Texas Death Penalty Update–August 2, 2018

Despite a long and hard fight for clemency, Christopher Young was killed by the state of Texas on July 17th. He left us with the message that “The struggle never stops” and a request that activists keep fighting for the friends he left behind. He was a very influential person to the other men on Death Row and some of them have written to express the great loss they feel and gratitude to those who fought for his life. While we are happy to report there are no Texas executions scheduled for August, that is dampened by the fact that there are three scheduled for September and that two TXDR inmates have given up their appeals, in favor of a quicker execution, in the last month. This is due mostly to the unbearable conditions of solitary confinement at the unit. Especially due to the extreme heat, even with some semblance of a/c provided at the unit, many of the men feel as if their lives are unbearable. There are some challenges brewing about both the heat and the indefinite use of solitary confinement, and they have the possibility to have a profound change. We will continue to watch for developments on these two campaigns.

September executions:

Ruben Gutierrez, September 12th, 2018.

Troy Clark, September 26th, 2018

Daniel Acker, September 27th, 2018

You can begin supporting clemency for these men now. See our guide here.

Legal Updates:

. Emanuel Kemp was given an execution date

Kemp has previously been ruled incompetent to stand trial due to severe mental health issues, but has been given an execution date of November 7th, 2018. Texas continues to ignore basic standards of decency around these issues when it comes to executions.

. Robert Jennings was given an execution date

Jennings, who is 60 years old, has been given an execution date of January 30th, 2019 in the murder of a police officer that happened in 1988. This is one of the few execution dates set by Harris County DA Kim Ogg, and it is likely that the police union was highly influential in this date being set. His lawyers have filed appeals asking for a reduction of the sentence in light of severe childhood trauma and his display of remorse that was not revealed by his original lawyers during the sentencing phase.

.John Falk has volunteered to be executed

“The state’s highest criminal court says condemned inmate John Ray Falk Jr. initially wanted his appeals waived, later decided to retain attorneys, then filed his own document last month seeking to get rid of his lawyers and “expedite this process with as much swiftness as this court might allow.”

.Travis Mullins has volunteered to be executed for the death of his child

Via the Houston Chronicle:

“Travis Mullis, the 31-year-old Alvin transplant sent to death row in 2011, previously sought to forfeit his appeals and in recent months repeatedly raised the possibility of doing so again.

“I support my death sentence and want it carried out ASAP,” he told the Chronicle in a letter earlier this year. “I was sentenced to death not indefinite detention.”

So-called “volunteers” – inmates seeking to cut off appeals and offer themselves up to die – account for only about 10 percent of executions, according to the nongovernmental Death Penalty Information Center. But earlier this week, another Texas prisoner fought to waive appeals, and in recent months the high-profile case of Scott Dozier has garnered national media attention as Nevada struggles to find the drugs to help the condemned man carry out his death wish…”

Court Rulings:

Charles Mamou

Mamou’s appeal was denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of criminal appeals

Other News:

The new show The Last Defense has raised significant local interest in the cases of Darlie Routier in Texas and Julius Jones in Oklahoma. We recommend you check it out if you are unfamiliar with these cases.

In Houston death penalty cases, many judges carry a ‘rubber stamp,’ lawyers find

Harris County lawyers have criticized the judicial culture in a county where judges often essentially let prosecutors write the opinion on death penalty cases.

“The yearlong study of roughly 200 proceedings was first published in a federal appeal filed earlier this year by defense lawyer Jim Marcus. It says that in the vast majority of death penalty cases — more than nine times out of every 10 judges are simply accepting prosecutors’ arguments, sometimes adopting their language, spelling errors and all.”

After loss at state Supreme Court, Texas keeps fighting to conceal its execution drug supplier

The execution drug fight continues in Texas as the state attempts to hide their  (possibly illegal) source of execution drugs. As drug makers continue to refuse to sell to Texas, prisoners continue to ask where on earth these drugs are coming from and whether they meet medical standards. Texas executions have arguably shown signs of being botched over the last few years, which lends credibility to questions over sources and effectiveness.

National News:

Oklahoma Could Execute Potentially Innocent Prisoners With Nitrogen Gas

North Carolina Inmates Allege Bias, Challenge Death Sentences

16th World Day Against the Death Penalty: Living conditions on death row

On 10 October 2018, the 16th World Day Against the Death Penalty aims at raising awareness on the inhumane living conditions of people sentenced to death.

Interested in raising awareness in your neighborhood? There are several fact sheets, ideas, and statistics here.

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