Collective Sigh of Relief
Death Penalty Action’s Weekly Newsletter for April 24
This week we felt the collective sigh of relief when Derek Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd. Whatever relief we may have felt when Chauvin was held accountable for this murder, we also know that this is just one small step toward true racial justice in our country. We must continue to stand and grieve with the family of George Floyd as we move this work forward in his name and in the name of so many others.
The link between extra judicial executions and the death penalty is undeniable. In both instances, people with whom we have invested the power of life and death overwhelmingly choose death when it comes to Black and Brown people. Over and over again, our system has proven how racist it is and we see that racism play out in our courtrooms and on our streets.
We’re inviting you to sign this petition today calling on Congress to:
- Bans “chokeholds”
- Ends no-knock warrants
- Tracks and analyzes data involving law enforcement officer-involved shootings, including data on the race of law enforcement officers and those killed or injured in such shootings
- Investigate law enforcement officers with a track record of abusive use of power, including those in corrections
- Removes impediments to prosecuting law enforcement officers when there was no legitimate need for the use of lethal violence.
April Webinar: The Death Penalty Photo Project
[Note: This webinar was postponed from last week due to illness. The new time and date will be April 29 at 7pm EDT.]
The Ku Klux Klan rallying in support of a Black man’s execution in Texas. The North Carolina death row warden wheeling a gurney into the execution chamber. Georgia’s execution of an innocent man. Weeping family members at the moment of a loved one’s execution.
These are just a few of the images captured in one of our co-founders, Scott Langley’s chilling death penalty photo documentary project. This project is the most comprehensive collection of original death penalty photographs available from one source.
The documentary includes execution vigils, inside an execution chamber, the hours leading up to an execution, portraits of exonerated death row prisoners, celebrities opposed to the death penalty, marches, demonstrations and candid emotional and prayerful moments in the context of the death penalty in the United States.
The project started in 1999 and continues today.
Join us for this month’s webinar featuring the photographer behind these bracing, emotional images and co-founder of Death Penalty Action, Scott Langley.
Experience the photos and stories at http://deathpenaltyphoto.org
Watch Free: The State of Texas vs. Melissa
Melissa Lucio has spent more than a decade on death row for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. In 2008, Lucio became the first Latina woman sentenced to death in Texas. In July 2019, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas court ruling and found Lucio’s right to a “complete defense” had been violated in her original trial. In February 2021, a sharply divided en banc Fifth Circuit reversed the 2019 grant of relief by a vote of 10 to 7. Lucio’s hope for exoneration and freedom now lies with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lucio has steadfastly maintained her innocence in the death of Mariah. “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” a 2020 documentary by Sabrina Van Tassel, highlights many of the concerning facts around her case. The film is currently winning awards in film festivals around the world, and it is available to watch for a fee on various streaming platforms. Now, in collaboration with Sabrina Van Tassel and with explicit encouragement from Melissa Lucio, Death Penalty Action is making the film available for free viewing on this special platform.
To watch, click here. If you are able to pay the viewing fee, please do. To watch for free, use the code “Action123,” when prompted. Once you register you have three days to start watching it, and once you start watching, you have 24 hours to complete it.
New Book of Essays About Federal Executions Now Available!
Read about this new book in the Terre Haute Tribune Star!
The InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley (IFC), in conjunction with Chalk and Fire Publishing, has published The Killing Fields of the Federal Government: InterFaith Essays on the Resumption of Executions, a collection of essays in response to the executions of twelve men and one woman at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute’s backyard starting in July 2020.
The book includes seven essays by six IFC authors: Sister Barbara Battista, Bill Breeden, Arthur Feinsod, Terry Gillies-Fear, Crystal Mikell Reynolds, and Death Penalty Action Advisory Board Member, Cantor Michael Zoosman. The tone and content of the essays range from personal narratives, provided by spiritual advisors who witnessed the executions; to impassioned reflections of those who protested the executions; to scholarly analyses that offer perspectives on spiritual issues that surround the executions. The essays are framed by a prologue and epilogue written by editor Sheron J. Dailey and a 2011 poem by William E. LeCroy, Jr., who was executed September 22, 2020.
Abraham J. Bonowitz, Director of Death Penalty Action provided the jacket quote on the back cover, concluding: “Now their passion lives on in these pages — a wake-up call to humanity.”
Orders for From the Killing Fields of the Federal Government: InterFaith Essays on the Resumption of Executions can be placed through Chalk & Fire publishing: firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is only $15.00, which includes free shipping within the United States and a free bookmark with important quotations for mercy and forgiveness and against an eye-for-an-eye thinking which, as Gandhi said, would make the whole world blind. That quotation is on the bookmark, too.
On April 6, 2021, it was reported that State Attorney General Mark Brnovich has asked the Arizona Supreme Court to issue execution warrants for two death-row inmates in what would be the state’s first executions in almost seven years.
Please sign this petition to let officials in Arizona know that resuming executions is the wrong thing to do.
Live in Nevada? Nevadans are still reeling from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. To offset the state’s budgetary shortfall, we urge Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature to repeal the costly and ineffective death penalty. Take action!
Do YOU live in South Carolina?
The South Carolina Senate has passed legislation to allow for alternative methods of execution, including burning prisoners to death in the electric chair, or shooting them with a firing squad. The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the South Carolina House of Representatives but as of this writing on 3/27/2021, it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. Live in South Carolina? Please use this tool to write to your representative in the South Carolina House of Representatives to let them know how you feel.
Help Stop The Next Scheduled Execution!
Quintin Jones is scheduled for execution in Texas on May 19, 2021 for the 1999 murder of his great-aunt, Berthena Bryant. A death sentence is often invoked as providing closure for the victims’ families, but the family of Jones’s victim is opposed to his execution. They have said that executing Jones will only cause them more suffering and that they recognize his remorse and have forgiven him. Your signatures will go to the Texas Governor and the Texas Board of Pardons. Click here to add your name!
Protect yourself and others in style — click here to check out our masks, t-shirts, buttons and other ways to wear the message with AbolitionWear!
Please chip-in any amount so we can abolish the federal death penalty in 2021! If you prefer to donate with a check, our address is: PO Box 89, Ghent, NY 12075. Thank you!