Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Innocent Man about to be executed in Texas?

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Two recent articles, one from The Intercept and the other from My San Antonio highlight the miscarriage of justice about to happen in Texas, a state that seems to have a passion for conducting executions, including executing innocent and rehabilitated prisoners.

The Moratorium Movement: Next Steps

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Yesterday, A.G. Eric Holder called for a moratorium on the death penalty. He expressed concern over both the integrity of a system in which innocent people are sentenced to death and the process used by states and medical professionals to carry out death sentences. Unlike Antonin Scalia, Holder believes that innocent people have been and can be executed under our justice system. In an earlier interview with The Marshall Project, Holder highlighted some of the bigger issues related to our culture of incarceration that trouble him. He said: We have 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of the people in incarceration. That’s not something that we can sustain. One third of the budget at the Justice Department now goes to the Bureau of Prisons, and if you look out to 2020, it goes up to 40, 45 percent or so. Which squeezes out the other things we want to do with regard to other areas of crime that we want to focus on, other initiatives that we want to support.And then if you look at the impact that mass incarceration has on communities from which these people are extracted, it leads to broken families, it leads to social dysfunction, it tends to breed more crime. 

In my home state of Oregon, outgoing Governor John Kitzhaber failed to follow through with a commutation of death sentences following his moratorium on executions while in office. With the swearing in today of his successor, Kate Brown, Oregonians -- including the 34 men and one woman on death row -- will have to wait to find out if the moratorium will be re-instituted or if their cases will proceed. If the latter, then Gary Haugen, who abandoned his appeals in part to press the Governor and state to address the issue, may find his execution re-scheduled.

So we're sitting here in limbo. In the meantime, though, if states like Oregon follow Holder's call (or if a federal moratorium gains momentum), then we're going to have to find ways to shift the attention and energy of death penalty abolitionists and abolition groups to these larger questions of mass incarceration and to the realities of what it means to spend "life in prison without the possibility of parole." 



Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Release of Political Prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway

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Read about the recent release of former Black Panther Eddie Conway in this article from Truthout and in this interview with Democracy Now

In case the embedded links don't work, here they are:
Story: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22260-political-prisoner-marshall-eddie-conway-released-from-prison-after-44-years
Interview: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22271

Monday, November 4, 2013

Newest Issue of Captured Words/Free Thoughts

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Working under the assumption that reducing crime and reclaiming our neighborhoods depends in part on enabling a generation of abandoned Americans to experience different modes of citizenship, self-reflection, and personal expression, Captured Words/Free Thoughts aspires to empower its contributors and enlighten its readers. To fulfill these goals, Captured Words/Free Thoughts offers testimony from America’s prisons and prison-impacted communities. This issue includes poems, stories, letters, essays, and art made by men and women incarcerated or formerly incarcerated in Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, and Texas. To expand the scope of our project, we also include works made by folks on the “free” side of the prison walls (in Colorado, Florida, Oregon, and Texas) who have been impacted by crime, violence, and the prison industrial-complex.

Check it out!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Freeing Marissa Alexander (re-post)

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Victoria Law, author of "Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women" (PM Press 2009), details the Marissa Alexander "Stand your ground" retrial and the movement to provide support to women incarcerated for using violence in self-defense.

Truthout: Freeing Marissa Alexander