• Justice for Louis Castro Perez!

    This is an original message sent by the CEDP:

    The 5th Circuit Court has released an opinion denying relief to innocent Texas death row prisoner Louis Castro Perez. Many folks will be familiar with the case through Louis' sister, Delia Perez Meyer, who sits on the board of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

    Delia has been a tireless advocate for her brother and all death row prisoners. She has travelled the world in the fight to win death penalty abolition. For some time, Louis has been fighting to win DNA testing of several items found at the crime scene that contain the DNA of an unknown person, including on a bloody towel wrapped around a knife found at the crime scene! For more facts about the physical evidence and issue in this case please check out: http://nodeathpenalty.org/get-the-facts/justice-louis-castro-perez-test-all-dna

    The latest appeal for Louis was based on an issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. The 5th Circuit had previously rendered a judgement denying Louis relief. His lawyer then had 30 days to respond, however, she failed to respond to a 30 day deadline for filing a new motion with the district court. In fact this attorney received notification of the deadline and without alerting Louis or the other consulting attorney on the case, she decided on her own not to respond to the motion, effectively abandoning her client.

    In March of 2012, after being made aware of the error, the court granted a motion to allow Louis to reenter the appeal that his lawyer should have made. However, late last week the 5th Circuit vacated that order, and has decided to let the original judgement of denial of relief stand.

    Folks can read the whole transcript of the judgement here.

    We will continue to fight for justice for Louis Castro Perez and against any execution date!

    The full judgement from the 5th Circuit can be read here: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C13/13-70002-CV0.pdf

    Read more...
  • Rodney Reed - Day of Action

    Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed, was recently denied his appeal by the federal 5th Circuit Court, opening the door for Rodney to be issued a warrant for execution. Activists in Austin are gearing up for a campaign to fight against the possible wrongful execution of an innocent man - please join Rodney's family and supporters in a day of action for justice for Rodney Reed, including a lunchtime picket in Bastrop and an evening film screening of State vs. Reed.

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    Picket the Bastrop County DA and Demand Justice for Rodney Reed!

    Monday, February 24 at 11am

    Bastrop County Courthouse, 804 Pecan St., Bastrop, TX

    The Reed family is asking Rodney's supporters to join in a picket at the Bastrop County Courthouse during regular business hours.

    Bastrop's former DA, Charles Pennick, oversaw the trial and conviction of Rodney Reed - and was responsible for the prosecutorial misconduct that took place during the trial, including withholding of evidence, suppression of witnesses, and the misinterpretation of physical evidence.

    Let's send a message to the current DA, Bryan Goertz, that it's time for Bastrop County to do the right thing! Grant a new trial for Rodney Reed or rescind the charges!

    Send us a message if you want to join in a carpool from Austin - and don't forget the State Vs. Reed film screening the same evening at 6:30.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/593384194070603/?context=create#

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    State vs. Reed: A documentary film screening

    Monday, February 24 at 6:30pm

    Carver Library, 1161 Angelina St., Austin

    Case updates and organizing discussion to follow the movie. Featuring Sandra Reed, mother of Rodney and Rodrick Reed, brother of Rodney.

    Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was recently denied his appeal to the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court maintains it's ruling, this opens the door to a potential execution date to be set by Texas.

    The court had in front of it the entirety of the evidence collected over the years that proved Rodney's innocence - including new testimony from the orignal medical examiner regarding the forensic evidence that could help to exonerate him. Unfortunately they chose to dismiss this evidence.

    Rodney Reed is innocent - his execution would be a travesty of justice! Join the CEDP and family and supporters of Rodney Reed for this documentary film screening about the case. This 2006 documentary directed by Ryan Polomski and Frank Bustoz details the myriad problems in the conviction of Rodney.

    The time is now to get involved in the campaign to win JUSTICE FOR RODNEY REED!

    https://www.facebook.com/events/647116588667353/

    For further Information please contact:

    Campaign to END the Death Penalty

    austincedp@nodeathpenalty.org

    http://www.facebook.com/austincedp

    http://www.nodeathpenalty.org

    Read more...
  • AFSCME TexasCorrectional Employees calls TDCJ to change Death Row Plan

    AFSCME Texas

    Correctional Employees

    Local 3807

    “We Patrol Texas' Toughest Beat”

    January 20, 2014

    Greetings,

    As the president of the largest correctional professional organization in Texas I am calling on the

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice to change the death row plan to positively impact both the

    correctional staff and offenders on Texas death row. After the November 1998 escape of Offender

    Martin Gurule, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice engaged in a knee jerk reaction regarding the

    administration of Texas death row inmates.

    Staff incompetency and lack of proper security equipment were the biggest factors resulting in

    Gurule's escape from the O.B. Ellis death row. As a result of the escape the agency ignored the root of

    the problem and addressed the lack of security equipment by increasing the physical perimeter security,

    in addition to the number of firearm rounds issued to perimeter pickets. Lack of staff competency was

    never addressed in a positive manner and has resulted in a less experienced force securing Texas death

    row.

    The changes in the death row plan following the Gurule escape have resulted in the solitary

    housing of “D1” offenders who were capable and had additional privileges which could be used as

    management tools for negative behavior. As a result of the changes to the Texas death row plan,

    inmates have very few privileges to lose and staff become an easy targets.

    The Texas death row plan needs to address tools that can manage positive behavior. D1 offenders

    who are work capable should be utilized. Housing death row D1 offenders in a solitary cell is a waste

    of valuable security personnel and money. D1 offenders should be housed 2 offenders to a cell and

    treated similar to G3 offenders in terms of privileges such as work assignment and allowed TV

    privileges by streaming over the air television to a computer tablet using a closed WiFi network. Use

    of technologies such as computer tablets and streaming TV should be offered to offenders who exhibit

    positive behavior. Lack of visual or audio stimulation result in increased psychological incidents and

    results in costly crisis management.

    Staff incompetency should be addressed by offering death row officers a salary differential and

    substantially increase their training for staff committed to working death row. A greater pay differential

    will insure we have the best officers watching Texas most dangerous population. Other correctional

    agencies have successfully used differentials to address staffing issues. Let's make Texas a model for

    successful death row criminal justice reforms.

    Respectfully,

    Lance l Lowry

    Lance Lowry

    President Local 3807

    1314 Tenth, Street, Suite 110, Huntsville, Texas 77320

    (936) 295-5265 ' 1-800-374-9772

    Read more...
  • Rodney Reed denied by 5th Circuit

    Hi folks,

    On late last Friday the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down it's ruling in the case of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed. The court denied relief, upholding an earlier ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

    This is very bad news - the court had in front of it the entirety of the evidence collected over the years that proved Rodney's innocence - including new testimony regarding the forensic evidence that matches Rodney's account of his relationship with the victim, Stacey Stites.

    The ruling seems to be largely based on a finding that there are no "credible" witnesses that have come forward to testify to the well known relationship between Rodney and Stacey. This relationship was known to people in Bastrop, and many signed affadavits regarding it. The fact that some folks were either related to Rodney, had previous criminal records, etc. has led to the maligning of these witnesses as not "credible". This is a familiar pattern that shows the hypocrisy and bias of the court - if the same type of witnesses are called to testify for the state, they are suddenly found to be credible.

    The Campaign to End the Death Penalty both in Texas and nationally have worked together with Rodney's family for years to try to win a new trial for Rodney where all the evidence proving his innocence could be presented to a jury. I spoke with Rodney's mother, Sandra Reed, and the family is devastated by this latest ruling. Sandra said they are all in shock and just cannot believe that this is the court's decision.

    Unfortunately, this latest ruling by the 5th Circuit is a huge blow to our efforts to win justice. While we are still working on confirming what will happen next, this could clear the path for an execution date to be set very soon.

    Folks can look at the full ruling here: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/13/13-70009-CV0.pdf

    Despite this sickening decision - the CEDP and Rodney's family and supporters are not giving up. Now is the time for folks to get involved in any way they can to fight to save Rodney Reed from the execution chamber. We will be launching a campaign to fight against any execution date that is set and will let folks know how to get involved.

    For now, we are asking folks to do a few simple things:

    Like Rodney's Facebook support page - updates and plans of actions will be regularly posted there: https://www.facebook.com/texasinjustice

    This link gives folks a brief outline of the fact of the case as well as pointing folks to further reading: http://nodeathpenalty.org/get-the-facts/rodney-reed-innocent-death-row

    We will be launching a new petition soon, so keep your eyes out for that.

    You can also send a card or letter of support to Rodney:

    Rodney Reed

    #999271

    Polunsky Unit

    3872 FM 350 South

    Livingston, Texas, 77351

    Please stay posted for further plans. This fight is not over - JUSTICE FOR RODNEY REED!

    Lily Hughes,

    National Director,

    Campaign to End the Death Penalty

    Read more...
  • Petra de Jong's Open Letter to Texas Governor Perry

    Dear Governor Perry,

    Whenever a Texas execution is about to take place, I would imagine that you (or rather: your office) receive(s) e-mails, letters and phone calls from death penalty opponents asking you to spare the life of the condemned man or woman.

    I am not going to do that. Not because I don't oppose the death penalty (because I do, and passionately so), but because the next person on Texas' hit list wants to die.

    Jamie McCoskey is scheduled to be executed on November 12, 2013. He has been on Texas Death Row for two decades. He has been my friend for the past 15 years.

    A condemned Texas man once said: "We were condemned to death, not torture". Yet torture is what goes on in the place called Texas Death Row. Since the year 2000, these men have been subjected to continuous solitary confinement. They are basically stuck in a box for at least 23 hours a day. No human contact, hardly any daylight, abysmal food with hardly any nutritional value, relentless heat, continuous noise and harsh, if not outright violent, treatment by guards. Men go insane in there. Men smear themselves with feces, men gauge their own eyes out (google for Andre Thomas if you are blissfully unaware of his tragic story), men scream day and night in absolute terror.

    Jamie McCoskey wants to die. He wants to die because he has been subjected to torture for two decades. He wants to die because there seems to be no hope whatsoever that conditions on Texas Death Row will improve any time soon. He wants to die because he has been denied medical care for years and is in constant pain because of it. He sustained a back injury when he was on a bench warrant at the (Harris) county jail. Unbeknownst to him, the roof was leaking, there was water on the floor and he slipped and fell during a game of basketball. His injury has left him unable to walk after many years of medical neglect. Medical neglect which continued despite outside efforts to point out to the TDCJ that they have a responsibility to attend to the medical needs of those in their custody. If you need proof of this, I have a clear photograph of Mr. McCoskey's raw, swollen knees - a consequence of him having been forced to get on his knees all the time to get handcuffed because his back problems have left him unable to bend over. Knees that were already painful and swollen to begin with due to neglected gout.

    Now, I am aware that retribution has its place in criminal justice. I know that there needs to be a punishment for the death of Michael Keith Dwyer, who was only 20 years old when Mr. McCoskey killed him and whose girlfriend was pregnant at the time. Whether that punishment should be death is debatable, but the treatment that Texas Death Row prisoners are subjected to for years prior to the carrying out of their sentence is simply unnecessary and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

    I am asking you not to spare this man's life, but to think about what a man's life must be like if he welcomes death, even longs for it.

    Unspeakable things take place under your watch. Basic human rights are widely disregarded within TDCJ (and not just on Death Row, but especially so on Death Row). All of this takes place in buildings that are carefully shielded from the public view. There is no transparency, no accountability and no humanity.

    You have the power to change this. I have no illusions that you will, but I'm going to ask you nonetheless. There is nothing else I can do except trying my best to make sure that the voiceless are heard.

    Thank you for your valuable time.

    Best regards,

    Petra de Jong

    Read more...
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DRIVE'S BLOG

Listen to Petra de Jong and Gloria Rubac interview on KPFT News about the inhuman living conditions on Texas DR that motivated Jamie McCoskey to give up his last appeals in order to be executed.

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