Archive for

December, 2012



Must See Film: “West of Memphis”

Last January, TADP staff had the honor of meeting Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin, two of the West Memphis Three, who were wrongly convicted of the 1993 murders of three 8-year old Cub Scouts in West Memphis, Arkansas. They were in Nashville as part of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for the screening of the documentary about their case, West of Memphis, which Damien helped co-produce alongside Academy-Award winner Peter Jackson.

The film examines the trial, conviction, and the years of hard work that led to the release of the West Memphis Three last year. They were only teenagers when they were convicted of the murders, and Damien Echols, believed to be the ring leader, was sentenced to death, while Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley received life sentences after a tumultuous trial in which the prosecution painted them to be satanists. Subsequent DNA evidence did not connect them to the crime scene.

After nearly 20 years of  claiming their innocence, and the constant work of a large community of activists, celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines, and their legal team, which included Lorri Davis, who Damien later married, the defendants were released on an Alford plea, which allowed them to maintain their innocence but also acknowledge that the state could convict them again in a retrial. They were credited for time served and released in August of 2011.

West of Memphis will debut in select theaters on December 25. Be on the lookout for it after that at a theater near you, or be sure to rent or download it when it becomes available! You can view the trailer here. Damien also recently released his memoir, “Life After Death,” and spoke about it at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in October.

Although the West Memphis Three are free, they are still awaiting justice since they all still have a criminal conviction on their record for something they did not do. Please sign this petition calling on Arkansas Governor Mike BeeBe to pardon them.

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Remembering and Reflecting

On Friday as the details of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut unfolded, my best friend was preparing for her youngest daughter’s 7th birthday party that same afternoon–the age of so many of the victims. Both she and I put on a brave face for the party, but it was so painful to see those young, sweet faces laughing and smiling without a care in the world and to know the horror that others just like them had not survived earlier in the day.

To say that we, as a nation, are all sickened, shocked, and heartbroken that such a tragedy has occurred yet again is an understatement. Knowing how to wrap one’s mind and heart around what has happened is a challenge and is something with which we will struggle for a long time to come.

As these grieving families and the whole Newtown community bury their children, teachers, and school administrators (as well as the shooter and his mother) this week, we at TADP invite everyone to take a moment to tell those we care about that we love them, to pray for all victims of violence as well as those who commit such horrible acts and their devastated families, and to reflect on how, moving forward, we can honor these lives taken so tragically.

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Texas Inmate Imprisoned for over 30 Years Without a Conviction

It boggles the mind to imagine how former death row inmate Jerry Hartfield, an illiterate man with an IQ of 51, is still locked up today after a Texas appeals court order a new trial for him over 30 years ago.

Hartfield was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1976 murder of Eunice Job Lowe. In 1980, a Texas appeals court ordered a new trial because a juror was wrongly excluded from the initial trial. Though state attorneys fought for a rehearing on that decision twice, the court rejected their request. In 1983, then Governor Mark White commuted Hartfield’s death sentence to life in prison, though his conviction had been overturned and and a retrial had been ordered. Nothing happened with the case for the next 23 years.

In 2006, with the help of another inmate, Hartfield filed a handwritten writ of habeas corpus, asking to either be retried or set free, arguing that his 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the motion twice before it was heard by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, who said a conviction didn’t even exist in the case. “Hartfield’s position is as straightforward and subtle as a freight train….The court’s mandate was never recalled, its decision never overturned, the conviction never reinstated; yet Hartfield never received the ‘entirely new trial’ ordered by the court,” said Hughes.

The state appealed Judge Hughes’ decision, and the case went before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which called Hartfield’s incarceration “disturbingly unprofessional” but returned the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, requesting that it define the status of its ruling overturning Hartfield’s conviction. Such action is likely to drag the case out even longer.

This is a highly disturbing case that demonstrates just how broken things are. How are we to trust a system to make decisions involving life and death when the same system essentially forgot about a mentally impaired man who has spent the majority of his life behind bars without due process?

(Photo courtesy of salon.com)

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile disfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as core trouble. Albeit the erectile malfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile disfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying health conditions that can be very dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile malfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Reflecting on Deterrence and Mixed Signals

To be able to take the life of another human being, a murder must be able to disregard the the value of the life of another. The death penalty only perpetuates this disrespect. While we think we are showing potential murderers the penalty they will face, that there is a price to be paid for disrespecting life, in reality we are condoning their belief that the lives of others can be devalued and destroyed if it suits their purposes. We do exactly the same thing when we execute anyone; we are saying killing is okay if it serves our larger purposes.

Cases like Eric Robert’s in South Dakota demonstrate this cycle of disrespect for life, not just of others but of one’s self. Robert, who was executed for the death of a prison guard in a botched prison escape, asked for the death penalty. The death penalty says that killing is justified because some things matter more than the lives of others, and Robert valued the possibility of freedom more than the life of Ronald Johnson. This system of devaluing life also led Robert to value his own life so little that knowing he would likely be executed if his escape failed actually incentivised him to try rather than remain behind bars for his 80 year sentence. As his own lawyer stated, “The availability of the death penalty encouraged rather than discouraged Robert to commit this crime.”

The reality is that worst crimes in our society are motivated by a number of issues that go well beyond the effectiveness of threats. For example, mental illness is a frequent factor in capital cases. People suffering from severe and persistent mental illnesses are often incapable of considering consequences in the manner necessary for the threat of execution to deter them. The millions of dollars wasted on capital cases could be more effectively spent on preventing crimes like these by investing in better mental health care. Instead, our current approach claims to prevent crime by threatening those who often cannot understand the threats.

Someone who respects life will not kill others because they respect life, not because they fear the wrath of the law. If we want to live in a society that values life, we must end the death penalty. Otherwise, we perpetuate an attitude that belittles the value of other human beings. Let us stop sending mixed signals and start thinking about what actually works.

Photo by Michael Wyszomierski, http://flic.kr/p/UmJg

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as soul trouble. Albeit the erectile malfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile dysfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying health conditions that can be highly dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile disfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Oregon Voters May Get a Chance to Repeal the Death Penalty

Oregon is among several states to watch for repeal in coming years. The editorial board of The Oregonian recently endorsed a bill to be introduced by Representative Mitch Greenlick in the upcoming legislative session. The bill would begin the process of amending the state’s constitution to repeal the death penalty through a referendum that would be put before voters as early as November 2014.

The state has only executed three individuals in the last 50 years, two of them during Governor John Kitzhaber’s first term. Last year, Kitzhaber declared a moratorium on capital punishment, saying “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”

Kitzhaber went on to issue a reprieve for death row inmate Gary Haugan, who was convicted of killings in 1981 and 2003 and waived several appeals and asked to be executed. Haugan took the case to court, where a judge ruled that he had the right to reject the reprieve. The governor appealed the ruling. Both parties are waiting to see if the Court of Appeals will pass the case on to the state Supreme Court.

While the editorial board understands the governor’s concerns and opposition to the death penalty, they argue that repeal should be up to the citizens of Oregon and not decided by one man.

The editorial board wrote, “Advances in DNA testing, combined with dogged advocacy work, have startled the public into realizing that dozens of innocent people have been wrongly sentenced to die based on faulty evidence and poor legal defense… it’s possible to picture Oregon joining the ranks of the abolitionists.”

We hope they’re right!

(Photo courtesy of globalcitizencorps.org)

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as core trouble. Albeit the erectile dysfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile malfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying heartiness conditions that can be very dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile dysfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.