Highlights of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty National Convention 2007

Dead man walking: The journey continues

By: Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty held its seventh annual convention on November 10 and 11 in Chicago, with 100 people from across the country attending.

The two-day convention was packed with emotion, sorrow, determination and inspiration from the very beginning, when Kenneth Foster Sr. gave greetings to the convention and read a speech written by his son, Kenneth Foster Jr., who was himself pulled from the clutches of the death penalty's grip just a few months ago.

There were more than a dozen plenary and workshop sessions, with special guest speakers, former death row prisoners, family members of those on death row, plus Campaign members from around the country.

In this issue, we are printing excerpts from the speeches of some of the speakers at this year’s convention.

SISTER HELEN PREJEAN
Dead man walking: The journey continues

Sister Helen Prejean is an author and activist against the death penalty. She wrote the book Dead Man Walking, which was made into an award-winning movie, as well as The Death of Innocents; she has another book due out this year.

We are here with heroes. We are here with people who sat in death row cells and were innocent, and didn’t become so embittered and lose their souls and their personalities, but are back out in society.

We are here with innocent people. We are here with families who have loved ones on death row and are standing up for them. And we are blessed enough to be awake in this society where so many are sleeping. We are blessed to be awake.

This is the new abolitionist movement. The old abolitionist movement was against slavery, and now, it’s to keep the government from killing people, because we know that that killing is the tip of an iceberg.

All the facts that are coming out about prisons now--2.2 million people in prison, 5 million on probation and parole, and I don’t know how many million in juvenile institutions. One in every thirty-two adults in the United States is in the prison system. One in every three young African American men aged 18 to 29 is in the prison system.

The death penalty sits on the top of it, but we have these concentration camps all across this country.

And who is benefiting from those concentration camps? We know that more and more private industry is going into the concentration camps that we call prisons. And meanwhile, the social fabric is being shredded. Meanwhile, you destroy affordable housing in New Orleans.

All of this is part of the fabric of working for justice in this country, which we are coming to see how everything is connected. We cannot be neutral in the face of injustice.

When I wrote Dead Man Walking and did the research, I found out that the Justice Department gets more complaints about police brutality in New Orleans than any other city in the United States. We imprison people for longer sentences in Louisiana than any other state. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, and Louisiana is at the tip of it. “Long lay the sea of slavery,” as Martin Luther King said in his book.

Where do we go from here: Chaos or community? How do you declare slaves emancipated in an agriculture society if you don’t give them land? You’re free now? Free to do what? And as you know, most slaves went back to the plantation owners because where were you going to go? You are going to starve.

You look at the prison system, and you know Jesse Jackson and other people call it legalized slavery, which indeed it is.

I was shocked when I read the constitution and the amendment that abolished slavery. Do you know that it says, “except those who are incarcerated and those who were indentured servants”? Slavery has not been abolished, because people are in prison, even in the amendment in the Constitution that abolished slavery. I never knew that.

But when you start getting involved in people’s lives, and you start looking into the law, and you start looking into the constitution because you want to know what our rights are, you realize we are going to need to fight for this. We are going to have to work for this. We are going to have to educate people for this. It doesn’t come to us naturally.

I think people die young because they are so trivialized. One trivial thing after another. Did you make the payment on our house over there? Did you do this? Did you do that? We are not made to live for trivial things. We are made to live for something big, and justice is big, and helping to change a society is big.

When I went to live in the St. Thomas housing project, another great gift St. Thomas gave me, besides opening my eyes to see the other America and my suffering brothers and sisters, was I read the life of Dorothy Day.

She became a Catholic. But for a long time, she didn’t become a Catholic because she only saw wealthy people hanging out in the Catholic Church and going to dinner with the bishop. The only ones she saw involved with the poor were the communists, so she’s hanging out with the communists, and joins the Communist Party, because they were the only ones doing things for the poor. And then she gets involved with the poor in New York, and starts soup kitchens and a newspaper, the Catholic Worker.

And here I am living with the people in St. Thomas. And then, when I go with my family, like at Thanksgiving, or when I’m with my friends over in the white suburbs, I try to tell them stories, and they all had these stereotypical pictures of all the people who were in St. Thomas, and they are scared.

I said to myself, “I have to start telling those people’s stories. I have to put a face on those people, so people can understand what it’s like.” What it’s like to get welfare payments in Louisiana, where you can barely even scrape things together. And it was during the Reagan years, when they were putting people through all of these bureaucratic steps to try to get people off welfare. It was just oppressing people.

I began to learn how to write--how you write and how you tell a story to show a human face and what happens to people when a mama with a sick child has got to sit for six to eights hours in Charity Hospital until an intern who is learning medicine finally comes.

And there is that sick and fevered child, sitting there by his mama in that hard waiting room fold-out chair--waiting to be seen by a doctor, as if health care isn’t a right in this country. It is a luxury in this country to people who can afford it, and poor people don’t have health care. So I began to write, I learned to write.

One of the problems in this country is we don’t feel outrage over the death of everybody. We feel outrage in the way the system works--outrage most often when it is someone of status and someone who looks like us, and most of the criminal justice system is white--the judges, the DA’s, the juries.

So when white people get killed, the outrage is felt, and ultimate penalties are sought.

I noticed that when I was at St. Thomas. Kenny Singleton got into an argument right outside his sister’s window. He and a guy were arguing over sunglasses, one guy went up to his apartment, and bang, bang, bang--everybody has guns. Bang, bang, bang, and Kenny Singleton drops down on the sidewalk, his blood on the sidewalk.

We looked all through the paper to see an account of Kenny Singleton’s death. It wasn’t even in the Times Picayune. But other people, when they were killed, white people, you’d always have a picture. Always the front-page story. I began to notice this.

I began to meet the victim’s families, and I did one concrete act--one that was so small. We started a murder victims’ survivors support group in New Orleans, and that’s when I learned about race.

Because it was made up of 40 people, mostly African American women, many of them from our neighborhood in St. Thomas, and all of them had people killed. Shirley Carr had two sons killed within six months, and here we are at the meetings. And there they are, and none of them expected justice from the DA’s office in New Orleans.

In fact, not only was the death penalty not sought for any of these murders, they never even came to trial. One of the mothers had to watch every day where the young guy who had shot and killed her son was going about his merry way. They didn’t even send investigators out.

If you don’t care about the life of a person, you don’t care about the death of a person. I learned from them. I learned a lot about how race causes whole, huge problems. And those of us who are white and privileged, we have been cushioned and protected, and we have resources.

We’re not bad people. It’s just that we have to recognize that we are never going to be walking into a room as a white person, and have somebody look at us funny. They may not like us because of our personality or what we do, but they are never going to look at us funny simply because we are a white person.

What we have to pray for is that we’re so on fire with this injustice that we can work the rest of our days to change things in America. That’s what we’ve got to pray for. And when we come to conferences like this, and when we are in the presence of other people who are working for justice, we do it because we need to keep the fire lit.

We need to be on the edge, organizing and acting for justice, and we can’t quit.

KENNETH FOSTER SR. AND BRYAN McCANN
The fight for Kenneth Foster

Kenneth Foster Jr. was scheduled to die on August 30, 2007 in Texas. He came within six hours of being executed before Gov. Rick Perry granted his appeal for clemency.

Kenneth had been sent to death row even though he never killed anyone. But because Kenneth was the driver of a car that carried the man who committed a murder, under Texas’ “Law of Parties,” Kenneth was charged with capital murder. A struggle that involved Kenneth’s family members along with anti-death penalty activists put pressure on Perry that he couldn’t ignore, and he commuted Kenneth’s sentence.

The CEDP convention heard speeches from Kenneth’s father, Kenneth Foster Sr., and Bryan McCann, a member of the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and a leading activist in the struggle for Kenneth.

Bryan McCann

This was a huge victory, and importantly, even lawyers--who you know are not typically fond of activists--will be the first to admit that it was the movement around this case that saved the life of Kenneth Foster. Not legal maneuvering, not political lobbying, but organizing in the streets, acts of civil disobedience, putting Nydesha Foster [Kenneth’s daughter] out there, and speaking to the humanity of a man like Kenneth Foster and to the politics of a man like Kenneth Foster.

Texas said, “Death row,” and we, in no uncertain terms, said “Hell no!” in Texas. And at the heart of our movement wasn’t only the activists, but the family of Kenneth Foster and Kenneth himself.

Kenneth managed to organize, along with people like Rob Will and Gabrielle Gonzalez, the men on Texas’s death row to stage nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, and to reach out to people on the outside to help them organize against these conditions.

It was Kenneth’s bravery and his depth of analysis about the capital punishment system in Texas that initially drew the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to him. But in addition to Kenneth’s bravery was also the bravery of his family. Nydesha Foster, Lawrence Foster, and his father, Kenneth Foster Sr., were bold in putting themselves on the line, always being the first to speak to the media and at rallies.

In the words of Katie Feyh, one of our chapter member in Texas, this was a case in which activists became family and family became activists. It was a life-altering, life-changing experience that taught us a lot about politics, but also taught us a lot about ourselves.

It is in that spirit that I want to introduce our next speaker, a man who bravely stepped up for his son in no uncertain terms and would not step back until he saved the life of his son. It is my deep honor to introduce to you the father of Kenneth Foster, Kenneth Foster Sr.

Kenneth Foster Sr.

Thank you. It is an honor to be here. This is my first trip here, and I couldn’t wait to get here. And I see we have some wonderful people from all over.

I just first want to say that I am Kenneth Foster Sr., the father of Kenneth Foster Jr., whose sentence was commuted from death to life by the governor on August 30 of this year. Kenneth sent me some words to present to you all.

Before I do, I want to say that we educate one another. Believe me, I’ve been educated this morning. I want this thing to spread. I want it to spread to where you’re sitting in your home, or if you’re in Wal-Mart, or if you’re in Dillard’s, or wherever you are you, and you’re looking at the news on the TV, and they say, “Well, we are seeking the death penalty.” What do you here say? “Hell no!” I don’t care where you’re at, say, “Hell no!”

I’m serious. I am serious about this, that we want this to connect not just in Texas but throughout the United States and the world. We want it to connect, and I would like for everybody to honestly take that to heart. Let’s kick that off from this moment on, because the killing has to stop. It is just legalized murder.

But I am going to start with Kenneth. He couldn’t be here. He would like to have been here, but I am going to read his words that he had for everybody to hear:

“A solidarity message to the CEDP: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Those were the words of my close friend, John Amador, as he was strapped to the gurney and filled with poison on August the 29th. Keep in mind that Kenneth was scheduled to be executed the following day, merely hours later. I would find myself dragged into the same catacomb by men who seem to do this without thought or emotion.

“Lying on the floor, wrists bruised by the metal cuffs digging deep down into my flesh, I could only think of the two men that Texas had just murdered, and not of myself. Sickness and disdain rose in my stomach. If we, the condemned, are animals, then what are those who carry out the executions?

“These are just a few thoughts that I had as I came within six hours of my own state-sanctioned murder. I have repeatedly tried to write my thoughts down about that day. Each time, I find a new detail and maybe leave one out. I explore it. I try to remember the smells, the dim lights, the Bible--no other religious books, mind you.

“I think about how I wanted to spit on the execution chamber door as I walked out, but I didn’t. I tried to remember how the sky looked when I came out of the Walls Unit, a liberated man from death row. It’s there, deep inside like lava in a volcano, steaming and bubbling under the surface.

“I share these thoughts with you because they are no longer private. This is my choice, though, because when I embrace struggle, my life became walking history. As Howard Zinn said, history can help our struggles if not conclusively, then at least suggestively.

“And what my history suggests, once again, as Zinn said, is that people when organized have enormous power--more than any government, as was demonstrated by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty from May 30 to August 30 of this year. No other organization did what they did. No other group in Texas took it to the level they did.

“What does this say about the Campaign? It means we are dealing with a new, high-caliber activist group, one that understands that actions must not only be organized, but also concerted and aggressive. The CEDP realizes that it is going to take more than candle-holding to abolish the death penalty. And while I have one of the strongest spiritual foundations that you can imagine, remember that faith without works is dead.

“I guess we should anticipate that the Texas politicians have lost their damned minds, and we need to combat them with vigor and visions. Because as James Baldwin said, “Without vision the people perish.” But we did not perish. In fact, in my case, 7,285 people petitioned Texas with dissent and disapproval.

“That’s what we are asking of you today--to help the anti-death penalty movement, be it by a donation, a petition or lending a helping hand. We cannot to expect fantasy miracles.

“Miracles are the manifestations of movements, and I am here as a living testimony that either we are going to move or die. It’s up to us to change. No more talk, no more stagnation, no more passivity.”

Those were special words from my son Kenneth to all of you. I know we all understand this thing is much bigger than Kenneth Foster. This thing goes on and on and on. We have to continue to fight.

HAROLD WILSON
I was one of those persons

Harold Wilson spent 17 years wrongfully incarcerated in Pennsylvania, 15 of them on death row. In 2005, he was exonerated and released, becoming the 122nd person freed from death row since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

Hello, my name is Harold Wilson. I am the 122nd exonerated death row prisoner in the U.S., and I am the sixth exonerated death row prisoner in Pennsylvania. Now I am a public speaker.

On November 15, 2005, I was released from the back of the county prison with 65 cents and a token, and I have been unemployed but involved in death penalty issues, moratoriums, marches, protests, speeches, law schools, colleges, churches.

November 15, 2007, will be my two-year anniversary here in society, and right now, I am still fighting race discrimination issues in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The city of Philadelphia is built on its racism, and its cruel and unusual ways of silencing the blood of the poor. You know, it’s always this race to execution--in Pennsylvania, in Florida, Texas, Alabama. Wherever you have the death penalty, you have this race to punish--to silence the blood of the poor. And racism is real. Racism exists.

 Just like we need abolitionists, we need attorneys who fight for individuals like myself after exoneration. I got to fight appeal after appeal for health insurance. I need to be okay and to be on the front line of this movement to help my brothers and sisters who remain on death row, and the death rows around the state of Pennsylvania.

I get my healing from speaking out. I wasn’t in my right mindset when I came here. It was all about me. It was about my agenda--the problems that I have.

But I heard these people come up here and express their feelings about their loved ones, those who still remain on death row. So it ain’t about whether I make my deadline for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s about this movement--keeping on, staying on the front line, being strong. It’s about saving those souls that nobody else gives a damn about, and I was one of those persons.

I did not have a death penalty coalition to help me when I was hollering out and I was writing to sports networks. I was brought up around Mumia Abu-Jamal, so he taught me how to network, but nobody listened to me.

You know, one of the worst parts of my confinement was watching the suffering of others. Because the way I was brought up, we would be playing in the playground or in sand piles together, and we got cuts and scrapes. I couldn’t bear the sight to see my friends and the people around me with cuts and bruises.

To be thrust on death row, you know, you can’t kick the doors or holler and scream that I’m innocent, because we got jailhouse rats, we got snitches, we got security staff members to come and testify on you, saying, “I heard this, I heard that.”

They inflict cruel and unusual punishment on poor people--the people who don’t have the voice. I stand here, and I represent the voice of the voiceless, those who remain on death row.

My son is a Marine. He is in the military; he served two years in Iraq, and that was one of the second torments of my confinement. Trying to educate him on the lies of Bush, and why are you taking a pledge to kill innocent people, women and children. I wrote to him, and I said, “You know, I just came from that place where you were trained, Abu Ghraib.” The same officers that practice at Abu Ghraib started out at SCI Greene, where I was housed.

I stand here suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. And I can’t get nobody in society to treat me. So I get my healing and I get my therapy from speaking out, and from listening to you all, to you other speakers. And I want you to know that I am going to be there for you. I will never be free in this society as long as I am a ghost that your society cannot see, and I want to be seen.

DARRELL CANNON
I can’t stand the air that them cops breathe

Darrell Cannon was tortured by Chicago police under the command of Jon Burge. The police used their fists, boots and electric shocks, and threatened to shoot him, putting a shotgun in his mouth. On the basis of a coerced confession, he was convicted and spent over 23 years in prison before he was released in April 2007.

Thank you for allowing me to address this forum this afternoon. My name is Darrell Cannon. I have just completed 23 years and five months. I just got out of prison April of this year.

I was tortured from about seven-thirty in the morning to about three-thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about it. Sometimes it’s difficult to relive this particular nightmare, mainly because during those 23 years, I lost my mother, my father, two nephews who were like little brothers to me, and a countless number of friends to the death angels. And not one time was I ever allowed to come home to kiss, to touch them one more time.

I continue to speak out and fight about this particular issue because it’s important not only to me, but to all those who have a natural life sentence, as well as those who are still on death row here in the state of Illinois.

I have often been asked, why do you still go through this after all these years? Well, if you had been in my shoes, then you could understand.

For the last nine years, I’ve have been in Supermax--they call it the Tamms Supermax in downstate Illinois. My bed consisted of a concrete block and a mattress that was about a couple inches thick.

Tamms is designed to break you, mentally as well as physically. You have no physical contact with anyone. You’re in a single cell to yourself. I’ve seen young brothers come down there who couldn’t handle Tamms--as a result, they tried to kill themselves. At nighttime, you can hear them screaming and hollering.

They got about five or six different brothers down there now, and they’ve gotten used to maybe once a month, they all get together in the infirmary. Now, the only way that you get to the infirmary is that you got to have blood coming out of your body. So they find ways to just cut themselves so that the officer will see this, and take them to the infirmary, where they spend the weekend.

Every time I thought about what Burge did to me and the reason for me being in prison, it fueled a lot of anger, a lot of hostility. I would not stand here today and tell any of you that I’m at peace, because I’m not. I’m not.

Am I angry? Yes. I used to often say, “I can’t stand the air that them cops that tortured me breathe.” But my lawyers asked me to quit saying that because they could use that in court to say, “Well, look, this man is dangerous.” But I’m not dangerous--it’s just that I don’t like the air they breathe. I ain’t saying anything about doing anything to them.

My peace will come the day that the City of Chicago does one of two things--give me a couple million dollars, or give me my trial.

We have a lawsuit pending, and this time, [Chicago Mayor Richard] Daley can’t get away because I have named him as a defendant in this case. Because when I got locked up, Daley was the head of the state’s attorney’s office. He knew about me being tortured.

He can’t say that he didn’t know who Darrell Cannon was, because we have news articles in which the newspapers asked Daley about Darrell Cannon, and he made specific statements about me. So I got that son of a gun, you know--he won’t squirm away from this.

And everyone connected with the death penalty--please know that this is crucial that you stay the course, because in my case, at any time, if I would’ve broke down and gave up, I wouldn’t be here today. I would still be in prison. But I refused to give up.

I’m blessed to have had a team of lawyers that refused to give up as well. My mother used to always say, “Everything is in divine order.” I keep that in mind, too. You know, everyone who I’ve lost helped me get through to this very day. I should be half crazy.

I’ve always said that I’m not a saint. I’ve did my share of dirt. I paid for it. But when you’re tortured, and you’re put in prison for something you didn’t do, that’s the one that eats you every day. Every day.

I thought about the detectives that tortured me on a regular basis every day for 23 years--every day. And I will never forgive. I will never be at peace.

I wasn’t on death row here in Illinois, but I knew a lot of people that were. I had natural life, and natural life in Illinois means that if the courts don’t overturn your case, then you die in prison.

Well, I ain’t dead, and I’m here. So in closing, in the same way that I refused to give up for 23 years and five months, I ask that everyone here never give up.

SANDRA REED
Fighting for my son’s freedom

Sandra Reed is the mother of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed, who has been unjustly imprisoned on death row for the past decade. Sandra and her family have worked with the Campaign to organize protests, forums, movie showings and more to try to win justice for Rodney. Sandra is a board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Rodney's lawyers will present oral arguments to the Texas Court of Criminal appeals on February 6th.

 I am from that sour belly of the beast in Texas. Some of you don’t know my son’s story. I have a son on death row by the name of Rodney Reed.

In 1998, my son was tried by an all-white jury and wrongfully convicted of a crime that he did not commit. He was accused of murdering and strangling a young white lady by the name of Stacey Stites. Stacey was engaged to a police officer while dating my son. It is a known fact that the police officer Jimmy Fennell had threatened her if she was caught cheating on him, and he said that he would kill her.

On April 23, 1996, Stacey was found murdered on a dirt road. A year later, in April 1997, the police came to my house looking for Rodney. I took him to jail myself, believing in the so-called justice system.

Within 12 hours, four Texas rangers came to his cell and demanded blood. Within 18 hours, the sheriff claimed they had the murderer of Stacey Stites.

There were fingerprints. There were footprints. There was even hair left on her pubic area. None belonged to Rodney.

It is a known fact that Jimmy Fennell failed two polygraph tests when asked, “Did you murder Stacey Stites?” It is also a known fact that the truck that Stacey was driving was returned back to her fiancé, and he sold the truck the next day.

While waiting a year for the trial, Judge Townslee placed me under a gag order. Therefore, I couldn’t talk about the case with anybody. When it came time for trial, the judge, the prosecutors, made me a potential witness for the prosecution. They didn’t call me. It was the game; that was in order to keep me out of the courtroom. That was in order for my son not to have his motherly support.

The state has had 28 suspects. One of them was the first investigator at the scene. The first initial investigator at the scene was one of the 28 suspects--and four months after her death is supposed to have committed suicide.

Rodney had witnesses that were never called. They would have testified about knowing of Stacey and Rodney’s affair, but they were never called.

Rodney’s court-appointed lawyers did nothing for him. It is known that the same court-appointed lawyers and the same prosecutor, Lisa Tanner, are doing death penalty cases in the same manner all over central Texas.

Suppressed evidence such as a DNA on a beer can found at the crime scene implicated two police officers, showing that they drank from the same can with the deceased. This was suppressed.

It was lies, deceit, greed and racism that put my son on death row.

It’s now been 10 long years of fighting for my son’s freedom. I first want to thank my son for being so strong. I feed off of his strength. He feeds off of mine.

I didn’t have any money. I didn’t know who to talk to--all I know is I have a God. And I asked him to help me, and he inspired me to write to the local newspaper. I told them everything that had been done to me and my son. There was an editor from a nearby town who read this article, and she believed it.

A few months passed, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty contacted me. Since then, I’ve been on a mission. I’ve learned by doing this that you don’t have to have money to make a change. All you need is your tongue, your voice.

Put it out there. Put them on the defensive. Tell the truth. That’s what we need: the courage to speak out.

This is what the Campaign has done for me. I had no idea that I would be speaking before all these people. I just never would’ve thought that I could do it. But I was encouraged by the Campaign to speak out and let the world know what’s wrong, the wrong that was done, so someone will hear, someone will understand.

If it hadn’t been for the Campaign, Rodney wouldn’t have gotten the exposure that he has, and he would possibly have been executed two or three years ago.

I’ve met many people who I will always love and cherish for the rest of my life. And I would encourage anyone who has a friend or loved one on death row, or even just behind bars wrongfully convicted, to join the local Campaign and be heard.

I want to give you an update of what’s happening. As of Tuesday of this week, after 10 long years, they launched an internal investigation on this police officer. Yes, and he’s fired--he is no longer a police officer.

But you know, I still have this fight, and I will keep fighting. I won’t stop. We won’t stop until the death penalty is no longer in existence. Thank you.

Many thanks to Jeff Bukowski and Nicole Rothaupt for their invaluable help in transcribing convention speeches!

What we’re doing this year

Delegates at the convention voted in favor of the following national initiatives for the coming year.

-- National tour 2009. Delegates voted in favor of launching a national tour to start in the fall of 2008 to run through 2009. The theme of the tour is to be determined. In the board meeting, a proposed theme for this year was the issue of torture. The board wants to solicit other ideas for the theme, so please send ideas to marlene@nodeathpenalty.org

-- Finance Committee. A finance committee will be formed under the direction of Crystal Bybee, a board member of the CEDP and member of the Oakland chapter. This committee is set the task of bolstering our monthly sustainer base and exploring new ways to acquire funding.

Other board members also on the committee include Alice Kim, Liliana Segura, Greta Holmes, Julien Ball, Derrel Myers and Pat Foley. Randi Jones from Austin is also a part of this committee.

This is an important area of work for the CEDP. While we have a good crew of folks so far, we can still use more! So if you’d like to join, you can reach the coordinator, Crystal at crystal@nodeathpenalty.org

-- Working convention. Delegates voted to make the coming year’s convention a “working” convention. It will retain many of the features of our current convention. Mainly, outside speakers and publicity will be scaled back. Board members who will be working on the convention committee include Marlene Martin, Jeannine Scott and Lee Wengraf. We invite others to join us. Contact Marlene@nodeathpenalty.org if you’d like to work on this.

-- People’s Tribunal. Delegates voted in favor of endorsing a people’s tribunal event initiated by Barbara Becnel and Alice Kim that will feature exonerees’ family members and others. It will also examine the state of the criminal justice system. The event will take place on the anniversary of Stanley Tookie Williams’ execution, December 13, 2008, and will likely take place in California. More folks will be needed for this committee, so if you are interested, please contact Alice Kim at akim007@speakeasy.net

-- Exploratory Committee. Delegates voted in favor of forming a committee to explore the possibility of organizing a demonstration/action to take place in the spring of 2008 in Washington D.C. This committee will contact other organizations to see if any would be interested in working on this kind of action with us. The committee is being led by Spring Super from the NYC CEDP. Other members of the committee include Barbara Becnel, Mike Stark, Derrel Myers and Katie Feyh. You can contact Spring at Spring@springsuper.com

-- NCADP Conference. Delegates voted in favor of some CEDPers taking part in the upcoming conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which will be held in California in January 2008.

-- Published position. Delegates voted in favor of publishing a statement on our position on lethal injection. CEDP Board member Liliana Segura has agreed to work on this.

-- Also, while not voted on as a national initiative, the board discussed and decided on setting up two important committees. Sandra Reed in conjunction with Kenneth Foster Sr. is forming a family members’ committee to do outreach to family members of those on death row. And Board members Yusef Salaam and Mike Stark are setting up a committee to work on the CEDP Web site. Hooman Hedayati from the Austin CEDP has agreed to be a part of this committee.

-- Board of Directors. Those voted to be on this year’s board of directors include: includes: Barbara Becnel, Crystal Bybee, Pat Foley, Greta Holmes, Alice Kim, Marlene Martin, Derrel Myers, Sandra Reed, Yusef Salaam, Jeannine Scott, Liliana Segura, Mike Stark and Lee Wengraf. Darby Tillis will be an honorary board member.