Why I am a monthly sustainer

Interview with Lawrence Foster, Sr.

By: Randi Jones Hensley

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) stays afloat financially through our monthly sustainer program.

This program makes it easy for everyone to be a part of the fight to abolish the death penalty, no matter where you are or how limited your time is. Once a month, funds are automatically taken out of your account or charged to your credit card, and donated to the CEDP. These funds are used for publishing the New Abolitionist, taking prisoner phone calls, putting on the national CEDP tours, sending out mailings, and sustaining the work at the national office.

To join this important program contact Lily Hughes at lily@nodeathpenalty.org or visit our Web site at nodeathpenalty.org and download the form to mail in. You can donate as little as $5 a month—$10 or more if you are able.

Every donation is appreciated so much. At present, we have 120 sustainers, and we thank each and every one of you for helping the CEDP do what it does each and every day.

This month, we want to give the chance for one of our monthly sustainers, Lawrence Foster, to share with you why he chooses to donate monthly to the CEDP. Lawrence, who is 87 years old, is the grandfather of Kenneth Foster Jr. In 2007, Kenneth was scheduled to be executed in Texas on August 30. Lawrence, along with other family and activists and Kenneth himself, fought hard to urge Governor Perry to commute Kenneth’s sentence.

Texas is known as the “belly of the beast” when it comes to executions. Rick Perry had never granted clemency before, unless the courts effectively made the de- cision for him. Perry was forced to do the

right thing because of significant public pressure. Kenneth Foster’s commutation showed us that the Texas death machine is vulnerable to pressure. We talked to Lawrence Foster about the fight to save his grandson, the important work of the CEDP, and why he became a monthly sustainer.

Why did you join the monthly sustainer program?

Because I’m concerned with eliminating the death penalty. Anything I can do to further this cause, I will do it because I believe it is a very good cause.

Why is this issue so important?

There are a number of individuals who are on death row or had a death sentence, and it’s really not fair. I don’t approve of the death penalty in itself because I don’t believe any man has the right to take an- other man’s life.

It has been proven in some instances that an innocent life was taken by the death penalty. I am concerned that this will happen again. We’re humans. Humans make mistakes. Juries can make mistakes and convict people who don’t deserve it.

What is so special about the CEDP?

I have been in other groups, but as far as taking action on things, the CEDP knows what needs to be done and takes action immediately. Even if it may take a long time to see results, they remain consistent in what they do. My grandson was on death row. I believe that it was the effort put forth by the CEDP that saved his life. I don’t think he would be alive if it wasn’t for this organization.

How did your family and the CEDP save Kenneth?

We launched a letter-writing campaign, held marches, met with different officials. If it hadn’t been for all of this, nobody would have heard of Kenny. His case is now known worldwide because of what this organization has done. I am pleased with this.

You have now been to the CEDP’s annual convention in Chicago a couple of times. What is that event like for you?

It is a great event. People come together in a tremendous way. I was well pleased with it. Whenever the opportunity arises, I will make myself available for that event.

Even though Kenneth is no longer facing execution, you still remain committed to the fight to abolish the death penalty. Why?

I am concerned about humanity in itself. Even though I had a relative in that situa- tion who has been removed from death row, and there are others in the same situ- ation. Others are innocent or have com- mitted crimes that should not be punish- able by death. The fight must continue for others who are out there. This is a na- tionwide—no, a worldwide fight. Even if the death penalty is stopped here in Texas, where it is amplified, we are concerned with abolition in all states.

Any words you want to leave us with?

I will continue to support this cause fi- nancially, and with any facet of my body. Any way I can.