Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Nashville Write-a-Thon

On Sunday, March 1st, the Nashville chapter of TCASK hosted a write-a-thon to hand write letters to their legislators. March 1st marks International Death Penalty Abolition Day. A tragic lesson underlies the origins of International Death Penalty Abolition Day. In 1828, circumstantial evidence convicted Detroit native Patrick Fitzpatrick of the rape and murder of an innkeeper’s daughter. He was hanged shortly thereafter. Seven years later, Fitzpatrick’s ex-roommate, wanting to clear his conscience on his deathbed, confessed to the woman’s murder. Michigan’s first official act of the legislature after becoming a state in 1847 was to repeal capital punishment. The day was March 1st.

30 Tennesseans gathered at Gallery F by Vanderbilt University to hand write over 100 letters to their legislators. These 30 unique voices recognize the importance of expressing how they feel about the death penalty to those representing them in our capitol. Recently, the Tennessee Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty issued a report with recommendations for legislation. Read more about this HERE. This common sense legislation will make the death penalty more fair and reduce the risk of executing an innocent person. Letter writers understood that if we're going to have a death penalty, lets at least ensure that it is fair and accurate.

Successful events like Sunday's write-a-thon demonstrate that Tennesseans are committed to change. They want to fix a broken system, even if it means that abolition of the death penalty won't happen tomorrow. It is an incredible privilege to work with such amazing people like Sabine Schlunk who hosted the write-a-thon at Gallery F. Also, Lauren Brown, TCASK's newest board member who recruited 3 of her friends to come write letters. And, Harry Simpson, who dutifully takes wonderful pictures (like above) at TCASK's events. While 100 letters is a lot, we have hundreds, thousands more to write before our elected officials realize that supporting a broken system is wrong, and that we can do better to provide Tennessee with a system that is fair and reduces the risk of executing the innocent.


Comments :
"Successful events like Sunday's write-a-thon demonstrate that Tennesseans are committed to change. They want to fix a broken system, even if it means that abolition of the death penalty won't happen tomorrow."

Yeah, a handful of people write letters and it shows that Tennesseeans are committed to change. You probably have more Tennesseeans that want to speak Klingon--does that mean Tennesseeans are committed to learning Klingon?

You know, Ike, writing is more than just stringing together a number of sentences that sound good. I mean, really, if I can make the piece look that silly that easily, it's back to the drawing board.

Don't you guys have something more useful to do--like go around and pick up recyclables?
Dear Mr. Anonymous:
My son, husband and I were three of the "handful of people" that took time on Sunday afternoon to gather with others committed to change and write to our TN legislators. Ike and the rest of the staff at TCASK are thoughtful and hardworking people who care deeply about justice being served to all citizens of Tennessee. Making fun of this is childish and insensitive.

And, by the way, we do recycle.
I don't know why I assumed you were a man. I should have said Dear Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Sorry.
Ms. Carter, something you may want to look at:


I didn't ask whether you recycle--I mentioned picking up recyclables outside and making sure they are recycled. It would do more good that these letters.

And I wasn't making fun of your desires to influence legislators--that's what democracy is all about. What I am making fun of is Ike's assumption that a handful of people showing up and writing some letters shows what Tennesseeans, generally, think. It reminds me of Ike's comment about Workman's pizza for the homeless action reverberating through the ages. That's self-parody.
I gave pizza to the Campus for Human Development too. Don't underestimate the impact seemingly little things have on people.

I personally think it is better for a small group of people to try to impact change that for everyone to just throw up their hands and say, oh what the hell, nothing I ever do will make a difference. How is coming onto this site and being flippant with your comments helpful? If you are for the death penalty fine. Do something constructive to make sure that the people who are executed are really guilty. Don't just harrass people who are trying to make a positive difference in the world.
I agree with you, Ms. Carter. But I wasn't making fun of people writing. What I was doing is making fun of thinking that it reflects the views of Tennesseeans generally.

My purpose for posting here is to let you guys know that a lot of us are out here, and we support capital punishment, and we will challenge some of the silly stuff that gets said here. I have strongly criticized TCASK's insistence that Workman, House and Henley are innocent and the casual imputation of racial bias.

But please do read the link I have posted. It's interesting stuff, and understanding the other side helps you in your cause.
Why do you post anonymously? It is hard to take someone seriously when they will not share their identity.
That's an ad hominem attack. What I have to say is either valid or not.

This is interesting:

You are an anonymous coward. Go back to work rich lawyer.
I rarely speak to the anonymous comments posted here but felt that I needed to set the record straight. TCASK believes the death penalty system is flawed (as every human system is) and will undoubtedly make mistakes. Given that we have life without parole as an alternative to executing people, why take the risk? As to anonymous' statement about TCASK claiming people are innocent, I disagree on TCASK's record. In the case of Paul House, we didn't say that no reasonable juror would have convicted House given the new evidence in his case, the U.S. Supreme Court did. And by the way, since then, every bit of forensic evidence the state has tested that I know of--including a hair in the victim's hand, fingernail scrapings, and cigarett butts--has come back not matching Paul House. Of course, the question for me is why didn't the state test these items in the 1990's when the DNA evidence established that Paul House did not rape the Carolyn Muncey. Philip Workman was absolutely guilty of robbing a Wendy's in Memphis with a gun, which led to the tragic death of a Memphis police officer. No one denies that fact. What TCASK had a problem with is the fact that evidence never heard by the jury, including a ballastic's report showing that the bullet from Workman's gun wasn't the one that killed the officer and that the key witness against Philip lied on the stand, was never heard. If the jury had that information, they might have considered a life sentence. And finally, Steve Henley. I never said that Steve Henley was innocent...he did...over and over again. I am sorry if you don't like the fact that he never changed his story in 23 years. I am sorry if you don't like the fact that there was much more to Steve Henley than whether he did or did not commit this horrible crime. But I have a real problem with the state sending a man to his death based on the testimony of a drug addict who had already implicated himself, made a deal, and served only 5 years. Thankfully, I wasn't there when any of these crimes occurred to see for myself what really happened, but guess what, neither were you. So, neither one of us can be exactly sure. All we have is the evidence presented and the evidence which surfaced later that was never heard, which gets back to my earlier point. If we have alternatives like life without parole, why risk the execution of even one innocent person? I just don't get it.
"You are an anonymous coward. Go back to work rich lawyer."

Now there's some real intellect at work. Ad hominem and nasty. I guess when you cannot meet the argument, name calling is what you do. Enjoy your ignorance.
Stacy, take a look at this post. It clearly says a "case of innocence" with respect to House.


You guys consistently present the cases in ways that make the defendant look better than he is. And moreover, with respect to Henley, did you ever bother to ask him about some of the other evidence linking him to the crime?

In any event, Workman caused the death of that officer. At least get that right.
Dear Mr. Anonymous-
You may think that my saying that I cannot take you seriously if you remain anonymous is an argumentum ad hominem. I do not believe it is. I cannot attack you if I know nothing about you. However, at the same time, I personally do not feel I need to debate with someone who hides behind anonyminity. I think it takes courage and strength to say this is what I believe. Whether what you post is valid or not, for me, is not enough. Your posts are laced with enough sarcasm to make me not want to read further.

I support the work of the fine people of TCASK. I consider myself part of TCASK. I AM a part of TCASK. I pray for the day when everyone will respect life - all life- as much as Stacy does.
Why would you want to attack me, instead of what I am saying? If you don't want to read what I have to write, fine.
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