February 1998 Issue 2

Articles in this Issue:

Karla Faye Tucker Executed in Texas

National debate opened on the death penalty

By: Marlene Martin and Mike Corwin

Despite an outpouring of protest from around the world, the state of Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker on February 3, making Tucker the first woman executed there since Texas was a part of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Tucker's execution received much more media attention than nearly any other case in the recent past. This gave abolitionists an opportunity to raise wider questions about the death penalty with people who had just been awakened to the issue.

Innocent and on Death Row

An Interview with Aaron Patterson

By: The following interview was conducted through the mail by Noreen McNulty

Aaron Patterson has been on death row for almost 12 years. He was a victim of police torture. During a 25-hour interrogation, officers pulled a plastic hood over his head several times, threatening to suffocate him. One officer threatened him with a gun. Despite this, Aaron never signed a confession. No physical evidence links him to the crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Save Willie Enoch

Why won't they allow independent testing?

By: Andy Thayer

Illinois Governor Jim Edgar and his assorted hangers-on are preparing to wash their hands of death row inmate Willie Enoch, with his new execution date set for March 18th. Despite numerous contradictions in the state's case and evidence pointing to another suspect, Enoch was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of Armanda "Kay" Burns.

Sentenced to death by a crook

Now a second chance

By: Nate Goldbaum

After more than a decade, Nathson Fields will finally leave death row on February 26.

He will go to Cook County Jail that day as the result of an Illinois Appellate Court decision last month.

Fields and co-defendent Earl Hawkins were sent to death row by Thomas Maloney, the U.S.'s first judge convicted of corruption in death penalty cases.

Maloney took bribes from Hawkins' lawyer in Fields and Hawkins' 1985 bench trial.

After learning that the FBI knew of the bribe, Maloney returned the money and swiftly sent both defendants to death row to cover his tracks.

Execution push continues in New York

Janet Reno recently gave the go-ahead to Mary Jo White, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York State, to seek the death penalty against three separate defendants. This would be the first time in more than 40 years that a person could be punished with death under federal laws in New York. The last federal case tried in New York was in 1954, when the state killed Gerhard Puff for his involvement in the death of an FBI agent. More famously, though, was the Rosenberg case that preceded it in 1953.

Why Innocent People Land on Death Row

Interview with Investigative Journalist David Protess

By: Kari Lydersen

Dennis Williams and Verneal Jimerson spent 18 years on Illinois' Death Row. For a crime they didn't commit.

5,000 March in San Francisco to Free Mumia!

By: Sandeep Vaidya

Five thousand people marched through San Francisco on December 6, demanding freedom for radical author and Pennsylvania Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, who faces execution despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, and an end to the death penalty.

The news from Philadelphia that Judge Sabo would be out of his job in January boosted the spirits of the protesters. Judge Sabo has sent more people to death row than any other judge in the country. The Philadelphia Inquirer has called him "a defendant's nightmare."

Stop the Killing Before It Starts

Don't let the death penalty be reinstated in Iowa or D.C.


by Jeremy Price

Capital punishment may be coming back to Iowa - unless we stop it.

On February 3rd, a House subcommittee began work on a death penalty
bill. Legislators expect a vote in the House before February 14th.

Last year, similar legislation was defeated in the Senate. But this
time, pro-death penalty forces are better organized, and their strategy
is more cunning, too.

This bill would allow death by lethal injection only in cases involving
class-A felonies, such as rape and murder, or murder by an inmate already

"We need to rid this country of the death penalty"

On October 22, Alan (A.J.) Bannister was murdered by the state of Missouri. The following is a letter from his widow, Lindsay Bannister.

Procedural Flaws Equal Death

On death row in Maryland

By: As-Siid Ben-Maryam (Tyrone X Gilliam)

Tyrone was turned down in his last appeal by the Fourth District Court of Appeals, and he may soon be facing an execution date. The Washington, D.C. chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty is planning a meeting to protest capital punishment in Maryland. The meeting - which will be held February 26 at Georgetown University in ICC Building Room 101 at 7 pm - will take up Tyrone's case. Among the speakers are Tyrone's mother, Mary Gilliam; Tyrone's attorney, Jerome Nickerson; and Shannah Varon of the Campaign.

Corruption Leads to Injustice

On Death Row, Menard, Illinois

By: Nathson Fields

For an update on Nathson's case, see the related story in this issue.

Don't Ignore the Cries of Injustice

I have written more than a few short essays on the death penalty and its machinations. Through those essays I have come to recognize a growth in my understanding and a new enlightenment.

Life on Death Row

Roger Buehl was accused of a 1982 robbery-murder of which he is innocent. Since that time, his attorney has uncovered evidence of the prosecution's manipulations and witness-tampering. In early 1997, a federal court vacated Buehl's sentences, and his conviction will soon be reviewed by the Federal Third District Court. But prosecutors are promising to get the death penalty reimposed in a state court.

They Took 12 Years

Because of recent DNA testing, there is no evidence to link Ronald Jones to the crime for which he was sent to death row. Yet he remains in prison while prosecutors decide whether they will prosecute him again. This statement came to us from Aaron Patterson.

I, Ronald Jones, declare that this statement is a true and accurate account of my case as I sit here on death row!

Capital Punishment

To take on the name "NEW Abolitionist" means one has departed from the traditional frame of reference and approach of former "abolitionists" and has embarked upon a NEW foundation whose frame of reference dictates a new approach. Additionally, to have a proper frame of reference is to have the proper point-of-view of a given situation, and that view in itself guides the manner in which one approaches the situation.

Don't let Maryland kill Tyrone Gilliam

March on November 7

By: Virginia Harabin

Tyrone Gilliam, whose voice has convinced hundreds to become active against the death penalty all across the nation, faces execution by the state of Maryland during the week of November 16, 1998. As the New Abolitionist went to press, activists from across the East Coast were preparing for the largest mobilization of death penalty opponents the state of Maryland has ever seen. Abolitionists will travel to Baltimore on November 7 to march on the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in an all-out effort to demand clemency for Tyrone Gilliam.

The Insanity of Capital Punishment

By: Richard Tully

At the time that I agreed to move cells, I didn't know who Mr. Kelly was. I only knew that I was moving into a cell next door to a friend of mine and that the guy moving out (Kelly) was known as a J-Cat, meaning he was considered insane by the inmates and staff alike.