Our 2011 “Day of Innocence” and Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty was a huge success. The exonerees were honored with a resolution in the Texas House of Representatives. We visited what will likely turn out to be a record number of legislative offices for anti-death penalty lobby day and we effectively advocated for several death penalty related bills. In a few weeks, we may see the first result of our lobbying today if the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee holds a hearing on the bills we lobbied for today.
Texas leads the nation when it comes to carrying out executions. On Wednesday, there were a number of calls at the Capitol to end them.
They came from students who held a rally at the steps, Rep. Harold Dutton (D) of Houston, and a number of former death row inmates who were later found innocent.
“No justice system in the world can ever be the best so long as it kills its own citizens,” said Ron Keine who was exonerated.
Keine’s hope is that one day Texas will abolish the death penalty.
“We‘ve got a system that is broken,” he said. He is concerned that too many people have been wrongly convicted and executed.
Terri Been is concerned too. Her brother, Jeff Wood, was convicted in the 1996 killing of a convenience store clerk. Been says he is innocent.
“There are so many different things that went wrong with the trial,” Been said. “It was really one mishap after another.”
Delia Castro-Perez is helping her brother fight to prove his innocence. He is on death row for the murder of three Austin girls.
“Those were his friends that were murdered, and I think that’s what sometimes people forget,” Castro-Perez said.
Just last week the state of Illinois abolished the death penalty. In losing it, critics argued the state also lost its strongest deterrent to crime.