I sympathize with the situation that Troy Davis, on death row in Georgia, is in because I was placed in a similar one.
Troy, like myself, is locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. He has been in prison for nearly 20 years. He was sentenced to die in 1991 after a trial that was tainted with police and prosecutors’ misconduct.
I was sentenced in 1981 and served 28 years of a life without the possibility of parole sentence—and I likely would have been given the death penalty if I had been a year older. My trial was also tainted by police misconduct—I was tortured into giving a false confession.
Laura Brady with Anthony Graves at the CEDP's Lethal Injustice tour stop in Austin, Texas.
By: Laura Brady and Anthony Graves
Anthony Graves spent 18 years in prison in Texas, 12 years of them on death row, for a crime he did not commit.
He was freed when another man confessed to the crime he was convicted of, and it was determined that prosecutors not only withheld evidence favorable to the defense in his 1994 trial, but also elicited false testimony from witnesses. Prosecutors dropped all charges against him, and last year, he became the 138th exonerated death row prisoner since the death penalty was reinstated.
But Anthony’s battle for justice continues. Shamefully, since his release, Anthony has been denied his compensation for wrongful incarceration by the state of Texas.
In the introduction to her book, The New Jim Crow, author and attorney Michelle Alexander recalls her reaction when she was first confronted with the notion that the US system of mass incarceration was a modern-day version of racist Jim Crow laws imposed after slavery. It was the 1990s and she had a new job heading up the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Northern California:
I was ecstatic hearing the news that Governor Pat Quinn decided to sign the legislation ending the death penalty in Illinois. In my mind, I immediately began congratulating and thanking all the people—lawyers, activists, politicians, exonerated and former death row prisoners, and our families, friends and supporters—who spent countless hours over the years fighting against the death penalty.
I was even able to gloat a little myself. Because as everyone who knows me knows, I do everything within my power to tear down this unjust, racist and corrupted system brick by brick.
Santos Reyes has been in prison for the past 13 years under the “three strikes law” in California. His third “crime” was taking the written part of a driver’s test for his cousin who could not write English.
Santos had two previous brushes with the law, one when he was a minor, and the other for a break-in, but in neither of these cases was anyone harmed. Santos spent the next 10 years working and raising his family and had no further infractions.
This is a commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal broadcast on Prison Radio on May 8, 2011. For more of Mumia’s essays and others, check out Prison Radio at prisonradio.org.
While many in the political world, the press and the general population are crowing about the hit on the Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as proof of the skill and toughness of the military and a lesson to jihadis around the world, there are other lessons as well.
Ones that the nation opts to forget. Yes, the U.S. Navy SEAL team showed ruthless efficiency in conducting its mission. They obviously trained to an incredibly high level and swept aside every obstacle, human or technical.
This statement, from San Quentin death row prisoner Kevin Cooper, was read to a crowd of more than 10,000 people who turned out to an antiwar demonstration in New York City on April 9, 2011.
There cannot be more of a cold-blooded and premeditated act of murder than that of a state-sponsored execution as in the death penalty! Unless it’s the cold blooded and premeditated act of War that one government in a country declares upon another.
In both cases, it’s the poor people who are murdered and physically tortured during these man-made acts.
Since the death penalty is now history in Illinois, I’m writing to see if you all would be willing to assist us in getting natural life off of the books. I’m not sure if you all have any more fight left in you after such a hard battle, but we need you and your organization.
In New York at the end of May, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, spoke to an audience of 800 people about the flaws of our criminal justice system and the need for a new social “human” rights movement to challenge and change them. She pointed to the misappropriation of funds –money spent on war and prisons instead of schools and social needs (see article on the New Jim Crow on pages 5 and 6).
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) stays afloat financially in part through our monthly sustainer program.
This program makes it easy for everyone to help support the fight to abolish the death penalty, no matter where you are or how limited your time is. Once a month, funds are automatically taken out of your account or charged to your credit card, and donated to the CEDP. These funds are used for publishing the New Abolitionist, taking prisoner phone calls, putting on national CEDP tours, sending out mailings and sustaining the work at our national office.
Reports from a speaking tour that looked at what’s behind the massive prison buildup, why so many people of color are locked up and what we can do about it.
The Delaware chapter hosted two tour stops. The first stop took place in Wilmington on February 17 at Barbara Lewis’ church, Christ Center Inc. The speakers were Mark Clements from Chicago and Amir Varick Amma from New York. Approximately 60 people filled up the room, and most stayed after the presentations to participate in a lively discussion. Outrage was expressed toward a criminal justice system that would lock up these innocent men and steal such a significant portion of their lives.
Mumia Abu Jamal won an important court decision that could finally get him off death row—but unfortunately won’t set him free.
On April 26, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision that found that the sentencing instructions given to the jury during Mumia’s 1982 trial were improper. The ruling orders the state of Pennsylvania to hold a new jury trial within 180 days. This jury will decide whether to reimpose the death sentence on Mumia or the sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The jury will not be deciding Mumia’s conviction—he did not win a new trial—it’s only to determine what sentence should be imposed.