This first issue contains information about our new monthly e-mail newsletter, the Adopt A Legislator program, the upcoming execution of Napoleon Beazley, and the second Annual March for a Moratorium (Oct 27, 2001, Austin, Texas)
August 12, 2001
Dear Moratorium Supporter,
At time of writing, we have 1 year, 150 days, 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 37 seconds left until the beginning of the next legislative session. The Texas Moratorium Network considers this no time to rest!
In the last session your letters and phone calls to legislators helped create a climate that made important reforms possible, reforms like post-conviction DNA testing and improvements in indigent defense. And moratorium bills took the lead in this progress. As The New York Times put it, A new found willingness of legislators to consider (death penalty reform) became apparent when bills to impose a moratorium passed out of committee, before eventually dying. Such bills had never even been given a hearing in the past. In other words, you made a difference. We know it was heartbreaking when Governor Perry vetoed the ban on execution of the mentally retarded, but we think that’s a decision he may live to regret.
Grass-roots efforts are already slowing the pace of executions in Texas, but terrible injustices continue. Please stay involved as we get ready to win the moratorium in 2003. At the moment, we hope you will help us and other activists with four projects:
1. TMN’s monthly e-mail newsletter
2. TMN’s Adopt a Legislator program
3. Protest the execution of Napoleon Beazley
4. Second Annual March for a Moratorium (Oct 27, 2001, Austin, Tx.)
Please read on for details.
1. Monthly newsletter – ask family and friends to join!
During the session, this e-mail list was used for legislative action alerts. For the interim, we would like to continue to use it as a monthly newsletter. We believe that the better informed Texas moratorium supporters are, the more effective they can be in putting pressure on legislators and media.
We promise that we will issue a newsletter no more than monthly (within the first week of the month). It will contain only information relevant to the death penalty – and efforts to stop executions – in Texas. By limiting the letter’s scope in this way, we hope to be brief but useful.
If you ever wish to remove yourself from this list, explanation of how to do so is included at the bottom of every message. On the other hand, if you know others who would like to be added to the list, please refer them to our Web site, texasmoratorium.org. They should click on Join E-mail List.
2. Adopt a Legislator
Some of our best allies in the legislature were on our side because constituents pressured them from even before the session and refused to let up. We believe that if constituents keep reminding their legislators of the facts –with letters, phone calls, visits, photo-copies of newspaper articles –that legislators will become moratorium supporters. What we need now is dedicated volunteers all around the state to adopt a legislator and to focus on turning that legislator into a moratorium supporter.
Would you be interested in adopting your Senator or Representative? Would you like more information about how to contact your legislators and to encourage them to take a stand in support of a moratorium? Please contact Legislative Coordinator Brian Evans (email@example.com; 512-302-6715).
3. Texas to execute juvenile offender — please contact the Governor
August 15 Texas is set to execute Napoleon Beazley for the 1993 murder of John Luttig in Tyler, Texas. His case is a potent reminder of why Texas needs a moratorium. Napoleon was seventeen at the time of his crime. The United States is among a small minority of countries that still has not banned execution of juvenile offenders as a human rights abuse. Napoleon’s death stands to be especially tragic because the Texas legislature nearly established such a ban. House Bill 2048 passed the House and then stalled in the Senate. In addition, Napoleon, who is African-American, was convicted by an all-white jury, one of whom was later quoted making an openly racist remark. Many who know Napoleon insist that he has great potential for rehabilitation, but his trial judge severely limited testimony about his character in his sentencing hearing.
The injustice of this execution has been discussed by an in-depth report by Amnesty International (Too young to vote, old enough to be executed, http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/print/AMR511052001?OpenDocument).
We urge you to read more about this execution and to take action against it.
E-mail appeals to governor Governor Perry can be made online.
— Go to http://www.governor.state.tx.us
— click on contact information
— click on email the governor
The office also maintains the Governor’s Opinion Hotline for Texas residents. The telephone number is 800-252-9600.
4. Save the date!
Second Annual March for a Moratorium
Saturday, October 27, 2001
2 PM, Republic Park (5th and Guadelupe)
(details to follow)
Last year’s moratorium march brought over 700 marchers from Texas and beyond to protest then-Governor George Bush’s horrendous record of executions. It may well have been the largest public protest of executions in the history of Texas. This year’s march promises to be bigger.
During the legislative session, Governor Rick Perry showed his uncritical support for the death penalty by vetoing even a modest reform to ban execution of persons with mental retardation. Come tell him he is wrong. It’s time not only to ban killing the mentally retarded, but to halt Texas executions altogether.
The march is being planned by an Austin-based steering committee with members representing a wide array of activist groups. To contact organizers, please call Texas Moratorium Network at 512-302-6715. More information and up-dates will posted to texasmoratorium.org.
The campaign for a moratorium in Texas is strong and getting stronger. Don’t miss the chance to be part of history. Moratorium now!
With best wishes,
Texas Moratorium Network