Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Clemency for Steve Henley

The state of Tennessee plans to execute Steve Henley at 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 4th. The citizen response to this planned execution has been incredible.

-6 total phone banks in Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville
-Over 2000 phone calls made to ask citizens to call Governor Bredesen and ask him to grant Steve clemency
-Hundreds of phone calls made to the Governor
-Nearly 1000 clemency cards delivered to the Governor
-2 opinion editorials
-2 letters to the editor

The grassroots response has been strong because Tennesseans are troubled by the circumstances of this execution. The two opinion editorials, Rea Frey in the Tennessean, and Rev. Jodi McCullah in the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, highlight these problems. Read Rea's by CLICKING HERE. Read Jodi's by CLICKING HERE. Read Amy Sayward's letter to the editor by CLICKING HERE. Read Phil Michal Thomas' letter to the editor by CLICKING HERE.

"Steve Henley, a Jackson County native, is scheduled to be executed early tomorrow morning for a crime he says he did not commit. At his trial, 24 years ago, the prosecution presented no solid evidence. He was accused of arson, yet there was no proof. He was accused of robbing and shooting his neighbors, yet the autopsy never recovered any bullets, and robbery was never proven. The only "evidence" in the case came from a known drug user, Terry Flatt, who made a plea bargain with the state in order to be released in just five years."

"How can we move to take a man's life based on nothing more than the testimony of a drug addict who made a deal? How can we allow this in kind of thing to happen in our criminal system?"

"The Tennessee Death Penalty Study Committee, created by the Legislature in 2007, found multiple examples of Tennessee death row inmates who received grossly inadequate representation at their trials, which led to their death sentences. Steve Henley's case is an example of such inadequate representation. If our own state legislative committee found such dire problems, how can we move forward with taking this man's life? If we make a mistake by executing Steve Henley, we cannot take it back. And why is it that no one seems to care that the state is poised to kill one of its citizens — at great cost to the taxpayers? Certainly we deserve more thorough coverage of this impending execution."

In Nashville, a Service of Remembrance and Resistance will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 3rd, at Brookmeade Congregational Church, 700 Bresslyn Road, Nashville, TN 37205. TCASK and its members will later gather at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution at 12:00 a.m. to hold a candlelight vigil unless the execution has been stayed. Riverbend Maximum Security Institution is located at 7475 Cockrill Bend Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209.

When heading to Riverbend, drive past the main entrance and officers will direct you to the parking. There have been instances when car and person have been searched so be sure to remove any items that might be misconstrued (knives, tools, etc.). Please dress very warmly as we are expecting very cold weather and high winds. Also, consider wearing water proof items as the moisture level is high at Riverbend.

Call TCASK if you have any questions before 5pm, (615) 256-3906, after 5pm, (615) 521-9985.

In Memphis, there will be a vigil at Immaculate Conception Cathedral located at 1695 Central Avenue. The vigil will start at 7:00 p.m. and last until the execution has been stayed or carried out. Call Rev. Amy Howe at (901) 482-1213 if you have any questions.


Comments :
Time for justice to be done.

Let's hope the 6th Cricuit reverses Trauger soon so that a bunch more dates in Tennessee can be set. You guys whine about costs. Well, if things go well, we may get Tennessee into double figures for executions since 1976 this year. That would save a lot of money.
well, all your efforts for naught--Henley got the big jab./\
No, Anonymous, as much as you may be celebrating now, our efforts were hardly for naught. They did not save Steve Henley, and they did not move our governor to show any moral leadership in a case that is practically a showcase of what is wrong with the death penalty. But the effort were not for naught.

Every time the state carries out an execution like this, more people turn against the death penalty. They learn about how fraught it is with error, how unevenly it is applied, and how many defendants are sentenced to die only because they lacked adequate legal counsel in the original trial. The tide is turning.

I write as someone whose mother- and father-in-law were murder victims. I can tell you as, as can so many other families, that the imprisonment or execution of the murderer does not bring closure. That is a lie. The death penalty does not stop violent crime. That, too is a lie. The death penalty does not apply on to the guilty. That is a lie. With the availability of life sentences that preclude parole, the death penalty is not necessary to protect society. That old claim is a lie.

But as Martin Luther King said, no lie can live forever. The days of the death penalty are already numbered.

Last year, I had an opportunity to hear the Rev. Jim Wallis speak in Nashville. He told a story about going to South Africa many years ago to take part in a rally led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu during some of the darkest days of apartheid.

The event was held in a large church in the belief that the South African security forces would not interfere in such a place. But while Tutu was speaking, police in riot gear came into the back of the sanctuary and began lining the walls on either side. They were ominously wielding billy clubs. Wallis said he and many others feared they were about to be beaten, or worse. Bishop Tutu stopped speaking, and there was a long silence.

Finally, Tutu spoke up. His squeaky voice rising with anger, he pointed a finger at the police. "I serve a God who is more powerful than your nightsticks and your state!" he shouted.

"Now that you have already lost, wouldn't you like to come over to the winning side?"

With that, he led the congregation out into the street and they all began to dance. The police were completely befuddled. They didn't know how to respond. They simply watched. Tutu had won. What he had said inside the church was not a bluff. It was a statement of faith.

This was the faith that was affirmed at the service of remembrance and resistance last night. Like so many of those who oppose the death penalty, I am part of a faith tradition which holds that the ultimate act of rejection of God's love and justice took the form of a state execution. But God would not allow human anger and human violence to have the last word. God does not allow death to have the last word. God is on the side of life, not death; on the side of hope, not hate; on the side of reconciliation, not retribution.

The state's machinery of death may have scored a point last night, but the God of history is not on your side. Wake up, Anonymous. You have already lost. Wouldn't you like to come over to the winning side?
I can never understand the death penalty without physical evidence. It makes no sense. Common sense says that with no physical evidence go with life in prison just in case you are wrong.
This is the kind of thing you guys should be getting worked up about:

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