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Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 6.17.20

                   Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 6.17.20

We have good news and quote from an article by Beth Shelburne “ Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr filed an extraordinary legal pleading Friday in the high-profile capital murder case of Toforest Johnson, urging the Court to set aside Johnson’s conviction and order a new trial. Citing a number of factors, Carr wrote that his “duty to seek justice requires intervention in this case.” Carr’s request for a new trial was joined by the original prosecutor who obtained Johnson’s conviction.”

On Monday the men were handed an Inmate Religious Declaration form which listed 14 denominations and a box for “other”. There is some concern as the form appears to be incomplete with missing pages making it all the more important as with all forms signed to check with one’s attorney. We are aware that religious rights have been an issue in Texas and wonder whether this form was prompted by that.

In light of the stayed execution in Texas for a man who was 18 at the time of the crime we also discussed the persistent unwillingness of the legal system to apply modern science to crime and punishment. A 2005 Supreme Court case outlawed the death penalty for defendants who killed when they were 17 or younger. Meanwhile “scientific research has established that the brains of young people between 18 and 20 years old are functionally indistinguishable from the brains of 17-year-olds.” Will the US Supreme Court finally catch up with science and rule in favor of Billy Joe Wardlow or will it continue in its anti-scientific approach in this country which prides itself as being a leader in scientific advances? We can only hope!

We are sad to announce that the Federal Government will resume Capital Punishment after nearly two decade lapse in July. A sad reflection on this country!

In an article in the New York Times entitled “Troubling Tableau in the 11th Circuit’s Prisoner Cases”, the court which covers three Southern States Sotomayor stated that it uses procedures “out of step with other courts” echoing critiques from judges and scholars. One of these stated that “The 11th Circuit is racing to the bottom when it comes to reviewing prisoner appeals.” Former Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor is the head of that court. Need we say more?

For Mother’s Day the Board came up with the great idea of gifting supporters with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty T-shirts. Dr. Katie Owens-Murphy was kind enough to display hers on her Facebook page with the result that there were inquiries on where one could purchase one. We are very grateful to Gail Glover who is willing to handle these requests which should be made by messenger on her Facebook page.

We were honored by being contacted by the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence about our experience in advocacy in the community for justice. We recommended contacting the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, SOS and Alabama Arise as organizations in this state which from our own experience actively stand for justice. We were glad to be of help.

 In closing and as always, we continue to thank all our generous donors who either gave by going to our website and using the “donate” button or who gave directly. Thank you also to all who took the time to read our notes, commented, liked and shared them on Facebook. You encourage us and make all the difference. Please stay safe!