Exonerated Death Row Inmate’s plea for Kenneth Foster, Jr.

A PLEA & CHALLENGE to TEXAS GOV RICK PERRY

This is from Stanley Howard, pardoned death row prisoner:

There has always been a time in human history when someone stepped
forward courageously to challenge the powers that be or status quo on
behalf of the oppressed and voiceless. Though it’s been a long and
hard battle, time and time again, overwhelming evidence proved that
the death penalty is barbaric and has no place in a civilized society.

There is no escaping the reality that the criminal justice system and
its machinery of death are plagued with errors, racism and
injustices. Moreover, the odds of executing the innocent are just too
great to maintain.

In the face of all the facts and evidence, the world is condemning
the death penalty, like it did South Africa’s apartheid, but the
death penalty remains in the United States because it’s only reserved
for people of color and the poor.

The tide has turned on the death penalty’s popularity, and Texas is
standing alone as the world’s ground zero in this bloody and
primitive practice.

The time is now and very ripe for Gov. Rick Perry to step on the
world’s stage and do what he and the world knows to be right. It’s
time for him to hear the cries of the oppressed and voiceless (and
those in need of mercy and justice) by no longer supporting this
inhumane madness.

With one stroke of a pen, he can shut down the world’s most active
human slaughterhouse. With one stroke of a pen, he can march the
world closer towards the inevitable — total abolition of the death
penalty.

I make this plea and challenge to Gov. Perry on behalf of Kenneth
Foster, Rodney Reed, members of D.R.I.V.E., and all the human beings
who are suffering mentally, emotionally and physically on Texas’
Death Row and Death Rows around the world. Take this courageous step
and commute all of Texas’ death sentences, and etch your name in
human history by standing on the side of righteousness.

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3 thoughts on “Exonerated Death Row Inmate’s plea for Kenneth Foster, Jr.

  1. Death Penalty Polls – Support Remains Very High
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

    76% of Americans find that we should impose the death penalty more or that we impose it about right – only 21% that it is imposed too often. (Gallup, May 2006 – 51% that we should impose it more, 25% that we impose it about right)

    71%  find capital punishment morally acceptable – that was the highest percentage answer for all questions (Gallup, April 2006, moral values poll). In May, 2007, the percentage dropped to 66%, still the highest percentage answer, with 27% opposed. (Gallup, 5/29/07)

    When asked the general question “do you support capital punishment for murderers?” , 67% of Americans said yes, with 28% opposed  (Gallup, 10/06).

    Support is actually higher.

    Specific Case Support

    81% of the American people supported the execution of Timothy McVeigh, with only 16% opposed. “(T)his view appears to be the consensus of all major groups in society, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, “liberals” and “conservatives.”  (Gallup 5/2/01).

    85% of Connecticut respondents voiced support for serial/rapist murderer Michael Ross’ “voluntary” execution. (Quinnipiac University Poll, January 12, 2005).

    While 81% gave specific case support for Timothy McVeigh’s execution, Gallup also showed a 65% support AT THE SAME TIME when asked a general “do you support capital punishment for murderers?” question. (Gallup, 6/10/01).

    That very  wide “error rates”, between general support and specific case support, is likely due to the differences in (1) the widespread media coverage of anti death penalty claims, without the balance of contradicting those false claims, producing lower general support,  (2) the absence of that influence when looking at individual cases when the public knows the crimes, the guilt of the murderer, and absent the anti death penalty bias factor, thus producing much higher specific case  support and/or (3) reluctance of some respondents to voice support for the death penalty, unless  specific examples of murderers and their crimes are provided, which may also include (1) and (2) as factors.

    Death Penalty Opposition? Look Again.

    40-90% of those who say the oppose the death penalty do, in fact, support that sanction under specific circumstances. That is not opposition to the death penalty, but support for it. This provides firm evidence that death penalty support is much wider and deeper than expressed with the answer to the general death penalty polling questions.

    57% of those who say they oppose the death penalty, generally, actually do support  it for McVeigh’s execution (81% supported the execution of McVeigh, 16% opposed (Gallup 5/02/01), while  65% offer general support for executions, with 28% opposed (Gallup, 6/10/01).

    41% who say they oppose the death penalty, generally, actually do support it for terrorists. (79% support and 18% oppose the death penalty for terrorists.  67% support and 29% oppose the death penalty for murder.) (SAME POLL – Survey USA News Poll #12074, Sponsor: WABC-TV   New York, 4/26/2007 New York State poll)

    90% of those who, generally, say they oppose the death penalty, actual did support it for Michael Ross. (SAME POLL – 85% say Connecticut serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross should be allowed to waive appeals and be executed. When asked whether they favor or oppose the death penalty,  59% favor –  31% oppose (Quinnipiac University Poll, January 12, 2005).

    Further supporting the higher rates for specific cases, is this, from the French daily Le Monde December 2006 (1):

    Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:   USA: 82%

    from the same poll, we have this, even though we are led to believe there isn’t death penalty support in England or Europe.

    In favor of executing Saddam
    Great Britain: 69%
    France: 58%
    Germany: 53%
    Spain: 51%
    Italy: 46% (my note: This falls within the margin of error for 50% support)

    European governments won’t allow executions when their populations support it: they’re anti democratic. (2)

    Death Penalty vs Life Without Parole

    When responding to this question: “If you could choose between the following two approaches, which do you think is the better penalty for murder: the death penalty (or) life imprisonment, with absolutely no possibility of parole?”, Gallup found

    47% for the death penalty, 48% for life without parole, (Gallup, May 2006).

    Some, including Gallup and Quinnipiac, speculate that this represents lower support for the death penalty. Such improper speculation cannot be justified and is an unethical use of pollsters opinion.

    Neither respondent group is saying do away with the other sanction or that they oppose the other sanction. What is does  mean is that 95% of US citizens support the death penalty and/or life without parole for murderers. It could also mean that 85% of all respondents support both sanctions.  For example, “Which do you think is better – vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream?” 50% prefer chocolate, 45% vanilla. However, 85% actually love both vanilla and chocolate ice cream – with a slightly lower percentage loving vanilla, less.
     
    Also, this Gallup question is highly prejudicial, which wrongly influence the answers. This has become commonplace.
     
    First, “absolutely” no possibility of parole doesn’t exist.
     
    What is absolute is that the executive branch can reduce sentences and the legislature can change the laws and make them retroactive, if it benefits the criminal, thereby offering two avenues for parole in “absolute” no-parole cases.
     
    Therefore, the polling question offers a false premise which, obviously, distorts the answers.

     Secondly, by law it cannot be a choice of either only a death sentence or only a life sentence, as Gallup wrongly poses.  Constitutionally, the death penalty cannot be mandatory. Therefore, at least two  sentencing options must always be provided to jurors in a death penalty eligible case.
     
    The proper questions might be, IF you are searching for a true life vs execution choice,:
     
    For murderers, do you prefer the punishment options of
    1) The death penalty or life without parole? or
    2) Life without parole, only, or lesser sentences, excluding a death sentence in all cases?
     
    Furthermore, this has the benefit of reflecting reality, as opposed to the distorted fiction of Gallup’s (and others’) current life vs death questions.  The death penalty cannot be a punishment option, without also having  life or other options.
     
    Conclusion
     
    Death penalty support is much deeper and much wider than we are often led to believe, with 40-90% of those who say they, generally, oppose the death penalty, actually supporting it under specific circumstances.
     
    There is 82% death penalty support in the US, as recently as December 2006.
     
    95% of US citizens support the death penalty and/or life without parole for murderers. Therefore, we already have the most democratic approach – we give jurors the choice between those two sentences.

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    email sharpjfa@aol.com, phone 713-622-5491
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS  and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
     
    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    Pro death penalty sites 

    homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

    www(dot)dpinfo.com
    www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
    www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
    joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
    www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
    www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
    www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)

    Permission for distribution of this document is approved as long as it is distributed in its entirety, without changes, inclusive of this statement.

    (1) The recent results of a poll conducted by Novatris/Harris for the French daily Le Monde on the death penalty shocked the editors and writers at Germany’s left-leaning SPIEGEL ONLINE (Dec. 22, 2006). When asked whether they favored the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, a majority of respondents in Germany, France and Spain responded in the affirmative.

    (2)An excellent article, “Death in Venice: Europe’s Death-penalty Elitism”, details this anti democratic position (The New Republic, by Joshua Micah Marshall, 7/31/2000). Another situation reflects this same mentality. “(Pres. Mandela says ‘no’ to reinstating the death penalty in South Africa – Nelson Mandela against death penalty though 93% of public favors it, according to poll. “(JET, 10/14/96). Pres. Mandela explained that “. . . it was necessary to inform the people about other strategies the government was using to combat crime.” As if the people didn’t understand. South Africa has had some of the highest crime rates in the world in the ten years, since Mandelas comments. “The number of murders committed each year in the country is as high as 47,000, according to Interpol statistics.” As of 2006, 72% of South Africans want the death penalty back. (“South Africans Support Death Penalty”,  5/14/2006,  Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research).

    Copyright 2005-2007

  2. Racial issues

    White murderers are twice as likely to be executed in the US as are black murderers and are executed, on average, 12 months more quickly than are black death row inmates.

    It is often stated that it is the race of the victim which decides who is prosecuted in death penalty cases. Although blacks and whites make up about an equal number of murder victims, capital cases are 6 times more likely to involve white victim murders than black victim murders. This, so the logic goes, is proof that the US only cares about white victims.

    Hardly. Only capital murders, not all murders, are subject to a capital indictment. Generally, a capital murder is limited to murders plus secondary aggravating factors, such as murders involving burglary, carjacking, rape, and additional murders, such as police murders, serial and multiple murders. White victims are, overwhelmingly, the victims under those circumstances, in ratios nearly identical to the cases found on death row.

    Any other racial combinations of defendants and/or their victims in death penalty cases, is a reflection of the crimes committed and not any racial bias within the system, as confirmed by studies from the Rand Corporation (1991), Smith College (1994), U of Maryland (2002), New Jersey Supreme Court (2003) and by a view of criminal justice statistics, within a framework of the secondary aggravating factors necessary for capital indictments.

    Class issues

    No one disputes that wealthier defendants can hire better lawyers and, therefore, should have a legal advantage over their poorer counterparts. The US has executed about 0.15% of all murderers since new death penalty statutes were enacted in 1973. Is there evidence that wealthier capital murderers are less likely to be executed than their poorer ilk, based upon the proportion of capital murders committed by different those different economic groups?

    The Death Penalty in the US: A Review
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
     
    NOTE: Detailed review of any of the below topics, or others, is available upon request
     
    In this brief format, the reality of the death penalty in the United States, is presented, with the hope that the media, public policy makers and others will make an effort to present a balanced view on this sanction.
     

    Innocence Issues
     
    Death Penalty opponents have proclaimed that 123 inmates have been “released from death row with evidence of their innocence”, in the US, since the modern death penalty era began, post Furman v Georgia (1972).
     
    That number is a fraud.
     
    Those opponents have intentionally included both the factually innocent (the “I truly had nothing to do with the murder” cases) and the legally innocent (the “I got off because of legal errors” cases), thereby fraudulently raising the “innocent” numbers.
     
    Death penalty opponents claim that 24 such innocence cases are in Florida. The Florida Commission on Capital Cases found that 4 of those 24 MIGHT be innocent — an 83% error rate in death penalty opponents claims. If that error rate is consistent, nationally, that would indicate that 21 of the alleged 125 innocents MIGHT be actually innocent — a 0.3% actual guilt error rate for the over 7500 sentenced to death since 1973. 
     
    It is often claimed that 23 innocents have been executed in the US since 1900.  Nonsense.  Even the authors of that “23 innocents executed” study proclaimed “We agree with our critics, we never proved those (23) executed to be innocent; we never claimed that we had.”  While no one would claim that an innocent has never been executed, there is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.
     
    No one disputes that innocents are found guilty, within all countries.  However, when scrutinizing death penalty opponents claims, we find that when reviewing the accuracy of verdicts and the post conviction thoroughness of discovering those actually innocent incarcerated, that the US death penalty process may be the most accurate criminal justice sanction in the world.  Under real world scenario, not executing murderers will always put many more innocents at risk, than will ever be put at risk of execution.
     

    Deterrence Issues
     
    Ten recent US studies find a deterrent effect of the death penalty.
     
    All the studies which have not found a deterrent effect of the death penalty have refused to say that it does not deter some.  The studies finding for deterrence state such.  Confusion arises when people think that a simple comparison of murder rates and executions, or the lack thereof, can tell the tale of deterrence.  It cannot. 
     
    Both high and low murder rates are found within death penalty and non death penalty jurisdictions, be it Singapore, South Africa, Sweden or Japan, or the US states of Michigan and Delaware.  Many factors are involved in such evaluations.  Reason and common sense tell us that it would be remarkable to find that the most severe criminal sanction — execution — deterred none.  No one is foolish enough to suggest that the potential for negative consequences does not deter the behavior of some.  Therefore, regardless of jurisdiction, having the death penalty will always be an added deterrent to murders, over and above any lesser punishments.
     
    Racial issues
     
    White murderers are twice as likely to be executed in the US as are black murderers and are executed, on average, 12 months more quickly than are black death row inmates.
     
    It is often stated that it is the race of the victim which decides who is prosecuted in death penalty cases.  Although blacks and whites make up about an equal number of murder victims, capital cases are 6 times more likely to involve white victim murders than black victim murders.  This, so the logic goes, is proof that the US only cares about white victims.
     
    Hardly.  Only capital murders, not all murders, are subject to a capital indictment.  Generally, a capital murder is limited to murders plus secondary aggravating factors, such as murders involving burglary, carjacking, rape, and additional murders, such as police murders, serial and multiple murders.  White victims are, overwhelmingly, the victims under those circumstances, in ratios nearly identical to the cases found on death row.
     
    Any other racial combinations of defendants and/or their victims in death penalty cases, is a reflection of the crimes committed and not any racial bias within the system, as confirmed by studies from the Rand Corporation (1991), Smith College (1994), U of Maryland (2002), New Jersey Supreme Court (2003) and by a view of criminal justice statistics, within a framework of the secondary aggravating factors necessary for capital indictments.
     

    Class issues
     
    No one disputes that wealthier defendants can hire better lawyers and, therefore, should have a legal advantage over their poorer counterparts.  The US has executed about 0.15% of all murderers since new death penalty statutes were enacted in 1973.  Is there evidence that wealthier capital murderers are less likely to be executed than their poorer ilk, based upon the proportion of capital murders committed by different those different economic groups?
     

    Arbitrary and capricious
     
    About 10% of all murders within the US might qualify for a death penalty eligible trial.  That would be about 60,000 murders since 1973.  We have sentenced 7,600 murderers to death since then, or 13% of those eligible.  I doubt that there is any other crime which receives a higher percentage of maximum sentences, when mandatory sentences are not available.  Based upon that, as well as pre trial, trial, appellate and clemency/commutation realities, the US death penalty is likely the least arbitrary and capricious criminal sanctions in the world.  
     

    Christianity and the death penalty
     
    The two most authoritative New Testament scholars, Saints Augustine and Aquinas, provide substantial biblical and theological support for the death penalty. Even the most well known anti death penalty personality in the US, Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, states that “It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical ‘proof text’ in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this.  Even Jesus’ admonition ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) — the Mosaic Law prescribed death — should be read in its proper context.  This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries.  It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment.”  A thorough review of Pope John Paul II’s current position, reflects a reasoning that should be recommending more executions.
     

    Cost Issues
     
    All studies finding the death penalty to be more expensive than life without parole exclude important factors, such as (1) geriatric care costs, recently found to be $69,0000/yr/inmate, (2) the death penalty cost benefit of providing for plea bargains to a maximum life sentence, a huge cost savings to the state, (3) the death penalty cost benefit of both enhanced deterrence and enhanced incapacitation, at $5 million per innocent life spared, and, furthermore, (4) many of the alleged cost comparison studies are highly deceptive.
     

    Polling data
     
    76% of Americans find that we should impose the death penalty more or that we impose it about right (Gallup, May 2006 – 51% that we should impose it more, 25% that we impose it about right)
     
    71%  find capital punishment morally acceptable – that was the highest percentage answer for all questions (Gallup, April 2006, moral values poll).
     
    81% of the American people supported the execution of Timothy McVeigh, with only 16% opposed. “(T)his view appears to be the consensus of all major groups in society, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, “liberals” and “conservatives.”  (Gallup 5/2/01).
     
    81% of Connecticut citizens supported the execution of serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross (Jan 2005).
     
    While 81% gave specific case support for Timothy McVeigh’s execution, Gallup also showed a 65% support AT THE SAME TIME when asked a general “do you support capital punishment for murderers?” question. (Gallup, 6/10/01).
     
    22% of those supporting McVeigh’s execution are, generally, against the death penalty (Gallup 5/02/01). That means that about half of those who say they oppose the death penalty, with the general question,  actually support the death penalty under specific circumstances, just as it is imposed, judicially.
     
    Further supporting the higher rates for specific cases, is this, from the French daily Le Monde December 2006 (1): Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:USA: 82%; Great Britain: 69%; France: 58%; Germany: 53%; Spain: 51%; Italy: 46%
     
    Death penalty support is much deeper and much wider than we are often led to believe, with 50% of those who say they, generally, oppose the death penalty actually supporting it under specific circumstances, resulting in 80% death penalty support in the US, as recently as December 2006.
     
    ——————————–
     
    Whatever your feelings are toward the death penalty, a fair accounting of how it is applied should be demanded.
     
    copyright 1998-2007 Dudley Sharp
     
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas
     
    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-Span, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
     
    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
     
    Pro death penalty sites 

    homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

    www(dot)dpinfo.com
    www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
    www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
    joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
    www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
    www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
    www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)
    www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

    Permission for distribution of this document is approved as long as it is distributed in its entirety, without changes, inclusive of this statement.

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