Adding the site to Technorati

Something new to try – how to get found more readily on the interwires… http://www.Technorati.com

FEXC2FEM4CKF

Advertisements

Hank Skinner: What should we hope for next?

It became clear on Wednesday night, as we celebrated (“crying AND doing the Happy Dance” as my friend Carol Crowe-Leonard said on Twitter), that there was a lot of remaining confusion about exactly WHAT had been granted to Hank Skinner and what that actually meant. It was a relief to see this clarification posted by Change.org. I urge everyone to read it. It looks like there are still a number of weighty ‘Ifs’ between Wednesday’s indefinite stay of execution and freedom for Hank.

Governor Rick Perry and smiling fans

Smiling Perry and fans

So – if the worst happens and the treacle of the American justice system becomes too thick for reason to prevail at the next phase – what chance remains for a reprieve? Well let’s not forget that even if the Supreme Court denies review, there is the final recourse to Governor Rick Perry to continue the stay for an additional 30 days, and to just TEST THE DNA. Would he give the instruction do so? Well, just as the Texas Board of Paroles is a closed and secretive body, it’s hard to read Governor Perry. Instinct would say it’s unlikely. He’s the beloved figurehead of the ‘Hang ‘Em High state’ after all, and he’s busy fighting the corner of his hardcore Republican fanbase on the matter of the healthcare reform bill right now amidst cries of ‘Lead us into secession, Governor Perry, save us from Washington!’. But those cries also mingle with the ones saying ‘Please, Governor Perry, run for President!’ Looking at his snakeoil charm and devout, if misguided, following, and coupling that with the past form of Texas Governors in acceding to the Presidency*, it’s entirely possible that his unstated ambition is that of one day becoming POTUS. And if so, could he in years to come enter into that race knowing that everyone in the Western world had watched him deny a man his last, earnest chance to clear his name?

Opponents of the death penalty tend to look upon Texas as an almost unassailable mountain to climb – it does after all hold the record as the State with most executions under its belt, by a long way – but I can’t help but feel that whatever the outcome for Hank, we have turned a small corner. Perry is in a difficult position, the rationale of the TBPP has again been called into question, and the entire machinery of the capital justice system, which would allow a man’s life to be callously terminated while exculpatory evidence remains, MUST be under increased scrutiny…

So we need to hope that SCOTUS reviews the case for civil appeal. We need to hope that they agree that a constitutional right exists for Hank to have access to the DNA evidence thus far denied. We have to hope the DNA is conclusively in Hank’s favor. And we have to hope that the evidence of his innocence concludes rapidly with a full pardon and release. Above all, we must hope that everything that has happened in Texas since long before Tim Cole and Cameron Todd Willingham, right up to the present day, will be ringing loud and irrepressible alarm bells in courtrooms and police stations across the land.

That’s a lot of hope. I think we’re up for it!!!

Here’s a video interview with Hank’s daughter Natalie soon after we had news of the stay.

* Governor George W. Bush notoriously once claimed that not one innocent man had been executed on his watch.

Say No to the Death Penalty! Geneva, Day One

Greetings from The Optimism Club in Geneva Switzerland, on the eve of the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty.

This evening was just a chance to visit the registration desk and collect the pass for the Conference. Security is strict for entry to the United Nations for tomorrow’s keynote opening session. Everything is bilingual here – so for the next three days I am a ‘congressiste’, and hoping to test my recollections of the French language (although the programme is going to be in English for the main part).

A congress newspaper tells me that there is both a wide set of sessions – presentations, roundtables, keynotes, cultural and factual events – and a rich mix of representative organisations here over the next three days. Wonderful to see a balanced geographic mix: speakers from Asia, Africa, Europe and America all have their chance to speak or share information; and of course there is a display area with ‘booths’ for some of the

I’m very much looking forward to hearing from and meeting with people from the campaigning world who all haave the united aim to abolish capital punishment.

Sessions I have my eye on:

  • Elaborating arguments to convince public opinion
  • Abolitionist States’ advocacy
  • Violence, victims and the death penalty
  • Law enforcement views on the death penalty
  • Online communication strategies
  • Mobilizing target groups
  • Sessions on Asia, the Middle East and Africa
  • and perhaps most intriguingly: ‘Debates with Cartoonists’

Just how much I’ll be able to cover in the time remains to be seen, but I’m excited to see such a packed, varied agenda

More tomorrow!

On optimism and the death penalty

This evening I was delighted to learn that @TheOptimismClub had received a nomination for a “Shorty” award, after only 14 days in existence. “I don’t know what good it will do. Just one nomination”, said our sponsor, @favourini, “out of 700 for the ‘non-profit’ category.” I was touched. I’d nominated @innocenceblog (The Innocence Project) a few days earlier, happy to promote a little known but entirely deserving cause and lend to its prominence on the Twitter stage.

Then I reflected. Awards are wonderful. The promotional power of a nomination is a compelling reason to seek even more and to recruit further supporters to the cause in the process. But it’s early days for The Optimism Club. We have work to do. Instead of an award, it would be reward enough to see our efforts and the efforts of all those working alongside us to end capital punishment around the world paying off. And I’m nothing if not optimistic that if we take action we’ll be reaping all kinds of rewards in the months and years to come.

So take note! You read it here first!

Hurray for the end of the Death Penalty!

Hurray for the end of the Death Penalty!

  • In 2010, more countries will abandon the death penalty, Last year, Burundi and Togo took the world total number of abolitionist nations to 139.
  • In 2010, more States will reject the death penalty. Last year, New Mexico became the 15th of the United States to repeal it.
  • In 2010, Troy Davis will be exonerated and released from death row in Georgia, after serving over 20 years for a crime he did not commit. His evidentiary hearing will prove actual innocence in a case that makes history and challenges the constitution itself.
  • In  2010, Reprieve will successfully secure the lives and safety of several British and EU citizens suffering at the hand of injustice overseas.
  • Within the next decade, under pressure from its own constitutional lawyers, international human rights organisations and financial considerations, the USA will have abandoned the death penalty right across the board. Texas may well have seceded from the Federation of course (I speak wryly, with apologies to Stand Down Texas and the Texas Moratorium Network and all the other good folk campaigning hard in that State)
  • Within the next century, capital punishment, mutilation and torture will no longer be tolerated around the world. Some countries will have made steps towards addressing and overhauling criminal justice systems in progressive and significant terms. The planet will have significant challenges to face, but the society of mankind will have moved on.

With your help.