June 2004 Issue 32

Articles in this Issue:

Ryan Matthews should be free

Justice has waited too long

By: Liliana Segura

Ryan Matthews is an innocent man, and the evidence exists to prove it. But that didn't stop prosecutors in Louisiana from dragging out his suffering for as long as they possibly can. Ryan was still wrongfully behind bars at the beginning of June, following a June 3 court hearing that his family and supporters had hoped would be the final chapter of this story of injustice. But the court system failed Ryan again.

Interview with Monique Matthews

"The fight will continue as long as people are on death row"

Monique Matthews is Ryan Matthews sister. She has been active in speaking out for her brother around the country, including at meetings sponsored by the Campaign. Here, she talked to Delphine Selles about her brother’s case.

What was the trial like in 1999?

Will North Carolina win a moratorium?

Moratorium Lobby Day drew around 200

By: Brad Ward

North Carolinians to the state capital to try and persuade their representatives to vote yes on bill S-972. The bill, which surprised everyone by passing the state Senate last summer, has yet to be introduced to the house floor. S-972 calls for a moratorium on executions for two years while an investigative committee looks into the problems of North Carolina’s death row. -->

A new movie about Stanley "Tookie" Williams

Making change from death row

By: Phil Gasper and Gillian Russom

California death row inmate and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stanley "Tookie" Williams spoke to a multiracial crowd of 60 people at a "Live From Death Row" meeting in Los Angeles on April 23 that helped to launch the new LA chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Also speaking were Barbara Becnel, Williams’ long-time friend and advocate, and Todd Chretien of the Free Kevin Cooper Committee for a California Moratorium and the International Socialist Organization.

The juvenile death penalty

Cruel and unusual punishment

By: Alice Kim

This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether to outlaw the juvenile death penalty. Four Supreme Court Justices have already declared their opposition to the juvenile death penalty, describing the execution of young offenders as a "relic of the past" and a "shameful practice" that should be ended.

We demand a new trial for Rodney Reed

Innocent on Texas death row

By: Conor Reed

New developments in the struggle to free Rodney Reed, an innocent man on Texas’ Death Row, could lead to a new trail for Reed. Recently, Federal Judge Lee Yeakel sent Reed’s case back to the district court. Judge Yeakel found that important police reports were hidden from the defense during the original trial. These reports include statements by witnesses who saw the victim, a 19-year old woman named Stacey Stites, in the company of other men--not Rodney Reed--on the night of her murder. Hopefully, the new hearing will shed light on the holes in the state’s case against Rodney.

Chicago police torture exposed

By: Alina Braica

In recent months, former Chicago police commander Jon Burge has been feeling the heat. For the first time, someone close to the officers has spoken out and said they knew about the torture that Burge and his detectives inflicted upon countless African American men. In a sworn videotaped statement, Ellen Pryweller, the sister of former Detective Robert Dwyer, said that her brother and Burge bragged about torturing confessions out of innocent men during interrogations.

Torture: As American as apple pie

By: Eric Ruder

The horrific images of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners have provoked revulsion around the world and in the U.S. "People in Iraq must understand...that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know," said George W. Bush. What a convenient form of amnesia Bush must suffer from!

Highlights of the struggle

Reports From Campaign Chapters Around The Country

Texas By Reid Smith

A question for our movement

The "in house" death sentence

By: Marlene Martin

What do anti-death penalty activists have to say about the sentence of life without the possibility of parole? More than 70 percent of people polled are in favor of the death penalty, but that support drops to 44 percent when people are told of the option of a life without the possibility of parole sentence, according to a May 2003 Gallup Poll. Unquestionably, people opting for this sentence as opposed to a death sentence is an indication that the flaws of the death penalty and the tragedy of sending innocent people to their deaths have touched a nerve with people.

Remembering May Molina

May Ortiz Molina, a Chicago justice activist with the Comité Exigimos Justicia and founder of Families of the Wrongfully Convicted, died in custody after Chicago police raided her home and held her in lockup. May suffered from diabetes and was confined to a wheelchair. Her lawyer and family members tried to get May her medication while she was in custody, but they were prevented by police.

Activists are demanding an investigation into May’s death.

Keeping It Real

Going up top

By: Pardoned Illinois death row prisoner Stanley Howard

I was recently talking with another prisoner about the loving visit I had just had with my daughter, and right in the midst of sharing my joyful moment, he began telling me how much he’d love to visit with any of his loved ones. He has had contact with them off and on through out his 17 years of incarceration but hasn’t seen them in almost 12 years.

Massachusetts governor tries to bring back the death penalty

By: Mary Rogers

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is bent on bringing the death penalty back to Massachusetts--one of 12 states without it. It has been nearly 60 years since someone was executed in Massachusetts. Attempts to bring back the death penalty have failed in recent years -- most memorably, by a tie vote in 1997.

The fight to save Steven Oken

By: Mike Stark

A statewide coalition of groups in the Maryland and D.C. area has stepped up the fight to stop the June 14th scheduled execution of Steven Oken--the first state-sponsored murder in Maryland since 1998.

Mumia Abu-Jamal stuck in legal limbo

"I am still on death row"

By: Liliana Segura

On December 18, 2001, a U.S. district judge in Philadelphia threw out the death sentence of journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. For the abolitionists and activists around the world to whom Mumia is a hero, it should have been a day to celebrate. But the partial victory was bittersweet.

Former death row inmate Billy Moore

"I was considered the worst of the worst"

Billy Moore spent almost 17 years on Georgia’s death row for the robbery-murder of 77-year-old Fredger Stapleton. Moore confessed to the murder to police plead guilty, and was given the death sentence. Billy was paroled in 1991, after a group of the victim’s family spoke out against his execution at a parole board hearing. He has spent the last 12 years of freedom determined to show that the death penalty is no solution to crime.

On death row and still fighting

By: Rebecca Downer

The abolitionist movement won an incredible victory this past February when California death row prisoner Kevin Cooper, won a stay of execution just hours before his scheduled execution. "No person should be executed if there is doubt about his or her guilt and an easily available test will determine guilt or innocence," wrote the majority on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals when they issued the stay.