October 2001 Issue 21

Articles in this Issue:

Death Penalty Exposed

By: Alice Kim

"I'm innocent, and I've got peace in my heart, and I'm ready to go home," Malcolm Rent Johnson told his prison chaplain. Soon after, he was executed by the state of Oklahoma. Now, eighteen months too late, evidence has been uncovered that will almost certainly clear his name, and the state of Oklahoma will have the blood of an innocent man on its hands.

At Johnson's 1982 trial, Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist testified that semen found at the murder site matched Johnson's. But a recent re-examination of the samples showed that no sperm was even present!

"Seek Justice, End War, And Condemn Killing And Death"

By: Lawrence Hayes, Former New York Death Row Inmate

On September 11, I watched in utter shock as World Trade Center (WTC) One was engulfed in flames and smoke, and a civilian aircraft slammed into WTC Two. My nephew, Cornelius Butler, who spent two-and-a-half years in the New York death house with me, worked in WTC One.

There was no doubt as to whether or not he was in the building. His work hours were 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. I am glad to say he made it out of the building, but I am concerned about the effect that these two brushes with "death" are having on him.

Death Penalty In Decline

By: Cameron Sturdevant

Nationwide, states are executing less people -- especially those states that have executed the most people in the last decade.

Texas, for example, is supposed to execute 18 by the end of the year -- which is less than half of the 40 executed there in 2000.

Among the 17 states that had more than three executions last year, only Oklahoma (11 to 16) and Missouri (5 to 7) are set to increase the number of executions.

Are Executions Ever Justified?

"I'm Against The Death Penalty In All Cases"

Bud Welch spoke to the New Abolitionist about the politics of the death penalty in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

I think the most important thing we can do for the people in New York and Washington is to let them know that it's okay to be angry. You should be angry, you should be wanting vengeance-those are very normal responses.

The Death Penalty Is No Solution

"I'm Against The Death Penalty In All Cases"

By: Marlene Martin

The tragic events in New York and Washington, D.C., occurred just as we were going into production on this issue of the New Abolitionist. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this nightmare.

But within hours of the attacks taking place, President Bush was vowing to catch the perpetrators and punish them.

Mumia Barred From Court Appearance

Some 2,000 people came to Philadelphia on August 17 to demonstrate for justice for Pennsylvania death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia was supposed to appear in court at a hearing to decide whether or not new evidence of his innocence can be presented. But he was barred from attending when a city prison official said there was "no room" at the city jail. That was clearly an excuse to silence Mumia, probably the best-known prisoner on death row in the U.S.

Justice For Kenny Collins!

Prosecutors' Flimsy Case Against Him Is Falling Apart

Kenny Collins deserves a new trial!
By: John Coursey

"When I was on the witness stand, I did not tell the truth." Those were the recorded words of Andre Thorpe, heard recently by a Maryland judge. They provide yet another reason why Maryland death row inmate Kenny Collins deserves a new trial.

Madison Hobley Speaks Out

Will He Be The 14th Innocent Man Freed From Death Row?

Madison Hobley
By: Julien Ball

Madison Hobley should be the fourteenth man freed from Illinois death row. Although the state of Illinois has no credible evidence left against him, Madison has been on death row since 1987.

Prosecutors have been ordered by a judge to come to court prepared in November when a hearing will be held into questions about the unraveling evidence in the case. This upcoming court date has galvanized Madison's supporters, who have held a series of activities to publicize the injustices of his case.

Highlights Of The Struggle

Reports From Campaign Chapters Around The Country

Campaigners celebrate in Englewood

by Jay Varner
The NAACP and the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda staged a rally against the death penalty at Fort Valley State University, a historically Black college in Georgia.

Meet The Death Row Ten: Leroy Orange's Fight For Justice

Tortured Onto Death Row In Illinois

By: Noreen McNulty

The Death Row 10 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 10 decided to become a group and asked the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to help them organize.

"The System Doesn't Do Innocence Well"

Jay Nickerson Explains The Twists Of The Justice System

The system can't guarantee that the innocent won't be executed

For opponents of the death penalty, the workings of the criminal justice system often seem impossible to understand, much less to have anything to do with justice. In this first in a series of articles, the New Abolitionist interviewed Jay Nickerson, an attorney who specializes in defending death row prisoners, about how the system works.

When someone who is innocent is sentenced to death, why is it so difficult to remedy this through the courts?

The American criminal justice system simply doesn't do innocence well. It is obsessed with finality.

"How Does This Happen?"

A Letter To The New Abolitionist

Dear New Abolitionist,

I recently became a new subscriber to your publication the New Abolitionist. I received the July issue not long ago and settled down to read it.

As I looked through the pages, a very small article at the bottom of one page jumped out at me. It was a short letter from Angel Maturino Resendiz, who is on death row in Texas. In the note, he explained that the pain and suffering of death row was just too much. He wrote that he no longer wished to live and had decided to give up his appeals.

Heartfelt Thanks To Tanja Jung

Dear New Abolitionist,

Having spent the academic year at Ohio State University on a travel grant from Fulbright, Tanja Jung came to Chicago as a volunteer intern for the Campaign. She is now back in Berlin to continue her studies.

Thanks For Your Donation

Thanks to all those who donated part or all of their tax refund check or made a donation recently to the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

So far, we raised nearly $2,000 that will help us in our struggle against the death penalty. We would like to acknowledge all those who donated.

  • Jerry Allen
  • Doug Anderson
  • Alice Boyd
  • Nathen Banne
  • William Beatty
  • William Carl
  • Norman and Pat Dressler
  • Jimmy Harkin
  • Alice Kim
  • Bill Kimmel
  • Chel Lancaster
  • Scott Langley

Stop Executing Juveniles!

Napoleon Beazley Wins A Last-Minute Stay

Napoleon Beazley
By: Jeannine Scott

Napoleon Beazley was set to be executed in Texas ten days after his 25th birthday on August 15 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a stay of the execution to hear a number of the issues surrounding the case.

"Human Error That Defies Logic And Morality"

Nominated For Nobel Prize From Death Row

Stanley's book

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a cofounder of the Crips youth gang and a Califonia death row inmate, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by seven members of the Swiss parliament for writing nine anti-crime and antiviolence books for children and for creating an international peer mentoring program for youth at risk for gang involvement. An active advocate against the death penalty, Williams wrote the following comments about California's most recent execution.

My Brother's Execution

"He Gave A Final Gasp, A Cough And Closed His Eyes"

John Wheat, with his mother Neita and daughter Angela, in the mid-1980s
By: Bill Vaught

It was 6:19 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, 2001, when my brother, John Leslie Wheat, was pronounced dead. The official cause of death -- homicide by court-ordered lethal injection.

He was the eighth person to lose his life to the state of Texas in the year 2001 and the 247th executed since Texas reinstated the death penalty.

This was the hardest thing I have ever witnessed, but it would have been harder not to be there for my brother.

Their Only Concern Is Convictions

Thank you for the article by Mr. Howard Wiley ("Faked into confessing by Chicago police," July 2001).