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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Death Penalty Awareness Week

This week is Death Penalty Awareness Week at Vanderbilt University, hosted by Amnesty International. Last night they kicked off the week with the showing of, At Death House Door. A good crowd showed up to watch the documentary that delves into the story of Carroll Pickett--the former Chaplain for the Texas Department of Corrections. During Pickett's time with the Department of Corrections (1982-1995), he counseled 95 inmates executed by lethal injection. This film, directed by Steve James and Peter Gilbert, documents Pickett's ideological transformation that happens over the course of his work. He goes from supporting to opposing the death penalty in large part because of one specific inmate, Carlos De Luna. Carlos De Luna was executed in 1989 for crime that he probably did not commit. I encourage you all to read the story of Carlos De Luna--the above link will take you to the article the NCADP wrote on this man. At Death House Door is a powerful and moving movie that explores the important issues that surround the debate on the death penalty, including: lethal injection, wrongful conviction, morality and religion.

After the film, three panelists, including our own Stacy Rector, were there to discuss the film with the viewers. There was much discussion on the complex Carroll Pickett himself and the transformation that he went through, as well as the theological and ethical issues that come into play surrounding this issue.

On Thursday, October 1, Amnesty will host Shane Truett, a local attorney whose brother was murdered when Shane was a teenager. He will be speaking on why he is anti-death penalty. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in Buttrick 102.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Shouting From the Rooftops

In 2006, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that there has not been "a single case - not one - in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops."

Please check out the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's campaign to shout from the rooftops the name of Cameron Todd Willingham as well as our opposition to the continued risk of executing the innocent in our country. With alternatives like life without parole, the risk of executing an innocent person is one we do not have to take.

Please watch the video clip available on the site, featuring a number of death row exonerees, including Ray Krone, who will be speaking at Belmont University in Nashville in December.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Article on Innocence with Tennessee Connections

I am on my way out of the office today but ran across this article and wanted to post it for folks to see.

Read the story here.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Lawyers Plan to Stop Ohio from Second Execution Attempt

Lawyers for Ohio inmate Romell Broom will file lawsuits to stop the state from a second attempt to execute Broom. On Tuesday, an Ohio execution team worked for more than 2 hours trying to find a usable vein for the lethal injection process to proceed and finally stopped when Governor Ted Strickland intervened, giving Broom a week-long reprieve.

Read more here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Ohio Execution Delayed Because of Vein Trouble

I saw this story when I got to the office this morning, and I was sickened by what I read.

Yesterday, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland gave 53-year-old death row inmate, Romell Broom, a week long reprieve when Broom's execution team could not find a vein in his arm after working on him for more than two hours.

The team began to look for a vein in Broom's arm around 2 p.m. and finally stopped around 4:30 p.m. At one point, Broom tried to assist the team in finding a vein. After at least one attempt, he covered his face, appearing to sob.

A medical evaluation Monday determined that veins in Broom’s right arm appeared accessible, while those in his left arm were not as visible.

Problems with the execution process are not new to Ohio. Delayed executions in 2006 and 2007 led to changes in Ohio’s lethal injection process. Obviously, grave problems still exist.

I know that there are some who are not particularly concerned with the mental and physical anguish that Broom experienced yesterday and will experience again as he faces another execution attempt. Of course, the victim of his crime, Tryna Middleton, suffered immensely as well. And yet, I continue to be amazed that we, as a society, condemn his violence by inflicting violence upon him. To what end?

And yet, even for those who don't care about Broom's suffering, imagine the suffering of those in that room yesterday, attempting to find a vein in his arm? Imagine the mental anguish that they experienced whether they admit it or not. And now, they have to try it all over again.

The death penalty asks that those working in Corrections do our dirty work for us, and as a result, suffer the mental and emotional consequences of it. It must hard enough for members of an execution team when the process goes as planned, but this? I can't imagine it.

Now having personally experienced an execution, I cannot fathom the trauma yesterday's events caused to those who were participating or witnessing it and will have to go through again. There are alternatives that can protect society and spare so many people from scenes such as the one yesterday in Ohio.

Read the story here.

NPR featured this story on Sept. 16. Listen here.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Tennessee Bar Journal Features Story on Death Penalty Study Committee

Long time criminal defense attorney and former director of the Tennessee Justice Project, Bill Redick, authored the cover story of the most recent edition of the Tennessee Bar Journal with his reflection on the work of the Tennessee Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty. Redick served as a member of the Study Committee that was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2007 in order to examine Tennessee's death penalty system for fairness and accuracy.

In the article, Redick revisits various reports through the years concerning the dire condition of Tennessee's death penalty system and outlines a few possibilities for addressing some of the problems. At the end of the article, Redick discusses abolition and why some states have finally determined that the death penalty system is too broken to fix.

Read the article here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Our Staff : Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Stacy Rector, Executive Director

Stacy Rector is a native of Dyersburg, Tennessee, a graduate of Rhodes College and Columbia Theological Seminary, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. She served as the Associate Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville for nine years. During her time as a pastor, Stacy served on the board of TCASK, the Restorative Justice Coalition of Tennessee, and was a founding member of the board for the Presbyterian Network to End Homelessness. In October 2006, Stacy became Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing (TCASK), an organization whose mission is to honor life by abolishing the death penalty. She also currently serves as the chairperson of the Peacemaking committee for the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee.

You can contact Stacy at

Isaac Kimes, Field Organizer

Isaac Kimes, TCASK Field OrganizerIsaac is a native of Seattle, WA but moved around often as the son of an Air Force Officer. Isaac graduated from Arizona State University (Go Devils!) with a B.S. in Justice Studies. Isaac joined the TCASK staff in June, 2007. His job: organize TCASK supporters across the state through chapters and educational events like the annual Student Conference on the Death Penalty.

Isaac's career in organizing began with the Arizona Public Interest Reserach Group in the summer of 2006 where he did door-to-door canvassing on issues like water conservation, gay and lesbian civil rights, and protecting our wilderness lands. In the fall of 2006, Isaac coordinated a nonpartisan voter registration and turn out effort for young voters at Arizona State University. The campaign registered over 1500 voters and turned out 5000.

You can reach Isaac at

Denver Schimming, Organizer

Denver Schimming, TCASK OrganizerDenver joined the TCASK staff in August, 2008. His job: reach out to members of law enforcement and their respective agencies. He will also be working to expand TCASK's "Sharing our Stories: Murder Victims' Families Speak" program which pairs murder victim's family member with TCASK volunteers to provide presentations on the death penalty from victims' perspectives.

Denver was born and raised in Indiana but has called Nashville his home since 1985. For the last 10 years Denver has been involved in many social justice issues in Nashville, especially in the area of prison reform. Denver serves on the Board of Directors of Dismas House, a transitional halfway house that works with and supports men coming out of prison. Denver has spoken at colleges and universities on the subjects of Felony Disenfranchisement and Alternative Justice. Denver also helps teach the Inside/Out class at the Charles Bass Correctional Facility.

Denver says, "I am so excited and humbled that my life's journey has led me to TCASK and the opportunity to work with such talented, devoted and passionate people."

You can reach Denver at

Katie Mohr, Intern

Katie Mohr, TCASK InternKatie Mohr joined the TCASK state office in September 2008. She has committed herself to a year of service with the Young Adult Volunteer Program sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Katie says, "Social justice has always been a part of my life and I am excited to see, learn, and help make change happen in TN one day at a time."

You can reach Katie at