Atlanta chapter meeting, 9/11 + news

posted Sep 8, 2014, 7:57 AM by GFADP staff

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 Thursday, September 11 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Phillip Rush Center;1530 Dekalb Avenue NE, Suite A, Atlanta, GA 30307. If you’re taking Marta, it’s just one block from the 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 September 11 at 6:30.

Connecting the Dots: Agenda and Parking Information

posted Aug 22, 2014, 8:29 AM by GFADP staff

Agenda:

9:30-10:00-Registration and light refreshments 

10:00-10:15-Welcome 

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

12:00-12:45-Lunch

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


Getting There: 

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. 

Marta:

The nearest Marta train stop is: Georgia State 

GFADP STATEWIDE MEETING, Connecting the Dots: Building a Movement to End the Death Penalty

posted Jul 24, 2014, 8:41 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Jul 24, 2014, 8:48 AM ]

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 info@gfadp.org.  

Click here to view the flyer. 

Send a Thank You Note to the Georgia Parole Board of Pardons and Paroles

posted Jul 10, 2014, 9:39 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Jul 10, 2014, 9:41 AM ]

We are very grateful for the decision from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Tommy Waldrip clemency.

As you might know, 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.  

It is very rare that the Parole Board decides to grant clemency. The last person on death row in Georgia to be granted clemency was Daniel Greene in 2012.

This was the 5th time since 2002 that clemency has been granted, and as Georgians, it's critical that we show our support for what might be an unpopular decision from the Parole Board. 

Please take a moment to senda thank you letter to the Parole Board.  

Chairman Terry Barnard
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles
Floyd Veterans Memorial Building
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30334-4909

Via facsimile 404-651-6670

With hope,

GFADP

BREAKING NEWS: Tommy Waldrip commuted to LIFE!

posted Jul 9, 2014, 4:24 PM by GFADP staff

We are thrilled to share some great news! Today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued an order commuting Tommy Lee Waldrip’s sentence from death to life. We rejoice at this good news and express our bottomless gratitude to all who advocated for Tommy, particularly his extraordinary legal team. We keep both Tommy and the victims' family members in our hearts and thoughts.
 
Below is an article that offers some insight into the clemency petition that succeeded in moving the Parole Board to their decision. 

UPDATE: Waldrip’s death sentence commuted to life without parole
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia death row inmate Tommy Lee Waldrip has had his death sentence commuted to life in prison without parole a day before his scheduled execution on Thursday.
It is the fifth death sentence commuted by the parole board since 2002. The last inmate on death row in Georgia to be granted clemency was Daniel Greene. Greene’s sentence was commuted to life without parole on April 20, 2012, according to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
 
Waldrip, now 68, is one of 28 men who have been on Georgia’s Death Row for more than two decades, frustrating prosecutors, law enforcement officers and relatives of victims. One inmate, Roger Collins, has been on Georgia’s Death Row since 1977 for a Houston County rape and murder. Yet, the national average for time spent on Death Row is 15 years.
 
Keith Evans, a college student working at a Cumming convenience store, had testified against Waldrip’s son in a 1991 trial, but the armed robbery conviction was overturned. Evans again was expected to be the primary prosecution witness.
 
Two days before the retrial was to begin, the two Waldrips and Howard Linvingston, the older man’s brother, ran Evans off the road as he was driving home after work on a Saturday night. First they fired buckshot through the windshield of Evans’ truck and then the younger Waldrip and his uncle drove the truck to another location in Dawson County, with Evans in the passenger seat. It was there that they beat him to death with a blackjack. The three took Evans’ body to neighboring Gilmer County and buried him. The truck was discovered burning on Highway 52.
 
Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said he was assigned to watch Tommy Waldrip, an immediate suspect, the next morning.
 
The sheriff said he was disturbed watching Waldrip go into the Harvest Baptist Church to a sanctuary where Carlisle’s wife and children were worshiping.
 
“How can you do something like this on Saturday night and go to church the next morning… and lead singing like nothing ever happened?” Carlisle said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.
 
Waldrip was arrested on the third day after Evans was killed, linked to the crime by his wife’s car insurance card that was dropped near the burned truck.
 
Waldrip was sentenced to die on Oct. 28, 1994.
 
Attorneys for Waldrip argued that the sentences for the same crime were not proportional even though all three went to trial. Livingston, Waldrip’s brother, and the son, John Mark Waldrip, were both sentenced to life in prison. Testimony also showed that the son is the one who shot Evans and later beat him.
 
In announcing its decision, the board does not give a reason. Each member casts their votes in private and offer no reason and then the chairman tallies the votes.
 
The appointments with the board today were not open to the public but his lawyers also presented letters from members of a church that Waldrip establish just outside of Charleston, S.C., many years before Evans was killed.

Sign on letter- Doctors and Lethal Injection

posted Jul 3, 2014, 12:17 PM by GFADP staff

Friends,

We believe that Georgia should not cloak its executions in secrecy, preventing the public from obtaining basic details about the states’ execution processes.  We are disturbed by botched executions that have happened around the country, and are concerned that the lack of transparency in Georgia’s method of procuring compounded pentobarbital used in lethal injection executions makes it impossible for the courts to ensure that executions will be carried out in a humane manner.

For these reasons, we call upon Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly to end the extreme secrecy surrounding Georgia’s death penalty, repeal the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, and allow transparency and full disclosure into a criminal justice system that requires it.

Please read the letter below and consider signing on.

INSTRUCTIONS:

To endorse this letter, please send your name, title, affiliation (e.g. organization if applicable), mailing address, phone number and email address to GFADP: info@gfadp.org

Please share this letter with other Georgians, so that we can build a strong list!

Note: we will publicize this letter, including all of its endorsers; therefore, we assume we can publicly list your name in association with this letter.  We will not use your name for other purposes unless expressly permitted by you.

Please send your endorsement as soon as possible.

Thank you for your support!

With hope,

GFADP


Letter:

As healthcare consumers,

  • We want to make informed decisions about our healthcare;
  • Are entitled to accurate information about our health care professionals;  and
  • Have the right to seek consultation with the physician(s) of our choice and to contract with our physician(s) on mutually agreeable terms.

 

It is our right to ensure that values held by our physician(s) are consistent with our personal beliefs.  As Georgians who are very concerned about the manner in which the death penalty is administered in our state,

 

  • We choose not to patronize any physician who participates in the procurement of lethal injection drugs because such involvement would conflict with our strongly-held morals and values; and
  • We seek to learn whether or not our physician(s) are involved in this practice.

However, the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act of 2013, O.C.G.A. 42-5-36(d), classifies this critical information as a “state secret”, and goes so far to criminalize any person who discloses information about any physician’s role in executions. This clause makes it impossible for us to be able to have a frank, truthful conversation with our physician(s) as disclosing affirmative information would constitute a violation of the law.

Because the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act makes it impossible for Georgians to determine if their physician(s) are involved in lethal injection drug procurement, our most basic freedoms in decision-making regarding our healthcare are being obstructed.

 

We believe that if Georgia is going to have the death penalty, then our state should not cloak its executions in secrecy, preventing the public from obtaining basic details about the states’ execution processes.  We are also disturbed by botched executions that have happened around the country in 2013 and 2014, and are concerned that the lack of transparency in Georgia’s method of procuring compounded pentobarbital used in lethal injection executions makes it impossible for the courts to ensure that executions will be carried out in a humane manner.

 

For these reasons, we call upon Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly to end the extreme secrecy surrounding Georgia’s death penalty, repeal the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, and allow transparency and full disclosure into a criminal justice system that requires it.

 

Sincerely,

 

[List of endorsers]

 

Name: ___________________________________

Affiliation: ________________________________

Address: __________________________________­­­

Telephone: ________________________________

Email: ____________________________________

 

 

 

 

GFADP's Grassroots Initiative for Organizing and Transformation (GRIOT) Project applications are now open!

posted Jun 25, 2014, 2:33 PM by GFADP staff   [ updated Jun 25, 2014, 2:35 PM ]

Friends,

We are pleased to announce that applications for the 1st  Grassroots Initiative for Organizing and Transformation (GRIOT) Project are now open!

GFADP’s GRIOT Project is a specialized leadership development program aimed at supporting at least 20 leaders of color from across the state. 

The GRIOT Project is designed to be a learn-by-doing approach to skill-building.  These leaders will be exposed to best practices in base-building, campaign development, media strategy, policy advocacy, coalition building and personal development activities.  In conjunction with the program, participants will also help GFADP lead and establish Organizing Committees in Atlanta, Columbus, Dawson, Macon, and Savannah.  The skills developed through the program will immediately be put to use to advance GFADP’s mission and empower communities of color in Georgia, ensure that those most directly impacted by this system are at the forefront of designing innovative solutions that address its problems. GFADP is seeking highly motivated individuals who wish to create positive change in their communities, who are committed to social and racial justice, and who dedicated to GFADP’s mission.

Click to view the full application and instructions to apply.

Deadline to apply is July 16, 2014.

Selected Participants Notified: July 23, 2014

Apply now to participate in this top-notch, specialized leadership development training program.
 
We hope you'll consider applying--and that you'll help us spread the word to those you think could benefit from participation in the GRIOT project.  

Onward!

The GFADP Team

Execution date set for Tommy Lee Waldrip

posted Jun 24, 2014, 2:27 PM by GFADP staff

We’re very sorry to share that the Department of Corrections has set an execution date for Tommy Waldrip for Thursday, July 10 at 7pm.
 
We will be in touch about further action.
 
The AP article is below.
 
 
Execution set for Ga. Inmate convicted of killing man who was set to testify against his son
By Kate Brumback
Associated Press
July 24, 2014

ATLANTA — A Georgia death row inmate convicted of murder in the slaying of a store clerk who was scheduled to testify against his son is to be executed next month, the state attorney general's office said Tuesday.
Tommy Lee Waldrip is set to die at 7 p.m. on July 10 at the state prison in Jackson, Attorney General Sam Olens' office said in a news release. A Dawson County jury in October 1994 convicted him and recommended the death penalty for the April 1991 killing of Keith Evans.
His execution date comes on the heels of the June 17 execution of death row inmate Marcus Wellons, which was the first in the United States since a botched April execution in Oklahoma.
Evans was a store clerk in Forsyth County and had testified in the 1990 armed robbery trial of Waldrip's son, John Mark Waldrip. The younger Waldrip was convicted, but he was granted a new trial and released on bond, according to Georgia Supreme Court records from Tommy Lee Waldrip's case. Evans was set to testify in the retrial.
On April 13, 1991, several days before the new trial, John Mark Waldrip called another witness and threatened to harm him if he testified.
Later that evening, Tommy Lee Waldrip, his son and his brother-in-law Howard Livingston ran Evans' truck off the road at a highway crossing in Dawson County and fired a shotgun through the windshield, hitting him in the face and neck, authorities said. Evans was still alive and the men drove him in his truck to another location, where they beat him to death, authorities said. Evans' body was buried in a shallow grave in Gilmer County and his truck was set on fire.
Authorities found an insurance card for Tommy Lee Waldrip's wife's car near the burned truck. Waldrip denied any involvement in Evans' disappearance in an interview the next day. But he was arrested a couple of days after that and later confessed to shooting and beating Evans and burning his truck. Authorities said he led them to Evans' body and the shotgun.
The next day, he said his son and brother-in-law had killed Evans and burned the truck and that he was just a bystander. In a third statement, he said all three of them were involved, authorities said.
John Mark Waldrip and Livingston are both serving life sentences in the killing.

Clemency denied for Marcus Wellons

posted Jun 16, 2014, 2:35 PM by GFADP staff

We’re sorry to share the news that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole denied clemency for Marcus Wellons.

For now, please plan on attending a vigil at one of the twelve sites as we gather in opposition to state sanctioned killing in our names.

Here’s the schedule: http://www.gfadp.org/vigils

We’ll be in touch about any new developments. The AJC article is included below.


Parole board holds firm on Wellons execution

By Rhonda Cook, June 16, 2014

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected condemned murderer Marcus Wellons’ request for clemency in the death sentence for a 1989 murder of a Cobb County teenage girl.

Wellons attorneys had argued before the five person board Monday morning that he deserved mercy because he was remorseful about killing 15-year-old India Roberts, who lived near the Vinings townhome where Wellons’ girlfriend lived.

The board did not give a reason for denying the request. Now it’s in the hands of a federal judge who heard arguments to stay the execution set for 7 p.m. Tuesday. Attorneys are say Wellons’ constitutional protections from cruel and unusual punishment could be violated if the compounded drug he is given is ineffective. His lawyers question the source and safety of the pentobarbital, made specifically for Wellons, saying there is no way to check the credentials of the pharmacist who made it or the pharmacy’s successes or failures.

“Terrible things can happen,” said attorney Bo King of the compounded drugs. When they go wrong, they go terribly, horribly wrong for the prisoner.”

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten said he would have a decision soon on Wellons’ challenge to Georgia’s 1-year-old law that makes the identities of those involved in a lethal injection, including the maker of the drugs, a state secret.

If Wellons is executed, he will be the first man Georgia has put to death using a massive dose of pentobarbital. This also will be the first time an execution is carried out since Georgia law made the source of lethal injection drugs a state secret.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/wellons-attorneys-ask-parole-board-for-mercy/ngMCS/

Urgent Action for Marcus Wellons

posted Jun 10, 2014, 11:58 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Jun 10, 2014, 12:00 PM ]

As you know, the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Brian Owens, set an execution date for Marcus Wellons for Tuesday, June 17 at 7:00pm.

His lawyers will present to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday, June 16 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
Fax: 404-651-6670

Also, please plan to attend a vigil near you on Tuesday, June 17. http://www.gfadp.org/vigils

We will keep you posted on any new developments.

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