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Volume 17 | Issue 2 | April - June 2013

IT MATTERS

In the grey, every day treadmill of our lives the thought may come whether it really matters what we do. Most of us are not movers and shakers, so what difference does it make whether we fulfill our duties or not, we ask ourselves.

Most probably even movers and shakers have that thought once in a while, especially when you are an African American State Senator in Alabama. Yes, I am of course speaking of our good friend Senator Hank Sanders who for years and years has introduced death penalty bills in this state, which is in love with the death penalty. Does his steadfastness matter? We know it does, not only to him as a question of justice and integrity, but to all of us who know that we are not forgotten and that we must not give up hope. There can be no doubt either that Representative Merlka Coleman Evans also knows that it matters that she files her yearly moratorium bill.

It would only be natural if our supporters and friends asked themselves whether it really makes a difference when they write letters to the head of the Judiciary Committee. Will my letter move the Senator to bring the bills heard in committee to a vote? Perhaps not, but the real answer is that yes, like for Senator Hank Sanders, it matters that you did it for yourself and definitely for us. But then you knew that, didn't you, when you wrote?

But we, who are not movers and shakers, how about us? How important is what we do? Does it really matter whether I prepare myself for the Board meeting on Wednesdays, keep my notes in order, put together a good newsletter, have our books in order so that I can come up with any figure needed when it comes time to apply for a grant; keep order In the meeting; run small groups so that they are both instructive and worthwhile for those attending; keep up to date on legal developments and structure my law classes so the men are encouraged to not only keep on top of their issues but remember that your attorney is as good as you make her/him? The short answer is no different than for the movers and shakers. Yes, it matters! It matters for your sense of self, for who you are, your integrity. It matters to those who benefit from your actions, whether it Is those who you serve, your readers or your family and friends who you make proud. We are family that has been said often enough but all good things bear repeating. And so if the thought should ever come whether what you do makes a difference In the life of this family member, the answer is that you make a big difference! I see your perseverance, your fidelity to details, your dally efforts and yes, you make all the difference I But like all the others mentioned, you already knew that, didn't you?

Esther Brown


GREETINGS FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK:

As we try to prepare for the really hot months here in lower Alabama, I wish for a lot of things. I wish I had an air-conditioner, I wish the death penalty Bills had made it out of Committee, I wish there were more tangible positive results from all of the hard work done by abolition supporters. I wish Alabama would give up trying to find a new way to execute people and just do away with the death penalty. And I wish I had enough money to have ice cream every week during the Summer!:)

I wish for a lot of things, many of which are selfish in nature. When I start wishing for things and thinking along the lines of "I WANT", I try to focus on and count the many positive things in my life. I have some truly wonderful friends family and fellow abolitionists in my life. I've reconnected with people who mean the world to me. I have the mental capacity to grasp my situation in its' entirety, and the physical ability (although limited) to work to change it. I have a strong desire to do and be more positive than negative.

This also works with PHADP and abolition of the death penalty,

Hope has some amazing friends family and fellow abolitionists in our support network, that continue to do what may seem to be unnoticed hard work towards abolition. "I WANT" all of our work to come to fruition over night, but that won't happen. And that's o.k., as long as we understand our situation. As long as we know that each task we perform (noticed at the time, or not) is a step toward our goals, and therefore vital necessary and invaluable, Don't give up or be discouraged during the dark hours. Know that you are appreciated and the things you do matter, as much as life and death.

As always, please help keep Hope alive.

PEACE,

Jeff Rieber
Z-540 H-8


ANOTHER YEAR

As many of you may know, last April I came within six hours of my own execution. I have to admit, that even for me, that was cutting it a bit too close. Of course, thanks to the hard work of some very dedicated attorneys, Tommy and myself escaped the pending doom we faced. For my part, I say, THANK YOU!!

Dedicated attorneys! Woop Woop!!

What is not so well known is the toll that experience took on us. I can't speak for Tommy but can say without doubt that for myself, telling the people I love, the people that I shared my limited life with, that my death was a month away was one of the worst experiences of my life. So much so, that it has taken a year of borrowed time to speak of it. That I may have to do so again fills me with a dread I am loath to speak of. I have found myself pushing people away to limit the damage without realizing it was happening until it was done. I try not to do it but find a sense of relief after it's done. Right or wrong, it is what it is.

So far, I've managed to pass a year past my scheduled death and for that I am truly grateful. Not so much for my life, as I am not nor have I ever truly been afraid of dying, but for not having to put my friends and loved ones through that again. Breaking their hearts on the day I told them caused me more pain than leaving this earth ever could. Though I am not a religious man I pray and ask you to do so that another year passes that I don't have to look in their eyes and say goodbye. I won't speak of this again. I am done speaking of it now. Thank you all for the support you gave me and I apologize for the delay in saying it.

CAREY GRAYSON
Z-598 H-11


SUMMER TIME IS HERE

This is the time for us guys on life row that are ball players to start rallying our teammates together and getting back in shape for our 4th of July tournament we are allowed to participate in every year.

Even though we mostly focus on winning the title, and bragging rights of basketball, there are other activities that we are also allowed to enjoy, like volley ball, weight lifting, dominoes, chess, checkers and scrabble. But now, I'm really looking forward to each tier's basketball team, especially 3-side, who has the most complete overall team with the addition of a new brother on life row who can shoot, dribble, jump and play defense.

He has the potential to be a dominant basketball player, and honestly, he's 3-side's x-factor, I think, in helping them win it all. Like my Miami Heat will defend their title:) Now 6-side has won back to back titles on the row the last two years. So it will be very interesting to see who will be victorious.

Me and my teammates on 5-side were heavy favorites last year to win, win, win but unfortunately we came up 2 points short of playing for the championship.

We still have a pretty decent team, even though we are under sized this year, only because our big man was released from off life row this past November.

In closing, this gives us all a chance to enjoy the Summer together even though we are away from our families. our unit is our second family back here, and remember to have fun, because

SUMMER TIME is here...

Take Care,

EAGLE EYE


As the hot months have come upon us, I do hope for all my brothers & sisters to find some sort of relief & comfort. The past few months have been up & down, as it is for all of us I'm sure. I've lost a couple of great people from my life & it affected me more than I would have imagined. I stepped away from Project Hope partially due to this, as I didn't much care to be a part of anything. There are other reasons as well as I felt to be stuck in time without any growing. This was my fault, though I put blame elsewhere. After much thought & some wise words from a trusted brother, I've realized I have to stop putting blame elsewhere & be a part of growing Project Hope in any way I can. I do hope that if anyone has doubt of what their focus is, they will reflect on the bigger picture & not self pity. Project Hope is a family & I'm blessed to be a part of it. Let's build each other's weaknesses so that we stay strong for the long battle. Be blessed my brothers and sisters.

Love in Christ,

J-BO


ALABAMA NEWS
2nd QTR. 2013

* The Alabama Senate held Judiciary Committee hearings on Sen. Sanders' death penalty Bills. Our thanks to everyone who contributed in some way to this effort. None of the Bills made it out of Committee but we believe the testimonies and letters to the Senate are seeds planted for future sessions. Everyone did a wonderful job.

* Esther attended the Alabama Arise Lobby Day activities in Montgomery and introduced our Development Officer (Brandon Fountain) to some of our supporters there.

* Esther did a radio interview in Huntsville,

* Brandon & Micah's House held the Good Friday event in Birmingham. There was a good turn out and participation.

* German supporter Ursula Malchau got the German Human Rights Commissioner Markus Loening to write to Al. Sen. Cam Ward in support of Sen, Hank Sanders' death penalty Bills. She also contacted Tom Koenig, chairperson of German Parliament's Commission for Human Rights and asked for his support. Thank you Ursula, for your activism.

* AL Representative Rogers introduced a Bill to shorten death penalty appeals, 52 other Representatives signed on as cosponsors

* Our Esther celebrated a milestone birthday in May. Happy B-day E. we love you!

* Congratulations! to Brandon Fountain, on his new job with the Greater Birmingham Ministries.

* National CURE came together with Alabama CURE on May 16th in Montgomery. Esther attended the event designed to spotlight AL CURE & raise awareness of prison issues.

* Sen. Sanders introduced a Racial Justice Bill for the next session of our legislature.

* PHADP student Rep. Petra Jackson will be playing basketball in Las Vegas this Summer as part of her New Zealand team, She also went on a 40 hour fast to help raise money for WORLD VISION to feed hungry kids, You humble us Petra, Good work!

* The AL, Senate voted to expand the death penalty to include those murdered while under a protective court order,

* PHADP is honored to be a cosponsor of the Journey of Hope in Indiana, when they will celebrate their 20th reunion with a World Day against the death penalty tour & conference,

* Please "LIKE" us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/projecthopetoabolishthedeathpenalty


THE MIRROR

The looking glass, as many call it. A device used to show reflections. However, it's not as simple as that, is it!? We stand in front of a mirror, and more than our reflections are exposed. Oh yes, we see the person staring back at us, but along with that comes thoughts and emotions. What do I see? What do others see? Maybe I could hide that wrinkle, that blemish or that scar. Isn't it amazing, the things we'll take a look in the mirror to find, and then try to hide? What if, we stopped looking in the mirror for superficial things and started to take good, hard looks at ourselves for the people we truly are? Would we change the faults we find, or do as we've always done, and hide those as well? If we walked around with mirrors and held them up to everyone we pass, could we finally get each other to stop hiding? We're human, and we have faults. we have wrinkles blemishes and scars. They're what makes us unique, and yet, the same. The world would be a better place if we all started to look for things like forgiveness and understanding in those mirrors we know as our hearts. That's where the true reflection of who we are lies.

So, I ask a question, I've asked myself... What did you see when you looked in the mirror? You decide which mirror!

Be Blessed,

Anthony Boyd
Z-578 N-9


"WALLS"

Walls, I never really looked at them when I was free. I looked about as much as everybody else did. But for the first time in my life, I see them for what they are. "WALLS"

Yes, they keep the world out, they keep the world from seeing what you don't want people to see. To some, walls are a good thing. But for me, I see what my walls really are.

They are to keep me locked down, to keep me depressed. They close in on me, they keep the sun from me, they keep me from being seen by the ones I love.

So, for me, seeing walls for what they really are isn't that great. But, they are what they are, "WALLS".

UNSEEN


NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

While other States are becoming more progressive and taking steps to end capital punishment, Alabama is trying to add more aggravating factors in their laws to make people eligible for the death penalty.

Such as, making people eligible for the death penalty in domestic violence cases when someone kills their spouse after there has been a restraining order issued.

As a pro life person who speaks life and not death, I don't believe in murder of any kind, nor do I believe in domestic violence.

Governor Bentley made the statement that he is a Christian, and anyone who is not a Christian is not his brother. He has allowed his Christian brothers to be executed. As a Christian, he should know God said thou shall not kill. Not, thou shall not kill...but if...

This backwards way of thinking is nothing new, that's the thinking of the people who put Jesus on death row, beat Him unmercifully and executed Him on the cross. and I quote: "Let he without sin cast the first stone."

Stop coming up with more reasons to kill, by creating more laws to justify your actions and calling it the will of the people. Because it's not the will of the people. Everyone doesn't feel the way you do, Pontius Pilot. oops, I mean, Dr. Governor Bentley.

By deBruce


MY HEART'S STATEMENT

ARE WE BETTER TODAY
THAN WE WERE YESTERDAY
THAT IS SOCIETY'S QUESTION
DOOMED FOR THIS DESTINATION
ARE WE TO LIVE IN FEAR
AROUND EVERY CORNER TROUBLE IS NEAR
WHAT DOES TROUBLE LOOK LIKE
THAT FACE CHANGES WITH EVERY DAYLIGHT
SHOULD WE BE AFRAID OF OURSELVES
SHOULD WE FEAR THE CHILDREN WE RAISE
YES, YES AND YES - WHY
WE DON'T SPEAK ON MENTAL ISSUES - WE DENY
INSTEAD OF LISTENING FOR THAT TICKING TIME BOMB
WE BECOME DEAF TO ALL SIGNS NOT BECAUSE WE ARE DUMB
THE FEAR OF UNCOVERING SECRETS OF A FAMILY PAST
THAT SHADOW FOLLOWING AND NO ONE WILL ASK
THAT FEAR MAKES US NO BETTER TODAY OR TOMORROW
SO WE SHALL LIVE A LIFE IN DEEP SORROW

Marcus Williams


A Christian Perspective

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings and Salutations! Changes are a'brewin all across this great land of ours. Maryland's Governor has signed off on a bill that abolishes the death penalty for all future cases. Sadly, it leaves all those on death row on death row. other States are adding aggravators which expand the scope of the death penalty. In Alabama just such a thing occurred. The aggravator involves the killing after a protective order such as those ordered in domestic violence cases. Also, some states are changing their official execution protocols. Some change the drugs. Some go to one drug protocols and some have even legislated that such information is a State secret as is the case in Georgia. Some states are trying to streamline their appellate procedures. Very few states have much in common in the administration of capital punishment in their individual States although one could say that all the States who have abolished the death penalty have that in common. Except Maryland who still has inmates on death row. Have you guessed what I am trying to point out yet? It is something we at Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty have been saying for years.(I would imagine since the inception of Project Hope in 1989) The administration of the death penalty is capricious and arbitrary. 

I am sincerely thankful that God's word is not capricious or arbitrary. I am also thankful that God is not a respecter of persons.(All are judged by the same standard.) Unlike the State of Maryland who feels that those on death row should remain on death row even though people in that state felt the need to repeal the death penalty. Good luck with your conscience and the explanations you will be forced to give your children and grandchildren. chances are if it doesn't make sense to me today it won't make sense to them either when they are old enough to read the actual bill signed. Speaking of children, mine just finished his first year of college and I have been blessed to be around to see it. I am constantly and abundantly blessed beyond anything I can claim to deserve. Thank you Jesus!

Just keeping it positively real. Someone has got to do it.

Keeping Hope Alive!

Ronald B. Smith Jr.
Editor/"A Christian Perspective"
Z-586/H-6
Holman 3700
Atmore, AL 36503


Whole Women

A whole woman creates an intelligent environment where others can also grow and become something significant. A whole woman is a natural magnet. A whole woman's mind and voice are so entertaining that she keeps a permanent audience. She provides her children with an arsenal of common sense, pertinent information and wisdom of the world so that they might do more than survive.So that they might triumph. Many women learn to believe that the essence of womanhood is visual, based on external beauty. They are led to believe that womanhood is synonymous with vanity. The dictionary defines vanity as useless. A whole woman has resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover, to bounce back from a set back or horrible full.

Craig Newton


Waste Watch

Many people during these tough economic times have had to tighten their budgets to make the ends meet. Any hardworking and tax paying citizen here in Alabama doesn't have to look very far to see some waste. More and more States are either eliminating or reconsidering capital punishment here in America. Sadly Alabama has decided to buckle down and increase the ways it can send some one to death row. Now that is big government's waste of precious tax payer's money. It could be put to use doing many other more important things. Why would intelligent people continue to finance a system that is broken? All over kids have graduated from our high schools. Here is a better way. Invest that money in sending those students who can't afford to attend schools such as Auburn or Alabama to one of the various community colleges or trade schools here in Alabama. Everyone would benefit from that approach. In closing, it doesn't make one appear soft on crime when he or she votes to end a broken system and invests the money saved in our children's brighter future. I'll keep Hope alive.

Brent Martin
Z-746/N-3


Do you know what Grace really looks like?

Have you any idea of the mess you were in, or moving toward, when God reached down and saved you? Perhaps an illustration may help you get the picture. If you took your child to a petting zoo and a little lamb carne running towards you, you probably wouldn't be afraid at all, because lambs are harmless. You might even reach out your hand and let the lamb lick it, But, let us say you're at the zoo and the alarm goes out that a lion has escaped from it's cage, If you're standing there and that lion comes running towards you, you'll be terrified and start to run because you know what lions can do. But just suppose that the runaway lion corners you in one part of the zoo and comes up to you,,, but instead of attacking you, it gently licks your hand the way the lamb did. If that happened, whose gentleness would you appreciate more; the lamb or the lion's? You would appreciate the lion's gentleness more because you know that he could easily have destroyed you without violating his nature as a lion. Well that is what God's Grace looks like. That is His kindness and gentleness to us when He could have backed us into a corner as guilty sinners and destroyed us, without violating His Holy character, Instead He poured our sins upon His sinless son on the cross. He took our punishment so God could embrace us. Now that you know what Grace looks like...Go show it to someone else.

Amazing, truly Grace,

Anthony Tyson Z-641
Holman 3700/ N-17
Atmore, AL. 36503


Mistakes

Once I lived a carefree lifestyle, Even though I understood right from wrong I still chose to be selfishly carefree! I was once a skilled Automobile Technician, who loved machines, To me a machine is easily understood compared to people. A machine can't judge, or condemn you for your mistakes. With machines, a mistake or misjudgernent can easily be repaired. As I've learned accidents and mistakes can't as easily be forgiven or repaired with people or the Alabama County Circuit Courts.

Now I live life on death row for an accident/mistake that I can't simply go back and repair. There are people I've come across that work as hard as machines, For that I am very grateful to Brian Stevenson and all at EJI for their roll in correcting injustices. Also, I am grateful to Anthony Tyson for patiently teaching myself and others here on death row the law, case law and other Appellate Procedures, We should all give thanks to Jesus Christ for His forgiveness of our many mistakes and sins.

TUG-BOAT


I Still Struggle

God has granted my mind relief. My biggest problem, though is me dealing with myself. For temptation is forever before me. However, there are only three that I give into. One, not as often as the other two, for I am slowly but surely weaning off it. Being faced with my temptation, the good is that I am given the revelation of how to overcome. I had an issue with trust, but recently, by the Grace of God, that issue was eradicated by way of the unexpected. My giving in to what is tempting to me comes by way of me tempting myself.

Randy Lewis
Z-741/F-6
Holman 3700
Atmore, AL 36503


Be Prepared

I read an article, well most of an article in a magazine.{ok, I looked at the pictures.) The article was about the things you can do to be prepared for earthquakes and hurricanes and such. It was very informative and entertaining, but more importantly it got me thinking. Where had I seen this before? Of course I couldn't remember. I never can. Eventually it came to me in the form of a Bible verse. You see, back here, Bible verses float around in the hands, hearts and minds of alot of us. The scripture was, "make sure that nobody pays wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else."(1 Thess. 5:15) I still hadn't made the connection, but after I got out my Bible and read a little more it became obvious. Paul was telling the Thessalonians how to be prepared for when the Lord comes like a thief in the night. So this checklist doesn't start with flashlights and batteries, but the things we should do to be ready:

-Be of light and not darkness

-Uphold the weak

-Have faith, love and the Hope of salvation

-Comfort and support each other

-Be patient with all

-Appreciate each other 

-Rejoice always 

-Pray without ceasing

-Give thanks to God 

-Do not quench the Spirit

-Hang on to what is good 

-Abstain from what is evil

-Don't render evil for evil, but pursue good for all

Something else that should be on this list: Share the list.

Bart Johnson
F-18/Z-778


Stated Fact vs. Known Truth

Will our voice be heard again? The louder the voice of the people becomes the noisier the noise! We are fighting to save our lives speaking through our pillows. The louder you scream in your pillow the less you can hear it.

The guys on the "row" have become comfortable with not being heard. Others are making noise about the unfairness of the death penalty with their mouths on mute. The opposition who are in favor of the death penalty have decided to use their voice to distort the truth about capital punishment, because alot of the facts aren't truth, Facts can be changed. That is the reason the opposition chooses to use facts not the truth. 

Our truth about the death penalty is that it is unfair, inhumane and racially biased, The facts state that everyone received a fair trial. Everyone who was found guilty was sentenced by a group of citizens who were considered your peers. The truth is that everyone did not receive a fair trial. The defendant is immediately given two strikes, The first strike depends on the race of the victims. The death penalty is more often given to people whose victims are white than to those whose victims are of a minority. The second strike is dealt with the competency of defense lawyers. Most defense lawyers hired to represent defendants have little or no experience. The funding for defense lawyers are normally not enough compared to the cost needed to defend a capital case. the third and final strike comes from the judges who have the ultimate sentencing power; not the supposed jury of your peers. In my opinion most judges rarely render sentences based on mitigating and aggravating factors in cases. In my opinion the judges' rulings come from the popularity of the victims or the judges' need to appear tough on crime for re-election purposes.

Our voice will only be heard when we decide to bring all of our opinions and ideas together and combine our truths. Then we speak together with one voice, Then our voice will become loud enough to be heard, our voices have grown quiet over the years, times have silenced some of us, We have come to accept the status quo of the row. The machine is shut down for now so we hushed a bit, Now is the time for our voice to become louder than before, To make known the truth of the row as we know them to be. We can never be effective if we choose to be silent. A fact is something that can be changed, but a fact will never change unless someone has the courage to challenge that fact with the truth. When you know the truth, that is what will set you free, the known truth!

I remain a caring Christian


Thin Line

A second to die,
An eternity to live,
Chasing revenge,
Afraid to forgive,
Loving hate,
hungering to be awake,
dictating fate,
giving to take,
nothing to remake,
Time lost,
the hearts defrost,
Broken,
blood thirst quenched,
now choking,
But God heals,
If we let Him...

Tony Barksdale
Z-611/F-24


Before it's too late

The majority of the people on death row had no idea of the truth of the death penalty until they got to death row. It wasn't until our lives were on the brink of being took, before we took the time to educate ourselves and learn the truth.

This is why I stand with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. We as a group come together not only to educate ourselves but to educate the free world before it is too late.

Of course we want to save our own lives, but we have realized it is bigger than just ourselves. It is the men who we couldn't save and it is the ones who haven't gotten to death row yet.

Just the past few years I've seen quite a few politicians push for the death penalty or laws to be harder on crime. That was until what they supported hit close to home and affected a close loved one. Then it was a different opinion for them.

I can tell you, and prove with statistics that the death penalty isn't a deterrent to crime, that it is racially biased and that it is a tool for revenge instead of justice. However, I ask that you don't take my word. Even if you support the death penalty or oppose the death penalty, whether you do or don't know anyone on death row, please don't think it doesn't affect you in any way. It does if you take the time to do any research on the capital punishment. You can learn the truth. It affects the innocent children whose schools are being closed or after school programs are being cancelled. It affects the innocent families who depend on state assistance who keep being denied. It affects the elderly who can't get the medical assistance they need. It affects all the State employees who continue to lose their jobs. It affects the innocent man on death row who the State knows is innocent but continues to push a needle in his vein and pump drugs in him that 'take his life.

Finally I want to end this by saying, you never know what life will bring. Think about everyone in your family or life that you love. Don't begin to imagine it would never happen to them. Every person on death row never thought it would affect them or their family. You can make a difference before it affects you or a loved one. Before it is too late.

David Riley
Z-738/F-22