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Todd Willingham
Todd Willingham was wrongfully executed under Governor Rick Perry on February 17, 2004.

Here is an example letter we sent to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles regarding Napolean Beazley. Feel free to use this as a template for your own letters.

May 16, 2002

Chairman Gerald Garrett
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
P.O. Box 13401, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711

RE: Clemency for Napoleon Beazley

Dear Chairman Garrett:

I am writing on behalf of Texas Moratorium Network to appeal for clemency 
for Napoleon Beazley on two major grounds – his status as a juvenile 
offender at the time of his offense and the racial aspects of the case. We 
would like you to recommend to Governor Perry that he commute Napoleon’s 
sentence to life in prison.

Napoleon was only 17 years old at the time of his crime. There is a growing 
consensus in Texas that we should stop executing people who commit crimes 
under the age of 18. In 2001, the Texas House of Representatives passed a 
bill that would have banned executions of juvenile offenders. The bill did 
not reach the Senate in time for it to be considered before the session 
expired. In 2003, the bill will be filed again and in light of growing 
opposition among Texas voters to executing juvenile offenders, and the fact 
that by continuing to execute juvenile offenders the United States stands 
virtually alone in the world community, the bill will probably pass next 
time. Please do not allow Napoleon to be one of the last juvenile offenders 
to be executed before the Texas Legislature bans the practice.

Texas Moratorium Network is also concerned about the racial aspects of this 
case. Napoleon is an African-American who was sentenced to death by an 
all-white jury for the murder of a white person. Potential black jurors were 
systematically kept off Napoleon’s jury. Maryland recently enacted a 
moratorium on executions in order to complete a study on the issue of race 
and the death penalty. Texas also needs to stop executions in cases where 
race has played an important factor in determining whether a defendant 
receives the death penalty. We need to make sure that defendants are judged 
by the relevant facts of their cases and not by the color of their skin.

Texas Moratorium Network, an organization with a growing support base of 
more than 6,000 people across the state of Texas, is working to establish a 
moratorium on executions, so that a Texas Capital Punishment Commission can 
conduct a comprehensive study of the death penalty system in our state.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sincerely,

Scott Cobb
Texas Moratorium Network

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.

5/10/02

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."

Glendening Declares Death Penalty Moratorium
By Tom Stuckey
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, May 9, 2002; 12:45 PM

ANNAPOLIS – – Gov. Parris Glendening imposed a moratorium Thursday on executions in Maryland until the state completes a study of whether there is racial bias in the use of the death penalty.

Glendening issued a stay on the execution of Wesley Eugene Baker, who was scheduled to die by injection sometime next week, and said he would stay any other executions that come before him. Only one other state that has capital punishment, Illinois, has imposed a similar moratorium.

Baker is one of 13 men – nine of them black – awaiting execution in Maryland. Glendening, who supports the death penalty for especially heinous crimes, had been under pressure to halt executions until he receives a study that is due to be completed in September by a researcher at the University of Maryland.

Glendening said he would not lift the moratorium until the study is completed and reviewed by the state legislature, which he estimated would be in about a year. Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who also supports the death penalty in limited cases, asked Glendening last week to impose a moratorium until he receives the study the governor requested two years ago.

Townsend said at the time that it would be “tough to have a report come out and say this wasn’t fair knowing that while the report was going on, that people were executed.” She recently announced she is running to succeed Glendening, who cannot seek a third term. Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared the nation’s first moratorium in 2000. Last month, a commission appointed by Ryan recommended 85 reforms to reduce the possibility of wrongful convictions. Some of the reforms included cutting the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and videotaping police interrogations.

Baker was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the 1991 murder of Jane Tyson, who was shot in the parking lot of a Baltimore County shopping center, where she had taken her 4-year-old granddaughter and 6-year-old grandson shopping for tennis shoes. Baker does not deny being present when Tyson was killed, but his attorneys say there is not enough evidence to show he fired the gun.
(c) 2002 The Associated Press

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.

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