The effort to end the death penalty for people convicted under the Law of Parties got a big boost yesterday by all the people who came to Austin for Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty to speak to their elected representatives. We will post more about Lobby Day later.
Right now, we want to again ask people to watch the video of last Thursday’s hearing in the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. If every legislator would listen to this testimony, the Law of Parties bill would surely pass. It is fundamentally unjust to sentence people to death who has not killed anyone; even most people who support the death penalty do not want it used for people who do not kill. The testimony in this video brings that point home in the voices of family members of people who have been sentenced to death even though they never killed anyone.
You can watch the video of the hearing by clicking on this link, which will stream a video file to your computer. It is powerful stuff. You will remember it for a long time. As Shakespeare wrote, “if you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”
The father of Kenneth Foster starts speaking at around minute 23. Later, Kenneth’s grandfather also testfies. The girlfriend of Randy Halprin gives her moving testimony at around the one hour point.
The sister of Jeff Wood, Terri Been, starts her powerful testimony at around minute 32. Terri does a wonderful job explaining to the committee the injustice of the Law of Parties. Terri spends part of her testimony reading a statement by Jeff Wood’s young daughter and telling how hard it has been for her niece to have a father on death row even though he never killed anyone. Terri tells the committee how her niece attempted suicide when they learned the date of her father’s schedule execution. The execution was stayed within hours of being carried out, but Jeff remains on death row.
More information on the Law of Parties is found on various websites, including