October 2009 Issue 49

Articles in this Issue:

Freedom after 21 years!

Marvin Reeves and Ronnie Kitchen (L-R)
By: Marlene Martin

Stunned and overjoyed activists, family members and lawyers waited  outside Cook County jailhouse on July 7 to greet Ronnie Kitchen and  Marvin Reeves as they took their first steps as free men in more than 21 years.

Ronnie, who spent 13 of those 21 years on Illinois' death row, suffered  abuse at the hands of Jon Burge, the notorious police commander who  presided over two decades of systematic torture of Black men by his  officers. He was convicted largely on the basis of a confession coerced from him.

Big win for Troy Davis

Martina Correia
By: Patrick Dyer

The U.S. Supreme Court interrupted its summer recess on August 17 to announce a shocking decision in Troy Davis’ favor. The decision forces a federal judge in the southern district court of Georgia to review evidence that the Georgia death row prisoner is innocent.

Mark Clements wins his freedom

Mark Clements was just 16 years old when Chicago police beat him in an interrogation room at Area Three in 1981. As a result of the beating, he signed a false confession to an arson that killed four people. Due to his age, he was not eligible for the death penalty, so instead, he was sentenced to life without parole.

Register now for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s Ninth Annual Convention

Join us!  Two days of lively discussion

November 7 and 8
Ida Noyes Hall, University of Chicago campus
1212 E. 59th St. at Woodlawn
Chicago, Illinois

The Costella Cannon Scholarship Fund

We have limited scholarship funds available to help cover the costs of travel for former prisoners and family members attending the convention.

To request a scholarship application or for more information, please call the office at (773) 955-4841.

PLEASE DONATE to the scholarship fund! Your generosity will help make it possible for former prisoners and family members to come to the CEDP’s convention.

You can make a check or money order out to CEDP and mail to:

PO Box 25730
Chicago, IL 60625

Home, but not free yet

By: Carter Pagel

The good news? In June, a judge ordered the immediate release of Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen, two men wrongfully accused of murder in the infamous Austin Yogurt Shop case. The bad news?  Despite a complete lack of evidence, the charges against the men still have not been dropped.

The other death penalty

By: Kenneth E. Hartman

The Other Death Penalty Project is led and composed solely of prisoners serving life without the possibility of parole.  Their goal is to raise awareness of the basic unfairness of the life-without-parole sentence and to organize to end it.

The Other Death Penalty Project
P.O. Box 1486
Lancaster, CA 93584

The power of the people

Howard Zinn
By: Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn -- author, historian and activist -- will give the keynote speech on “The Power of the People” at the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s annual convention in Chicago on Saturday, November 7. He is the author of the brilliant book A People’s History of the United States, among many others. Sportswriter Dave Zirin will moderate the speech.

Voices from the Inside

A death row interview with Rodney Reed

Rodney Reed has the most highly profiled case on Texas death row, which is gaining national support behind his innocence. With overwhelming evidence pointing to a police officer having committed the crime Rodney was convicted for, Reed remains on death row for a crime no one believes he committed.

Voices from the Inside

Suffering a thousand deaths nightly

By: Herminio Serna

I’ve always wondered how much of life’s burdens I’ll be able to carry before stumbling under their weight. I can still remember the first weight being placed upon my shoulders at a young age in my life -- young, poor, new immigrant, new language, school, work, clothes... you know, regular life burdens of a 7 year old.

Highlights Of The Struggle

Reports From Campaign Chapters Around The Country

By Bethaney Wright

We have achieved a significant victory in the fight to win justice for Troy Davis. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered a lower federal court to hear supporting Troy’s claim of innocence.  Because he has had several previous stays of execution, we decided that it was of the utmost urgency to increase momentum and inform as many people as possible about the case in order to build support.

Reginald Blanton must not die!

By: Randi Jones

Reginald Blanton, a Texas death row prisoner, is facing an execution date of October 27, despite the fact that he very likely is an innocent man.

Reginald was convicted of killing Carlos Garza during a robbery. However, much of the case against Reginald is worse than shoddy. Reginald, who is African American, did not have an impartial jury -- there was a jury shuffle that resulted in all African Americans being deliberately excluded.

Keeping it Real

Criminal justice reform

By: pardoned Illinois death row prisoner Stanley Howard

It’s really frustrating to be trapped in the belly of this cruel beast, while the cries and screams for justice and reforms continue to fall on deaf ears.

In March 2000, shortly after declaring a moratorium on executions in Illinois, Gov. George Ryan appointed a commission to determine what reforms would ensure that the criminal justice system and its death penalty are fair, just and accurate.

Where is the justice for Kevin Cooper?

By: Crystal Bybee and Pat Foley

In May 2009, Kevin Cooper was denied a hearing of the full court by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  However, Kevin got support from 11 justices, a substantial minority, who signed powerful dissents against the denial.

Judge Fletcher, who wrote the main dissenting opinion, began with these words: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.”

No right way to do the wrong thing

By: Pat Foley

On June 30, 2009, the state of California held a federally mandated public hearing in the State Capitol building on the issue of changing the lethal injection procedure.

Over 100 people spoke for over six hours, and many more sent in written comments.  CEDP Bay Area members were there to give comments, and we brought comments from family members to the hearing. Below are three excerpts: