Saturday, March 25, 2017

Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty & your Death Penalty Focus!

Mark your calendar now for DPF’s 26th Annual Awards Dinner on the evening of Sunday, May 7, 2017 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. Please join us as we honor extraordinary individuals fighting for justice, human rights, and an end to the death penalty.
The Abolition Award: Senator Bernie Sanders
Presented by Jane Sanders
Sen. Sanders was the first presidential candidate in nearly 30 years to forcefully declare his opposition to the death penalty. He was instrumental in getting the Democratic Party to adopt abolition of capital punishment as a plank in its official platform last year.
The Mario Cuomo Acts of Courage Award: Judy Clarke and Speedy Rice
Presented by Sister Helen Prejean
Judy Clarke has represented defendants in some of the most high-profile capital cases in recent history, including Susan Smith, Theodore Kaczynski, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. She has been recognized by the Ninth Circuit for her "sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law."

Thomas H. Speedy Rice has led numerous international missions in the fight against the death penalty, including meetings with Heads of State, legislative bodies, judicial conferences, and UN and EU bodies. He has tried cases in U.S. State and Federal courts and argued appellate cases before a number of American courts, including the United States Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Tables and sponsorships are available now. Please contact or call 818-814-6670 for more information about purchasing a table or placing an advertisement in the event's tribute booklet.

More information, including additional honorees, presenters and ticket sales, will be announced as the date approaches. Visit for the most up to date information.
Hello, and welcome to the March issue of the Focus. This month we’re talking to an Oakland, California lawyer whose successful lawsuit against California means San Quentin State Prison will no longer keep death row inmates in extreme solitary confinement indefinitely.
We look at reactions to Arkansas’ recently-announced plan to execute eight inmates over the span of ten days next month, and report on two recent significant U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
We’ll also update you on where things stand with the legal challenge to Prop 66.
In our “Voices” section, we feature four filmmakers who have made a powerful documentary about a group of men exonerated from death rows around the U.S.
Finally, mark your calendars! Our 26th Annual Awards Dinner is coming up in May.

Indefinite Solitary Confinement Ends at San Quentin

Oakland attorney Dan Siegel says he was “ecstatic” when the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation settled his lawsuit and agreed to end its practice of keeping death row inmates suspected of being gang members in indefinite solitary confinement.
Read More »

Arkansas Plans to Execute Eight Men Over 10 Days

When the governor announced the state planned to execute eight men, two a day, over a span of 10 days next month, the reaction ranged from shock to dismay.
Read More »

Racial Bias at Center of Two SCOTUS Decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of two defendants recently in two very different cases, but with the same issue: racial bias.

Proposition 66 Watch

It passed by the slimmest of margins in November’s election, but Prop 66 has been stayed by the California Supreme Court since a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality was filed in the aftermath of the election. DPF board member and death penalty attorney Aundre Herron brings us up to date on the latest developments in the legal challenges facing this problematic initiative.

In Brief

Across the country, states, legislatures, and the courts found themselves grappling with death penalty issues. We look at some of the more significant developments.
Read More »

Voices: Alvaro Corcuera, Guillermo Abril, Olmo Figueredo, and Bernabé Rico

Four Spanish journalists were affected by the experiences of death row exonerees they spent six years and much of their own money to make a documentary about a group of four men who call themselves the “Resurrection Club.”

Save the Date!

Our 26th Annual Awards Dinner is May 7 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Tables are available now, and tickets will go on sale soon. You can learn more at
Arkansas official: State has drugs to conduct 8 executions. Arkansas has a new supply of a lethal injection drug that expired earlier this year, a prison spokesman said Monday, clearing the way for four double executions that will put eight men to death next month.
The Department of Correction death chamber in Varner, Ark., with a closed-circuit television camera mounted nearby. The agency said Monday, March 13, 2017, it had acquired enough potassium chloride for use in eight executions next month. The drug, which can stop the heart in large doses, is one of three drugs in Arkansas' execution protocol. Arkansas' stock of the sedative midazolam expires at the end of April.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves said the state has 100 vials of potassium chloride, one of three drugs used in the state's lethal injection protocol. The state's previous supply of the drug had expired in January.

"Coupled with the two remaining drugs, there are enough to carry out the scheduled executions," he said. Graves said the latest supply of the drug was received March 8 and expires at the end of August 2018. He did not say who provided the state with its new supply, citing an Arkansas law that keeps the source of its lethal injection drugs secret. Graves also did not say how much the potassium chloride cost and declined to release redacted photos of the drugs' labels, which The Associated Press had previously used to identify the source of another Arkansas execution drug.

The state hasn't executed an inmate since 2005, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month scheduled the eight executions to occur before another drug, midazolam, expires at the end of April. "The governor has always maintained confidence in the ADC's ability to procure the expired drug needed," Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis said.

The state's supply of vecuronium bromide expires on March 1, 2018. Graves said the state hasn't replaced its supply of the other drugs. Hutchinson scheduled the executions days after the U.S. Supreme Court said it wouldn't review a state court ruling upholding Arkansas' lethal injection law. The state Supreme Court earlier this month rejected an effort by the inmates to block the executions, saying there was no stay in place preventing the men from being put to death.

Attorneys for the inmates have asked a Pulaski County circuit judge to find the state's lethal injection law and the three-drug protocol unconstitutional. An attorney for the inmates said they still believe the state should provide the information on the drugs.

"We're still taking the position that they need to provide this information as to where it came from, who manufactured it, who sold it, etc.," Jeff Rosenzweig said. "We haven't yet been successful in that but we're still trying."

Under Arkansas' protocol, midazolam is used to sedate the inmate, vecuronium bromide then stops the inmate's breathing and potassium chloride stops the heart. The inmates' lawyers fear the midazolam isn't powerful enough to mask the pain caused by the other two drugs.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, only Texas has put eight people to death in a month — doing it twice in 1997. Arkansas has had multiple executions in the past, including triple executions in 1994 and 1997. At the time, the state Correction Department said multiple executions reduced stress on prison staff.

But the 2014 botched execution in Oklahoma of Clayton Lockett was the first of a scheduled double execution. Lockett's execution was halted by the state's prison director after Lockett writhed and groaned on the gurney. He died 43 minutes after the drugs began to flow.

An Oklahoma review team later recommended that at least seven days pass between each execution. The report said a veteran paramedic who placed Lockett's intravenous line had noted a sense of urgency in the air.

The state announced it received a new supply of the vecuronium bromide in July, days after its previous supply of the drug expired. The drug appears to have been made by a subsidiary of Pfizer, even though the pharmaceutical giant has said it doesn't want its drugs to be used in executions.

Using a redacted photo obtained from the Department of Correction, The Associated Press in July matched the new supply of the drug to labels submitted to the National Institutes of Health by Hospira, Inc., which Pfizer bought in 2015.

Florida Prosecutor Rejects Death Sentences. Last week, Florida State’s Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she will not seek any death sentences during her tenure as the prosecutor in the 9th district (serving Orange and Osceola Counties). This is welcome news given that Orange County has historically been one of the leading death penalty counties in America.

There are good reasons to eschew capital punishment. It costs millions more than its alternatives, doesn’t protect society, and can harm murder victims’ families. Most importantly, it risks innocent lives because the criminal justice system is dangerously fallible.

Consider the recent report from the University of California Irvine, where researchers found that more people were exonerated of various crimes in 2016 than in any other year – a total of at least 166 people from only the 25 states that were studied. The same fallibility that led to these wrongful convictions also affects capital cases, and as such, Ayala should be commended for her decision to avoid death sentences during her term.

Conservatives Concerned In the field
In late February, CCATDP returned to CPAC as an exhibitor to inform and educate our fellow conservatives about why we are concerned about the death penalty. CCATDP leaders from Georgia, Utah, Missouri, and South Carolina attended the conference and worked our booth, where we met hundreds of conservatives who oppose capital punishment.

Earlier this month, I spoke to the Kennesaw State University chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. The room was packed with attentive and very supportive students who asked many questions and inquired about getting involved.

This week, I presented the American conservative case against capital punishment via Skype to the University of Leeds Anti-Death Penalty Society in England. The attendees were excited to learn about capital punishment’s dwindling usage in the United States and expressed their interest in abolishing the death penalty worldwide.

Conservatives Concerned in the media
This month has provided great opportunity to share our message. Take a look at some our media coverage below:
• Earlier last month, Harper’s Magazine published a feature-length article highlighting CCATDP’s diligent work.

• I was a guest on the Todd ‘Bubba’ Horwitz Radio Show, and the Blaze interviewed me for a piece describing why conservatives are concerned about the death penalty.

• While at CPAC, I was a guest on Da Tech Guy Blog, Talk Media News, KLRN Radio, the Wayne Dupree Show, Warfighter Radio, and many others to discuss our broken capital punishment program. Meanwhile, fellow CPAC attendee and current Utah CCATDP group leader, Kevin Greene, was interviewed on Seattle’s Talk Radio KVI 570.

• CCATDP’s Heather Beaudoin was also busy sharing the message that conservatism is inconsistent with the death penalty as she was interviewed on Q with a View and the Genesis Communications Network. She was also included in this article in the Washington Examiner.

• Following CPAC’s conclusion, CCATDP’s growing media presence continued. We were included in articles posted by the Yale Politic, Before It’s News, the Huffington Post, and I was a guest on the Chosen Generation radio show with Pastor Gregory Young.

On March 22 at 7 pm, I will be speaking at the College of William and Mary about why Virginians are better off without the death penalty. The event will be in Washington Hall’s room 201.

After the William and Mary lecture, I will travel to Oklahoma for a few speaking engagements. On April 19 at noon, I will be presenting to the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC). The meeting will be at Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen in Oklahoma City.

On April 20 at 7 pm, I will be speaking to the University of Tulsa College Republicans in the Student Union about Oklahoma’s sordid history with capital punishment.

If you’re in town on any of these dates, then please feel free to attend!

Get involved!
Let your friends know what CCATDP has been up to by clicking here to share the Harper’s story on Facebook and click here to share the good news about Aramis Ayala’s decision to not pursue capital cases during her term.