Yesterday was the first of regular May protests outside Polunsky Unit in Livingstone, Texas. Many people are concerned about the situation at Polunsky, which includeds isolation cells, social and sleep deprivation, no television, substandard food, excessive gassings and use of force, hostile, uncaring and sometimes sadistic guards and all the other issues large and small we have been lamenting. People are outraged that TDCJ marches ahead with ever more restrictive policies, and are wondering what we can do to bring about change.
The protests are every Saturday in May in front of Polunsky Unit 3:30 to 5:30. Polunsky is VERY visable, about 3-5 miles south of Highway 190 on FM 350 South. This turnoff is about a quarter of a mile or less west of Highway 59.
Texas Moratorium Network 512.302.6715 www.texasmoratorium.org Contact: Brian Evans: Texas Needs to Follow the Example of Maryland and Enact a Moratorium on Executions "The decision by Gov. Parris Glendening of Maryland today to impose a moratorium on executions until the state completes a study of whether there is racial bias in the use of the death penalty should be another wake-up call to Texas," said Scott Cobb, a Board member of Texas Moratorium Network. TMN is a state-wide non-profit organization. "Race is not only a problem with the administration of the death penalty in Maryland. Race is one of the major factors that need to be addressed in Texas too. 41 percent of people on Death Row in Texas are African-American, 65 percent are people of color. An African-American is much more likely to face the death penalty as opposed to life in prison if the victim was white. Consider, the case of Napoleon Beazley. Napoleon was a gifted 17-year-old African American honor student with no previous criminal record at the time of his crime. He was sentenced to death by an all-white jury for the murder of a white person," said Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network. Cobb said, "A moratorium on executions will give us time to step back, and examine the entire system of capital punishment in Texas. If we do not fix the system, we will soon find out that we have executed an entirely innocent person. Right now there are several people on death row in Texas with credible claims of innocence." "There are people on death row in Texas who even the Texas Attorney General John Cornyn believes should be given a new sentencing trial since they were sentenced to death in part because of testimony by a prosecution witness that they pose a continuing threat to society because of their race. I am talking about the case of Victor Saldano. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has said such racially biased testimony does not matter, but we Texans know it does matter. We can not have a system where people are sentenced to death because of the color of their skin and not because of the facts of their cases," said Cobb. According to TMN’s webpage, "The death penalty is applied with severe racial and economic bias. We are executing juveniles and people with mental retardation and it is much more expensive than a life without parole sentence. Common sense demands that we stop executions and conduct a comprehensive review of the system. The Texas Moratorium Network is calling for an immediate moratorium on executions so that these serious questions about the application of the death penalty can be reviewed."
Thomas H. Kimbell, Jr., became the 101st former death row inmate to be cleared of charges and freed since 1973. Kimbell had been convicted and sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of four members of a family in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania in 1994. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2000 because evidence which might have thrown doubt on his guilt was not admitted at trial. Kimbell was acquitted of all charges at his re-trial on May 3. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/4/02). Kimbell is the 3rd former death row inmate to be freed this year and the 4th person in Pennsylvania since the death penalty was reinstated.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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