At last weekend’s Democratic State Convention, the Resolutions Committee approved a resolution calling for the abolition of the death penalty. In the end, only one committee member voted against the resolution. The resolution did not get a floor vote. It was referred to the SDEC Resolutions Committee for further consideration, like many other resolutions. Lee Greenwood, who spoke at Friday’s caucus meeting of “Democrats Against the Death Penalty” was allowed to speak to the resolutions committee. Her son was executed last year in Huntsville. Other caucus participants, including Sherry Clausell and Barbara Acuna, lobbied the committee members. The abolition resolution had been passed by several senatorial or county conventions. Many people at the convention wore red stickers saying “Abolish the Death Penalty”.
The 2008 Texas Democratic Party platform continues to call for a moratorium on executions. This is the third time the platform has called for a moratorium. The first platform that called for a halt to executions and the creation of a commission to study the problems in the Texas death penalty was in 2004.
At the State Convention, there was a caucus meeting of “Democrats Against the Death Penalty”, which was founded by Texas Moratorium Network’s Scott Cobb in 2004. Speakers at the caucus this year were Rev. Carroll Pickett, Judge Charlie Baird, Lee Greenwood and Sissy Farenthold. More than 300 people attended the caucus, packing the room and standing along the walls.
Picket is a former chaplain of the death house in Huntsville. He accompanied 95 people to their executions in his capacity as chaplain.
Judge Baird is a former member of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and current Judge of the 299th District Court in Austin.
Leeatriss Greenwood is the mother of Joseph Nichols who was executed last year in Huntsville. Greenwood received a standing ovation at the caucus meeting after telling the moving story of her son’s execution. She and many others believer her son was wrongfully convicted. “You stand in front of a glass and I watched them kill him. That’s not easy. That is one of the hardest things that you will ever do,” said Greenwood.
Sissy Farenthold is a former Texas state representative who ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1972, getting into a runoff with the eventual winner.