Last month in Texas a man named Andre Thomas, who has a long history of mental illness, tore his eye out and ate it. He had previously ripped his other eye out while he was waiting to stand trial in 2004. A judge ruled him fit to stand trial after the first incident. Now he is completely blind.

In 2007 Kenneth Foster’s death sentence was commuted to life by the Governor of Texas only hours before his scheduled execution. He had been sentenced to death under the Law of Parties even though he had not killed anyone. His accomplice codefendant, who did kill someone, has already been executed. Foster’s life was saved after some brilliant legal work coupled with a sustained, grassroots campaign that included members of his own family and anti-death penalty activists in Texas that kept his case in the news for years. Recently, a bill was filed in the Texas Legislature that would prohibit the death penalty under the Law of Parties.

Over the next eight days, starting today, Jan 21, Texas is scheduled to execute five people. the first person on the schedule is Frank Moore. One person has already been executed this month in Texas. So, a total of six executions may take place in Texas this month.

In 2008, Texas conducted almost 50 percent of all executions in the nation.We are still waiting for a ruling from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct on the complaint signed by more than 1900 people against Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. We filed the complaint, which accused her of misconduct and urged the Commission to remove her from office, because she had said “we close at 5” and refused to accept an appeal from a person about to be executed. He was executed later that night without a final ruling on his appeal from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

It is just a matter of time before we discover that Texas has executed an innocent person. The evidence may come later this year when the the Texas Forensic Science Commission issues its report on the case of Todd Willingham. He was executed in 2004, but some nationally recognized fire experts said in a 2006 report that the fire that killed his children was likely not an intentionally set arson but just a tragic accidental fire.All these stories are just a few examples of the many horrible problems with the Texas death penalty system.

One impediment to slowing down executions in Texas is that there has always been very little funding for anti-death penalty work in Texas and even less funding to help families of people on death row. But now, there is a project underway that could bring a little extra funding for Texas anti-death penalty work.But we need your help to get that funding.

A new social collaboration website called Amazee is holding a membership contest and giving away $5,000. The contest ends Thursday, Jan 22, at 3 PM Eastern Time. We created an anti-death penalty project on Amazee and we are in a close race for one of the top three places.

Please go to the project and help us bring some anti-death penalty funds to Texas.

Join the “Abolish the Death Penalty Project” on and help Texas anti-death penalty activists win the Amazee Bucket membership contest. We could win up to $5,000 to use against the death penalty in Texas. The project with the most members by Jan 22 wins $5,000; second place is $3,000 and third place is $2,000.

If we win, we plan to use one-half of any prize money we win to help needy families of people on death row travel to visit their loved ones on death row. We will use the other half of the prize money to advocate against the death penalty, including during the legislative session.First go to the project page, then you have to click on “join project” on the right hand side, then click on “register”. Then they will send you an email. Then log back in and join the project.

Keep in mind though, that to qualify as one of the members who count towards the contest, you have to upload a picture or avatar of yourself. It does not have to be a picture of you, it can be a picture of anything.

We were all moved by the many family members who spoke at the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions in Houston on Oct 25, so we were thinking of how we could help them. We all know that the death penalty is reserved for the poor. There are no rich people on death row. We will use one half of any money we win through this contest to help family members visit their loved ones on death row. Many families have a hard time making ends meet and the extra cost of traveling long distances to visit their loved ones on death row is a great financial burden. Some of the people on death row have young children who rarely get to visit them.

The other half would be used for activities during the upcoming Texas legislative session from Jan to May 2009, such as an anti-death penalty rally at the capitol.We will be supporting bills to end the death penalty under the Law of Parties, to create an Innocence Commission, to establish a moratorium on executions and create a death penalty study commission.

Please help us by joining the project on Amazee.

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