January 2001 Issue 18

Articles in this Issue:

We'll keep fighting!

Texecutioner in the White House


By: Lily Hughes

Amid outraged protest, George W. Bush has become the next president.

Some of the loudest voices of opposition to him have come from abolitionists. During his five years as governor of Texas, Bush -- better known to some as Governor Death -- oversaw the execution of 152 people.


We can stop them again!

Politicians try to bring back death penalty in Mass.


By: Bill Keach

When the current session of the Massachusetts legislature opened on January 3, politicians were again calling for reinstatement of the death penalty.

Gov. Paul Cellucci has twice before tried to push through a capital punishment bill. In 1997, he exploited public outrage at the brutal murder of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley. But his bill was finally defeated by one vote. In 1999, Cellucci's reinstatement effort was defeated by eight votes, a sign of the growing strength of organized opposition to capital punishment in the state.


Protesting Oklahoma's execution spree

By: Eric Ruder

In mid-January, Oklahoma death row inmate Wanda Jean Allen became the first Black woman to be executed in the U.S. in 50 years.

But Wanda's execution didn't go unnoticed. It became the focus of protests that targeted the injustice of executing the mentally disabled.

Rev. Jesse Jackson and 30 others were arrested for civil disobedience during a protest calling on Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating to grant Wanda a stay. But Keating refused to stop Wanda's killing.


Why didn't Clinton halt executions?

Ex-president passes up last-minute opportunity


By: Marlene Martin

Bill Clinton had the opportunity to fix a few wrongs before he left office -- but he didn't.

All indicators show that the federal government's death penalty system is grossly unfair. A recent U.S. Department of Justice review found that 80 percent of prisoners on federal death row are nonwhite. The review also found that, of 682 cases considered for the death penalty, 40 percent were filed by only five jurisdictions.


Celebrating the Illinois Moratorium

By: Noreen McNulty

January 31 marks the first anniversary of the Illinois moratorium on executions ordered by Republican Gov. George Ryan. The Illinois moratorium is a sign of growing opposition to the death penalty in the United States. Support for a national moratorium has mushroomed to 64 percent in public opinion polls. Cities and townships across the country have passed moratorium resolutions, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and San Francisco.


The death penalty by the numbers

Number of executions in 2000: 85

Percentage drop in executions since the year before: 13

Number of executions in Texas in 2000: 40
(most executions by one state in one year in U.S. history)

Total U.S. death row population: 3,703

Percentage of total U.S. executions that took place in the South: 89

Percentage of prisoners executed who were Black: 40

Percentage of murder victims who were white in cases where a prisoner was executed last year: 76

Source: Death Penalty Information Center


Abolitionists gear up for a fight in Maryland


By: JeaNette Ravendhran

The state of Maryland has only executed four people since the Supreme Court stopped the death penalty in 1972. This small number of executions has earned Maryland the reputation that it's reluctant to kill -- but that is about to change.

Maryland is planning to execute four inmates early this spring. The possibility exists that all four could receive death warrants at the same time -- raising the prospect of multiple executions on the same day.


Don't execute the mentally ill!

By: Michael de Brauw

On November 16, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a last-minute stay of execution for Texas death row inmate John Paul Penry, deciding it would hear his case sometime this spring.

Even after Texas' record-breaking year of atrocities, the killing of Penry would have stood out. Penry, who is on death row for the 1979 rape and murder of Pamela Lee Carpenter, suffers from severe mental retardation. His IQ has been tested at 56; on death row, he colors with crayons and looks at comic books that he can't read. At the age of 44, he still believes in Santa Claus.


Jailed for speaking out for Mumia

By: Peter Lamphere

The movement to save the life of death row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal now has another political prisoner to defend.

On December 6, a federal judge sentenced C. Clark Kissinger, a leading supporter of Mumia and member of Refuse and Resist, to 90 days in prison for making a speech defending Mumia at the Republican National Convention in August. Clark had been arrested during a civil disobedience for Mumia at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia a year earlier -- his sentence was a year's probation under absurdly strict terms, including limits on his travel.


A life in the balance


Joan Parkin reviews a new biography of Pennsylvania death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Terry Bisson's new biography On a Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal tells the incredible story of how the state launched an all-out campaign to frame this opponent of racism and police brutality.

Through the course of this book we come to understand why the life of Mumia and a victory in his case is so important not just to him personally but to the struggle of abolitionists and fighters against racism everywhere.


Our struggle continues

Reports from Campaign chapters around the country


Demonstrators march for Eugene Colvin-El

New York City
by Lucy Herschel

On December 18, 200 activists rallied outside United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City to call for an international moratorium on the death penalty. Inside the UN, Sister Helen Prejean, along with a representative from Amnesty International and one from the Italian group Sant' Edigio Community, presented more than 3 million signatures on Moratorium 2000 petitions to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan reiterated his opposition to the death penalty and his support for an international moratorium.


"The potential to change"

Interview with Nobel Prize nominee and death row inmate Stanley Williams


Late last year, Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a San Quentin death row inmate and cofounder of the Crips gang, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The nomination is in recognition for two book series that Williams co-authored with journalist Barbara Becnel, as well as an Internet project that connects at-risk youths from around the globe. The project uses both sets of Williams' books as readers -- the 1996 Tookie Speaks series and Life in Prison, published in 1998 -- to deglamorize prison life and encourage kids to stay out of gangs and off the streets.


Jesse Jackson visits the Death Row 10

These victims of police brutality deserve justice


Rev. Jackson joined Death Row Ten moms and Campaign members in a visit to Pontiac
By: Alice Kim

All together, the Death Row Ten have spent nearly 200 years behind bars. For most of these years, they have felt all but forgotten. But this past New Year's Eve was different.

On December 31, several members of the Death Row Ten got a special visit from Rev. Jesse Jackson, members of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, and three Death Row Ten moms.

The Death Row Ten are men on Illinois' death row who were sent there largely because of confessions tortured from them by Chicago police, led by former Commander Jon Burge.


Welcome to America

"Prisons are becoming breeding grounds for hate"


Exonerated Illinois death row inmate Ronald Jones speaks out at a Death Row Ten demonstration

When I first arrived on Menard's death row, I was told by an African American inmate that the only thing missing was white sheets and burning crosses. It wasn't a week later when my eyes were opened to that very fact.


A death sentence vacated

First of all, let me express my most sincere thanks for the terrific work you do, bringing the injustices rampant within this country's capital cases out of the darkness and into the light of day. It is through the efforts of people such as yourselves that changes are being made in the way people view capital punishment.


TWO POEMS

By: Ronald Clark

Poor Man

I am an angry man.
They have managed to turn me into an animal!
Death Row is a place
That only the poor will have to face
It's only a poor man that will lie on that table
And feel his heart become so unstable
As he's watching the liquid flow
And know he's about to go
No, a rich man won't experience this
It's only the poor that are on this list.

Take It Away

Come on America, open your eyes
And stop the politicians from telling their lies
For their families won't come to death row
For they have money and power, you know


May the year bring victory

Dear Campaign to End the Death Penalty,

Thank you for the lovely season's greeting card and the copies of all those kind words and best wishes from countless individuals.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and joyful holiday(s). And I also want to commend each of you for your unending energies and efforts to abolish the death penalty. It is truly admirable!

May this coming year bring us victory!

In struggle,

Mario Flores, #N-62349
P.O. Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764