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Todd Willingham was wrongfully executed under Governor Rick Perry on February 17, 2004.

donatetodewaynebrownAfter more than ten years on Texas death row for a crime he did not commit, Alfred Dewayne Brown walked free and into the loving arms of his family and friends on June 8, 2015. “I went in an innocent man and I came out an innocent man,” said Brown. Now, he needs your help so that he can rebuild his life. Can you please help him?

Donate to Help Texas Death Row Survivor Alfred Dewayne Brown.

Together with other friends, we have created a fundraising campaign for Dewayne on Indiegogo. In 2004, we conducted a fundraising campaign for Ernest Willis when he was released from Texas death row. We raised $1,000 for Ernest. In 2010, we conducted a campaign to raise funds to help Anthony Graves. We raised $3,500 for Anthony (watch video). Now, we are setting a goal of $5,000 to raise for Alfred Dewayne Brown.

Click to donate. Everything donation gets us closer to making Dewayne’s transition from death row to freedom a little easier.

Alfred Dewayne Brown has been placed on the Death Penalty Information Center’s Innocence List as Exoneree #154.

Lisa Falkenberg, a columnist for the Houston Chronicle, took notice of Dewayne and wrote a series of articles concerning his case and the Grand Jury. Making waves around the world and winning the coveted Pulitzer Prize for her series, Ms. Falkenberg has shed light on the barbaric Grand Jury system in Harris County, from threatening witnesses to using ex-cops to serve as foreman (on nine juries). It took the new DA, Devon Anderson, seven months and two days, to announce that Harris County has no evidence to bring charges against Dewayne and he should be set free.

Dewayne spent 12 years, 2 months and 5 days behind bars for something he had no part in. That is 4,449 days or 106,776 hours of his life that was stolen from him. Nearly every one of those days were spent in solitary in a cell no larger that a small bathroom. Living with the fact that he could be executed any day. Torn away from his family, not being able to be a father to his daughter. For this, the State of Texas needs to compensate Dewayne. But, because of the “clever” wording in the paperwork when Devon Anderson declared that Harris County has no evidence against Dewayne, it will be an uphill battle to win compensation. A battle that will not be won any time soon.

Click to donate.

This is where the people of the world come in. Dewayne needs your help now to get on his feet. He needs to rebuild his life that Harris County and the State of Texas stripped from him. Going straight from solitary to the “free world” is no easy task. He needs time to adjust being able to make decisions on his own, at a pace that is comfortable to him. We can never give these years back to Dewayne. But, we can help him manage more comfortably. Please give what you can. Everything makes a difference.

Read more about the day Dewayne was released here.

This is a typical cell on Texas death row where Dewayne lived in solitary confinement.

This is a typical cell on Texas death row where Dewayne lived in solitary confinement.

This fundraiser is being conducted with the consent of Dewayne Brown, who will receive all funds raised, minus the 3 percent charged by the credit card processing company. We have also obtained consent from Dewayne’s legal team. While Indiegogo Life doesn’t charge a fee, payments are handled by third-party processors who charge a 3% transaction fee.

At the end of the 30 day campaign, the donations will be transferred directly from the life.indiegogo.com system to a bank account set up by Dewayne’s legal team for his exclusive benefit.

The fundraiser organizers are a group of Texas death penalty abolitionists who want to help Dewayne. Organizers include Pat Hartwell, Scott Cobb, Hooman Hedayati, Gloria Rubac, Delia Perez Meyer, and Lily Hughes, as well as the organizations Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, and others to be listed as they endorse the fundraiser.

Nebraska has abolished its death penalty with an override of the Governor’s veto. Nebraska had a de facto moratorium on executions since 1997 when it carried out its last execution. Nebraska’s officially nonpartisan Legislature is comprised of 35 registered Republicans, 13 Democrats and an independent.

Every state that has abolished the death penalty in modern times has first had an official or de de facto moratorium, which is why we seek a moratorium on executions in Texas. Moratoriums allow time for people who support the death penalty to get used to not executing people and allows a time out for a discussion to abolish the death penalty.

Here in Texas during the 2015 Texas legislative session, we were able to persuade a Texas State Senator to file a bill to completely abolish the penalty for the first time ever in Texas history. While the Texas bill did not pass, it was a significant step in building support to abolish the death penalty in Texas to get a senator to file the bill.

From ABC News:

Nebraska abolished the death penalty on Wednesday in a landmark veto-override vote backed by an unusual coalition of conservatives who oppose capital punishment.

Senators in the one-house Legislature voted 30-19 to override Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican who supports the death penalty. The vote makes Nebraska the first traditionally conservative state to eliminate the punishment since North Dakota in 1973.

Nebraska joins 18 other states and the District of Columbia in banning the ultimate punishment.

Some senators said they philosophically support the death penalty, but are convinced the state will never carry out another execution because of legal obstacles. Nebraska hasn’t executed an inmate since a 1997 electrocution, and the state has never done so with its current lethal injection protocol.

 

duttonIn another success stemming from our lobby day back on March 3, Rep. Harold Dutton’s bill to ban the death penalty in law of parties cases (HB 341) has been approved by the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, which recommended that it “be reported favorably to the full house with the recommendation that it do pass”. The vote was 4-2. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted yes. One Republican and one Democrat voted no. And one Republican was absent.

The bi-partisan support for the bill bodes well for it to gain enough support to pass the entire House. Please contact your Texas state representative and urge them to support HB 341.

HB 341 was one of the bills that people lobbied for on the Statewide Texas Lobby Day to Abolish the Death Penalty on March 3. When the bill was heard in committee, we returned to the capitol to support it. One of the people who testified in support of it in the committee hearing was Terri Been, whose brother Jeff Wood is on death row in a law of parties case even though he did not kill anyone himself and did not intend anyone to be killed. He was outside in a car when another person killed a convenience store clerk.

Before it can reach the floor of the House for a vote by all the members of the House, it must first pass the Calendars Committee. Below are the members of the Calendars Committee.

Position Member
Chair: Rep. Todd Hunter
Vice Chair: Rep. Eddie Lucio III
Members: Rep. Roberto R. Alonzo
Rep. Byron Cook
Rep. Sarah Davis
Rep. Charlie Geren
Rep. Helen Giddings
Rep. Patricia Harless
Rep. Dan Huberty
Rep. Eric Johnson
Rep. Ken King
Rep. Lyle Larson
Rep. Four Price
Rep. Debbie Riddle
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez

HB 341

The chair laid out HB 341.

Representative Canales moved that HB 341, without amendments, be reported favorably to the full house with the recommendation that it do pass and be printed.  The motion prevailed by the following record vote:

Ayes:                           Representatives Herrero; Canales; Leach; Simpson (4).

Nays:                           Representatives Moody; Shaheen (2).

Present, Not Voting:   None (0).

Absent:                        Representative Hunter (1).

Rep. Harold Dutton’s HB 1032, a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas, is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The meeting room is E2.030. The hearing starts at 10:30 AM or upon adjournment of the Texas House of Representatives.

On the same day, the committee will also hear testimony on Dutton’s bill to ban the death penalty in law of parties cases, HB 341.

Anyone can attend the hearing and sign in to support the bills or even sign up to speak in support of the bills. You can also provide written testimony.

The order of the bills being heard is not known, so you should plan to spend time waiting in the committee room for the bills to be called up.

Rep Dutton first filed a bill to abolish the death penalty in 2003, which was the first abolition bill filed in the Texas Legislature in a long time up to that year. When no one else was willing to file a bill to abolish the death penalty, Rep Dutton stepped up in 2003 and filed an abolition bill. Everyone opposed to the death penalty should thank Rep Dutton for his leading role in the effort in the Texas Legislature to end the death penalty.

It was an exciting day back in 2003 when Dutton’s abolition bill was heard in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. That was the first time an abolition bill was heard in a Texas legislative Committee in the modern era, and maybe ever.

Rep Harold Dutton is pictured speaking at one of our Day of Innocence Lobby Days to Repeal the Death Penalty.

Below Rep Dutton speaks at the 2011 Day of Innocence. Behind him are six death row exonerees who spent years on death row for crimes they did not commit.

11-Eddie-Lucio-MUG_1176019a (1)

Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr has filed legislation to abolish the death penalty in Texas. This is the first time a state senator has ever filed legislation to completely abolish the death penalty in Texas. It happened because organizations in Texas held the Statewide Texas Lobby Day to Abolish the Death Penalty on March 3 and death row survivors Ron Keine and Sabrina Butler from Witness to Innocence and Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network met with Senator Lucio’s general counsel and requested that Senator Lucio file abolition legislation.

(There was an abolition bill filed in the Texas Senate in 1969, but it would not have completely abolished the death penalty.)

Here is a report from the Austin American-Statesman on our successful lobby day, which was widely covered in the media, including the Dallas Morning News, potentially reaching hundreds of thousands of people in Texas with our message.

Last summer, Senator Lucio attended the Democrats Against the Death Penalty caucus at the Texas Democratic Party state convention. The caucus has been held every year since 2004 when it was started by Scott Cobb. The caucus has proven to be an effective method for persuading Texas Democrats to make abolishing the death penalty a higher priority among both elected officials and ordinary people in the Texas Democratic Party.

In the coming weeks, we will be working with Senator Lucio’s staff as well as staff of the House sponsor of the abolition bill, to prepare for committee hearings on the abolition bills. When a hearing is held in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, it will be the first time ever for a hearing on abolishing the death penalty in the Texas Senate. It will be up to the chair of the committee to decide if a hearing is scheduled.

Here are links to the two pieces of legislation filed by Senator Lucio. One is a regular bill (SB 1661) and the other is a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 54).

Thank you to all the groups and people from across Texas who participated in our lobby day, including Texas Moratorium NetworkTexas Death Penalty Abolition MovementCampaign to End the Death PenaltyStudents Against the Death Penalty, and Witness to Innocence.

Thank you also to State Rep. Harold Dutton, who sponsored the Day of Innocence and who has filed an abolition bill in the Texas House of Representatives every session since 2003.

If anyone would like to thank Senator Lucio for filing his abolition proposals, you can contact him through this form on his website.

By: Lucio S.J.R. No. 54

A JOINT RESOLUTION

proposing a constitutional amendment abolishing the death penalty.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by
adding Section 13a to read as follows:
Sec. 13a. A penalty of death shall not be imposed against
any person.
SECTION 2. Section 4(b), Article V, Texas Constitution, is
amended to read as follows:
(b) For the purpose of hearing cases, the Court of Criminal
Appeals may sit in panels of three Judges, the designation thereof
to be under rules established by the court. In a panel of three
Judges, two Judges shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of
two Judges shall be necessary for a decision. The Presiding Judge,
under rules established by the court, shall convene the court en
banc for the transaction of all other business and may convene the
court en banc for the purpose of hearing cases. The court must sit
en banc during proceedings involving capital cases [punishment] and
other cases as required by law. When convened en banc, five Judges
shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of five Judges shall
be necessary for a decision. The Court of Criminal Appeals may
appoint Commissioners in aid of the Court of Criminal Appeals as
provided by law.
SECTION 3. Section 5(b), Article V, Texas Constitution, is
amended to read as follows:
(b) [The appeal of all cases in which the death penalty has
been assessed shall be to the Court of Criminal Appeals.] The
appeal of all [other] criminal cases shall be to the Courts of
Appeal as prescribed by law. In addition, the Court of Criminal
Appeals may, on its own motion, review a decision of a Court of
Appeals in a criminal case as provided by law. Discretionary review
by the Court of Criminal Appeals is not a matter of right, but of
sound judicial discretion.
SECTION 4. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 3, 2015.
The ballot shall be printed to provide for voting for or against the
proposition: “The constitutional amendment abolishing the death
penalty.”

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