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Volume 18 | Issue 2 | April - June 2014

Questioning Authority: Speak Up

We are brought up to respect both the political leaders and the laws of our society. That is part of being a civilized society. It is also implied that these leaders will rule in a just, moral way with laws that protect all. Can one take this for granted? No, one can't. It has been shown by past events that it is vital we challenge our leaders' decisions, ideas and behavior. It is important for us to question authority, to speak up in the face of laws that are unjust and to act in a way that supports change. 

Aristotle said, "It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen." Henning von Tresckow, my great, great uncle was a general in the German army during WWII and is an example of this. General von Tresckow began to question Hitler's morals and behavior when he witnessed Hitler's SS murdering captured Polish officers. He closely looked at many of Hitler's laws and actions. Though the oath he had taken as general demanded that he not question authority, he did. He joined the German resistance movement and became a key player in planning multiple assassination attempts on Hitler. Von Tresckow decided it was more important to be a  “good man” than a “good citizen" who obeyed the laws of his country and commander. (Brown) More than 20 years later, Martin Luther King would say, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” (King) 

Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, was a man who not only questioned what he thought was unjust but also worked to bring about change and educate those in authority. King stands as a large example of why it is important to challenge laws and authority. He believed one had a “moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” (King) He was arrested 30 different times throughout his stand against the law. He organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott after Rosa Parks was thrown off the bus when she refused to move to the back of the bus and give her seat to a white person. (“Fighting for Rights") At this time the Jim Crow Laws allowed this type of segregation to occur in the Southern states. “All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races." ("Jim Crow Laws”) The boycott led to the end of bus segregation. He also organized the famous March on Washington to persuade and pressure Congress to support the Civil Rights Bill which gave blacks equal rights in many important areas and ended segregation. Congress passed the bill. Later he advocated for the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed voting rights for blacks. “For years the Negro had heard the word 'Wait!' and 'Wait' had nearly always meant 'Never!"' (King in “Man to Remember”, 23) Today in our multicultural society and with Obama as president of the US, it is difficult to imagine a segregated population. This would all not have been possible without Martin Luther King who dared to question those in power and the laws they enacted. These examples from history clearly show why it is important to question authority and to speak up in the face of injustice. The world is a better place today because these two men had the courage to question those in power. If we continue to question, then chances are that we will have both leaders and laws that we can respect because they are just and moral.

Works Cited

Brown, Esther. "General Henning Von Tresckow." E-mail interview. 10 Sept. 2013.
"Jim Crow Laws." National Parks Service. National Parks Service, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. "Letter From Birmingham Jail." Letter to Fellow Clergymen. 16 Apr. 1963. MS. Birmingham Jail, Birmingham, Alabama.
"Martin Luther King, Jr.: Fighting for Equal Rights in America." Tavaana. Tavaana, n.d. Web. 13 Nov.2013.
McKissack, Patricia. "Hate the Sin Not the Sinner." Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Man to Remember. Chicago: Childrens, 1984. 23. Print.

Petra Jackson, age 15, our Student Representative, published at the request of Jesse Morrison, President Emeritus of our organization.


GREETINGS FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK:

This is Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty’s 25th Anniversary. While it's true that our final objective has not yet been realized, resistance can be its own reward. I am quite proud of our organization and the achievements made over the years. One of PHADP’s founders, Jesse Morrison (who we recently lost to COPD) worked constantly to better himself and the world he lived in. Seeing socially aware and conscientious young people made him happy because it promised hope for the future. One of those young people is our student Rep Petra Jackson, and it was Jesse's wish that we put her article on the front of this issue; A wish that I am more than happy to comply with. We’re all proud of you Petra, and are pulling for you and your team at Nationals.

We all await the outcome of the current lethal injection protocol challenges and wonder why the United States Supreme Court has yet to take up the issue.

The Tennessee Legislature has just brought back the electric chair, as their answer to all of the problems with lethal injection. Now they face the legal challenges that caused states to change away from the chair in the first place. Be sure that the other death states will keep a close eye on the situation

Our Governor and Attorney General say that Alabama will not go back to the chair The top attorney in our state, Atty Gen. L.Strange, does not think ·the electric chair would stand up to legal scrutiny We tend to agree with him on this point.

The operating difficulties faced by this organization, due to its unique configuration, are not getting fewer as the years go by, however, the benefits of doing this positive work far outweigh the frustration, stress and headaches that seem to be inevitable. I always thank our supporters, and I thank them now, but I would like to thank each member of PHADP inside and out, for their hard work and for choosing to be a member every single day It’s not easy work, it's not fun and there is nothing prestigious about it But it is worthwhile work, and we can be proud to be a part of it. Until next time, please help keep Hope alive.

Peace,

Jeff Rieber
Z-540 H-8


THE TAKING OF LIVES

Ever since prisons have existed, men have been writing about them and in them They've written books, essays, poems, letters, screenplays, and articles That being said, what can I write that hasn't already been written? Then there is the chance of writing something that is trite or pretentious, or at least comes off sounding that way. I think the reason a lot of prisoners seem to write this way isn't arrogance but an eagerness to share with the world what they have learned or overcome. That usually results in the writing sounding “preachy" or even condescending. I only hope anything I write for this newsletter in the future doesn't come off this way, because it certainly isn't my objective. 

My only intention is to provide, in my articles, fuel for thought and most importantly action concerning the death penalty.

That being said, of all the causes you could contribute to, why the death penalty? I would tell you, because of all of society's problems where death is involved such as cancer this is the only one I can think of that is both caused by humans and can be prevented by humans. In theory, all it would take is a vote in our legislature and a signature from the President (or the Governor on the State level). but in practice it is so much more difficult Those who are against the death penalty aren’t as active as those for it (or at least in this writer’s opinion). I feel like-those who are anti-death penalty are the silent majority.

The up-side is that, if my theory is correct, all it would take is increasing awareness so we can un-silence our supporters. That is where you, the reader comes in; If you are reading this article chances are if you aren°t already involved with the abolition of the death penalty, you are interested in it. This is a cause that only needs to gather support, but it doesn’t take a genius to see why saving the lives of men and women convicted of murder isn't as popular as curing cancer. The subject isn't even up for discussion in Republican politics. Saying you are against the death penalty in public can be as damaging to a Republican politician's career as saying he or she is for gay-rights or amnesty for illegal immigrants. This is amplified the farther south you go, or the more conservative the State. The only way of preventing this, is letting these politicians know that you your family and friends are against the death penalty and you will not vote for someone who believes the way to solve the problem of the taking of lives is by taking more lives.

Society has more options now, than ever before. We don’t have to kill people to administer justice. We have the resources and capabilities to keep them incarcerated for the rest of their lives (at much less the cost, I might add)

Democracy, I am told, comes from the Greek for "mob rule” or control by the masses, so once again in theory, what the people want the people get. Why don't we let our leaders know that we want to stop killing people to solve our problems? That is all I've got. Write to Project Hope to give us feedback, and thanks for being interested enough to read this newsletter.


WRECKING BALL IS THE NEW EXECUTION, WHAT’S YOUR POISON?

Recently several states, including Oklahoma and Ohio, have been in a state of confusion as other states, on who will discover the new wrecking ball lethal cocktail to torture to death condemned citizens of the U.S.

Instead of these poisonous sedative drugs putting death row prisoners to sleep, the so-called sleeping men have been waking up fully conscious on the gurneys into a hellish nightmare of a painful death slowly dying after being declared unconscious by guards and as recently in Oklahoma, by a doctor.

Torture is back with a thirsty vengeance! Other states, such as Oklahoma, are rubbing their bloody guilty diabolical hands, laying in wait for these inhuman torture potions recipe to force into the veins of the 100s of death row men in Alabama.

States are waving U S. tax payers dollars in front of corner pharmacies. Drug makers who build these mystery concoctions to burn down the veins of men with a side effect that causes conscious painful death.

These new and unproven wrecking ball poisonous cocktails are busting through the U.S 8th Amendment constitution with an angry smile on it's face with no regard to citizen's rights. Knocking down the fundamental foundation the U. S. prides it’s self on human rights.

These new lethal wrecking ball cocktails invented. by U.S.pharmacies are the acids that are now eating and eroding away human rights and the integrity of the U. S.

EXCRUCIATING PAIN IS THE NEW EXECUTION, IN AMERICA, ASK OKLAHOMA AND OHIO

Internal Exiler
Demetrius X Frazier
Z-608 O-14


ALABAMA NEWS
2nd qtr. 2014

  • This is the 25th Anniversary edition of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty's newsletter
  • Alabama has put a hold on executions, stating that there is no legal way to execute while the drug protocol is in litigation AL State Attorney General Strange stated that Alabama will not go back to the electric chair because it wouldn't hold-up against legal challenges. {although one legislator said he would file a Bill to bring it back during next session) The AL Governor has stated that he doesn't wish to go back to the chair.
  • Esther attended the Alabama Arise “Lobby Day” in Montgomery.
  • Gary Drinkard gave 6 talks at John Carroll High school
  • The Secrecy Bill was defeated this year, but they intend to pass it next year with an amendment to hold pharmacies accountable in the event of a botched execution
  • The Florence Times Daily, the Auburn Opelika News and others took a stand against the Secrecy Bill.
  • PHADP’s FACEBOOK page now has 1,152 likes! We urge you to go see it and "LIKE" it too! Much effort goes into it.
  • A Good Friday event in Birmingham was put on by local faith groups and Brandon Fountain was a key player.
  • Esther did interviews with a student from Lim College in New York, as we11 as with the Anniston Star, on the implications of the secrecy Bill
  • PHADP was mentioned in an article by Benard Simelton (President of AL State Conference NAACP) about the kick-off of the “Moral Monday" movement in Alabama.
  • Moral Monday and SOS (Save ourselves) held a protest at the State House in Montgomery and  Esther attended Esther also attended a Moral Monday meeting on April 11th, and participated, along with representatives from other organizations in a conference call to plan the protest.
  • Esther was asked to give the official opening greetings in Montgomery on April 12, for the Alabama New South Coalition annual conference.
  • Alabama is out of one of the execution drugs and intends to change the drug protocol.
  • Esther participated in a conference call with the Al NAACP.
  • PHADP and AL NAACP issued a joint press release concerning the recent botched execution in Oklahoma and the risks to AL.
  • Esther had a lengthy and interesting exchange with a political science student at the University of Vilnius in Lithuania in which she provided him with extensive information for his final paper on the topic of NORMATIVE POWER EUROPE: THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY. He was very grateful, and WE are very encouraged that young people around the world are taking notice and watching what goes on in the U.S regarding capital punishment
  • Esther was one of the speakers on a conference call with the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP).
  • PHADP and the ''21st Century Youth Leadership Movement11 of Selma (an off-shoot of Alabama New South Coalition} pledged mutual support to each other They are an estimated 700 people strong, and we are happy t6 see this kind of progressive minded action in Alabama.
  • PHADP's Student Representative, Petra Jackson, has had a poem published in “TEEN INC” and is doing crew and gong to Nationals!
  • PHADP Board of Advisors member, Sam L. Sullins continues to write informative and hard hitting letters to Senator Cam Ward (Judiciary Committee, Chair ) listing the many reasons the death penalty should be abolished. Sam's letters have a great following on our FACEBOOK page
  • Esther received, and accepted, an invitation to be a Board member of Justice and Mercy (JAM).

QUESTIONS AND PROTECTION

States who involve themselves with the death penalty want anonymity during the process It should be obvious that they have something to hide, like they will obtain and use drugs that are not approved by the FDA. They want secrecy for those who perform and.participate in the process, also. Some states argue that it is important to protect the safety of those involved in the executions. My question is, what about all of the people who are opposed to the death penalty's safety? They should have protection from all those so-called pro-life supporters who rabidly support the death penalty. It’s been shown that some of them can get violent, also.

The death penalty system is unfair, and that is the truth. I wonder why rich people never end up on death row? Why do some fight so hard for something that is morally wrong? Slavery was an example of something that was wrong, however, many fought to the bitter end to preserve it In closing, I personally applaud all opponents of capital punishment, in time, it will end.

Brent Martin
N-3


MARCH MADNESS

Last week, the beginning of the tournament was a blast, with a lot of surprising upsets that made it so much fun to enjoy and watch…

The biggest win for me was my Kentucky Wildcats upsetting Wichita State, to advance to the Sweet 16.

They were the only unbeaten team left in the Nation and the only undefeated team to enter the tournament with a perfect season.

With the season Kentucky had, no one predicted them to make it out of the first round. And with the talent they have whether you are a fan or not, they are truly good when playing together.

I love College Basketball and this is the most fun time, in March Madness, expecting the unexpected during the tournament.

I had Florida & Wichita State making it to the Championship, but now that Wichita State is no longer in it, it's only fair to predict that Kentucky will make it to the end, with them beating the only unbeaten team in the country…

In closing, the way things are going in this year’s Tournament nothing will shock you if someone wins it all, who was not on anyone's radar…

TO BE CONTINUED!!!

EAGLE EYE


A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings and Salutations! As you read through our newsletters you may feel an almost deja vu quality from one article to the next Many of the articles written may seem to be about the same issue, topic, or event from similar perspectives. Forgive us, but this is what occurs when our community of “Hope Stokers" come upon what we consider good, bad, exciting or even frustrating news. We share it.

For any who have been with us and stood beside us for a while, you will understand our joy, relief and yes, excitement at the latest set backs country wide in the pro-death penalty communities drive to execute citizens of the United States of America. And even though a State like Tennessee may find it legislatively appropriate to revert back to a draconian and abhorrent method of committing State sanctioned murder without seemingly giving much thought to the consequences other than the usual lip service due to the breakdown in their supply chain of lethal injection drugs. We see Hope in the fact that. an opportunity has arisen for States to do the right thing in regards to their reasoning and their actions about their capital punishment systems and how and why they are administered as they are.

Why not take some time and think it over? Why not ask the tough questions? Why not figure out a better solution altogether rather than just a better, more legally valid way to kill citizens? Ask, “What are our State’s true reasons for continuing it's program of State sanctioned murder and what is the State truly trying to achieve? Have we not come far enough along in our evolution that we truly need to see another person die to claim justice? Now is a great time to seek some answers, don't you think?

Earlier I used the word community. Twenty-five years ago just the racial makeup of those in my current environs would  have made using that word to describe as unbelievable to some if not most people. But for a group of determined guys who decided to make their. own inclusive community while residing in these same environs and who themselves had faced exclusions the likes of which few can imagine. Social, economic, legal, societal and in some instances even familial to name but a few. Bright, creative, innovative, curious, industrious. and in a few cases charismatic they gathered to themselves information, knowledge and like minded people such as yourselves to give themselves a voice and educate the public on the truth about capital punishment. And in doing so Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty was born. A true community of "Hope seekers and stokers'', made up of family, friends, pen-pals and the occasional.stranger who happened across the growing community and became a part of it. And in twenty-five years we have come a long way We are neither of us the same my community and me How could we be? Just trying to keep it positively real Thank you for helping us to "Keep Hope Alive!"

In Christ,

Ronald B. Smith Jr
Editor, A Christian Perspective”
H-6A/Z-586


ALL EYES ON AMERICA 

As the U S watches the situation going on between Russia and the Ukraine and pushes for sanctions on Russia for their actions, it may want to take notice that the eyes of the world are watching it, as well. The world is watching, as the death states search under every rock, and in every back alley, like lust driven killers looking for drugs to keep their political, revenge torture chambers open for business. The eyes of the

world watch as the U S tries to tell other countries how humanely they should be treating their own citizens while the U S tortures their own citizens with the farce that killing people shows that killing is wrong.

The eyes of the world watch, as the death States scramble desperately to either find drugs for executions, or to hide which drug dealer they were able to “score” some drugs from. The eyes of the world were also watching, as some of those "scored" were used to torture a man until his heart gave out and he died of a heart attack on the executioner’s canvas in Oklahoma. The U. S. likes to watch over other countries to make sure they're doing right by their citizens (kind of Big Brother-ish wink-wink) but now that other countries are watching over it, will the U.S. do the right thing? Will the U.S. (death states) stop torturing its citizens to death for revenge, and political gain, but under the guise of Justice? The world is watching, let's see!!

Anthony Boyd
Z-578 N-9


“DON’T COUNT ME OUT”

THE COURT: Here today for sentencing hearing for above styled case, defendant is present with counsel. Defendant has been convicted of 2 counts of Capital Murder. Presentencing order is set for today. Does defense counsel have a copy of the presentence report?

DEFENSE COUNSELOR: No, your honor…there isn't one to compile. The defendant has no prior record.

THE COURT: Sir, do you have anything to say before sentence is imposed?

DEFENDANT Yes, Ma’am. I'm not satisfied with the verdict because I’m…It’s just not right.

DEFENSE COUNSEL: Defendant’s Mother would like to speak.

DEFENDANT'S MOTHER: I’m the defendant's mother I would like to ask that you find it in your heart to not take my son's life. He's not a killer. Will you please just give him a prison term? Just not death

DEFENSE COUNSEL: Judge, will you please spare his life?

THE STATE: Your Honor, He’s a coward He deserves the death penalty. This case calls out for the death penalty. So, do what you're elected to do…give him death and we'll have coffee and a conversation later. All of us.

THE COURT: Well, coffee and conversation does sound good…hmmm…what the hell. Count 1 and 2, I impose the sentence of death.

THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor…Hold up. This ain't right. I ain’t did nothing…The state knows it. He's withheld evidence I want to appeal this shit here! This got to be made right!!! 

Don't count me out Count me in. I'm not an animal. I’m a human. I'm a man. God is with me. I will overcome. Not my will but yours be done. It’s no longer justice, so I call it a circus. The judge, prosecutor, and defense counsel dine at the same table; plotting to hurt us. We the people, give them their position and allow this to happen. Until we decide to take a firm stance here in Alabama, the political smoke screen will forever entrap us. The future is still inside of me The future is still inside of us With the right guidance patience and direction we can and will do better. Crime must be punished, however, correction must be given If one is not taught how to do better, one can't be expected to do better.

Randy Lewis
Z-741 P-7


4%

The percentage of innocent people sentenced to die, and that number could be higher Why is the judicial system hiding things that could point to a person's innocence? Why do judges repeatedly defend the prosecutors who try so hard to keep a conviction when they know a person is innocent? It takes years of fighting in appeals courts to finally free some innocent people from a death sentence. Some, we will never see go free because they die from the stress of this environment or other natural causes, or the State kills them. In the latter case, the state will never own-up to killing an innocent person they don't want to acknowledge the mistake they made in the beginning by charging and convicting an innocent person, when they go free Their favorite line, "He or she is guilty, they just found a loophole in the law" What, are they serious??!! The troubling part of that is, the prosecutors will not retry those cases, this person is left with the public thinking he is guilty, still being punished for a crime he didn't commit. Now, evidence is coming to light about 3 people in Texas that were executed, were actually innocent. In Louisiana, after 30 years Glenn Ford was exonerated from death row. These are just a few reasons the death penalty should be abolished. With such incompetent, inexperienced Defense attorneys defending cases this pattern will continue on top of that, you have overzealous, ambitious willing to do anything, politically driven District Attorneys looking to notch another win on their records So you have a combination for wrongly unjust justice to prevail. Those are the things the public must know, but are not being told by the people they elected Protect and serve the more than 4%, Stop this from happening to anyone else

Marcus Williams


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, If that's a tale of two cities, you can be sure that in Atmore it's the worst of times· Of course, worst implies that it can’t get any more bad but it certainly continues to. As soon as you become accustomed to how bad it is bam, it gets worse. Here on the row, we try to "maintain" but whether it's population inmates, the administration, or just Murphy's Law, it will happen and sooner rather than later They say bad things come in threes, we wish it stopped at three. So, remember us in your prayers because no matter how unlikely or off the wall an adversity may be, we’ve probably experienced it…usually more than once.

GLOOMY GUS


IS IT JUST-US OR JUSTICE?

Is it you...reader? Is it you, Bryan Stevenson? Is it our supporters? Is it PHADP.org that got it wrong about what’s Justice, or is it all of us? Or, are those that are for the death penalty right? So, I appeal now to the Christians that are on the fence and are not sure, how or WWJD about capital crimes and punishment. As a liferow inmate, I'm biased to feel one way about it. But, if I weren't, I would respect the system if it were error free of making a mistake. One execution of an innocent person is too many Am I right about that, or are those that say, “Killing one innocent person is okay, we don’t have a perfect system.” So, I looked toward my Source for Guidance…the Word of God.

I always hear them say...“an eye for an eye" Meaning if someone kills, they should be killed. But, have these readers of a verse ever looked at how God/Jesus handled Capital Crimes in Genesis chapter 4? God confronted Cain for killing his brother Abel. After convicting Cain…God didn't sentence him to death or Hell. And when Cain pleaded his case to God…God put a hedge of protection-(technically a pardon) on him to protect him from DEATH. That story can be read in Genesis 4 8-16. Then, there in St. John 8, we see Jesus called in to be Judge over a woman who committed adultery, a crime punishable by stoning to death. But, as Judge over the situation, He looked at the Mockery of the trial and process and the accused was released . “Why”, you may ask? There are several biblical answers to that question, but first let's look at who the Judge is. A

person who's fair and a God that's JUST…If, in both of those circumstances the systems would have been fair, maybe there would have been a different outcome. What we do know is, they were Not. Because at the time of Cain 1 s murder, which was the first of mankind there was no law in place. And with the woman in John…the entire system was foul.

The Word clearly states, in Proverbs 22 22-23 Do not exploit, or take advantage of the poor...just because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court. Because, if you do, then the Lord will take up their case and will crush those who crush them .. I'm sure Don Sieglman knows that first hand, as a former prosecutor and Governor.

So, as you see, it isn’t JUST-US. nor is it JUSTICE the way the death penalty is run in the United States. God’s Judgment is the way. It is fair because it's done without anger or vengeance. His Judgment is meant to CORRECT us and restore us, Not to kill us to show us it was wrong to kill. This is why the return rate is so high to prison The Department of Corrections, is not correcting anything Is that JUST-US or is it JUSTICE?

I'm just saying,

Anthony Tyson
Z-641 N-17


KILLING CLAYTON

Clayton Lockett suffered an agonizing death by the hands of the State of Oklahoma, in its death chamber. Many, in my opinion, should be concerned with the likelihood of botched executions nationwide. Not only has the lethal cocktail come into question, but also the secrecy surrounding it.

Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began. It has been said, that the vein burst that was accepting Oklahoma's lethal cocktail After writhing, grimacing, and other movement of something gone wrong, the execution was stopped, the curtain was pulled and a heart attack followed. But, we label this as humane and continue to allow the murder of convicted murderers, no matter how horrible their deaths. With all botched executions, the first thing said is,  “Look what a horrible crime the guy committed " as if that absolves the State of the horrible murder they just committed. If you do an act, and the best way you can think of to justify your actions is to say,"It wasn't as bad as what he did…” then I say you are fully aware that what you did was wrong.

For those that are vengeful, heartless and eager for death, your hands are stained you conscience non-existent It is you that promote this system of killing and now its attempt to justify it with fear tactics and detailed accounts of the convicted murderer's crime As soon as news broke of Lockett’s botched execution, some supporters of the death penalty hurried to comment on the suffering of his victims I guess, for ignorance sake, this is okay.

The majority of Americans support the death penalty. I am willing to say that most have no idea of how gruesome it can be when something goes wrong But, politicians tell us we need it, that it's clinical, and makes us safer. Been there, done that, heard it all before! If this was true, why are we now talking about Clayton Lockett? Why are European companies refusing to supply the needed drugs for the purpose of execution? Better yet, why are states fighting to keep things secret? These are the things we as a civilized society need to ponder. Sadly, the debate over the death penalty will die down once again and we will be debating Kim & Kanye's wedding or what dirt can be dug up on Hilary Clinton, At least until the next Clayton Lockett comes along, for humanity’s sake it will be too late once again.

Nicholas Acklin
Z-648 N-7