Please see our Summer 2018 newsletter and subscribe by joining our email list.
Please see our Summer 2018 newsletter and subscribe by joining our email list.
At 16 years old, Vance “Duke” Webster witnessed two friends commit a crime. When refused to “snitch” he was sentenced to life in prison. A one-act play based on a true story, “29 Years For 13 Seconds” is less about Webster’s time in prison and more about how women, religion and social services have created wild waves that he rides without the slightest hint of resentment. Don’t believe it? Come check it out. One night only, 7 p.m., Friday, January 19, 2018, 952 E. Baseline Rd, #102, Mesa, AZ.
NOTE: A suggested love offering of $10 will be collected the night of the show. You may also pre-purchase tickets
From the Death Penalty Information Center:
Several months after Arizona settled a lawsuit over the conditions of confinement on the state’s death row, the state has ended the practice of automatically housing condemned prisoners in solitary confinement, and prisoners and prison officials alike are praising the changes.
Carson McWilliams (pictured right), Division Director for Offender Operations in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), told the Arizona Republic that the new incarceration conditions provide an “atmosphere where [prisoners] can socialize,” resulting in “reduce[d] anxiety” that, in turn, “adds to safety control” of the prison. And, prison officials say, it has reduced institutional costs.
Prior to the lawsuit, death row had meant 23-hour-per-day confinement in a concrete cell the size of a parking space, shuttered by a steel door with a perforated slot through which the prisoners would receive their meals, and with a bench bed and a sink attached to an uncovered toilet. Prisoners had no contact visits with families or lawyers, were handcuffed behind the back and subjected to body-cavity searches whenever they left their cells, and were restricted to showering or exercising three times a week. They also were denied prison jobs and educational opportunities. About the solitary conditions, McWilliams remarked, “The more you’re restricted inside a cell, the more likely you are to have depression, to have anxiety, to have other types of mental problems that could lead to some type of problem inside the system, whether its self harm, or suicide, or aggression towards a staff member or towards another inmate.”
One death-row prisoner who was interviewed by the paper said, “It’s hard to explain the deprivation. . . . It weighs on your mind.” McWilliams said it now requires fewer officers to manage death row because officers no longer have to deliver individual meals or individually escort each of the 120 prisoners. Kevin Curran, who has been a prison warden at various facilities run by the ADC, said that he “feels safer among the death-row men than among the career criminals and gangsters in the general population.” Under the new conditions, prisoners are able to socialize with each other in activities such as playing basketball, volleyball, or board games, and can eat meals together. One ADC corrections officer told the Arizona Republic that he was “apprehensive” at first about the changes, but the transition has been “very good” with only a “few minor incidents,” which were “a lot less” than he expected.
(M. Kiefer, Arizona death row comes out of solitary, giving convicts more human contact, socialization, Arizona Republic, Dec. 19, 2017.)
10 reasons to end the use of the death penalty
Details at http://www.worldcoalition.org/worldday.html
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.
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.
Over 600 lay and clerical delegates at their 2015 Annual Convention passed, without dissent, a resolution against Arizona’s continued use of the death penalty. The “Whereas” clauses included the usual secular rationales to end the death penalty (too expensive, discriminates against the poor and people of color, error prone, not an effective deterrent, etc).
Also included was “WHEREAS when Jesus encountered a woman about to be stoned to death, He instructed the crowd: “Let
anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” [John 8:7]
The three action steps in this resolution are detailed as follows:
3905 N 7th Ave Unit 33126
Phoenix, AZ 85067-3126
(602) 357-4848, ext. 1
(602) 357-4848, ext. 2