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."

Thanks to the New Abolitionist, I look forward to "Keeping it real" with all of you each issue, as I cling onto life, trapped deep in the belly of this cruel, unjust, and predatory beast called "death row."

Over the last two decades, many politicians and judges used the successful "get-tough-on-crime" platform to scare and manipulate voters into putting them in office or on the bench.

Politicians enacted laws and rules aimed exclusively at speeding up executions--by limiting appeals, implementing strict time limits, and making it virtually impossible for death row inmates to receive justice or relief. These "get tough" laws and rules caused executions to reach all-time highs and at much faster rates.

Due to the diligent efforts of abolitionists, an in-depth investigation by the Chicago Tribune, and a wave of innocent men being released from death row, Governor George Ryan, a staunch death penalty supporter, had to impose the nation’s first moratorium on executions. The shock waves from this decision thrust the death penalty into the national spotlight--exposing its injustices and faults and giving many of us death row inmates a tremendous amount of hope of having the system abolished.

Polls indicated that support for the death penalty began to decline and an outraged public expressed its concerns by favoring a moratorium to have the system fully examined.

In an attempt to restore public confidence in America’s Killing Machine, all three branches of government and a host of civilian groups and organizations have been trying to trick the public into believing that the system could work, by repairing it with reforms. Incredibly, they’re trying to accomplish this hoax without retracting the Number One problem facing death row inmates--the unjust "get tough" laws and rules designed solely to kill faster. Don’t believe the reform hype!

These oppressors will say or do anything to continue their reign of oppression, and we must not allow them to get away with tricking the public. We must continue to stand up against them and let the public know: Don’t believe the reform hype. The death penalty is too flawed to fix.

Please send questions and comments to:
Stanley Howard
P.O. Box 99, Pontiac, IL 61764.