We are traveling through Tennessee's heartland and highways, meeting folks and starting conversations about our death penalty.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008


Troy Davis Receives Stay of Execution

Troy Anthony Davis received a stay of execution Friday. He had been scheduled for execution on Monday, October 27. This is excellent news and a testament to the significant grassroots organizing conducted around Troy Davis.

“Upon our thorough review of the record, we conclude that Davis has met the burden for a stay of execution,” the court said in an order issued by Judges Joel Dubina, Rosemary Barkett and Stanley Marcus.

The judges called the stay “conditional” and said they want to hear more from Davis’ lawyers and state attorneys.

Davis must clear two difficult legal hurdles to win a new round of appeals."

Read more about about the stay in an article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution by CLICKING HERE.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


Tennessean Editorial and Op-Eds on Death Penalty

Kudos to Dwight Lewis and the Tennessean for publishing an editorial as well as 3 opinion editorials on the death penalty in Tennessee.

"Whether in support of or in opposition to a death penalty, the residents of Tennessee should have clarity, compassion and, especially, justice for everyone. The finality of execution demands that we put an end to mistakes in the system."

Read the editorial "Tentative steps being taken towards fairness in the system" by clicking HERE.

"Resources essential for competent defense at the original trial are being denied in an effort to reduce the costs of death penalty litigation."

Read the op-ed "If resources limited, fairness will be, too" written by William P. Redick Jr. by clicking HERE.

"Exempting the most seriously ill inmates from the death penalty does not exempt them from other penalties, such as life without parole or a life sentence. But, such an exemption does allow for a quicker resolution for victims' families while reducing the costs of lengthy appeals and providing a more humane approach toward those who are most ill."

Read the op-ed "Mental illness must be in consideration" written by George Haley by clicking HERE.

"To look for solutions we must first recognize that the death penalty is big-ticket, luxury item."

Read the op-ed "Like anything else, you get the system you pay for" written by David Raybin by clicking HERE.

Awareness of the Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty is vital to its success. By publishing an editorial and 3 opinion editorials, the Tennessean is encouraging dialogue around the death penalty and the need for seeking fairness and accuracy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


U.S. Supreme Court Allows Troy Davis Execution

Today the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from Georgia death row inmate, Troy Davis, refusing to consider the case. The court refused to hear the appeal without comment.

Without out of nine prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony since Davis' conviction in 1991, and the highest court in the land has no comment.

I must say that I find this move by the U.S. Supreme Court to demonstrate not only the lack of real justice in the "justice" system but an act of Supreme Cowardice by a court which is a supposed to be more concerned with truth than with ideology and protecting the system.

This ducking of responsibility by the court should be disturbing to every citizen of this country who believes that our court system should be first and foremost concerned with discerning the truth and not maintaining a conviction.

We will keep you updated as the state of Georgia moves to set an execution date and will keep you informed of actions that you can take to stop this travesty of justice.

Read more.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Belmont Block Party

A pre-debate rally lasted all day yesterday at Belmont University. TCASK, along with many others, braved the cold and rainy weather and walked along "issues alley" which was located along the outskirts of Belmont's campus. Though we complained about being wet and cold, our misfortune was a fair trade for being a part of a history-making event and to have the opportunity to spread the word about the death penalty.

McCain and Obama supporters were well marked with pins, t-shirts, and signs. TCASK set up an information table next to the Political Impersonators. People rushed to get pictures with the faux-George Bush, Sara Palin, and Bill Clinton. In the meantime, some lingered in our direction, and we were able to have some great conversations about the death penalty issue. This setting and experience served as reassurance that the death penalty is truly a non-partisan issue. It is not a blue issue or a red issue but rather a societal issue, an issue with humanity. Agreements and disagreements happen on both sides of the party lines.

Often times those opposed to the death penalty are viewed as "liberals", but we had some great conversations with "conservatives" as well. We had one such conversation with a gentleman who is running for U.S. Congress whose table was next to ours. He is a conservative, Christian, Republican who is whole-heartedly pro-life. When we first began talking with him, we weren't sure he knew what our issue really was, but then he shared that he takes a pro-life stance from conception to death. He said, "We should not choose when and how someone dies, only God has the authority to do so." If you profess that you are pro-life, can you pick and choose which part of life you are for?

The rally was a great opportunity for all issues-- education, clean energy, politics, diversity, the death penalty--to be shared with the Tennessee public and the nation at large.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Paul House Trial Delayed

The retrial for Paul House, which was scheduled to begin on October 14, has now been postponed until March 2009 at the request of attorneys on both sides. After 23 years of waiting, yet another delay is frustrating for many of us, but House's attorneys need more time to ensure that he gets the best defense possible and is ultimately exonerated.

Paul (or Greg, as he is called by his family) is now at home with his mother, Joyce, in Crossville, and his health is improving. Though still in a wheelchair, he is getting stronger. Joyce works with him on his physical therapy regularly and gets him to all his doctor's appointments. Paul has a hearty appetite and is able to sit outside to get the fresh air and sunshine that the doctor ordered! Though all of us, especially Joyce and Paul, want this ordeal to end, we can wait, if need be, as long as Paul is home and getting the care he needs.

We still continue to hope that General Phillips will drop these charges and allow everyone to move on. The state of Tennessee has spent enough time and money attempting to maintain this wrongful conviction and should admit that a mistake was made. The travesty of justice here is not that a mistake was made but the lack of acknowledgement of that mistake.

I think we all could have much more confidence in our "justice" system if we believed that the ultimate goal was justice and not maintaining convictions. General Phillips has the opportunity to demonstrate that the pursuit of justice is more important than one's personal ambition, ego, or conviction record. Let's hope he finally decides that enough is enough as the rest of us have.

Read more here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


S.O.S. Back in Action

Last night I stuck around after work for a few hours for my first encounter with the speakers bureau of murder victims families, a program called Sharing Our Stories: Murder Victims' Families Speak (S.O.S.). Every two months S.O.S. meets to build fellowship with one another and practice presenting their very personal and tragic family stories. The bureau is intended to go out into the community and present their stories and share why, even through their tough experiences, they are opposed to the death penalty.

Shane was the presenter at yesterday's meeting. He shared the story of the killing of his brother Tim when Shane was just a teenager. Shane was overcome with anger and lived a very destructive life for many years following his brother's murder. He didn't know how to cope with his feelings of pain and his desire for revenge. He turned to drugs, drinking, and violent behavior. He was pro-death penalty and was furious when his brother's killer only received a life sentence. What made his brother's death less worthy of the maximum punishment?

Shane ended up going to law school to be a prosecutor with intent to try as many capital cases as he could. His third year of law school he took a class on the death penalty. His eyes were opened to the brokenness of the capital laws and at this time his emotional argument for the death penalty was overshadowed by the legal argument against it.

Somewhere within that time frame, Tim's murderer had a heart attack in prison and died. Shane was surprised to realize that this man's death gave no relief to his pain. He was overcome with a feeling of disappointment rather than the feeling of justice that he had anticipated. One night Sean's heart transformed when his brother visited him in a dream. Tim and Sean were sitting at the breakfast table having an everyday type conversation. Tim said to Shane, "Shane, don't let my death consume your life. Go make the world a safer place for my children." (Tim had two surviving kids).

When Shane shared these words I became teary-eyed. I can't imagine and really don't want to imagine experiencing the loss that Shane has but to see his drive to better humanity for the memory of his brother and the lives of his niece and nephew touched my heart. It took Shane many years to heal, but he chose to better this world by working as an attorney focusing on death penalty issues.

In our society, we expect that all families of murder victims support the death penalty. Initially everyone would have to feel insulted, overwhelmed, heartbroken, fearful, sad, angry, etc. etc. if their family was hurt. We are humans. We have rash reactions to any traumatic experience especially ones that test our comforts or hurt our loved ones. Through hearing stories like Shane's, I am seeing a greater light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel of sadness. Healing that comes only through forgiveness; healing that comes only through time; and the realization that the hatred for that murderer can consume our lives forever, but it will never bring back that loved one we've lost. I believe that Tim visited Shane in his dream because he did not want his death, the way he died, to continue to consume Shane's life. He wanted Shane to remember the way he had lived and the way he loved his family.