9:45 – 10:45 AM Meet and greet at the Texas Capitol with everyone participating in the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, including the six death row exonerees. Legislators, staff members, anyone at the capitol and the general public is welcome to attend and meet the death row exonerees. Location: Room E2.1002 in the Texas Capitol.
11 AM – Press conference in Texas House Speaker’s Committee Room 2W.6 at Texas Capitol (Press conference will be organized, moderated and run by students from spring break).
12:30- 2:00 Death Penalty Panel with Six Exonerated Former Death Row Inmates and Bill Pelke – President of Journey of Hope … From Violence to Healing. Location: Committee Room E2.016 in the Texas State Capitol.
- Shujaa Graham, who spent 3 years of his life on California’s death-row for a crime he did not commit.
- Curtis McCarty, who spent 19 years of his life on Oklahoma’s death-row for a crime he did not commit.
- Ron Keine, who spent almost two years on death row in New Mexico for a crime he did not commit.
- Perry Cobb, who spent 8 years on death row in Illinois for a crime he did not commit.
- Derrick Jamison, who spent 17 years on death row in Ohio for a crime he did not commit.
- Juan Melendez spent seventeen years, eight months and one day on Florida ’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
- Bill Pelke, president of Journey of Hope … From Violence to Healing and former Chairman of the Board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Bill authored a book entitled “Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing”, which details the May14, 1985 murder of his grandmother Ruth Pelke, a Bible teacher, by four teenage girls. He shares his story of forgiveness and healing, and how he came to realize that he did not need to see someone else die in order to heal from his grandmother’s death. He also helps organize Journey tours nationally and abroad. Bill has traveled to over forty states and ten countries with the Journey of Hope and has told his story over 5,000 times.
2:00 – 2:45 Break
2:45 – 3:45 PM Screening of 17-minute film about Todd Willingham and how Rick Perry recently shook-up the Texas Forensic Science Commission, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Joshua Riehl and Liz Gilbert, the friend of Todd Willingham who first investigated his innocence and helped find a fire expert to examine the forensic evidence. Gilbert’s role is explained in the article “Trial by Fire” in The New Yorker by David Grann. Location: Committee Room E2.016 in the Texas State Capitol
3:45 – 4:45 Lobbying Visits with legislators and/or their aides.
4:45 – 5:00 Set up for Justice Rally
5:00 – 7:30 Justice Rally Against the Death Penalty on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol (If you get off work at 5, you can still come, just get there as soon after work as possible)
Rally Speakers include death row exonerees Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Perry Cobb, Juan Melendez, Derrick Jamison and Curtis McCarty; Bill Pelke, president of Journey of Hope and past chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; students participating in Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break; Katie Kelly representing Clinton Young; Lily Hughes of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty; Gloria Rubac of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement; Delia Meyer-Perez, whose brother Louis Castro Perez is on death row; Cory Session of the Innocence Project of Texas, Cory’s brother, Tim Cole, was an innocent man who died while in prison and was posthumously exonerated and pardoned by Rick Perry; ; Ron Carlson, whose sister Debra Ruth Carlson, along with two others, was murdered with a pick-ax by Karla Faye Tucker and Daniel Ryan Garrett; plus other speakers.
After Rally: Last Supper. Food and discussion of the rally as well as the entire spring break. We will go to a restaurant (everyone buys their own meal and drinks). Fill out feedback forms.