Take Action for Joshua Bishop

posted Mar 15, 2016, 11:46 AM by GFADP staff

As you know, Joshua Bishop, has received a death warrant and an execution date of March 31, 2016. His clemency hearing will take place on the morning of March 30, 2016.

Josh grew up in tragic conditions; those who knew him remember him as a “sweet kid” but also remember that he suffered beatings, was forced to sleep under the trailer shared by his mother and her abusive boyfriend, and recall that he was frequently abandoned for days on end. He was often hungry. Removed from his mother’s care after he witnessed a shoot out between her and a boyfriend, Josh spent the next 10 years in 16 different foster and group home placements. He was abused in some of those placements. Most of his juvenile offenses are for stealing food; the others are related to drug possession or addiction, having been introduced to drugs by his mother when he was very young. 

At the age of 15, DFCS closed his file and returned him to his mother, who was still actively using abusing drugs and alcohol. Josh, eager to work, took odd jobs from the age of 15 and worked full time as a construction and carpentry assistant when he was 17 and 18. When he lost that job, he was again homeless, but he did his best to shift for himself and his mother, who was in and out of jail. During one of her stays in jail, Josh began to stay with his mother’s former boyfriend, 35-year-old Mark Braxley. At Braxley’s father’s trailer, Josh could have shelter, but also free alcohol and drugs. It is through this connection and at this trailer that the crimes occurred. 

The news media has covered the crimes, which are also tragic. After a day of drinking and using crack cocaine with Leverette Morrison, Josh and Braxley attacked and him in a dispute over who could use Morrison’s jeep. Witnesses who had seen Josh earlier in the evening noted that he was so intoxicated that he could not stand up on his own. Since he and Braxley were the last to have been seen with Mr. Morrison, Josh was arrested and questioned immediately. He gave a full confession, which law enforcement deemed to be truthful and remorseful, within hours of the crime. Josh also confessed to participation in another crime with Braxley: the beating death of a man who had bragged about assaulting Joshua’s mother a few weeks earlier.  

Josh’s co-defendant pleaded guilty to a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Joshua would have pleaded guilty to the same sentence, but was instead sentenced to death by a jury after long and difficult deliberations. Seven of his twelve sentencing jurors now support a sentence of life or life without parole.

Josh feels so much shame for these crimes, for causing so much pain and loss. He feels for the victims of his family, and during his time in prison has done his best to live a life of meaning. He reads; he has taught himself to draw; he makes gifts of his art as a way to thank his friends and legal team; he looks out for others on the row. He has little surviving family, but he has a number of committed friends. He is a person of deep faith, and has wonderful relationships with a number of pastors and with his Godmother, who shared her faith with him and counts him as one of her children. He is warm, sincere, and finds ways to show kindness to others. He is a changed person, and after having spent the last twenty one years in prison or jail, has grown up while in prison. He is a reliable and hardworking inmate in his work detail. He would live a quiet life in prison if granted clemency, and would be a positive influence in the prison system. 

Please write to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to support the request for clemency- BUT PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE BOARD DIRECTLY. We have included two possible letters to be personalized and returned to via email at mercerlawclinic@gmail.com or by fax at 478.301.2259 . Feel free to personalize or draft your own letter, but these may help facilitate your drafting process. The letters will be compiled and sent to the Parole Board as part of a larger clemency strategy. Know that letters opposing the death penalty in general are not persuasive to the Board; these letters should be specific to Josh Bishop. 

Feel free to send any questions or other thoughts- or well wishes for Josh- to mercerlawclinic@gmail.com


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GFADP staff,
Mar 15, 2016, 11:46 AM
ĉ
GFADP staff,
Mar 15, 2016, 11:46 AM
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