October 2010 Issue 52

Articles in this Issue:

Commemorating a decade of struggle

By: Marlene Martin

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s (CEDP) annual convention (see page 15 for convention details this year).

As we approach this landmark, and reflect on our accomplishments as well as the challenges we still face, it’s a good time to ask: Why do we need a group like the Campaign?

Our voices are being heard

Interview with Troy Davis

By: Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis was denied justice once again when federal Judge William T. Moore dismissed the evidence of his innocence presented by his lawyers earlier this year. Here, Troy answers questions about his case and the struggle against the death penalty.

Mumia's voice should be included

Mumia Abu-Jamal
By: Marlene Martin

Mumia Abu-Jamal is probably the best-known death-row prisoner in the United States—both because of the powerful campaign to prove innocence and win his freedom, and because of his own role in speaking out from death row for justice, whether the issue is capital punishment or racism or unjust wars. 

But some abolitionists in the U.S. feel that Mumia’s voice “endangers” our chance to win abolition of the death penalty, and so they attempted to have that voice barred from addressing a gathering of abolitionists at the Fourth World Congress Against the Death Penalty, held in December 2009 in Geneva Switzerland.

John Burge...Guilty on all counts!

Jesse Jackson celebrating the verdict.
By: Mark Clements

After years of struggle in the streets and in the courtroom, Jon Burge has finally been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury in relation to the police torture he presided over in Chicago. 

For more than two decades, Burge and a ring of detectives working under his command inflicted torture upon criminal suspects inside Chicago interrogation rooms. This torture resulted in the forced confessions of over 200 African American and Latino men. Many of the men have since been freed, but 23 remain incarcerated in Illinois prisons. Twenty-one of the men are serving sentences from 60 years to natural life in prison. 

Keeping it Real

Mayor Daley's retirement plans

By: Pardoned Illinois death row prisoner Stanley Howard

Wow! That was my first reaction to hearing the shocking news that Richard M. Daley, mayor of Chicago, decided not to seek re-election.

Other than saying “it’s time to move on,” Daley did not give a reason for his decision. But I know his conscience had to been beating the hell out of him.

Many people, including some pundits, are praising Daley like he was a political God—while others, including myself, see him as a corrupted and heartless sicko. It’s well documented that while serving as Cook County state’s attorney from 1981 to 1989, Daley allowed Lt. Jon Burge and his officers to torture scores of Black men with impunity. 

Voices from the inside - Interview with Kevin Cooper

Painting by Kevin Cooper
By: Carole Seligman and Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper has been on death row at San Quentin for over 25 years. This is an abridged version of an interview that was conducted on July 21 by Carole Seligman, a human rights activist. Prison Radio recorded the interview, and the full version is available at SaveKevinCooper.org

Voices from the inside - Statement by Kevin Cooper

This is my wish: Get involved with abolishing the death penalty

On February 9, 2004, I came within three hours and 42 minutes of being tortured and murdered by the state of California, before that execution was called off.

In 1985, I was wrongfully convicted of the Ryan-Hughes murders, which took place in Chino Hills in California, and that was what almost got me executed.

Since I received the stay of execution in 2004, the attorneys representing me and the people who are supporting me are helping me to expose the truth about how the state of California has wrongfully convicted me.

Voices from the Inside - A travesty in progress

Letter from death row

I am an innocent man who was convicted and sentenced to death based on unreliable evidence. The main witnesses who testified against me were in possession of the victim’s property.

I knew the victim. The police called my foreman and me to the morgue to identify his body. Then the police investigated me. They searched my apartment to rule me out as a suspect. Six days later, I was arrested. 

The witnesses (who I explained were in possession of the victim’s property) told the police I gave them the victim’s property. Supposedly, I did this while my apartment was being searched. Yet the police said I was never out of their sight during that time. 

Challenging Jim Crow justice

By: Alan Bean

Alan Bean of the Texas-based civil rights organization Friends of Justice will be the keynote speaker at the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s annual convention this November. 

Will justice prevail for Troy Davis?

By: Etan Thomas and Dave Zirin

We’re not politicians, or lawyers or corrections officers or anything of that sort. We are an athlete and a sports writer, which might seem like miles away from the concerns of Georgia’s machinery of death. But that distance has made us all the more disgusted and appalled by the treatment of death row prisoner Troy Davis. 

Highlights of the struggle

Reports from Campaign chapters around the country

By: Brit Schulte, Crystal Bybee, Randi Jones and Julie Fiorelli

Denton, Texas 

By Brit Schulte

Things are on the move in Denton, Texas, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty is at the forefront. As of late, our chapter has established its new program and specific case focus, thus solidifying our stance on community education and awareness. 

Here in Texas, we have the odds especially stacked against us, which is why our chapter decided to collaborate with the Austin chapter for our case focus on Rodney Reed. By combining our efforts and resources with our fellow Austin activists, we will realize our goal of seeing Rodney freed from death row. 

Doctors shouldn't kill people

By: Robert Wilbur

Almost every state that kills by lethal injection requires that a physician either assist or actually carry out the execution. Notwithstanding the medical credo “Do no harm,” every state with capital punishment has physicians who will take their place beside the death gurney in some capacity, if only to ensure that the condemned person is dead. It was, in fact, an Oklahoma physician—medical examiner A. Jay Chapman, MD—who brewed today’s three-drug cocktail of sodium thiopental (an anesthetic), potassium chloride (to stop the heart), and pancuronium bromide (to paralyze the breathing muscles).

Thiopental is almost never used any more in medicine; just about it’s only remaining use is for killing human beings.

Audio of CEDP interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal

By: Audio created by Prison Radio

In the October 2010 issue of the New Abolitionist, we included an interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal conducted by Marlene Martin.  Now our friends at Prison Radio have made an audio version of the interview available.  

Listen as Mumia words come alive in this recording, which takes up the issue of Mumia's place in the abolition movement today, and why it is so important to include his voice and those of other prisoners in our ongoing struggles for justice.