August 2002 Issue 25

Articles in this Issue:

Another Step Toward Abolition

By: Alice Kim

Without question, the machinery of death has been dealt several hard blows in the last several months. Abolitionists scored a major victory when Governor Parris Glendenning declared a one-year moratorium in Maryland last May. Then in June, the Supreme Court not only banned the execution of the mentally retarded but ruled that juries, not judges, should have the authority to impose death sentences. Both rulings are reversals of prior decisions and will impact hundreds of death row cases. Only a month later, U.S.

Justice denied for Madison Hobley

Judge rejects petition from innocent police torture victim

By: Julien Ball

"Second petition for post-conviction relief is denied. Third petition for post-conviction relief is denied." These were the words of Cook County Judge Dennis Porter on the morning of July 8 as he denied Illinois death row prisoner Madison Hobley a new trial.

After stating his decision, the judge promptly proceeded to other business, offering no explanation to dozens of Madison’s family members and supporters who were on hand.

The Campaign's Next Convention

By: Marlene Martin

Members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty are looking forward to our second annual convention on November 9-10 in Chicago.

The convention weekend will be full of interesting presentations and discussions, as Campaign members and others take a look at our movement and how best to build it in the upcoming year.

We’ve decided to focus this year on the question of racism--and its impact on the death penalty and the criminal justice system as a whole.

Getting Ready To "Dog" Governor Davis

By: John Green

With the inspirational victories in Illinois and Maryland, activists in California are working towards a similar moratorium on executions.

Abolitionists plan to raise the death penalty as an election-year issue--in the state with the largest death row in the nation--by hounding the reelection campaign of Governor Gray Davis. Aptly named "Dog Davis," we hope the effort will raise the level of awareness about the racism and class bias of the death penalty.

How Activists Built A Fight That Won

The Road To Winning The Moratorium In Maryland

By: Mike Stark

On May 9, just one week before the scheduled execution of Wesley Baker, Governor Parris Glendening called a halt to all executions in the state of Maryland.

Far from being the act of an enlighted governor, the Maryland moratorium was the product of years of public pressure. The key lesson to learn from this victory is that activism from below can change things. Our persistence and stubbornness even in the face of difficulties succeeded in shifting the climate to the point that this success was possible.

Meet The Death Row 10: Reginald Mahaffey

"Where's The Justice For Reginald?"

By: Joan Parkin

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 he 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.

Highlights Of The Struggle

Reports From Campaign Chapters Around The Country

The March for Abolition in Chicago, May 14 2002

by Morgan Macdonald
Chants of "Keep D.C. death penalty free" filled the air as 70 people gathered July 23 to protest the imposition of capital punishment in Washington, D.C. The rally marked the beginning of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s (CEDP) fight to prevent the possible executions of Rodney Moore and Kevin Gray, both of whom may receive death sentences for murders committed in the D.C. area.

"Used Against The Poorest And Most Powerless"

Stephen Bright On The Reality Of The Death Penalty System

Stephen Bright

Stephen Bright is the director of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and one of the best-known capital defense lawyers in the country. He has written extensively on the issue of the death penalty and is one of the abolitionist movement’s best spokespersons.

Stephen has agreed to be one of the Campaign’s keynote speakers at our upcoming national convention. We asked him to introduce himself and some of his ideas to Campaigners who may not know him.

Sacco and Vanzetti

Two Immigrants Targeted For Their Beliefs

Demonstration for Sacco and Vanzetti, Boston, 1925
By: Marlene Martin

Seventy-five years ago this month, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were put to death by the state of Massachusetts.

They had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for the robbery and killing of two men, a paymaster and a guard who were delivering wages to a shoe company. During the seven years of their imprisonment, people around the world organized a campaign to save these two men--both Italian immigrants and anarchists. But despite overwhelming support and the preponderance of evidence pointing to their innocence, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed.

Thanks To Our Summer Intern

Sarah will soon be leaving her position of intern at the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s national office, but she isn’t leaving the Campaign behind. Sarah wants to start a chapter of the Campaign in Michigan.

We look forward to helping Sarah keep the death penalty out of Michigan--as well as helping her involve Michigan folks in the abolitionist movement nationally. On behalf of all of us in the Campaign to End the Death Penalty: "Thanks Sarah!"

My name is Sarah Pipas, and I am a summer intern at the national office of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Executions Banned For Mentally Retarded

Supreme Court Does The Right Thing... 13 Years Later

Texas death row prisoners Brian Roberson and Oliver Cruz were both executed on August 9, 2000. Oliver Cruz had an IQ of just 64. Despite this fact, he was still executed under then-Texas Governor George W. Bush. As much as 10 percent of the death row population across the United States is mentally retarded with an IQ of less than 70.
By: Helen Redmond

Abolitionists won a major victory in the struggle to end the death penalty when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its former ruling and declared that executing the mentally retarded was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. We welcome this ruling and see it as a step toward ending the death penalty.

Judges Barred From Overturning Jury Decisions

By: Doug Lee

Death penalty abolitionists won an important victory June 24 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only a jury could decide sentences in capital punishment cases. By a 7-2 decision in Ring v. Arizona, the Court declared sentencing solely by a judge to be a violation of the Sixth Amendment guarantee to a trial by a jury of one’s peers.

Thank You For Being Our Voice

Dear friends,

I am a condemned prisoner here on San Quentin’s death row. I was very lucky that I was able to get a copy of your newsletter the New Abolitionist and was so impressed with the news that it contained.

I wish that I could afford the $12 to subscribe. I would be very grateful if you could send me back copies that you may have left over from your printing?

Let's Turn The Heat Up

Ronnie Kitchen is an Illinois death row prisoner and member of the Death Row 10, a group of men sentenced to death because of "confessions" tortured out of them by Chicago police. In June, Ronnie spoke via telephone to a panel discussion titled "Bush’s War at Home" at a conference called Socialism 2002 in Chicago. Here are some excerpts from his speech.

"I Pray I Will Live To See Him Home"

To all the members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty,

I just returned from Baltimore to visit Kenny Collins, my son, who is on death row. Another year has passed, and we are still waiting to hear from the judge to rule on Kenny’s case. He said last August when we were in the court that he would let us know in a few months after he reviewed our new evidence that Peter Keith, my son’s lawyer, uncovered.

Keeping It Real

Don't Believe The Reform Hype

Stanley Howard
By: Illinois death row prisoner Stanley Howard

"Keeping it real" is a phrase I recently learned from the younger generation while I was in the Cook County Jail. I was there preparing for my hearing to try to prove that Chicago police officers literally tortured me into signing a confession, which was used to convict and sentence me to death. "Telling it like it is," "no holding back," and "telling the truth" are all variations of "Keeping it real."