I would like to start with an expression of gratitude. Thank you. Thanks to each and every person that has expressed their willingness to serve as a GFADP member. The consistency of our team attendance, input, research and advice are all tools that have played a vital role in GFADP’s success. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead!.
Please mark your calendars as the legislative session will begin on Monday, January 12, 2015. GFADP’s Annual Lobby Day is scheduled for February 10, 2015. Lobbying can be used as a powerful tool to build skills within our membership. Let’s come together once again to allow our voices to be heard.
It has often been stated that there is power in numbers. If we have more people get involved in a well organized process of lobbying, elected officials will view our organization as a force to be reckoned with.
In order to prepare for the legislative session 2015 as well GFADP Lobby Day, we will have a lobbying training session:
The GFADP Lobby Advocacy Meeting
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
6:30pm - 8:00pm
60 Walton Street
Atlanta, GA 30311
The training session will be lead by our very own Kathryn Hamoudah, Public Policy and Communications Manager at the Southern Center for Human Rights and GFADP Board Chair. The topic of discussion will focus on how lobbying can be important for our work and tips on how effectively lobby.
We need to be visible during this session. We need to let our state officials know that we will not rest until the death penalty is abolished in the state of Georgia.
Once again I appreciate each of you for entrusting me with the responsibility to be the lead organizer for GFADP.
If you have any questions please feel free and contact me at the number listed below.
I look forward to seeing you soon,
Last night, Georgia executed Robert Wayne Holsey. I restate the facts of his case below because we must never forget. His case is an abomination and completely outrageous. This should never have been allowed to happen. If ever we needed a reminder of how important our work to end the death penalty in Georgia is-this is it.
Wayne, as he was known, was a man represented by Mr. Prince, who during his trial, drank a quart of vodka each night – the equivalent of 21 shots. Shortly after Wayne was convicted and sentenced to death, Mr. Prince was disbarred and sentenced to 10 years (three in prison, seven on probation) for stealing client funds.
In addition to drinking a quart of vodka nightly throughout Wayne’s trial, Mr. Prince did not present evidence of Mr. Holsey’s intellectual disability and in fact, told the court that it wouldn’t be an issue. This was a stunning failure of representation: if Mr. Prince had shown that Wayne was intellectually disabled, his execution would be barred under Atkins v. Virginia (2002).
The night before the penalty phase of Wayne’s trial, Mr. Prince turned the case over to a less experienced attorney, who was unprepared to present mitigation evidence. Mr. Prince received $3,500 from the court to hire a mitigation specialist, but never did so and was unable to account for the money. Consequently, the jury never heard about the almost daily violence and abuse Wayne experienced in his childhood.
A Georgia habeas corpus judge found that Mr. Prince’s representation had been abysmal and ineffective, and cost Wayne a fair trial. The habeas corpus judge also ordered a new sentencing trial. But the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the habeas judge’s decision, thus reinstating his death sentence. If Wayne had been represented by anyone other than Mr. Prince, who went to prison shortly after Wayne did, he would most likely not have been executed.
We extend the deepest gratitude to the legal team for their incredible efforts representing Wayne.
Nights like last night are always difficult and are undoubtedly one of the hardest parts of fighting the death penalty. They also remind us of the importance of our work together. We remain hopeful in knowing that Georgians from all over the state were gathered in solidarity with Wayne as the state took his life. Thank you to each of you who attended a vigil, wrote a letter, or simply kept Wayne and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We will continue to organize for the end to this brutal system.
I'm including the piece from the New York Times Editorial Board they released minutes after Wayne was executed entitled, Georgia’s Merciless Push to Kill: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey's Case.
Thank you for all that you do.
With sadness and hope,
Kathryn on behalf of GFADP
GFADP envisions a society in which whole communities are not strategically and systemically targeted for oppression. GFADP’s mission to end the death penalty in Georgia and throughout the U.S. fits within the larger movement to end criminal justice practices that target, disenfranchise, marginalize, and criminalize people of color and the poor.
It is for that reason that we are deeply disappointed in the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s handling of the Darren Wilson grand jury, and the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for killing eighteen year old Michael Brown. The lack of indictment affirmed that there are two systems of justice in this country.
We have all been bombarded with a lot of rhetoric and, quite frankly, distractions. Michael Brown was shot by a police officer and laid on the cement for four hours before anything was done. Since his death, extensive efforts have been made to criticize the character of Brown, and cast doubt on the tragedy of his death. In addition, the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney’s Office took the unprecedented step of presenting substantial amounts of evidence favorable to Officer Darren Wilson during the grand jury proceedings, all but guaranteeing that the officer who killed an unarmed teen would not be indicted. This is not okay. We as a society can do better than this. Doing better though, means that we must acknowledge the reality that we have a color-coded system of justice whereby if you’re a person of color or are poor you not afforded the same access to justice.
As members of GFADP, we are acutely aware of the racialized impact of the criminal justice system on our communities. Black men are statistically more likely than whites to be stopped by police, arrested, denied bail, and charged with serious crimes. Additionally, the recent mass mobilizations of immigrants and Latinos, alongside the fact that Georgia experienced the nation's highest immigrant growth rate over the past 4 years, has resulted in increased targeting of Latinos by law enforcement. The area of the criminal justice system in which the repercussions of this deep-seeded injustice is most starkly felt is undoubtedly in the context of the death penalty.
This same system will allow for the execution of Scott Panetti, a mentally ill man in Texas who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, December 3. Mr. Panetti first showed signs of mental illness over 14 years before the offense for which he was sentenced to death. Doctors repeatedly diagnosed him with chronic schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, and his condition continued to deteriorate.
During his trial, Mr. Panetti insisted on defending himself without counsel; attempted to subpoena the Pope, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus Christ; and raised an insanity defense. At one point, he cross-examined his own alter-ego, Sarge, answering his own questions on the stand, in a different voice. Despite his obvious mental illness, Mr. Panetti was convicted and sentenced to death, and the State has done everything in its power to ensure his execution.
What happened in Mr. Panetti’s case should not have happened. Safeguards in the system did not work and if Texas has its way, Mr. Panetti will be executed tomorrow.
Right here in Georgia, an execution date has been set for Robert Holsey a week from today on December 9, 2014.
Two years ago, the New York Times Editorial Board wrote a piece, “Ineffective Counsel in Georgia,” highlighting the many problems with Mr. Holsey’s trial counsel. Attorney Andy Prince was a chronic alcoholic who stole more than $100,000 in client funds. During Mr. Holsey’s trial, Mr. Prince drank a quart of vodka each night – the equivalent of 21 shots. Shortly after Mr. Holsey was convicted and sentenced to death, Mr. Prince was disbarred and sentenced to 10 years (three in prison, seven on probation) for stealing client funds.
In addition to drinking a quart of vodka nightly throughout Mr. Holsey’s trial, Mr. Prince did not present evidence of Mr. Holsey’s intellectual disability and in fact, told the court that it wouldn’t be an issue. This was a stunning failure of representation: if Mr. Prince had shown that Mr. Holsey was intellectually disabled, his execution would be barred under Atkins v. Virginia (2002).
The night before the penalty phase of Mr. Holsey’s trial, Mr. Prince turned the case over to a less experienced attorney, who was unprepared to present mitigation evidence. Mr. Prince received $3,500 from the court to hire a mitigation specialist, but never did so and was unable to account for the money. Consequently, the jury never heard about the almost daily violence and abuse Mr. Holsey experienced in his childhood.
A Georgia habeas corpus judge found that Mr. Prince’s representation had been abysmal and ineffective, and cost Mr. Holsey a fair trial. The habeas corpus judge also ordered a new sentencing trial. But the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the habeas judge’s decision, thus reinstating Mr. Holsey’s death sentence. If Mr. Holsey had been represented by anyone other than Mr. Prince, who went to prison shortly after Mr. Holsey did, he would most likely not be facing execution today.
This is a system that GFADP struggles to change.
From Ferguson to Texas to Georgia, GFADP says NO to color-coded justice. Though are hearts are heavy, our commitment has grown deeper to speaking out against this unjust system and standing up for those whose lives have been marginalized. We are so grateful you are joining us in this struggle.
The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Brian Owens, set an execution date for Robert Holsey for Tuesday, December 9 at 7:00pm.
His lawyers will present to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday, December 8 at 9:00am. The Parole Board is the entity in Georgia that has the sole authority to grant or deny clemency (either to commute, or reduce, a death sentence to life without parole.) Only after a person has exhausted all appeals and other avenues of relief will the Parole Board consider granting clemency.
Please take a moment to send a letter to the Parole Board today.
Download a sample letter to Board of Pardons and Paroles and edit to include your name and address at the bottom, then print, sign, and fax or mail to:
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles
Floyd Veterans Memorial Building
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30334-4909
Also, please plan to attend a vigil near you on Tuesday, December 9. http://www.gfadp.org/ vigils
Two years ago, the New York Times Editorial Board wrote a piece, “Ineffective Counsel in Georgia,” highlighting the many problems with Mr. Holsey’s trial counsel.
For more information about Mr. Holsey's case, click here for an overview.
We wanted to share a few upcoming events. Please attend it you’re able and forward to those you think might be interested.
Texas death row exoneree, Anthony Graves, has created a one man stage narrative about his wrongful conviction and life on death row and taking the show around the country. Check out Grave’s Injustice on Nov. 21st at the Epicenter in Austell, Georgia.
In October of 2010, after a new District Attorney and Special Prosecutor conducted their own investigation of the case, all charges against Graves were dropped and he was set free. The special prosecutor found evidence of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of the original prosecuting attorney Charles Sebesta. Robert Carter, the man who confessed to committing the murders, and was executed in 2000, first identified Graves as an accomplice, but later told Sebesta he acted alone and that Graves was innocent. Sebesta dismissed Carter’s statement. Graves is the 12th person to be wrongfully convicted and removed from death row in Texas and the 138th person to be exonerated in the country. To date, 146 people have been exonerated.
For more information about the 21st, click here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/graves-injustice-a-stage-narrative-by-texas-death-row-exoneree-anthony-graves-tickets-13586334091
GFADP Holiday Party
We'd love for you to join us for our annual holiday party with Amnesty International’s Southern Regional Office on Wednesday, December 10 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Location TBD. Beverages will be provided. Please bring a dish to share. Come any time between 6:00 and 9:00 pm and stay for whatever time you can. We will be signing holiday cards for the 92 people on Georgia’s death row and Amnesty will have letters to send to people in prisons around the world and to world leaders asking for political prisoners to be released.
For more information, contact Peggy Hendrix firstname.lastname@example.org
In anticipation of the legislative session, we will gather on Wednesday, December 17 from 6-8 pm at AFCS; 60 Walton St; 30303, for a training on the basics of lobbying. This is a great training to get tips on speaking with your legislators and the legislative process.
Thank you to all who came out last week to GFADP’s statewide meeting, Connecting the Dots: Building a Movement to End the Death Penalty. We were joined by members from Athens, Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Augusta, Dawson and elsewhere. It was a huge success and we are so excited about what’s in store!
The Atlanta Chapter will resume meeting on 1530 Dekalb Avenue NE, Suite A, Atlanta, GA 30307. If you’re taking Marta, it’s just one block from the at the Phillip Rush Center;Edgewood/Candler Park Station.
Also, we wanted to share incredible news from North Carolina. Two men, Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown,had their convictions vacated after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Both men have been in prison for more than 30 years -- one on death row. You can read the story from the New York Times here.
We know that as long as the death penalty continues, innocent people will be put at risk for execution; that the death penalty will continue to be applied arbitrarily and in a racially biased fashion. We rejoice at the victories and continue our work to ensure that the death penalty is abolished once and for all.
We hope to see you on .
9:30-10:00-Registration and light refreshments
10:15-11:00-Our Humanity Will Not Be Denied
Is the death penalty about revenge or control? This interactive workshop will explore ways in which race, class, money, and power infuse the administration of the death penalty, particularly in the South. Participants will explore the connections between criminal justice policies such as stop and frisk, stand your ground, no knock warrants and the death penalty; examine the concept of otherness and its relationship to the death penalty, and will begin to discuss concrete tactics for shifting the balance of power and bringing about an end to the death penalty. Presented by Terrica Ganzy
11:00-12:00-The Death Penalty: What’s Developmental Disabilities Got to Do With It?
This workshop will provide a brief overview of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ statewide Real Communities Initiative and partnership with GFADP. We will explain connections between issues impacting people with DD and the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, the death penalty and parallels between the prison system and the state DD system. Presented by Caitlin Childs, Cheri Pace and Lesa Hope
12:45-1:45-From Problems to Policy
This workshop will help you visualize how to change a problem in your community, into a policy that serves the community. Learn the steps for building and winning a campaign. Presented by Troya Sampson
2:00-3:15-Visioning for GFADP
3:15-3:30-Close out and next steps
Free Parking for Central Presbyterian Church 201 Washington St SW, Atlanta GA 30303
Free parking is available at the Capitol Education Center Garage, 180 Central Ave. SW. You can stop at the curb in front of the church to discharge passengers (201 Washington St. SW). To reach the parking garage, continue on Washington St. to the second traffic light (Trinity Avenue). Turn right on Trinity and go one block to Central Ave. Turn right onto Central, go one block, and cross Mitchell St. The Capitol Education Center is on the right in the next block of Central Ave. just before you reach the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The garage is below the street level so you turn right onto a ramp that will take you under the building. Once parked in the garage, take the elevator to the Upper Plaza (labeled "UP"). Walk across the plaza (in the direction of the Capitol) and up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, turn right and follow the cloistered walk around to courtyard and enter through the courtyard door.
The nearest Marta train stop is: Georgia State
We are looking forward to GFADP's Statewide Meeting on Saturday, August 23, Connecting the Dots: Building a Movement to End the Death Penalty. It will be a full day of dynamic workshops; community building and visioning of GFADP's work for the year ahead. This event is free and open to the public. Please register by Monday, August 18, 2014, using this link, so we can have an accurate count for food. We will have more information in the coming weeks about the specific agenda. Please help us spread the word. For more information, please contact email@example.com.Click here to view the flyer.