Death Penalty Alternatives is participating in two events simultaneously. It may have happened before, but not often. We are at both the Tucson Peace Fair and ASU’s Local to Global Justice Forum and Festival in Tempe. Come out to visit with us and learn of our recent activities, what we have planned for the future and what you can do to help change Arizona’s law eliminating capital punishment, replacing it with a less costly and safer alternative.
Shujaa Graham was born in Louisiana and grew up on a plantation in the segregated South of the 1950s. After moving to Southern California, Shujaa experienced the Watts Riots and police occupation of his community. In and out of trouble, he spent much of his adolescence in juvenile institutions, and when he turned 18 he was sent to Soledad Prison.
Mentored by the leadership of the Black Prison Movement, Shujaa became a leader of the growing movement within the California prison system as the Black Panther Party expanded in that community.
Shujaa was framed for a 1973 murder of a prison guard was sent to San Quentin’s death row. The California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 1979, yet it wasn’t until 1981 that he was found innocent and released. Shujaa lectures on the death penalty, the criminal justice system, racism, and gang violence to international audiences around the world. One of his favorite audiences is American youth: “I’m filled with ideals for a better future, I may never enjoy the fruits of this labor, but our children will.”
We are pleased to sponsor his visit and appreciate the support of Amnesty International and Pax Christi. He will be speaking at these venues in Phoenix as well as in Tucson and Flagstaff.
2/14 ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor Law School 111 E. Taylor St. Phoenix 2:00 – 3:30
2/15 Phoenix College 1202 W Thomas Rd. Student Union SU 117A and B 12 – 1:30
2/15 Glendale Community College 6000 W. Olive Ave. Glendale Student Union 104 A 5:30 – 7
2/16 Herberger Theater Center, Kax Stage, 3rd St and E. Van Buren St. Phoenix 1:15 – 2:15
2/17 St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church 3201 E Presidio Rd, Tucson, AZ 6:30 – 8:30
2/18 San Francisco de Asis Catholic Parish,1600 E Route 66, Flagstaff AZ 7:00 – 9:00
2/20 Franciscan Renewal Center, 5802 East Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley 6:30 – 8:30
The annual meeting of Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona took place January 21st at Arizona State University’s Beus Center for Law and Society, 111 E Taylor St, Phoenix, AZ 85004. The event was free and open to the public.
Guest speakers were attorneys Lori Voepel and Michael D. Kimerer and their client Debra Milke. Ms. Voepel was Debra Milke’s appellate attorney from 2001 through 2013, when she finally won her federal habeas appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Voepel then served as co-counsel with Mr. Kimerer for Ms. Milke in re-trial proceedings, until successfully petitioning the Arizona Court of Appeals for dismissal of Ms. Milke’s case with prejudice in 2015. Mr. Kimerer has been practicing law in Phoenix since 1970 when he left California to join the law firm of Lewis & Roca. In his current firm Kimerer & Derrick, P.C., Mr. Kimerer, a certified criminal law specialist, devotes his practice to criminal defense.
In 1990 Debra Milke was wrongfully convicted of a horrible crime against her own child, Christopher, who was brutally murdered. She spent 22 years on Arizona’s death row. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted her Habeas Corpus Petition in 2013, holding that prosecutors failed to disclose a history of misconduct by homicide Detective Armando Saldate, Jr. While she did gain her hard-fought-for freedom, she is still left with a life without her son, making the victory bittersweet. She remains in her hometown of Phoenix, where she works part-time at a law firm, and tries to rebuild her shattered life.
A Harvard Law School report identifies Maricopa County as an outlier in its use of the death penalty. As the Phoenix New Times reports:
“Too Broken to Fix: Part I: An In-Depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties,” by the school’s Fair Punishment Project, identifies Maricopa as one of 16 “outliers” among the nation’s 3,143 counties or “county equivalents,” for having sentenced five or more defendants to death during the period 2010-2015.
ABC 15 offered a comparison of Arizona to other states with the death penalty and asks why Arizona has one of the largest death-row populations? The article also offers statistical information on the death penalty.
For more information, click here to see the full story. (The link will take you off the Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona website.)
The Arizona Department of Corrections has removed the controversial midazolam from its lethal-injection protocol. And because it doesn’t have the other drugs in the protocol for carrying out executions, the Department can’t conduct any executions in the near future.
As a result, the death penalty in Arizona is on hold for the “foreseeable future.”
For the entire news article on this development, please click here to go to the Arizona Republic website.
Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona will hold its annual meeting on Saturday, January 16, 2016 in Tucson, featuring keynote speaker Stanley Feldman, former chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. More information about the event is below. All who come in peace are welcome!
- Date: Saturday, January 16, 2016
- Time: 9 AM to conclusion (which will be around noon)
- Location: Monterey Court, 505 W Miracle Mile Dr, Tucson, Arizona
- Keynote speaker: Stanley Feldman, retired Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court
- Food: there will be music and a buffet lunch
We are so grateful for your participation in #GivingTuesday! It’s a great start into our year end fund raising effort – we hope to secure donations of $50,000 in December to launch us into the most active and ambitious year of our history.
We began an initiative and are collecting signatures to remove the death penalty from Arizona Revised Statutes replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. As you can imagine securing 175,000 signatures – the amount we estimate necessary to have the required number of valid signatures – demands both work and substantial funding. Volunteers are requested to assist in gathering signature, but we realize volunteers alone won’t be able to obtain all the signatures so we will employ paid petition gatherers. We will also need money to hire an executive director and a field organizer to manage the campaign. When we are successful, the initiative will be placed on the ballot and Arizona can join Nebraska, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey & New York (7 states which have recently stopped executions) and the other 16 states which don’t execute! 23 states do not kill!
While gathering the necessary signatures is a huge task, it is certainly not all that is required. Getting the initiative on the ballot is just the start and will mean little if it is not passed by the voters. The number of citizens favoring executions is at the lowest point in years. While it still hovers around 60%, the number drops below 50% when those polled are offered the option of life without the possibility of parole. It will be our task therefore not only to gather the signatures, but also to educate the public and explain why state executions are bad public policy and how they don’t serve society.
Those who advocate state sponsored killing claim it is a deterrent – there is no proof that this is true, in fact see the opposite – states which execute have a higher capital crime rate… violence begets violence. Some claim it is a closure for the victims friends and family members, yet many will acknowledge that there is no “closure” and peace comes with forgiveness, not with vengeance. Only 2% of the nations 3,143 counties account for the majority of the executions in our nation, unfortunately Maricopa and Pima counties are ranked among the leaders. Let us not forget the costs – not only financial (estimated to be 4 to 7 times more expensive than life incarceration) but also emotional as the pain that survivors experience in our broken system is heart-wrenching. Lastly, we risk killing the innocent – studies show an estimated 4% of the prisoners on death row are innocent and sadly we have killed innocent people.
As a youngster Mom always told me I would be known by the company I kept. As long as we practice state killing we are keeping company with China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Have these nations not been identified as “The Axis of Evil”?
Please join with us – you have an opportunity to make a real difference in our society as you donate your time, talent and resources.
Bob Hungerford, President
Hopefully you saw the CBS 60 Minutes program Sunday November 29th which featured the July 23rd 2014 botched execution of Joseph Wood. It clearly illustrated the work that must be done in Arizona. When he was questioned about Arizona’s illegal purchase of drugs to kill Jeffery Ladrigan in 2010, Attorney General Mark Brnovich stated he wasn’t the AG at that time and assured us that during his tenure as AG Arizona would adhere to all state and federal laws relating to the procurement of drugs to be used in executions. After the interview was conducted it was learned that illegal drugs purchased in India were seized at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.
#GivingTuesday, now in its fourth year, is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year. We hope our affiliation will launch a drive permitting us to hire staff and move forward with an ambitious plan to end capital punishment.
#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.
As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.
On Sunday, November 29, CBS’s 60 Minutes will air a segment on Arizona’s 2-hour botched execution of Joseph Wood. As described by 60 Minutes, Wood’s “execution with a new cocktail of drugs was supposed to take 10 minutes. It took almost two hours, the longest execution in U.S. history.”
On July 23, 2014, Arizona gave Wood 15 consecutive doses of midazolam and hydromorphone, the same drug combination that had been used in the botched execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio six months earlier. Witnesses to Wood’s execution reported that he gasped and snorted more than 600 times during the 2-hour procedure. Prison officials had estimated that the drugs would take about 10 minutes to kill Wood. Prior to the execution, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ordered the state to release information about the source of the drugs and the training of those who would carry it out, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision and allowed the execution to proceed under a veil of secrecy. Dale Baich, one of Wood’s attorneys, said, “I’ve witnessed a number of executions before and I’ve never seen anything like this. Nor has an execution that I observed taken this long.”
60 Minutes airs at 7:30 pm Eastern, 6:00 pm MST, 7:00 pm Pacific on CBS.