Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 5.24.23

Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 5.24.23

An execution warrant has been issued for Alabama Death Row inmate James Barber. It’s the first execution set since the state botched and therefore failed to carry out two planned executions last fall, and the first with new rules in place allowing the governor to choose the execution date which shall not begin less than 30 days after the May 3rd order but which could be set at any time thereafter, You can find the Talking Points at: https://www.phadp.org/execution-alert-james-barber/

We thank the individuals, including Cantor Mike Zoosman of L’chaim, Jews Against the Death Penalty for their daily weekday calls to the Governor’s office protesting the upcoming execution. Might you join them?

Call Governor Ivey today: 1.334.242.7100

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has ruled that Alabama death-row prisoner Joseph Clifton Smith is ineligible for the death penalty because of intellectual disability. Alabama is appealing!

We were glad to hear that the Innocence Project has asked the Supreme Court to review the case of Toforest Johnson. The Innocence Project provided an amicus brief which stated “If ever a case bore the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction, Toforest Johnson’s is it.”

Our appreciation to Rep. Chris England whose House Bill 14 proposes a unanimous vote by a jury [be] required to impose [a] death sentence[,] and provides that an individual may be re-sentenced if a judge overruled a jury’s original sentence to issue the death penalty. This is an act known as ‘judicial override,’ which Alabama abolished in 2017 (the last state to do so). Now, over 30 individuals remain on death row in Alabama because a judge sentenced them to death despite the jury’s recommendation. The hearing is today and we plan to attend and testify.

Former Governors Siegelman and Bentley published a timely opinion piece for today’s hearing in which they stated that “to see the flaws in our nation’s justice system and to view the state’s death penalty laws in particular as legally and morally troubling.“We missed our chance to confront the death penalty and have lived to regret it, but it is not too late for today’s elected officials to do the morally right thing.” They did indeed not only miss their chance but each was responsible for 8 executions.

Good news from our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center: “The U.S. Senate made history last week by confirming Nancy Abudu to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Abudu is now the first African American woman, second woman of color, and only the third African American from Georgia to serve as judge on the circuit court. The circuit has appellate jurisdiction over federal cases originating in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.”

Today during our meeting we have been invited to call Dr. Robert Johnson, a professor of Criminology at American University. He actually did some work at Holman in the past, including a book he published in 1982 based on interviews he conducted with people on Alabama's death row called "Condemned to Die: Life Under Sentence of Death." He also publishes works by incarcerated writers under his independent press, Bleakhouse Publishing. Dr. Johnson sent us a copy of this book “Bone Orchard: Reflections on Life Under Sentence of Death”. He is currently working on 8th Amendment claims and serves as an expert witness challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty. We appreciate this connection very much and also the one who connected us, Dr. Katie Owens-Murphy.

As always in closing, we 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.

And if you would like to order our book Ghosts Over the Boiler you can do so at Amazon.com.

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Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 5.24.23