November 2000 Issue 17

Articles in this Issue:

Stop The Racist Death Penalty!

Racism On Federal Death Row Exposed

By: Mike Stark

The death penalty is racist.

That was the official conclusion of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) review of the federal death penalty system released in September. The study shows that the federal death penalty is used disproportionately against minorities, especially African Americans -- and that it is applied in a geographically arbitrary way, with some states, like Virginia and Texas, accounting for a large share of death penalty prosecutions.

Free Kenny Collins!

New Evidence Of Innocence Revealed

By: Virginia Simmons

One phone call last June may have provided some of the evidence to free Kenneth Collins from Maryland's death row.

Andre Thorpe called Kenny's attorney and admitted that he lied under oath in order to help to convict Kenny. Thorpe says that he is willing to officially recant his testimony, even though this might leave him open to face perjury charges.

Don't Execute Alex Williams

By: Donna Copeland and Cari Courtenay-Quirk

Opponents of the death penalty have been demanding that Alex Williams' sentence of death in Georgia be commuted. In August, we got some good news. With his scheduled execution just days away, the Georgia Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to decide on a series of issues in Alex's case.

Alex was arrested in March 1986 for the robbery, rape and shooting of a 16-year-old white girl in Augusta, Georgia. After a four-day trial, Alex was convicted and sentenced to death.

But there were many injustices.

Thank You!

A special thank you to the Crossroads Fund and the Funding Exchange, which helped to fund our mobilization to the Unity 2000 protest of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia this past summer. According to, "It was hard to ignore the shouts from the anti-death penalty group criticizing Governor George Bush for his support of the death penalty." Let's keep up the pressure!

Also, thank you to the Wolf Foundation for its generous donation this past summer.

From The Margins To The Mainstream

Polls Show Growing Opposition To The Death Penalty

By: Matt Nichter

Mounting evidence of injustice in the administration of the death penalty is having a profound impact on popular opinion.

According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken this summer -- in the wake of the execution of Gary Graham in Texas -- 63 percent of those surveyed said they favored a halt on executions nationally. This represents an increase of 26 percentage points in just a couple of months when a similar poll was taken by Newsweek.

And a huge majority of people -- 94 percent -- say they believe innocent people are wrongfully convicted.

The Death Penalty Makes Prime Time

Given the lamentable state of television programming, the recent airings of major shows that openly criticize the death penalty is amazing.

The result of what Geraldo Rivera jokingly described to some of us as his "campaign contribution" to Bush was the show "Deadly Justice," an hour-long special that aired on NBC in early September.

"Deadly Justice" takes the pro-death penalty position that Geraldo once supported and tears it to pieces.

Our Struggle Continues

Reports From Campaign Chapters Around The Country

Lawrence Hayes

"Committing to Conscience" National Conference:
Building a Unified Strategy to End the Death Penalty

"Committing to Conscience" is a national conference to appeal to a broad range of activists. The conference will provide intensive workshop sessions, networking opportunities and powerful speakers such as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Sister Helen Prejean and Senator Russ Feingold.

November 16-19, 2000
San Francisco, California

For information, call 202-387-3890, e-mail or look at the Web site

Meet The Death Row Ten: Frank Bounds

"We Need To Demand Better"

Costella Cannon, mother of Frank Bounds
By: Alice Kim

The Death Row Ten are prisoners on Illinois' death row who were beaten and tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives. In 1993, Burge was forced into taking early retirement, but Burge and his cronies were never charged. Burge now spends his time fishing on his boat in Florida!

In the summer of 1998, the Death Row Ten decided to become a group and asked the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to help them organize.

Free Mumia!

Activists Gear Up For Days Of Action

We need to fight to save Mumia
By: Joan Parkin

The clock continues to tick for Pennsylvania death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia and his supporters are anxiously awaiting his day in court, which has been repeatedly postponed. At the end of October, Federal District Court Judge Yohn was deciding whether or not to hear new evidence that could lead to a new trial for Mumia.

Governor Death: Stop The Killing!

Marchers Call For Moratorium On Executions

Marchers in Austin, Texas, on October 15
By: Carl Villarreal

Chanting "Governor Death, you can't hide! We've got justice on our side!" and demanding a moratorium on executions from Texas Gov. George W. Bush, 700 protesters marched and surrounded the Governor's mansion in Austin, Texas, on October 15.

Starting Up A Chapter

By: Marlene Martin

At a student activities fair at Columbia University in New York City, 700 people signed up to get involved with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. And the Campaign's national office has received numerous requests for information on how to start a chapter.

So here are some practical steps to help you get started.

Holding The First Meeting

"They Will Never Break Our Spirit"

Brutally Beaten By A Frenzied Mob Of Guards

Nathson Fields

After nearly to a dozen years on death row, Nathson Fields won a new trial in 1997. But he has spent the last three years in Chicago's Cook County Jail while prosecutors appeal for more time to prepare.

Both in jail and on death row, Nathson has been the victim of brutal violence by guards. In this letter, he describes a terrible beating in late July.

Please allow me to share this recent incident with you.

"Stripping Us Of Every Shred Of Humanity"

We are the "forgotten ones" of America's society. We are the masses condemned to be executed at the hand of the State -- in the guise of "justice." We are like "castaways," shipwrecked and lost without anyone hearing their S.O.S.

Life In Prison A Slow Execution

May I please have copies of any brochures or pamphlets you have concerning your Campaign to End the Death Penalty? It will be very much appreciated.

Within this death penalty campaign, does anyone ever think about a campaign concerning the overly excessive life sentences being passed out so frequently? What is a life sentence if not a slow death penalty? Something to think about.

Gregory Ratliff, #A91992
PO Box 515
Joliet, IL 60432

I Sit Here Watching Them Build The Gallows

I sat here on death row today thinking and watching TV as the whole world rang in the New Year 2000: What will the future be?

I've been watching workers build the new door for the death house now known as Q-wing. Our state government is going to change the way they kill people here -- so it doesn't seem so cruel, but something nice and neat. Just lay down and get a shot, and then you're dead. Nice and neat, no flames from your head.

My Name is Rage


By: Jermont Cox

Hello, My Name is Rage!
I am an angry man.
They have managed to turn me into an animal!
I tried to fight them off, believe me, I tried my hardest.
There are so many unanswered questions in my mind.
Like: Who is it that I'm actually mad at?
Is it myself for getting into such an uncontrollable situation?
Or for allowing them to make me into this ball of Rage?
My body hurts so bad some days.
My heart boils and pumps lava through my inner functions.
My tears are streams of blood!
My rage is not a RAGE of violence!
Although sometimes I feel it might help to