July 2001 Issue 20

Articles in this Issue:

Tell Bush: This Has To Stop!

Executing The Mentally Handicapped Under Review

By: Marlene Martin

Earl Washington was easy pickings. So when police in Virginia were unable to solve a difficult rape and murder case, they looked to Earl Washington to help.

Agreeable and eager to please, with the mental age of a young child, Washington was quick to confess.

It mattered little to police and prosecutors that Washington didn’t have basic facts straight about the crime. Washington said the victim was black; she was white. He said she had been stabbed two or three times; she had been stabbed 38 times. He said he had kicked in the door; the door was found intact.

Texas Has A New "Governor Death"

Perry Opposes Legislation To Reform The Death Penalty

By: Mike de Brauw

During the 2001 Texas legislative session, abolitionists made progress towards slowing the state’s pace of executions. Unfortunately, we also learned that Gov. Rick Perry, who took over from George W. Bush, is the new Governor Death.

Two important reform bills are now law: post-conviction DNA testing and improved legal defense for poor defendants. These improvements will help keep innocent people off death row.

Maryland's De Facto Halt On Executions

By: John Coursey

All executions in the state of Maryland have been halted until Maryland’s highest court hears the appeal of death row inmate Steven Oken in its fall session beginning in September. The appeal calls into question the whole constitutionality of Maryland’s death penalty.

Previously, Wesley Baker, Anthony Grandison, Vernon Evans and Steven Oken were expected to be executed this year, leaving Maryland with the prospect of putting to death more men in one year than the state has put to death in the past three decades.

Mumia's New Legal Team

Lawyers Introduce Sworn Testimony Of The Real Killer

By: Mike Stark

In a dramatic turn of events, Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has fired his legal team and begun pursuing an aggressive new strategy aimed at proving his innocence.

This Man Has Waited Too Long For Justice

Kevin Cooper
By: Monica Hahn

Kevin Cooper has been on California’s death row in San Quentin prison since 1985.

But he may now finally be able to challenge his unfair, false conviction and prove his innocence. Cooper recently won the right to post-conviction DNA testing -- the first prisoner on California’s death row to do so.

Cooper was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the Ryen family. His initial trial was completely unfair. He was denied adequate counsel, crucial evidence was destroyed, DNA testing was denied, and important evidence and witnesses weren’t presented.

Highlights Of The Struggle

Reports From Campaign Chapters Around The Country

By Sarah Hines and Lucy Herschel
More than 100 demonstrators from around New York City converged on Times Square May 5 to demand that New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Peter Vallone call a vote on a death penalty moratorium resolution that’s been pending for nearly a year. Despite wide support for the resolution, both in the City Council as well as among New Yorkers, Vallone has refused to call a vote on the resolution, thereby effectively preventing a vote and silencing voters.

Meet The Death Row Ten: A Burge Torture Victim Speaks Out

"It Took So Much From Me"

This page has been reserved in recent issues for profiling the cases of the Death Row 10 -- a group of men who were beaten and tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives and sent to death row in Illinois.

But there were other victims of Burge’s reign of torture who, even if they weren’t sentenced to death, spent many years in prison -- many, of course, are still there.

How Many More Are Innocent?

Oklahoma City Scandal Exposes Shoddy Police Work

Joyce Gilchrist
By: Alice Kim

"My heart goes out to all the other people I know that are in here who are innocent because of the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and the Oklahoma City Police Department," said Jeffrey Todd Pierce after he was freed from prison on May 7.

"I hope you all won’t forget about them, too, because there are more. I’m just the one that opened the door, and I feel there will be a lot more coming out behind me."

Behind Bob Curley's Change Of Heart

October Cullum Frost sent this contribution to the New Abolitionist.

I heard Robert Curley speak for the first time in public since his change of heart about the death penalty at the first national conference of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation.

Protesting Bush's Execution Machine

Campaign chapters around the country gathered with other opponents of the death penalty to oppose the execution of Timothy McVeigh and Juan Raul Garza -- and to call for a moratorium on the death penalty.

About 75 people protested McVeigh’s execution at the Boston Common’s Park Street Station on the Sunday before he was scheduled to die. The protest was organized by Amnesty International, the Campaign, and Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. A smaller group protested Garza’s execution June 19 and took part in a vigil the next morning.

Restarting The Federal Execution Machine

Death Chamber Opened Again After 38 Years

A rally in Terre Haute the day of McVeigh's execution
By: Jesse Sharkey

The Texecutioner didn’t waste any time getting the death machine started at his new job.

After 38 years since the last federal execution was carried out, George W. Bush’s Department of Justice carried out two executions in just over a week in June.

Like in 1977, when serial killer Gary Gilmore was the first to face capital punishment, the federal government could hardly have found a more repulsive character than Timothy McVeigh to act as the wedge for reopening the federal death chambers.

Ashcroft Sweeps Racism Under The Rug

Just five days before Timothy McVeigh’s execution, Attorney General John Ashcroft released a report claiming that the Department of Justice study of racism and the federal death penalty showed that there was no evidence of bias.

"The proportion of minority defendants in federal capital cases exceeds the proportion of minority individuals in the general population," Ashcroft declared. "The information gathered by the Department indicates that the cause of this disproportion is not racial or ethnic bias, but the representation of minorities in the pool of potential federal capital cases."

"I'm Reminded Of Uprisings Of The Past"

Watching The Rebellion Against Police Murders In Cincinnati

Standing up to police murder in Cincinnati

Why are you still killing my brothers and sisters? And why do you still feel our lives, in the year 2001, are still not equal to yours? Observing the situation in Cincinnati, Ohio, is like watching a reoccurring nightmare -- confronting another legalized murder by the occupying forces of this modern apartheid system.

And when you see this happening over and over, you become fed up with the brutalities of the modern-day Gestapo committing legalized genocide. And the oppressed people have no choice but to take it to the streets and make what voices they have heard by whatever means.

Faked Into Confessing By Chicago Police

Howard Wiley

On December 3, 1985, Detective Foley and two other detectives came to my father’s house and asked me if I mind going to the police station to help them with their investigation. I told them that I would not mind.

The Mental Pain Gets So Bad

Greetings from a dead man walking. I saw your magazine in the trash, and I asked a worker to give it to me. You do some good work.

I was pepper-sprayed two times in December 2000. Now my eyes are going bad. The people here know I’m allergic to pepper spray, but they sprayed anyway. I get pepper-sprayed instead of the meds that I was promised.

This is too much for me -- it is for that reason that I will not appeal. The mental pain gets so bad that at times, I hit my head against the door for hours. A lot of blood will be dropped in this place before I am killed.

I wish you peace,

In Less Than Five Hours, He'll Be Dead

As I write this letter, it is about 5 p.m., and the state of Ohio is preparing to execute Mr. Jay Scott. In less than five hours, Scott will be dead. He was originally scheduled to be put to death on February 1, but that date was postponed. But now, the only person who can stop the execution is Gov. Bob Taft.