder March 21, 2007, on 1 count of murder and 1
count of false imprisonment.
At issue Monday are a series of four statements Clay allegedly made to county
police after he was arrested and whether police properly obtained Clay's
clothing while he was unconscious the night of his arrest.
Clay's attorneys, Joseph Vigneri and Jason Clark, argue in briefs that
then-Judge Amanda Williams, who originally was hearing the case before she
resigned Jan. 2, properly ruled in pretrial hearings that the first 3
statements Clay made to police cannot be used against him, because police had
not informed him of his Miranda rights.
They also say Williams properly ruled that bloody clothing Clay had been
wearing should be suppressed as evidence because police did not obtain a
warrant before seizing the clothes from Clay, who was unconscious in a hospital
at the time.
A 4th statement, which Williams had ruled admissible, also should not be
allowed, Clark and Vigneri argue, because they say police read Clay his rights
in a hasty manner.
According to briefs filed with the Georgia Supreme Court, the state holds that
all Clay's statements should be available as evidence, along with the clothing.
Clark declined to comment on the case Thursday, citing a previously placed gag
Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson could not speak
specifically about the case Thursday, but she said her office was prepared to
move forward however the court ruled.
Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Miller and Andrew Ekonomou, an attorney
from Atlanta Johnson appointed as a special prosecutor for the Clay case, will
argue on behalf of the state.
Johnson said she will go to Atlanta if her schedule allows. She is currently
prosecuting a murder trial from Wayne County.
Once the Supreme Court rules on Monday's arguments, Clay's case will return to
the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, and the trial can begin before Judge Anthony
Harrison, who was assigned to the case this month.
(source: The Brunswick News)
I AM TROY DAVIS
In September 2008, I checked in at the media table outside the Georgia
Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia to cover the scheduled
execution of death row prisoner Troy Davis. As an activist guised as an
independent photojournalist, I was seeking access to the prison grounds with
my camera, which is normally not allowed except for news media. As the prison
guard copied down information from my driver's license and press badge, he
muttered something that I could not understand. Or maybe it was that I was
just nervous and distracted. I said, "Sorry, what did you say?" And he
repeated very quietly, almost under his breath, without looking up from the
paperwork, "I just hope the truth comes out."
Fortunately, Troy's 2008 execution did not happen. The Supreme Court of the
United States intervened a mere 90 minutes before the lethal drugs started
flowing to say they wanted a lower court to hear the purported "truth."
3 years later, the truth was by all means "out." Troy Davis, who was convicted
of the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia, has
consistently maintained his innocence from the beginning. The truth we now know
is that there was absolutely no physical evidence against him. And since his
trial and conviction, all but 2 of the state's non-police witnesses have
recanted or contradicted their testimony, citing pressure or coercion by police
into testifying or signing false statements against Troy.
The fight to save Troy Davis went mainstream. Even supporters of the death
penalty knew this one was wrong - that Troy Davis's case contained too much
doubt. This country was at risk of carrying out an irreversible sentence
against a possibly innocent man - something very few people were willing to
Under a massive campaign led by Amnesty International, the world listened, and
the world overwhelmingly responded. One-million people worldwide signed
petitions calling on the State of Georgia to grant clemency to Troy Davis on
the basis of his innocence. One-million people. Thousands organized, marched
in the streets, rallied and protested. During global days of action, protests
were held in front of U.S. embassies in France, Mali, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany
and the UK. In Atlanta alone, over 4,000 marched one Friday in September.
Prominent politicians and leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter,
Rev. Al Sharpton, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former FBI
Director and judge William S. Sessions called upon the courts to grant Davis a
new trial or evidentiary hearing.
The truth was out: the world would not remain silent as Georgia prepared to
kill a possibly innocent man. But there was resistance from a few. Georgia's
courts and its Board of Pardons and Paroles refused to hear the truth.
Unfortunately these were the people who needed to hear it more than anyone
else. They had the very real power to save Troy's life. But ultimately the
courts discounted the new evidence of innocence, and the Georgia Board denied
clemency. Despite international consensus, Troy Davis was back in line for
On September 21, 2011, almost 3-years to the day of that near-execution in
2008, I found myself back at the media check-in table. Troy Davis's fourth
execution date in 4 years had been scheduled.
Unlike other states, in Georgia the press are kept in a separate area from the
protesters. Reasons probably vary, but the most obvious reason for the
division is to give privacy to the prisoner's family. In this case, Troy's
immediate family was in the crowd, having decided to not witness the execution
themselves in the death chamber, but to stand with their supporters on the
prison grounds, separated from the media by a single strand of yellow "police
line" tape. Also, while news media are allowed cameras on the grounds, the
protesters are not, so there is a clear segregation of the 2 groups.
I have attended many execution vigils before (I have spent 3/4 of my life in
the execution-heavy south), always in different capacities: curious observer,
solemn vigiler, angry protester, photographer, arrestee in civil disobedience
actions, support network for the prisoner's family, media spokesperson,
organizer, and other various roles.
If this execution was to go forward, I knew I wanted to be as close to Troy's
family as possible. Their story and their relentless effort to save a family
member's life moved the world into action. They put Troy on the map. It was
one of Troy's sisters, Martina Correia, who once took a plain t-shirt and wrote
on it with marker, "I AM TROY DAVIS" and starting wearing the shirt around her
home town of Savannah. The statement was a testament to her solidarity with
her own brother - a position very much in line with the philosophy that "no
one is free with others are oppressed." Those 4 words on Martina's shirt became
the rallying cry for a world movement to save a U.S. prisoner from execution.
Little did Martina know that shirts, banners, posters and even billboards
declaring "I AM TROY DAVIS" would be displayed across the world - in Asia,
Europe, and here in Jackson, Georgia.
While I wanted to be close to Martina to offer my support and solidarity, I
also wanted to capture this historic event in photographs. According to the
prison rules, I could not do both. It was a difficult decision, but this time
I decided to be the journalist, not the protestor. Not the friend to family of
the condemned, but part of the press core. I felt it was important to the
abolition movement to capture with my camera the final hours before Troy
Davis's execution - to bring the images back for the world to see.
The execution was scheduled for 7:00 pm on that Wednesday. Crowds began
descending on Jackson by mid-afternoon. The prison, despite vast open spaces
on the rural property, limited the number of protesters allowed in the protest
zone to around 60 people. Of course far more than 60 came to the prison that
night. In fact, over 700 were there by nightfall. Once the maximum of 60 was
reached, the rest were confined to lining the highway across the street from
the prison, blocked from the prison grounds by an unbelievable show of force:
riot squads, State Troopers, Corrections Officers, local police, the Sheriff's
Department, and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams.
The mood on the ground in the hours leading up to 7:00 pm were tense, yet still
hopeful. But as the minute of death approached closer and closer, a somber
silence began to permeate the crowds. People began hugging each other and
weeping as the time arrived. A prayer circle formed around Troy's family.
Prayers were being uttered. People were dropping to their knees.
And then, almost as if a fierce storm had touched down across the street, a
tremendous roar of human voices erupted, and it quickly rippled its way into my
immediate surroundings. People in the protest area began shrieking "there's a
stay!" in utter disbelief and ecstatic joy. People were hugging, crying,
jumping, laying face down in the grass, and shouting "praise Jesus!". I have
never before witnessed such an intense transformation of pure sadness to pure
joy. The emotion was nerve tingling, and, for probably the umpteenth time
since I arrived in Georgia this week to photograph the events leading up to
this moment, I could not take a photo because my eyes were filled with tears.
Troy Davis was alive.
We believed that at last the truth was out. We believed that sanity had
prevailed and the shift toward justice had begun. We believed that the
one-million voices calling around the world had finally been heard.
At least this is what we believed had happened - what we hoped had happened.
It turns out the Supreme Court of the United States had received a last minute
appeal from Troy's attorneys, and had issued a temporary delay in the
execution. But within 3 hours, had issued a 1 sentence rejection of the appeal
and permitted the execution to go forward.
Before we knew the ultimate decision by the Supreme Court, those hours of
waiting were surreal. The ecstatic joy dwindled rather rapidly once the
reality that this interruption was not indeed a stay, but a delay, was
understood. Cautious optimism took over the happiness.
But still, there was optimism. Troy's family visited with friends and
supporters amidst the bright prison-yard lights and the television camera
lighting. Children played. People prayed. The legal limbo caused time to
When the shock of joy erupted at 7:00 pm with the good news, I followed the
lead of a few brave news photographers and shimmied under the yellow tape into
the protest area to get powerful, emotional photos up close. But, as the news
photographers quietly snuck back into the media pen after a few minutes, I made
the decision to stay with the protestors. This is where I wanted to be, and
now here I was, with my camera in hand.
Since I was not allowed to be in this area with a camera, I was nervous, but
amazingly, the guards did not notice (or they chose to ignore), the
infiltration. I kept my camera hidden against my shoulder as best I could, and
began discretely documenting the scene from the inside. I knew this was a
critical and unique perspective that no other photographer would have.
Troy's sister Martina and I are friends through our common work in this
anti-death penalty movement. She has welcomed me to photograph her and the
family's struggle before. Tonight I knew I could freely take photos of them,
without a sense of violating the privacy of the family. I was honored and
humbled by Martina's trust and emboldened by the responsibility.
The hours of waiting were long, and uncomfortable, as we were in emotional
limbo without knowledge of when there would a definite announcement. Were we
going home soon? Were we staying? Would we be back next tomorrow? Next week? I
wondered what those on the inside of the prison were feeling. The guards. The
warden. The MacPhail family. The attorneys. The executioners. Troy Davis
himself. It was, I imagine, torturous, for everybody involved.
Shortly after 10:00 pm, it was announced that the Supreme Court had rejected
the appeal, and the delay was lifted. The execution was to go forward. The
news was met by a strengthening of the spirit of those gathered. It was
solemnly quiet, but not with hopeless despair. You could almost feel a force
holding everyone together. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit. Maybe it was the
preacher's song. Maybe it was Troy's family, standing strong. Whoever or
whatever it was, it was unquestionably there.
Just after 11:00 pm, I was with Laura Moye, the Death Penalty Abolition
Campaign Director for Amnesty International USA. Martina brought a young woman
over to us and introduced her to Laura. Martina told Laura that this college
student, Monica had driven, by herself, from California, to protest the
execution. Martina told Monica to give her contact information to Laura to get
involved in the work to end the death penalty. Laura handed Monica a notepad
and pen, and Monica provided her information. It was an extraordinary scene,
which I took a photo of. Martina, who could have been overwhelmed by the
tragedy of the moment, knowing her brother could be executed at any time now,
chose to still keep organizing, connecting activists for the cause.
All along we have said that this is not just about Troy Davis, it is about
justice, about fairness, and about an end to state killing. Martina embodied
that in this moment. With her brother at the end of his life, she was still
unselfishly committed to making sure there were no more Troy Davises.
Immediately following this exchange, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the President of
NAACP, called the crowd together to announce that word had come out of the
prison that the execution was happening. All eyes quietly focused on the
ground, or into the sky. Martina and the rest of Troy's family were in the
center of the circle, surrounded at this moment by love and community. We
stayed there, like that, until a chant of "I AM TROY DAVIS" grew from the
inside, and resonated into the still of the night.
When it was all over, we walked out of the yellow-tape enclosed pen, past the
media trucks, through the swaths of armed riot squads, and to a church parking
lot across the street where our cars were parked. A prayer circle closed what
was a nightmare that no one thought would actually happen.
2 days later, I finally brought myself to look at the photos I had taken that
night. My emotions were still raw, and I didn't want to relive Troy's
execution yet. But I felt a responsibility to get the photos out into the
world, given my unprecedented access to the scene.
As I went through the images, I stopped on the photo of Martina bringing the
college student over to the Amnesty International director to trade contact
information. I looked at the time that the photo was taken. 11:08 pm. The
exact minute that we now know that Troy Davis died on the gurney.
I broke down in tears. These were not tear of sadness, but tears of admiration
and hope. In the photo Martina isn't looking at anyone around her, but is
looking off toward the prison. Somehow deep inside, she must had known what
had just happened. You can see it in her face. But even in the darkest moment
of tragedy, the tireless work of Martina, all Troy's family, Amnesty
International, NAACP and the countless worldwide supporters of human rights
carried on. There was no giving up, even in that moment. The work to end the
death penalty continued, right then and there.
The day before his execution, Troy told a supporter, "The struggle for justice
doesn't end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before
me and all the ones who will come after me. I'm in good spirits and I'm
prayerful and at peace."
With Troy's plight and execution, we have seen an awakening and eyes have been
opened. The effort to save the life of Troy Davis ended that night, but the
campaign to end the death penalty begins anew. One media outlet referred to
September 21st at "the beginning of the end of the death penalty in America."
After struggling for hours through my photos, I finally checked my email, and
there, waiting for me, all sent within hours of the execution, were dozens of
notes from people all around New York State, wanting to know how they could get
"Tonight I have realized that I don't ever want to see another innocent man be
executed," read one letter. "I realized that I am not doing enough."
Another wrote, "...the murdering of Troy Davis has re-sparked my motivation to
end it. I have never really taken any action regarding this subject... but
today, it is time to do something."
Many people never before concerned with the death penalty have been shocked,
and are ready to take action. We now face a challenge to capture the sadness,
the anger and the energy and direct it into the ongoing efforts of the
abolition movement - a movement that is actually winning, despite nights like
While we did not succeed in stopping the execution of Troy, a new movement for
abolition was galvanized. New activists were motivated to join in the work.
Seasoned activists were reenergized to take up the struggle again. Brown, black
and white - this nation and this world came together for the cause of human
rights. Because of the work of Troy's family, Amnesty International, the
NAACP, and countless other groups, the world knows the name of Troy Davis, and
the world will not forget.
(source: Scott Langley is a former community member of Catholic Worker houses
in Raleigh and Boston, and currently serves at Amnesty International's Death
Penalty Abolition Coordinator for New York State. He lives in Ghent, New York.
His death penalty photos can be viewed at www.deathpenaltyphoto.org.----The
14 ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT U.S. SUPREME COURT TO COMMEMORATE 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF
35 years after the 1st execution under contemporary laws of Gary Gilmore,
fourteen members of the Abolitionist Action Committee were arrested at the U.S.
Supreme Court on Tuesday. Just after 10:00 am, at the exact time that Gilmore
was executed, the group unfurled a 30-foot banner that read “STOP EXECUTIONS!”
on the stairs of the Court. On the sidewalk, a crowd of well-over 100
supporters, activists and tourists supported and observed the action.
All 14 were arrested and appeared the following day before a judge for
arraignment. They were released on personal recognizance with a charge of
violating the federal law (40 U.S.C. 6135) that forbids "processions or
assemblages" and the displaying of banners on Supreme Court grounds. A status
hearing will take place on February 8th, at which time a trial date will be
The group included several murder victim family members, family of the
incarcerated, and national leaders in the death penalty abolition movement.
One of the participants who was arrested was Randy Gardner, whose brother, like
Gilmore, was executed in Utah by firing squad.
"My Brother Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed June 18, 2010 by the same state and
by the same method as Gilmore," Gardner stated. "I believed then, and I still
believe now, that the death penalty is morally wrong. I'm here to help abolish
the death penalty by protesting in any shape or form.” And, using Gilmore’s
last words, he added, “Let’s do it."
Upon arrest, 5 of the 14 participants did not carry any identification with
them, and when asked their names by the police, they simply stated, "I am Troy
Scott Langley, one of those who refused to reveal his true identity said, "In
the wake of Troy Davis's wrongful execution in Georgia this past September, I
felt it was necessary to bring the name of Troy Davis back to the U.S. Supreme
Court so that Troy's name would once again haunt the court that failed to stop
the execution of an innocent man. I also wanted the name Troy Davis to be a
permanent alias on my criminal record as a reminder to myself of what our
justice system is capable of."
3 of the 5 men who identified themselves as Troy Davis were released the same
day along with the 6 women who were arrested in the protest. 2 of the men were
held overnight in DC's Central Cell Block because fingerprinting did not reveal
their true identities. The 2 men, Daniel Flynn and Jon Dunn, were brought
before a judge more than 30 hours after their arrest in leg and arm shackles.
When asked by the judge for their names, they replied, "I was arrested as Troy
Davis," and then proceeded to reveal their true identities. Flynn and Dunn
were released by 5:00 pm on Wednesday to join with the other 12 who had been
released the night before.
Another one of those arrested was Charity Lee, from San Antonio, Texas. Lee's
father was murdered when she was only 6. Then, as a young parent herself, her
daughter was sexually abused and murdered in 2007 by her son, who is now in
In an interview with the San Antonio Current just before the arrests, Lee
said, "In contemporary America we have forgotten the fact that we were
revolutionaries at one point and the First Amendment gives us the right to
speak up for what we believe in. We need to show people in America it’s still
okay to take a stand for what you believe in — and that if you truly
passionately believe in something enough, you need to put yourself out there."
Those arrested were Anna Shockley (South Carolina), Ron Kaz (South Carolina),
Rachel Lawler (Vermont), Tom Muther (Kansas), Amber Mason (Washington, DC),
Kevin Mason (Washington, DC), Jon Dunn (New Mexico), Jack Payden-Travers
(Virginia), Scott Langley (New York), Randy Gardner (Utah), Daniel Flynn
(Washington, DC), Anne Feczko (Washington, DC), Charity Lee (Texas) and Eve
Tetaz (Washington, DC).
Since 1997, a total of 48 arrests have been made of people unfurling banners
that read "STOP EXECUTIONS!" on the stairs leading to the front doors of the
U.S. Supreme Court. The protest takes place every 5 years, on the January 17
first execution anniversary.
35 years ago, on January 17, 1977, the State of Utah shot to death Gary
Gilmore, who "volunteered" to be killed in revenge for his murder of Ben
Bushnell and Max Jenson. This state-assisted suicide was the 1st execution
under the Supreme Court’s upholding of the death penalty in 1976. Since then,
there have been 1277 more executions, with more than 3200 currently on death
rows in 34 states.
The protest is organized by the Abolitionist Action Committee, an ad-hoc group
of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for
alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action. The
Committee also organizes a 4 day fast and vigil on the Supreme Court sidewalk,
where it is perfectly legal to demonstrate. The vigil event takes place every
June 29 through July 2, and all are invited to participate.
See www.abolition.org for more information on the group's programs and
activities or to make a donation to support the work for abolition. All funds
will be used to help support the trial of the "Supreme Court 14" and the fast
and vigil this summer.
Contact: aac at abolition.org or P.O. Box 89, Ghent New York 12075 USA.
Doctors Demand Restrictions On Another Execution Drug
Over the past year numerous pharmaceutical companies have tried to distance
themselves from lethal injections (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes under
pressure). Until now, all these efforts involved the use of an anesthetic, the
1st drug in 3-drug execution protocols, or the only drug in one-drug protocols.
First Hospira, then Novartis, Lundbeck, Kayem and Naari have all objected to
the use of their anesthetic products in U.S. executions.
Now, Hospira is under fire for pancuronium bromide, which is the second drug in
all 3-drug execution protocols in the U.S. Hospira is the sole provider of this
drug for executions; it’s a muscle-relaxant that in executions is used to
induce paralysis. Paralysis during executions makes the condemned look like
he’s peacefully falling asleep even if he’s in excruciating pain. This makes
the witnesses to the execution feel better. Ironically, this masking of
possible pain is why pancuronium bromide is widely banned in the euthanizing of
24 doctors have now published an open letter in the medical journal The Lancet,
calling on Hospira to prevent its drug from being used in executions.
Pancuronium bromide of course has legitimate medical uses, and so far Hospira
has resisted restricting access to the drug for fear of “jeopardizing the
health of patients.”
Lethal injection has medicalized executions, undermining the “do no harm”
philosophy at the core of medical ethics. Now, resistance to medicalized
executions may result (indeed has already resulted) in drug shortages that harm
totally innocent patients. It’s a no-win situation for the medical profession,
and that won’t change as long as legitimate drugs are used for the illegitimate
purpose of executions.
(source: Amnesty International USA blog)
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