Kevin Cooper was scheduled to be executed by the state of California at 12:01 a.m. on February 10, 2004. Kevin had asked me, as an activist and friend, to witness his execution--to witness the execution of an innocent man whose courage and strength has sparked a movement--and I promised I would.
Fortunately, it was a promise I did not have to keep.
On March 11, Ryan Matthews could walk off of Louisiana’s death row a free man. The Division M court in Jefferson Parish, La., will hold a hearing on Matthews’ case to consider DNA evidence that could set him free. If there is justice to be found in the racist courts that sentenced Ryan to die in the first place, it will be on this day.
On February 5, Maryland Judge Daniel Long removed inmate Kenny Collins from death row. Long declared that Kenny’s original trial lawyer failed to represent him adequately during the sentencing phase of his original 1988 trial.
This reversal, in effect an admission that Kenny has spent the last 16 years under an illegal death sentence, is a blow to Maryland’s death penalty system and a victory for activists and attorneys who have been fighting to prove Kenny’s innocence.
Last year, in January 2003, days before leaving office, former governor George Ryan pardoned four death row prisoners and emptied Illinois’ death row by commuting all Illinois death sentences. This represented the most sweeping victory against the death penalty since the U.S. Supreme Court banned all executions in 1972.
On January 31, the Chicago-Hyde Park chapter of the CEDP celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Illinois moratorium on executions. About 100 people attended this historic event, including many family members of prisoners, community leaders and other activists. The panel featured freed death row prisoner Madison Hobley and his wife Kim Hobley, Chick Hoffman of the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, and Alice Kim of the Campaign.
My name is David Paul Hammer, and I am on the Federal Death Row Unit at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
This death row unit became operative on July 13, 1999. Twenty of us were transferred here from around the country on that date. There have been three federal executions since that time. My own execution will be the next.
Kevin Cooper has continuously spoken out from his death row cell with his passionate speeches at Live From Death Row events, moving paintings and inspirational essays. The following is a small selection from his prolific writings.
From "A Brief History on the Penalty of Death in America":
This page has been reserved for profiles of 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.
In the summer of 1998, the Death Row 10 came together inside prison and asked the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to be their voice on the outside. In January 2003, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan pardoned four members of the Death Row 10. The Campaign is continuing the struggle to win justice for those who remain behind bars.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Christopher Simmons, a Missouri death row inmate who was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed. The justices will rule whether it was proper for the Missouri State Court of Appeals to declare that juvenile executions are unconstitutional.
Another drop in the number of executions last year
By: Marlene Martin
Is the death penalty falling out of favor with the U.S. population? Statistics showing another year in which fewer people were sentenced to death is an indication that this might be the case. A wide majority of Americans say that they support capital punishment--a recent Harris poll puts support for the death penalty at 69 percent. But that level of support is still down from the 80 percent of several years ago, and the majority support turns into a minority once people are told some of the facts about capital punishment, such as the large number of innocent people sent to death row.