Skill-building workshop: Campaign Messaging, Thursday, June 25 @ 7pm

posted Jun 17, 2015, 11:35 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Jun 17, 2015, 11:35 AM ]

Hi Friends,

I hope everyone is having a relaxing summer.

Just a reminder that Thursday, June 25 will be our Atlanta monthly membership meeting. As you know, we have been working hard at building a coalition to change the burden of proof for proving intellectual disability in death penalty cases. We know that in order to lower the burden, we need to be able to effectively communicate our message. Please join us for a skill-building workshop on effective campaign messaging.

Time: 7:00pm- 8:30pm

Location: 75 Marietta Street, 5th floor/Suite 501, Atlanta, GA 30303

Please note that the time is 7:00pm. We know that it can be costly parking downtown, so we’ve changed the time to when the meters are free. Also, if you’d rather take MARTA, the building is a few blocks from the FIVE POINTS station. Also, please mark your calendars for the third Thursday of every month at 7:00pm for our Atlanta chapter meetings beginning July 16.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on the 25th! 

GFADP in the News

posted Jun 1, 2015, 10:26 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Jun 1, 2015, 10:29 AM ]

Hi friends,
 
There has been so much in the news lately as it relates to the death penalty. As many of you know,Nebraska became the 19th state to repeal the death penalty! The Cornhusker State is also the first conservative state to repeal since 1973 and the first with a retroactive law. We rejoice in this news and hope that the tide will continue to move South.
 
While we celebrate the victories, we must also acknowledge the death verdict in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial. He was sentenced to death in a state that firmly and overwhelmingly does not support the death penalty. There's an excellent article from The Nation, entitled What’s Wrong With the Federal Death Penalty.
 
We are entering the period where we are expecting a decision from the US Supreme Court on Glossip v. Gross, the Oklahoma case examining the constitutionality of the use of the drug midazolam in lethal injection executions. 
 
As you know, GFADP launched a forum series at the end of April entitled, Connecting the Dots: An Open Conversation about the Death Penalty. The purpose of the forums is to have an open conversation about the death penalty, highlighting various issues with the system, such as race, class, impact of the system on those with developmental disabilities, etc. We are partnering with community members in each of the areas with the hopes of forming or revitalizing GFADP chapters in each of these communities.
 
So far we’ve had incredible conversations in Macon and Dawson. Our next stops are Savannah and Athens. We’ll keep you updated with information on those locations.We're including some very nice coverage from WALB News in Albany of our Dawson forum. We’re thrilled that GFADP’s work is being covered in this way.
 
In addition, on Wednesday, June 10, GFADP will be participating in the Disability and Social Justice Summit in Atlanta, GA. There will be workshops on the connection between disability and criminal justice, in addition to other areas. Please consider joining us and helping us to spread the word about this event. If you plan to come, please consider registering sooner than later. There is also a sliding scale registration fee. Click here for more information.
 
Volunteer Need
Do you or someone you know have a few hours a week to spare? If so, we would love the help keeping our website updated! Georgia based volunteers preferred. Please contact Kathryn at khamoudah(at)schr.org. Thanks so much!
 

 

Death penalty news and events

posted Apr 29, 2015, 1:16 PM by GFADP staff

Friends,
 
GFADP is pleased to announce a forum series entitled, Connecting the Dots: An Open Conversation about the Death Penalty. The purpose of the forums is to have an open conversation about the death penalty, highlighting various issues with the system, such as race, class, impact of the system on those with developmental disabilities, etc. We are partnering with community members in each of the areas with the hopes of forming or revitalizing GFADPchapters in each of these communities.
 
Macon, April 30 (More information is below)
Athens, May 5 (Location TBD)
Dawson,  May 21 (Location TBD)
 
Each of you are invited to come out and support GFADP in our efforts to build a community to end the death penalty.
 
As you know, the executions of Kelly Gissendaner and Brian Terrell were postponed due to the discovery of “cloudy” lethal injection drugs. Yesterday, the Georgia Department of Corrections issued a statement stating that  state-paid testers determined that the dosage was cloudy because it was stored at a temperature that was too low. This response is troubling given the fact that because of the state’s lethal injection secrecy laws, the public will only gain access to information at the discretion of the DOC. We are left with more questions than answers.  We’re including a short piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a longer piece from theCreative Loafing.
 
The death penalty is in the news around the country, too. Today, The Boston Globe published an incredibly powerful Op-Ed from the parents of the youngest Boston Marathon bombing victim, Michael Richard"To end the anguish, drop the death penalty". And yesterday, LB 268, the bill to repeal the death penalty in Nebraska, passed through the first round of debate with 30 yes votes. There is another round of debate and two more votes that will have to be won before the bill goes to the Governor’s desk. And if the Governor vetoes the bill as he’s promised, the 30 votes will be crucial to override it. On to round two! You can read more about it here.
 
As always, thank you for all that you do for justice.
 
With hope,
GFADP


Join us for GFADP's monthly meeting, 4/15 at 6:30pm

posted Apr 8, 2015, 7:27 AM by GFADP staff

Friends,

Hope is still alive and despite a gate or guillotine hovering over my head, I still possess the ability to prove that I am human.”-  Kelly Gissendaner

 You have been cordially invited to attend GFADP's upcoming monthly meeting. 

 April 15, 2015

6:30pm until 8:00pm

 75 Marietta Street, 5th floor/Suite 501, Atlanta, GA 30303

Have you heard? Two men on death row, Anthony Ray Hinton and Glenn Ford, were released from prison and cleared of the crimes that they were accused of committing. Faith leaders from around the world have been calling for our nation to end capital punishment. In order to assist with abolishing of the death penalty, we are taking the necessary steps toward finding alternatives to capital punishment. In effort to take a stance, we are requesting your attendance and input as we prepare for the 2016 legislative session. 

Meeting agenda:

  • Provide information on GFADP statewide community forums
  • Provide an overview on 2015 legislative session
  • Obtain input to create a legislative bill to lower the standard of burden of proof for proving intellectual disability
  • Develop a strategic plan to engage and gain support from our legislators

We at GFADP look forward to seeing you on April 15, 2015. Please let us know if you plan to attend as we prepare to get a head count for refreshments.

 

Dorinda on behalf of GFADP

dtatum42@gmail.com

Executions postponed

posted Mar 3, 2015, 1:42 PM by GFADP staff

As you may know, at 11pm last night, the Georgia Department of Corrections decided not to go forward with killing Kelly Gissendaner because the lethal injection drugs “appeared cloudy.” This happened prior to the US Supreme Court ruling on her final appeals.
 
Moments ago, the Georgia Department of Corrections announced that the executions of Kelly Gissendaner and Brian Terrell have been postponed while an analysis is conducted of the drugs planned for the use in last night’s execution.
 
As you might recall, the Georgia legislature passed the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act in 2013, which makes everything regarding lethal injection in Georgia a state secret. We know that the risk of excruciating torture in lethal injection is real, which is why we warned the legislature that shrouding the lethal injection process in secrecy was dangerous. We strongly believe that Georgia must not be allowed to proceed with the execution unless and until it fully discloses the source and testing of its lethal injection drugs, if at all.
 
We are so grateful to all of you who take every opportunity to raise your voice to oppose EVERY execution in our state. Together, we will continue to fight for the end of this barbaric practice.
 
-GFADP 

Kelly Gissendaner video-please watch and share

posted Mar 1, 2015, 12:19 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Mar 1, 2015, 12:22 PM ]


Kelly Gissendaner from Sema Films on Vimeo.

On Monday, March 2, 2015, the state of Georgia will execute Kelly Gissendaner. But Kelly is no longer the person she was 17 years ago when she asked her boyfriend to kill her husband. Her time in prison has changed her. Her faith in God has changed her. Those who know her now describe a woman who is using her life in prison to mentor at-risk youth. A person who is a calming presence for inmates and and who has helped prevented prison suicides. Because Kelly is behind bars, waiting for her execution, she cannot speak to you herself, but listen to the words she has written.

Execution date set for Brian Terrell

posted Feb 28, 2015, 7:27 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah

Hi all,
 
We're really sorry to share that an execution date has been set for Brian Terrell for March 10 at 7pm.
 
We will share more information once it becomes available.
 
You can read the article from the AJC, here.

As you know, Kelly Gissendaner's execution was rescheduled for Monday, March 2 at 7pm. The New York Times published a wonderful piece on Kelly and her spiritual journey. Please plan to attend a vigil near you: http://www.gfadp.org/vigils.

The rate in which the State of Georgia is pursuing executions is incredibly disturbing, with each execution highlighting serious problems with the system. It is imperative that we continue to speak out and raise our voice high against this barbaric practice. 

Thank you for all that you do each and every day. 

-GFADP

Execution postponed until Monday, March 2 at 7pm

posted Feb 25, 2015, 9:37 AM by Kathryn Hamoudah

The AJC confirmed that Kelly’s execution will not go forward tonight. It has been rescheduled for Monday, March 2 at 7pm
. Vigils tonight are cancelled. Please plan to attend a vigil near you on Monday


Kelly Gissendaner update

posted Feb 24, 2015, 1:52 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah

Friends, 

As you know, Kelly Gissendaner is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, February 25, 2015 at 7pm. Her attorneys presented to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole this morning, asking for clemency. We are still waiting on the board’s decision, which could come this evening or in the morning. 

We are very troubled by the rate in which the State is carrying out executions. If Kelly’s execution goes through, it will be the third one in two months. If clemency is denied, please plan to attend a vigil near you: http://www.gfadp.org/vigils. 

We’ve included an article from the Associated Press below. 

Thank you for all that you do.

-GFADP


Ga. set to execute only female death row inmate this week

By KATE BRUMBACK
Associated Press
Monday, February 23, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - The daughter of the lone woman on Georgia’s death row is asking the state parole board to grant her mother life in prison instead of the death penalty for plotting to have her father killed - even though she says her dad’s death was “the most painful experience of my life.”

Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, is scheduled to die Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson. She was convicted of murder in the February 1997 killing of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner. Prosecutors said she conspired with her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, to kill her husband. If the execution happens, it will be the first time Georgia has executed a woman since 1945.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles, the only entity in Georgia authorized to commute a death sentence to life in prison, has set a clemency hearing for Tuesday.

Gissendaner told police her husband didn’t return home Feb. 7, 1997, from dinner with friends in Lawrenceville, just outside Atlanta. His burned-out car was found two days later. His body was found about a week after that, roughly a mile from the car, in a remote wooded area. He had been stabbed several times.

“My father’s death was extremely painful for many people, but I’ve recently concluded that in many ways I was the person who was most impacted by his murder,” Kayla Gissendaner, who was 7 when her father was killed, wrote in a statement submitted to the board by her mother’s lawyers.

“The impact of losing my mother would be devastating. I can’t fathom losing another parent,” Kayla Gissendaner continued.

Statements by Kayla Gissendaner and her brother, Dakota, were included in the clemency petition that was declassified by the parole board Monday and made available to the public. They talk about their long emotional journey from a point of bitterness, anger and wanting no contact with their mother to having formed meaningful relationships with her.

Kelly Gissendaner’s oldest child, Brandon, who was 12 when Douglas Gissendaner died, did not submit a statement to the board. He visited her twice recently and she hopes he can find peace and that their relationship grows, her lawyers wrote in the clemency petition.

Kelly and Douglas Gissendaner had a troubled relationship, splitting up and getting back together multiple times, including divorcing and remarrying, according to information provided by the state attorney general’s office. Kelly Gissendaner repeatedly pushed Owen in late 1996 to kill her husband rather than just divorcing him as Owen suggested, prosecutors said.

“Greg was Kelly’s instrument. Greg was her weapon in plunging that knife into Doug Gissendaner, pure and simple,” prosecutors argued, according to a trial transcript quoted in the clemency petition. “Greg Owen was nothing but an instrument to Kelly Gissendaner. She used him.”

Acting on Kelly Gissendaner’s instructions, Owen ambushed Douglas Gissendaner at Gissendaner’s home, forced him to drive to a remote area and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said

Investigators looking into Douglas Gissendaner’s killing zeroed in on Owen once they learned of his affair with Kelly Gissendaner. He initially denied involvement, but eventually confessed and implicated Kelly Gissendaner.

Owen, who pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison, testified at Gissendaner’s trial. A jury found Gissendaner guilty and sentenced her to death in 1998.

Prosecutors offered Gissendaner the same plea deal offered to Owen, but she rejected it. Post-conviction testimony from her trial lawyer, Edwin Wilson, gives some insight into why, her lawyers argue. They quote Wilson as saying he didn’t think a jury would sentence Gissendaner to death.

“I guess I thought this because she was a woman and because she did not actually kill Doug,” Wilson is quoted as saying, adding that he should have urged her to take the plea.

Statements by Kayla Gissendaner and her brother, Dakota, were included in the clemency petition that was declassified by the parole board Monday and made available to the public. They talk about their long emotional journey from a point of bitterness, anger and wanting no contact with their mother to having formed meaningful relationships with her.

Kelly Gissendaner’s oldest child, Brandon, who was 12 when Douglas Gissendaner died, did not submit a statement to the board. He visited her twice recently and she hopes he can find peace and that their relationship grows, her lawyers wrote in the clemency petition.

Kelly and Douglas Gissendaner had a troubled relationship, splitting up and getting back together multiple times, including divorcing and remarrying, according to information provided by the state attorney general’s office. Kelly Gissendaner repeatedly pushed Owen in late 1996 to kill her husband rather than just divorcing him as Owen suggested, prosecutors said.

“Greg was Kelly’s instrument. Greg was her weapon in plunging that knife into Doug Gissendaner, pure and simple,” prosecutors argued, according to a trial transcript quoted in the clemency petition. “Greg Owen was nothing but an instrument to Kelly Gissendaner. She used him.”

Acting on Kelly Gissendaner’s instructions, Owen ambushed Douglas Gissendaner at Gissendaner’s home, forced him to drive to a remote area and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said

Investigators looking into Douglas Gissendaner’s killing zeroed in on Owen once they learned of his affair with Kelly Gissendaner. He initially denied involvement, but eventually confessed and implicated Kelly Gissendaner.

Owen, who pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison, testified at Gissendaner’s trial. A jury found Gissendaner guilty and sentenced her to death in 1998.

Prosecutors offered Gissendaner the same plea deal offered to Owen, but she rejected it. Post-conviction testimony from her trial lawyer, Edwin Wilson, gives some insight into why, her lawyers argue. They quote Wilson as saying he didn’t think a jury would sentence Gissendaner to death.

“I guess I thought this because she was a woman and because she did not actually kill Doug,” Wilson is quoted as saying, adding that he should have urged her to take the plea.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/23/ga-set-to-execute-only-female-death-row-inmate-thi/?page=2

Thank you and news

posted Feb 16, 2015, 5:20 PM by GFADP staff

Friends,

Thank you so much to those of you came out to lobby day last week. It was a great day as we spoke to our legislators about the problems with the death penalty in our state. Special thanks to our wonderful speakers who joined us for our press conference; State Senator Vincent Fort,  Sara Totonchi Executive Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, Eric Jacobson with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and Joseph Shippen on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese. I’m including a great article on the day, which you can read here. In addition, you can read remarks from Sara and Eric, here and here.

In case you missed it, the Equal Justice Initiative released a groundbreaking report on lynching in America. The New York Times Editorial Board weighed in with a piece entitled,  Lynching as Racial Terrorism. EJI researchers documented 3,959 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 700 more lynchings of black people in these states than previously reported in the most comprehensive work done on lynching to date.

Also, for one night only, on Saturday, March 21st at 7:30pm at Synchronicity Theatre, there will be a staged reading of  a new play, Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Troy Davis Project. Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and the Southern Center for Human Rights are among the night’s sponsors. For more information and to buy tickets, click here. 

Thank you for all that you do for justice. 

With hope, 

Kathryn on behalf of GFADP 

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