Death Penalty Update August 22nd, 2018

Need for clemency campaigns for three upcoming executions:

Ruben Gutierrez, September 12th, 2018.

Gutierrez’s lawyers, who very recently took his case, have asked for a stay in order to properly prepare a clemency petition and to investigate issues around DNA testing in the case. Read more here.

Troy Clark, September 26th, 2018

Daniel Acker, September 27th, 2018

See our guide here. 

 

Texas court updates:

1. Robert Roberson’s conviction is under review, and the hearing has been delayed after 15-year old evidence was suddenly revealed to the defense.

Courtroom stunner: Roberson hearing delayed after 15-year-old evidence found in basement

Will Texas’ Junk Science Law Save Robert Roberson?

 

2. Travis Runnels , Ray Freeney, and Steven Butler were denied by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

3. Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan

Texas Governor Greg Abbott doubled down on support of executions and surely looked to gain support from Islamophobic twitter users with his strong statement on so-called “honor killings”. This was following the death sentence of a Texas man who had his daughter’s best friend and her husband killed, apparently because he viewed them as the reason for her conversion to Christianity. Similarly to the mention of this label of crime in Trump’s Travel Ban, this term has a racial/religious connotation attached that Republicans, and local hate groups, are well accustomed to using in anti-migrant arguments, while ignoring the fact that we have very high levels of domestic abuse and gender or sexuality based violence in the US as well which does not earn that label or level of outrage from the same groups. No word if similar crimes, such as the killing of lgbtq family members, committed by non-muslims/ non-migrants will be prosecuted as death penalty cases as well, but we have not seen that recently in Harris County. It seems likely, once again, that death penalty prosecutions have more to do with racial politics and elections than anything else. For more context, as Politico reported:

“Honor killing” is a label often attached to the murders of girls and women by relatives or loved ones who believe the victims have shamed them in some way, such as by marrying without permission.

To some critics of the travel ban, the mention of “honor killings” sounds like a dog whistle. “It’s based on a stereotypical view of Muslims and what their position is toward women,” said Grace Meng, a senior U.S. researcher with Human Rights Watch.

…It wasn’t clear how the administration plans to define “gender-based violence” or how it expects to determine what is or isn’t an honor killing.” (read more).

4. View upcoming executions here.

5. On the flawed clemency process in Texas:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/There-s-a-cruel-truth-about-mercy-in-Texas-13158691.php

Other News:

In our previous update, we reported that two execution dates have been set, for Emanuel Kemp and Robert Jennings, and that two death row prisoners, Travis Mullis and John Falk, have dropped their appeals in hopes of speeding along the execution process. We also saw the continuing saga over execution drugs.

–The Death Penalty was dropped in a Waco double murder case in order to speed up the trial process.

–Will Texas use the opiate Fentanyl in executions? This has been a very controversial move by other states due to the current opiate crisis and national talk about the danger of the drug, and desire to charge those who sell it with murder.

What is the right age to die? Many experts are now arguing that those in their early twenties and below should be included in the previous supreme court rulings around the minimum age for execution or life without parole. A revision of this age would affect a large portion of those on death row and serving death by incarceration.

— 11 States haven’t executed anyone in more than a decade. This is part of a growing trend away from executions in much of the U.S

— An estimated 7 percent of executions in the U.S. are now believed to be botched. This calls into question the idea of “medical” and “humane” executions that lethal injection was supposed to fulfill and will likely be a major legal issue in the near future.

Can solitary confinement of death row prisoners be ended in Texas? The Freedom Row Project hopes to find success with a Class Action Lawsuit.

To donate: https://www.mightycause.com/story/Freedomrowproject

Background:

A significant number of states have successfully ended the policy of holding all death row inmates in indefinite solitary confinement. Many states around Texas have done so recently, including Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri. Texas advocates hope we will be the next state to end this outdated practice. Read more here.

The ACLU of Texas wrote a very informative report on the harms caused by overuse of solitary confinement back in 2014. The report can be read here: A Solitary Failure

Earlier this year TDCJ allegedly began cutting down on their use of solitary, but that has not changed some of their most harmful policies. Thousands are still kept in indefinite solitary confinement due to racialized “gang status” or other “security” concerns.

Three Upcoming Events in October:

On October 10th, 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.

March to Support Darlie Routier:

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Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty

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