Wednesday, May 23, 2007


No Time Like the Present

In recent history, Tennessee has been one of the only Southern states which has not regularly carried out executions. Since 1960, Tennessee has executed three people, all since 2000. And, though the American Bar Association's report on Tennessee's death penalty released in April strongly recommended a moratorium on executions in the state, the Governor chose to lift the 90 day moratorium and move forward with the execution of Philip Workman. And, though the Tennessee legislature continues to move legislation creating a study commission to conduct a full and complete study of Tennessee's death penalty system, the state has scheduled four more executions dates.

Daryl Holton is currently scheduled to be executed on September 12, 2007. E.J. Harbison is scheduled to die on September 26th. Michael Boyd has an execution date of Oct. 24th, and Pervis Payne's date is Dec. 12th. As support for the death penalty nationwide is at an all time low, as fewer and fewer people are being sentenced to die, as states like New Jersey are moving toward the abolition of the death penalty, Tennessee revs up its execution machine.

And yet, when (not if) a study commission is in place, TCASK will be in its best position ever to demonstrate how truly broken this system is and will continue to mount public pressure to halt all executions until, at the least, the study commission can do its work. There is much work to do and many obstacles to face, but we are up for the challenge if we work together. TCASK is already planning a number of outreach and trainings initiatives for the summer to prepare our supporters for the work ahead. Stay tuned for more information about these opportunities.
Comments :
I'm with you! If all the folks (that are against the death penalty or at least for a moratorium until the present system can be impartially accessed) could come together - if ever there was a time, it is now! We need everyone to ramp up and get very active and make our voices heard. One Philip Workman is infinitely too many mistakes our state has made. Obviously the Governor is on an autocratic run right now, ignoring the popular opinion of his state. I pray that we all have the strength to carry on in the wake of recent events.
Count me in!
Funny how words are just playthings to you Augie. One can say a lot of things about the decision to allow Workman's death sentence to be carried out. "Autocratic" is not one of them. Workman was convicted by a jury of his peers who affixed the punishment at death. Then Workman had years and years of appeals. The Supreme Court, on the night of his death, gave his case specific consideration.
No playing matter here anonymouse.
I have to agree with Auggie. I believe it was proven that many of the jurors would not have given the same conviction had they known the details that came out later. Since Workman was not actually granted a new trial based on this evidence and the governor had the power to issue a stay, I'd say "autocratic" is actually a pretty good word. Plus should someone who has had years and years of appeals because of doubt regarding their conviction even be executed? It's never going to be a perfect system, so why should it exist at all. Life and death is no playing matter either.
Real autocracy is not carrying out a lawful punishment authorized by a jury, reviewed by independent courts and sanctioned by a democratic society.

By the way, now that we're talking about jurors years after the fact, I think it's high time people like TCASK took into account these people's rights. Perhaps with the Workman case, it's no big deal, as he does not seem to have unsavory relatives. But let me ask this, say you were a juror on the Tookie Williams case (you remember Tookie, the LA Crips guy), and some person came around years later and asked you whether you would vote for death--wouldn't you feel just a little threatened? I would. But why no outrage at such low tactics. Because you guys are so wrapped up in your self-righteous nonsense that you believe just about anything is ok if it serves the cause.
Wait wait wait. You think that we should respect the rights of jurors by asking them to make life and death decisions with incomplete information? You think that it is respecting the rights of the jurors, who sentenced Workman to death based on admittedly false testimony and five of whom have signed affidavits stating that they wouldn't have voted for death if they had known that Harold Davis was lying, to carry out the execution and let them live with the knowledge that, according to their own consciences, they sent a man to his death unjustly? Or what about the eight jurors in the Abu-Ali case who were told by the prosecutor, who knew that he wasn't telling the truth because he had stacks of medical record to the contrary, that Abu-Ali had no history of mental illness? Abu-Ali had a long history of gruesome childhood physical and sexual abuse and a long, documented history of mental illness. Eight of the jurors on his case have signed affidavits stating that, had they known this, they would never have voted for death.

And, of course, intimidating jurors (or former jurors) is strictly illegal. So let's be honest about juror's rights. They should have the right to full and complete information, not the incomplete, sometimes false information often available at trials. Making a life and death decision is a serious and frightening responsibility. There are numerous cases of jurors suffering psychological effects from sitting on death penalty trials. Asking them to make decisions with flawed information is the real violation of their rights as citizens. Our anonymous friend's completely hypothetical situation is a red herring which disingenuously conceals the real issue that not even the initial jury would have sentenced Philip Workman (and numerous other inmates) to death had they been given the information they deserved at trial.
Yes, intimidating jurors is strictly illegal. But if someone shows up on your doorstep representing a murderer trying to escape his punishment, even without any threats, that can be intimidating. But people are willing to do that. It's wrong. As I asked earlier, how would you like to be approached, years later, in a case on which you were a juror, and the defendant was some gang-banger. I have kids. I would be worried that if I didn't play ball, I'd be risking them.

Fortunately, I am made of sterner stuff, and I would curse out the person and order them off my property.

Jurors, absent extraordinary circumstances, should simply be left alone.
It took almost two hours longer than planned to execute Christopher Newton in Ohio.
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post :

Create a Link

<< Home