Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break is next week, March 10-14. Below is the schedule. All the events are free and open to the public.
Monday, March 10
5:15-5:45 PM — Meet at Garrison 1.126 for snacks and socializing before the first speaker.
5:45 – 6 PM — Introduction to the Alternative Spring Break by Hooman Hedayati of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network.
6 :-6:45 PM — A talk with Rick Reed, a former Dallas and Austin assistant district attorney who opposes the death penalty.
6:45-7:00 “Live Phone Call from Inside a Prison” event organized by the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty featuring a live phone call from an inmate whose death sentence was commuted to life by former Governor Ryan in Illinois. Victor Safforld (AKA Cortez Brown), one of the Death Row 10, will call in and speak to us on the phone from inside a supermax prison in Illinois.
7:00 – 7:10 PM Break
7:10 – 8:15 PM Alan Clarke, a lawyer who has handled death penalty cases and co-author of a new book entitled “The Bitter Fruit of American Justice: International and Domestic Resistance to the Death Penalty”. Room to be announced.
Evening Time on your own for enjoying Austin, including the SXSW film festival.
Tuesday, March 11 – Meet at Garrison 1.126
1:00 – 2:15 PM Workshop: “Lobbying and Influencing Legislators” led by Doug Lewin, chief of staff for Texas State Rep. Lon Burnam. During the workshop, participants will learn how to interact effectively with legislators or legislative aides and plan for the next day’s lobbying activity.
2:15- 2:30 PM BREAK
2:30 – 3:20 PM Workshop “How to Debate the Death Penalty” led by Bryan McCann, coach of UT’s nationally-ranked speech and debate team. Bryan is a member of Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
3:20 – 3:30 BREAK
3:30 – 4:30 Mental Illness and the Death Penalty led by Kristin Houlé, who served for five years as the Program Associate for Amnesty International USA’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty. She was involved with Amnesty International for more than 12 years and held several volunteer leadership roles (including State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator for Kentucky) before joining the staff in 2002. Kristin was the lead organizer of AIUSA’s National Weekend of Faith in Action on the Death Penalty (NWFA). In 2007, Kristin received a Soros Justice Fellowship to work on the issue of the death penalty and mental illness in Texas.
5 PM – Petition Signature Gathering Competition: We will divide into teams and fan out throughout Austin to collect signatures on a petition against the death penalty. People can collect signatures at places such as where SXSW events are taking place, outside certain bookstores or other stores if they allow it, on the streets in downtown Austin and wherever else the teams want to try. The team that collects the most petition signatures (with names, addresses, email addresses and possibly phone numbers) will win a prize of $100. We will decide as a group what size the teams can be. Options are 1, 2, 3, 4, or more person teams.
7 PM: Meet back at Goodall Wooten to see who won
Wednesday, March 12 Death Penalty Issues Lobby Day and MVFR Panel – Meet at Texas Capitol
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Murder Victim Family Member panel.
Location: The Texas State Capitol in room E2.016, which is in the underground level of the Capitol.
Renny Cushing, Founder and Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights. His father’s murder in 1988 has shaped his work as an advocate for crime victims and as an opponent of capital punishment. As a victim-abolitionist Renny has been a pioneer in the effort to bridge death penalty abolition groups and the victims’ rights movement)
Jeanette Popp, mother of a mother victim. Jeanette’s duaghte, Nancy was murdered in Austin in 1988 and two innocent men were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life. Later, the real killer confessed and the innocent men released after 12 years spent in prison. Jeanette asked the Travis County DA not to seek the death penalty against Nancy’s killer.
11:30 Lunch Break
12:00 Get in line for 1 PM Film Showing at the SXSW Film Festival. Bring $10 for admission. We will see the documentary, “At the Death House Door “, which follows the remarkable career journey of Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous ‘Walls’ prison unit in Huntsville, Texas. During that time he presided over 95 executions, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of that fateful day. The film also tells the story of Carlos De Luna, a convict whose execution bothered Pickett more than any other. Pickett firmly believed the man was innocent and two Chicago Tribune reporters turn up evidence that strongly suggests he was right.
3 PM: Visits to Legislative Offices
4 PM “A People’s Tribunal Against the Death Penalty”. Location: South Steps of the Texas Capitol . Everybody from spring break and others from the public will have an opportunity to put the death penalty “on trial.” It will be conducted as a sort of public “trial” at which the “defendant” is the death penalty. Everyone will be able to “testify’ against the death penalty as a “witness” saying why the death penalty should be abolished.
Thursday, March 13: Protest and Rally Day
1 PM-2:45 PM Meet at Garrison 1.126Skills Building Workshop: “Winning Step-By-Step: How to Organize and Win Moratorium and Abolition Resolutions at the Grassroots Level” led by Sarah Craft. This workshop will cover how to convince student governments, city councils, churches and othe:r organizations to pass resolutions. Sarah Craft works for Equal Justice USA (www.ejusa.org). EJUSA is a national leader in the movement to halt executions, providing hands-on technical assistance, grassroots organizing support, and capacity building to state and local campaigns across the country. UTC 1.146 on the UT-Austin campus. Map.UTC is next to the PCL Library.
2:45 to 3:00 PM Break
3:00 – 4:00 “Youth Media Workshop” led by Campus Progress.
4:00 – 6 PM Organize and Carry out a protest around the case of Rodney Reed. Rally for an innocent man on Texas’ death row beginning at the Capitol (11th and Congress) and marching down Congress, Sixth, and then back tot he Capitol. The exact type, location and message of the protest will be decided on by the students. Coordinated by Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
7PM – Meet back at Goodall Wooten for discussion of the protest as well as the entire spring break. Fill out feedback forms. We can all go out to eat together afterwards.
8 Pm – 9PM Last Supper – Spring Breakers will go out and eat their last supper. Location will be decided by the students.
Friday, March 14: Fun Day
This is Spring Break, so today we will have some fun and take a break after all the hard work we have done all week. Everyone is free to choose their own activities. Some things people could do are: Go swimming at Barton Springs Pool, attend a SXSW film or music event , go shopping, take a Segway tour of Austin, go jogging around Town Lake, go bike riding, visit a museum or do something else. Some of these activities cost money, so plan accordingly.
11 AM — UT Campus tour for anyone interested – Each day, they offer two student-guided walking tours of campus for prospective students and families that begin at the Main Building (“UT Tower”) and cover the center of campus from the unique perspective of a current student. This is one of the best ways to get a feel for campus, and we recommend that all prospective UT students sign up for the tour. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, and feel free to bring your camera. You can also register for info sessions and other tours.