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Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 8.16.17

Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 8.16.17

 

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion … if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” Nelson Mandela. It was hard for us to find the words to speak about the horrifying manifestations of hate and racism in Charlottesville. It was hard not because the ugliness came as a surprise, after all the death penalty is the modern day lynching and racism permeates our so called justice system, but still this naked manifestation of hate makes it difficult not to reciprocate with hate. We would like to think that the disgusting events in Charlottesville could promote awareness and shame but looking at history we are not very optimistic and believe that it is not only likely that racism will continue to infest this country but that it will also continue to be denied. And as any drug addict knows, as long as one is in denial there is no hope for recovery!

To be more specific on how race affects us we quote from EJI: “Of the 180 people on Alabama’s death row, 91 (51 percent) are black and 86 (48 percent) are white. Prominent researchers have documented a pattern of discrimination in the application of the death penalty based on the race of the victim, race of the defendant, or both, in nearly every state that uses capital punishment. Each year in Alabama, nearly 65 percent of all murders involve black victims, yet 73 percent of the people currently awaiting execution in Alabama were convicted of crimes in which the victims were white. Fewer than 5 percent of all murders in Alabama involve black defendants and white victims, but over 52 percent of black death row prisoners have been sentenced for killing someone white.

The chief prosecutors in death penalty states are overwhelmingly white (only about one percent are black), as are judges, defense attorneys, and even juries. None of Alabama’s 19 appellate court judges and only one of the 42 elected District Attorneys in Alabama is black. Racially biased use of peremptory strikes and illegal racial discrimination in jury selection remains widespread, particularly in serious criminal cases and capital cases. Hundreds of people of color called for jury service have been illegally excluded from juries after prosecutors asserted pretextual reasons to justify their removal. For example, in Houston County, Alabama, eight of ten African Americans qualified for jury service have been struck by prosecutors from death penalty cases. More than 23 capital cases in Alabama have been reversed after it was proven that prosecutors illegally excluded black people from jury service. Despite decades of evidence showing that the administration of the death penalty is permeated with racial bias, courts and legislatures’ refusal to address race in any comprehensive way reveals a fundamental flaw in America’s justice system.”

 

 See you next week!

                                                      Esther